Disney World and Mental Health

I want to start out by saying that I do not have any diagnosed mental health issues. However I do experience mild anxiety, compulsive tendencies, normal stress, etc. to a degree that most here can probably relate to (as well as many who face much more difficult issues).

For me, a key to maintaining my mental health has always been having something to look forward to. I can get through a busy month at work, a difficult situation with a child, a hot summer, a cold winter, etc. if I know there is something exciting in my future that I can look forward to. Perhaps the place that most often becomes the subject of my anticipation is a trip to Disney. I always have at least one scheduled.

These past five months have been much more difficult for my mental health than they would have been because the light at the end of the tunnel was taken away. For a long time, there was no guarantee that I’d ever make it back to Disney at all, let alone soon. When all the parks were closed, it was like a nightlight had been turned off that I normally relied on to sleep soundly.

Ever since July 11, the light has been rekindled. Knowing that somewhere, people are going to a Disney Park, and that I may be there again someday gives me such hope and joy in and of itself. And now my countdown is much more locked down - I have a date (May 2021) and it’s reasonably certain the parks will be open then.

I don’t want to compare my situation to anyone - I have a cushy life, to be honest. But I imagine if Disney is such an important staple of my mental health, there must be others for whom it is even more meaningful.

Agree? Sympathize? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

48 Likes

Agreed.
For many of us, it does seem to be our Happy Place.
Even though I have not been there in over 20 years, during that time away I have kept the memory of me walking down Main Street to the Hub tucked away and when I needed it, I recalled it and stress melted away. I tried to think of other things when my doc’s checking my blood pressure, but nothing works like that image.
Now that I’ve got an actual date for going back, of course, its charms are even more potent.
Masks, no masks. Shortened hours. No fireworks.
Still. It’s a place of magic.
And I believe.

10 Likes

Well said!

4 Likes

One thing keeping me and my DD sane these days is chatting about the planned trip in December for me, DH, DS, DD, DGDs, and DSiL. Do we realize that it may not be safe, of course and if the risk is too high we won’t go, but for now, we watch the YouTube videos, talk about how we would do, where we will eat, the hotel we haven’t stayed at before (Gran Destino), if we would fly or drive. We remember, aloud, the trip last October, the fun, the meals, the delight on the faces of the DGDs, 3 years and 13 months at the time. We look for the positives with the shortened hours: more sleep, a sit down breakfast, time to shop. We have a backup plan for April 2021, just in case, and we laugh that maybe we can do both.
I am out of sorts without a vacation to plan, without a Disney trip to plan, without being able to travel to my DGDs, this maybe trip gives me hope, a light in this darkness.

9 Likes

Having a DW date booked lowered my stress level substantially. The shutdown killed all my spring / summer plans, and almost all my happy places were shut down. It’s gotten better. Library is reopened. Drive-in movie is open. My favorite restaurants have dine-in again. Hockey is being played again. Perhaps if I held out longer, I’d stick to my original plan of taking my new convertible (delivered in early March… and with few miles on it as there is nowhere to go) from my Las Vegas home to Disneyland. It would have been cheaper (and I’d avoid air travel), but it’s been about five years since my only previous trip to DW, and I can afford the extra costs. It just seems to be the safer choice.

4 Likes

I agree about having a trip to look forward to. Any sort of trip. I love planning. Right now all my plans are for a year from now. Sigh. And I agree it was really weird to think about WDW not being open.

6 Likes

I am hesitant to even think about my April 2021 trip. My HR director looked at me a couple of weeks ago and said, “ Mary, you cannot go to Florida”. I have found myself looking at June and July in case April will not work. I need to have hope, but I am walking that line that I don’t know how many more times I can deal with reality smashing me in my face again.

7 Likes

Hugs. Hold on to your hope. Things will get better.

8 Likes

I cannot even mention in my office that I am secretly planning an overseas trip for the next spring. Any travel outside of Canada is technically impossible due to 14 day quaranteen right now.

I am still hopeful, as it gives me something to look forward to. Very true that travel (Disney or else) is essential to mental health.

5 Likes

I agree with a lot of what you have said. In a way that I never would have anticipated a little more than 10 years ago, I have learned that my soul is at home in the WDW bubble, and within that, in a few select places most especially. When I have a trip coming up, I am able to focus on that to get through stressful moments and can, as someone further up the thread said, visualize myself in the places I love best and feel a literal calm come over me. The only other place I experience this so far in life is at the seacoast, and especially at sunrise.

It buoyed me through the most isolating part of the quarantine bit that I had my August trip in place after it was rescheduled for April. I am entirely gutted that it is now pushed allllllllll the way out to June 2021.

What is keeping me afloat is seeing those who can be there now share about their experiences. So please, keep them coming. Even while I literally hate you all with my jealousy, you’re helping these 300+ days go by with your stories and pictures. Send the magic here to us at home - we need it!!

16 Likes

This is why we booked out to June. We originally re-booked for the usual April week we take, but had the same thoughts as you. I’m tired of the uncertainties of all of this and by at least removing the school part of the equation we increase the odds of actually going then. As for my work limitations, I’m basically ready to say - if they are still in place by next June - to say to hell with it and go anyway, and suffer whatever consequences may come.

2 Likes

Yeah as much as I want to disagree, and all logic tells me I SHOULD disagree…I don’t and can’t. Disney World has become a respite greater than the sum of its parts. Yup it’s still just a theme park; Yup its main attraction is 3-minute rides and cartoon characters; Yup, it’s totally manufactured ‘happiness’ in most regards; and Yup, it’s just a bunch of hotels…but I would rather be there than anywhere else hands down. And when it closed…and stayed closed…I was just bummed.

My trips were scheduled before Covid started impacting anything and I was beyond delighted when my trips were going to be seemingly unscathed when they announced they were reopening before my trips were to happen. But as restrictions piled on, my delight definitely faded, and then the realization that I would have to quarantine when I got back (which in turn to leading to thoughts of me getting my family members sick)…

In truth, I should cancel my trips, but I’m not going to. Because I would rather be mildly happy (and very possibly bored) THERE than bored here at home. And I will perform any needed precaution advised when I get home. Which I think says something about how bad i’m hooked here (without even factoring in the amount of money I’ve already sunk into Disney).

I’m looking far more forward to my upcoming trips than I probably should be given the circumstances, but the excitement is just as much there as it would be for a normal trip.

This makes my blood boil. Sorry, no JOB has any right to state where you can or can’t go. They can make recommendations, they can enforce policies if you do go(such as the 14 day quarantine), but they shouldn’t be able to restrict you. You want to GO to a Kingdom, you don’t serve in one. I get the whole “you’ll need 14 days” and all that…but piss off on reaching beyond that. For one, what’s to stop you from lying about where you’ve been? And two, what would happen if you had family there that you suddenly had to go visit?

I’m sure I’m looking at it a bit more nefarious than they meant it, but still. I get the whole precaution thing (believe me, I just went through a Covid scare last week so I’m all about precautions), but as I’ve said, Disney seems to be taking this whole thing way more seriously than even your local grocery store. So if you’re safer at Disney than your local store…why can’t you go? Cause of the state’s stats? It’s not like you’re going around licking ALL the door knobs in Orlando.

12 Likes

I think this is what many of us have felt like… no hope… no end…

I watched the live feed of D. Springs opening like a child at Christmas. If we hadn’t moved to FL who knows when I’d be able to return, I would have asked for a refund on my AP cuz I was NOT going to get on an airplane. I know that Disney is doing the pandemic right but I still feel like the few times I’ve been I’ve been playing Russian Roulette. Even with masks, social distancing, temp checks etc. it still feels like a risk, especially when the park feels crowed (been inside once MK, twice D. Springs). I wont’ return to D. springs w/o a vaccine because there is no mask enforcement and it’s crowded. And yet, I know I’ll be back (to parks) as soon as the temps cool down :heart_eyes:

6 Likes

[quote=“Randall1028, post:12, topic:73444”]
For one, what’s to stop you from lying about where you’ve been?[/quote]

Absolutely nothing. And the “guidance for managers” (that’s me) here at my place of work are quite wishy washy. They created this whole risk scale for us to determine if a team member is going somewhere that we should require a 14 day quarantine upon return. At the same time they said not to share that scale (and it’s formula) with the team and also to ask but don’t ask. I’m confused as heck about what I am supposed to really do. I have a team member going to TX in a month for a wedding of a close family member. I don’t feel it’s within my rights or power to tell her she cannot go. And I’m not clear as to whether I’m directed to or not.

I openly suggested to my entire team at a meeting that whatever their plans are they are not going out of New England. Wink wink nudge nudge. Keep it easier for both of us and lie to me. And that feels like a really crummy way to operate.

4 Likes

I gave up my 30th anniversary trip. April is my 60th birthday. I know in my heart I have to give it up but I am just not strong enough yet. I will be. At the 7th month mark?

4 Likes

I could have written the first paragraph and I’ve known this part about myself for decades. Sometimes I’m looking forward to a new baby, or a trip, or some special event. These last 5+ months have been difficult as all we’ve seen are loss. It’s caused me to do a lot of introspection. Where DOES my joy come from? Is this a healthy way to live? Maybe I should just be excited about providing dinner to my family every day, and that we don’t live in poverty. It’s been a very hard season at times.

17 Likes

Totally agree. I have it pretty easy, but there have definitely been more hurdles this year than any year of my life so far. I try to be optimistic and look at challenges as opportunities, but it is still exhausting with so much uncertainty and so many things out of my control. I’ve tried to find mini-trips or day-trips to give me something to look forward to until we can go on a full trip. I took my boys for mini-golf and ice-cream on the weekend. Nothing major, but we still had fun.

3 Likes

April is a long way off and we can’t even reliably predict what next week is going to look like right now. If it were me, I’d keep it on the books as long as possible, hope for the best and milk the joy of anticipation out of that upcoming trip as much as possible

3 Likes

I really struggle with this too. As well as the amount of money I spend on a Disney vacation: Is this the RIGHT thing to spend this money on? There are less expensive trips I could go on that would bring just as much bonding and joy as a family (though different bonding, and different joy). The extra money could go to a down payment on a new home, or, and this is really a struggle for me, toward someone or something in NEED. You know, need-need. We give quite a chunk of money that we give to a variety of causes, but I often question if it’s enough. Always considering if and where we’re called to give even more.

9 Likes

I am not cancelling until March (re-book or bank the 4 points I can bank). It is DVC so I am hoping not to lose any more points.

5 Likes