Post Disney Depression is a real thing. It’s that blue, miserable, nothing-will-ever-be-magical-again feeling you get after you leave a Disney park or cruise (or, if you’re really hardcore, a particularly emotional Disney movie). Colors seem more dull. Food tastes less delicious. Nothing is sparkly or exciting. Will anything ever feel good again? The real world, in all of its misery, comes back into sharp focus and forces you to accept that, try as you might, you can’t live in the wonderful world of Disney forever.
Although I got pretty close, once.
I was a Cast Member at Disney World for a semester during college (the college program is SO AWESOME). I started working at Disney World the month that I turned 21. And yeah, it was pretty much the best semester ever: I got to go to Disney World every single day for FREE, made tons of amazing new friends who were just as peppy and freakishly Disney obsessed as me, and I cut my teeth on my new drinking privileges at Epcot and The House of Blues (which is a ballin’ Cast Member party late on Sunday nights, FYI). Sure, I was bunking up with 6 girls in an apartment that felt more like a dorm; sure, I was subject to the kind of strict, summer-camp-esque rules that made me feel like I was 12 rather than 21; sure, I had to worry about “white glove tests” (yes really) and sure, I was regularly working 14+ hour shifts and on my feet from open to close … but still: I got to go to Disney World EVERY DAY! #WorthIt.
Post Disney Depression hit me HARD after my glorious stint as a Walt Disney World Cast Member came to an end. You think it feels bad to come home after visiting the parks for a week? Imagine spending every day at Disney World for four months and then going back to the real world. I fell into one of those slumps where it’s difficult to do anything other than lay on the couch under a fluffy blanket and cry a lot and eat soup even though you’re not really sick but soup is just soothing somehow. Yeah, it was bad.
But I made it through. It took a while – honestly? I don’t think I got totally over it for like, a full year – but I found some really creative ways to make it through my Post Disney Depression. And if I can do it – and I’m like, a really emotional person, you guys, I cried at Lilo & Stitch – you can definitely do it! Here are my Former Cast Member tips for beating the post Disney blues.
1. Look at photos from your last Disney vacation
There’s nothing that will cheer you up more than staring right in the eyes of your former, happier self from better days. Like the photo of that time you and Farmer Mickey hung out and you think he might have made a joke but you can’t tell if maybe he was actually just trying to do an awkward dance move. Or that time you got a picture with a particularly grumpy Haunted Mansion Cast Member and you smiled really big and give a thumbs up and they just glared at the camera. Or the time you tried to take an Instagram-worthy picture of your Mickey Bar in front of the castle and it ended up melting all over your hand.
As you flip through your photos, mentally will yourself to relive your memories with the kind of movie-like dream sequence that involves wavy lines and harp music.
2. Listen to the Disney Parks soundtracks on Spotify
Yes, there are hella Spotify playlists full of Disney Parks music, like this one! This will become the new soundtrack of your life. You will get dressed to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. You will drink your morning coffee to Drink Up Me Hearties, Yo-Ho. You will drive to work listening to Heigh-Ho. You will take the elevator up to work listening to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Theme Song. You will run errands to the Space Mountain theme. You will write blog posts about Disney while listening to the Soarin’ Over California theme and reliving your days as a Cast Member (NO YOU’RE CRYING). And you will fall asleep dreaming of your next trip to Disney while listening to Wishes.
3. Watch Disney Vacation planning videos
If step 1 is looking at pictures of the Disney Parks, and step 2 is listening to music from the Disney parks, step 3 is actually watching videos about the Disney parks. And, luckily for you, Disney happens to have produced hours of material for you to watch from the comfort of your sad-sack blanket fort on the couch!
The Disney Vacation Planning videos used to be this whole process where you’d order them through the mail and wait anxiously for your VHS, or your DVD, or your blue-ray, or whatever the hot tech was at the time, to finally arrive. Well, the future is here and you can get these videos ONLINE at last. No waiting required!
You still have to fill out a whole questionnaire (they really want to make you work for these, I guess) but they’re SO WORTH IT. These lifeboats of Disney magic will tide you over for a few glorious hours as you sink into blissful, glorious Disney Parks immersion. Ahhh.
You can access the Disney Vacation Planning Videos here.
4. Binge watch your favorite Disney movies
Once your Disney Vacation Planning video binge-fest is over, you’ll be desperate for something to fill the well of emptiness in the pit of your stomach. Now’s the time for a Disney Movie Marathon.
Stock up on your favorite Disney movies with Hulu, Netflix, the last Blockbuster, or your favorite shady website, and settle in for a solid week of proving that yes, you know all the words to 99% of the Disney movies.
This is a perfect time to re-watch everything you’ve already re-watched a thousand times, but don’t forget to finally catch up on the new stuff you’ve been meaning to see but haven’t because you weren’t sure if you’d be judged for walking into a movie theater full of 13-year-olds by yourself wearing a fluffy blanket and a pair of giant sunglasses.
5. Play Roller Coaster Tycoon and attempt to build all of the parks
Roller Coaster Tycoon is the best game ever. I grew up playing it on my old Windows ’98 PC, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 was the perfect medium to express my grown-up Disney grief creatively: by attempting to build all of the Disney parks.
Sure, it’s not an exact replica, but it will be close enough to satisfy your thirst for all things Disney for at least a few months.
Pro tip: turn off the sound and just listen to the Disney Parks soundtrack on repeat. Awwww, yiss.
6. Ride the rides in your knock-off Roller Coaster Tycoon park
When you’ve got your Disney Parks knock-off to a satisfying level, you’ll start to wonder: how can I take this to the next level and really immerse myself?
My friends, I have the answer: you can virtually ride the rides in your Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 park. Do y’all remember that Raytheon ride in Epcot’s Innoventions pavilion, the Sum of All Thrills? Where you got to build a roller coaster and then ride it with a virtual reality headset while the simulator flipped you upside down? This is … not that. But if you lean from side to side a lot, it’s ALMOST as good. And you definitely didn’t hear this from me, but the less sober you are, the more convincing your ride simulation will feel.
So go ahead and build your best version of California’ Screaming and then watch it while blasting the California Screamin’ theme song. The best part? No lines!
7. Watch YouTube Ride Walk-Throughs
After building every Disney ride you can think of and riding it from the comfort of your couch-home, you’ll want to experience the real thing again. Or maybe you’re having some engineering difficulties and you need to do some technical research. Look, I may not be good at actual real-life physics, but dammit, I take my Roller Coaster Tycoon engineering seriously. #NerdAlert
Anyway, at this point you’ll remember that obnoxious guy next to you on Soarin’ who was filming the whole thing and blinding your entire row in the process. Maybe the Cast Member working that day was feeling extra cranky and called him out on it over the loudspeaker, too.
Suddenly, your utter hatred of That Guy turns to curiosity: what did he do with those videos? Can you like … watch them?
Well, my friend, yes. They are on YouTube. Although as a former Cast Member I officially hate everyone who breaks the rules and films the rides … as a person who is no longer at Disney World 24/7 I LOVE THOSE RIDE VIDEOS. There are literally people who will keep their phone on and filming as they stand in line, load onto the ride, ride the ride, and then walk out of the ride. It’s like a full hour of re-living your favorite Disney rides, in real time. Amazing!
8. Re-create your favorite Disney recipes with DIY versions
At this point a few months have passed and you might finally be ready to emerge from your couch cocoon as a puffy-eyed butterfly and attempt to eat something other than soup.
Well, the next best thing to being at Disney is eating like you’re at Disney. So throw your diet out the window (maybe run it over a few times to make sure it’s really dead) and start browsing some nostalgia-soothing Disney Recipes.
There are roughly one zillion Disney Parks recipes available on the internet to choose from, or you can go straight to the source and pick up a Disney Recipes Cookbook written by the actual Disney Chefs.
Not much of a cook? That’s OK. Take a shortcut with a Disney Waffle Iron or a Disney Toaster. Psst, here’s a Cast Member Insider Tip: this is the actual waffle and pancake mix they use in the Disney Parks!
Bonus points if you show up to your grown-up job with your little Mickey Mouse sandwich in a little Disney lunchbox (don’t act like you’re too grown up to want this one with badass Mulan throwing a punch and sassy Belle with her nose in a book. PS, dear family: Christmas?).
Here are a few of the delicious Disney Parks inspired recipes that I’m not talented enough to make, but you might be:
- Mickey Mouse Beignets
- The Grey Stuff Cheesecake
- Mickey Mouse Rice Crispy Treats
- Disneyland Raspberry Rose Macarons
- Magic Kingdom Corn Dog Nuggets
- Disneyland Monte Cristo Sandwich
- Disneyland Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich
9. Re-create your favorite Disney drinks with DIY versions
If any of these other tips didn’t work for you, you can always just drink yourself back to the Disney parks … with Disney themed drinks, of course! I’m definitely not implying that if you drink enough, you might be able to convince yourself that you’re still at Disney. Or that it is a good idea to drink way the pain of being not at Disney. But you know… you do you, boo. Find your light-up ice cube (or buy a whole set) and get to bartending!
Here are a few cocktail recipes to get our started. Some of them are non-alcoholic, but I’m sure we can find a way to remedy that.
- Dole Whip Margarita
- LeFou’s Brew
- Disney’s Godiva Chocolate Martini
- Epcot Grand Marnier Slush
- Leilani Volcano Cocktail
- World’s Best Hot Chocolate
- Pina Colava
10. Plan another trip!
By now, enough time has passed since you last left Disney that it is reasonable to begin planning your next Disney trip. Because if you start planning the day after you leave everyone is like “what’s wrong with you?” Can a girl just be prepared?! Damn. Hop on your favorite Disney blog, forum, Facebook Group, etc to see what’s new and exciting for your next trip. There is ALWAYS something new to look forward to: a new ride, a new way to book Fast Passes that makes your old strategy completely useless, a new resort, a new food festival at Epcot! There are tours you haven’t done yet, and that epic Disney World Resort Bar Crawl and ridiculous Disney World Scavenger Hunt that you really want to try *ahem*. If you haven’t already exhausted the Disney Vacation Planning videos, you can now begin studying them with a pen and paper in hand, which is less sad and more Super On Top of Things.
Congratulations, you’re ready to re-enter the real world again – now that you’ve got another Disney Parks trip to look forward to! Oh hey, we have some other posts for that:
- How to Do Disney: A Disney Parks Guide by a Former Cast Member
- The Disney World Resort Bar Crawl: Disney for Adults!
Have you ever had Post Disney Depression? What helped you get through it? Leave us a comment below!
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