As I continue to prepare for my upcoming WDW at the end of the month, I have noticed that there seems to be a cycle of emotions and thoughts that I move through regarding each vacation. Starting months before departure and lasting months after the vacation is over, these stages have come to be just a normal part of the Disney routine. Let’s see if you feel the same way.
Stage 1- “We’re going to Disney World!” – We all know this feeling. You start thinking about a vacation, start pricing things, then finally sit down and book it. Then that overwhelming sense of giddiness hits you as you realize that you are 100% going! You can close your eyes and see the resort lobby’s check in desk. Aside from actually being in WDW, there is no greater feeling than this one.
Stage 2- Plan, Plan, Plan – Once you know you are definitely going on vacation, the planning commences. When are the Extra Magic Hours, should we do any tours, WILL I EVER GET INTO BE OUR GUEST?! These questions and many more need to be planned and answered. I definitely become a little obsessive in my planning and fall into the ‘I have a schedule and I’m sticking to it’ camp. Slowly, I am introducing a little more spontaneity into my Disney vacation style, but planning is half the fun while getting ready for a vacation!
Stage 3- “It’s sooooo far away” – The initial giddiness of booking the vacation seems to wear a little as you realize that you are still so many days away from leaving for WDW. Why does six weeks here feel like an eternity, yet when you dread something it flies by? This is the stage where background music and YouTube videos of the parks start to fall into heavy rotation to make the vacation come faster.
Stage 4- “I’ll be in WDW next week!!” – After weeks of willing the time to move faster, all of a sudden you are leaving next week! So much needs to get done before hand, but it is so close you can taste those Mickey waffles. This is when I start in with the “at this time next week, I’ll just be getting to my dining reservation at Epcot” thoughts. The anticipation builds leading up to…
Stage 5- The Sleepless Night – We all know how this one goes, just like that old commercial. The kids can’t sleep, and neither can the adults because everyone is so excited. In just a few short hours, your vacation will officially start!
Stage 6- “We’re on our way!!” – You’re finally in the car or on the plane and Disney is so close you swear you can see Spaceship Earth out the window. You’re constantly fidgeting out of excitement (or in my case, also terror over being on a plane), and you couldn’t stop smiling even if you tried.
Stage 7- Officially Arriving in Orlando – There’s a sign for Magic Express, there’s one for New Fantasyland, there’s a road sign telling me to get off for my hotel in one mile!! The little indications that WDW property is just a few miles away never fail to get everyone even more riled up and excited!
Stage 8- “I’m here and I’m never leaving.” Full on Disney vacation mode has commenced. You are immersed in the magic and convinced you will never go home to ‘real life.’
Stage 9- The Last Day – Somehow, despite your vacation being a week long, all of a sudden it’s your very last few hours in WDW. When else does a week only feel like the blink of an eye? Frantically, you try to fit in all of those last minute things you would like to see and try to soak in as much magic as you can.
Stage 10- The Crushing Feeling – This hits me once I am on the Magical Express bus headed back towards the airport. You realize that you truly are headed home, and are none too happy about it. Your Disney bubble is about to burst and unfortunately real life is waiting on the other side for you.
Stage 11- The Disney Depression – You’re home, back to the daily routine, and already desperately wanting to return to the bliss of WDW. You turn your television on, and Stacey isn’t there. You look out your window, and there are no palm trees. You get on the subway, and realize there is no voice about to announce “por favor…” If you’ve felt any of these things, you have definitely had the Disney Depression. While it only lasts a short while, it definitely sucks to be back from a Disney vacation those first few days.
Stage 12- Filling The Void – This stage can last months or even years, and it includes listening to music and podcasts, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, reading Disney books, and pretty much anything else that gives you a little Disney magic at home. I find that looking through pictures of previous Disney vacations helps to fill the void of a Disney vacation while at home in this stage.
Stage 13- Repeat – “Maybe we can fit in a week in April….” The cycle begins again.
So there you have what I have come to view as “The Stages of a Disney Vacation.” At some point or another, we have all experienced these stages in different ways throughout our Disney vacations. I would love to hear your own experiences with these stages, so be sure to comment below!
Ever experience these stages? Have a great way to help beat the Disney blues? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.