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Disnesia.

My name is Chris and I suffer from Disnesia, the selective ability to overlook long lines, oppressive heat, and the hissyfit my daughter threw over a balloon in front of Mickey’s Country House in favor of more pleasant vacation moments.

And no, I’m not looking for a cure.

It’s probably true that no single vacation destination has the potential, despite admirable efforts on the part of Disney itself to mitigate these problems, for more small disasters than Walt Disney World. When you think about it, it makes sense: Crowds, crying children who’ve missed their naps, stressed out parents and worn out wallets. And then there’s the heat, but not just the normal heat you’re probably used to during the summer, but heat with humidity, the kind that makes being outdoors nothing less than miserable for several months out of the year. Despite this, when most of us describe a trip to Disney, we remember the good things far more than the bad. Talk to an older couple with grown children about the trip they took when their kids were little or your neighbor who just went for the first time and you get the same response almost every time: It was magical.

Obviously, there’s one explanation for this: Disnesia. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t perfect Disney vacations. In fact, I think most Disney vacations lean more toward perfect than disasterous, regardless of crowd levels or the weather. Most of mine have been great. But my last trip in December taught me something, and that is that bad, really bad, Disney vacations do happen.

The biggest part of our problem wasn’t anyone’s fault but our own: We took our then 22-month old twins and they just weren’t ready for the abrupt change in their schedules, the most dramatic consequence being that they simply did not sleep much at all.  This meant, not surprisingly, that no one slept much at all even though we’d had the hindsight to at least rent a three-bedroom condo. Most of the problems were, in hindsight, quite comical, but when you’re “that parent” chasing a screaming toddler around the Magic Kingdom, and you’re paying a lot of money to do so, it can seem pretty miserable.

Our trip was so bad that my husband and I both vowed on our last night in Orlando that we wouldn’t be back until the twins were at least two years older. I felt fine with that. I was done, for the time being, with Disney. It was always going to be there, the economy was bad, and we owed my in-laws a trip out West. Secretly, as the words were coming out of my mouth, I was already hatching a plot for a girls only trip the next year like the Disney-obsessed woman that I am. And then the next morning as we packed up to go home, I decided I would take our older son next December as well. He’d been so patient during the trip and there were so many things he didn’t get a chance to do because my husband and I were busy wrangling the twins. I casually mentioned this to my husband, who rolled his eyes or did some other husband-like behavior that showed his disbelief and we left it at that.

It probably took all of two weeks before I decided that the whole family would all go back again in December. If you haven’t guessed, I’m the Disney trip planner in the family. I started remembering the good things that happened, how much our daughter loved running around in Ariel’s Grotto, how her twin brother, when he wasn’t pulling her hair in the stroller, enjoyed It’s a Small World. I vowed that I’d be better informed this time and rationalized that the kids would be older. And then my daughter discovered (I have no idea how this happened. Ahem.) Disney princesses and well, it’s was all over. We were going back to Disney.

I think this is what Disney does best, creating the sort of moments that somehow stick in your mind more distinctly than the bad ones, even on a trip that was just plain rotten. The good ones, well, they’re really good. Either that, or there’s something in that confetti they’re sprinkling everywhere.

1 Comment

  1. As usual Chris, you’ve put perfectly into words how we feel about Disney. We had declared there would be no trip this year as well. Then MY Disneia kicked in and I made the leap to surprise my family with a December trip as well. Your article brought a tear to my eye and tugged at my heart, which will always belong to Disney :)

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