Good Morrow my friends,
Last time we spoke I was feeling the onset of Disney fever, and it is now a full blown case of Disney dreaming. We are weighing options and making plans. As I get caught up on all the latest news and the recent changes in the parks, I am once again struck by how incredibly huge the Disney Empire has become. Many fan girls and boys have built successful careers all centred around the world of the Disney Parks.
Once you have decided to go to WDW (Walt Disney World) you open the doors to disney planning. A quick search of the internet will return with scads of websites with touring plans, advice about fast passes, foods to eat and more top ten lists than you would ever want to deal with. Now I know we all sort of love/hate the internet in general. There are pro and cons of this brave new world and in regards to Disney it is no different. So how can you guard against this online glut of information and “advice” and keep it from ruining your vacation? It helps to identify who the “wreck it” monsters are, after all just like GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”
First let’s talk about the I don’t want to plan my vacation monster. The decision is made, you are going to Disney World, congratulations. At this point many people become overwhelmed by all of the decisions you are confronted with, resort choices, dining reservations, parade times, what to bring, what to wear, the list could go on and on. I can not begin to tell you the number of times people have looked down the rabbit hole and threw their hands in the air saying, “This is not vacation. I want to roll out of bed, then go and do whatever whim may take me that day.” The thing is they are right, it’s not a vacation of laying on the beach, a Disney vacation is a very different sort of animal. It is not fly by the seat of my pants, go where the winds blow me sort of thing. Unfortunately there are too many people and too many activities to just try and wing it. In fact most of the people I have spoken with who didn’t enjoy themselves are people who go in with no plan at all.
There is a level of planning that is necessary but there is a fine line that if crossed can lead you to the next disney vacation ruiner, over planning. Many sites will lead you to believe that you need to have a plan for every minute, start here, in an hour be there, eat this and stake out a viewing spots by this time, next you must…. This type of thought process leads to very stressed families trying to see it all and do it all. As you can imagine this is not a whole lot of fun for anyone in your family. The idea you must stick to the plan or lose your day is distressing. It also leaves very little time or energy for any magic or memory making moments that may pop up in your path.
I have some ideas about Disney planning that can help you guard against this “I’m gonna wreck it.” monster. I am by no means a disney expert, I’m just a fan girl. Some lessons we learned the hard way. But I am happy to share my thoughts and hopefully there will be something that will help you make the most of your magical holiday. (Coming soon to a blog near you.)
The next two monsters that can thwart your fun are the two darlings of social media, expectation and her big sister, comparison. It matters not if you are planning a trip or just planning supper we have all experienced the dissatisfaction that comes from seeing everyone else’s lives on the inter web. The perfectly framed and composed photos, the healthy beautiful food when we are eating mac and cheese pizza pops, the ‘follow these instructions and you will end up here’ blog posts and you tube videos.
Disney is no different, just because someone received a free room upgrade by putting “thus” on their reservation, or was given “this” because they were wearing a birthday button is no guarantee you will have the same experience. If anything those little bonus bits of magic are disappearing. Somewhere along the line people forgot they were bonuses and began to expect them. Remember when your mother would make you go look up a word in the dictionary? What do you mean I was the only mom to do that to my kids? Moving right along, try looking up ‘bonus’, it says an unexpected extra. Unexpected, not guaranteed.
I also find I have to guard against my own unrealistic expectations, this is the second way expectation can wreck our holiday. We will not get to do everything in the parks. We will not get to see everything in the parks. I will not look like a willowy twenty year old with perfect hair in all our photos. Expectations, they can break you if you let them, so keep them realistic. Instead I expect that we shall have a wonderful time, to make memories that get sweeter as time go by, to embrace the moments we have together away from the everyday. When I follow this advice to self I know we will come home with fun stories to tell.
Hand in hand with expectation is her BIG sister comparison. Oh dear, this is where social media gets us every time. We need to maintain our awareness that our experiences will be unique to us. The sunshiney photos that flooded my newsfeed during spring break were wonderful and I am happy that all my friends and family had the opportunities to have such a great time. I could have allowed the comparison of the snowy view outside my window to make me very unhappy against their view of palm trees and pools but I didn’t. Instead I choose to embrace happiness for my friends, that they were able to have a marvellous time away. I know that when we go to Disney we also will have a wonderful time, even though it will be different from their trips.
The people in your life who have visited WDW multiple times can tell you that no two trips have ever been the same. Families have different priorities in the park. Some families hunt characters, some go for all the rides, some want to see every show, some want to hunt hidden mickeys or take on a cupcake challenge. (WDW seriously offers a lot of different types of cupcakes.)
The time you spend at WDW will be distinctly yours. My experience watching the fireworks will be different from yours. I might be standing in another location, my viewing partners will not be the same and my camera may not be professional grade, but that doesn’t mean I won’t love them just as much. Take the reviews you read on the web with a grain of salt. They are after all only someone else’s opinion. Not everyone likes the same amount of spice in their chilli.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, you my friend are a pretty smart cookie. I’m just gently reminding you that when you feel that dissatisfaction creeping in to take a moment and refocus on everything that makes your trip yours. Everyone has set backs, things not accomplished, stomachs that felt sick, kids who should have napped or dads who should have napped. They probably are not going to be sharing those stories. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” and it can be if you allow it.
Some of you are saying, “Stacey-Lynne we aren’t going to disney so what does any of this letter have to do with us?” No worries, I promise to change the topic next time. But no matter if it’s disney related or just life in general, we all face the “I’m gonna wreck it!” villains. The online world we live in makes them difficult to avoid, especially expectation and comparison. The truth is we are each responsible for how much sway we allow those villains.
If all of us face the attitudes and practices that threaten to derail and spoil our joy, why are some so successful at not allowing that to happen? Perhaps that is the case where comparison is not the thief but can be used instead as a tool. We can learn from others on how to better control our responses and our view of life, to live with gratitude. Big thoughts for a Tuesday afternoon. How do you keep the internet from overwhelming your chosen vacation destination? I am interested to hear your thoughts.
Your Post Mistress,