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. *cue wooshing noises and harp music*
I was a Cast Member at Disney World for a semester during college (the college program is SO AWESOME). I started working at Soarin’ Over California (RIP) in Epcot the same 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 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.
Visiting the Disney Parks in 2023
If you haven't visited in a while, there are some extra steps you'll need to take to visit the parks this year. We’ve summarized everything you need to know below!
How to Visit Walt Disney World
You must first check the availability of the date you wish to visit any of the parks, then purchase a ticket, and also make a theme park reservation for the date you purchased your ticket. You need BOTH a ticket AND a reservation to enter the park. If you purchase a park hopper, you may visit the other park after 2pm.
You can find all about making a theme park reservation here, as well as other important information about visiting the resort here.
How to Visit Disneyland
To visit Disneyland, first check the availability of the date you wish to visit the park, purchase a ticket, and also make a theme park reservation for the date you purchased your ticket. You need BOTH a ticket AND a reservation to enter the park. If you purchase a park hopper, you may visit the other park after 1pm.
You can find all about making a theme park reservation here.
Psst: Looking for more tips to help you plan your Disney trip? Check out some of our other Disney posts:
- How to Do Disney: A Disney Parks Guide by a Former Cast Member
- The Disney World Resort Bar Crawl
- The Disneyland Scavenger Hunt
- The Ultimate Disneyland Photography Guide
- What to Pack for Disney (& what NOT to)
Are if you’re looking for a way to travel to Disney without leaving home? We created an immersive virtual Disney world tour so you can live the magic of Disney from the comfort of your sofa!
We also have a Podcast episode all about Disney! A futuristic utopia that’s definitely not a cult. A suicide-themed ride. Lia’s college internship. What do they all have in common? Disney World, of course! In this episode, Lia spills all the Mad Tea on the most magical place on Earth, plus insider tips from her time as a Cast Member. We also explain our tried & tested Disney Strategy (aka STRAT), because waiting in long lines for rides is some Bippity-Boppity-BS.
Listen above or just click here to launch your Podcast app! Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes.
How to Beat Post-Disney Depression
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.
Listen to the Disney Parks Music
Yes, there are hella Spotify playlists full of Disney Parks music, like this one! This is one of the best ways to soothe your Disney-addicted nerves by triggering your brain to produce vivid memories. Yep, y’all: we’re using science to fight Disney depression!
Disney Parks music 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 clean your basement to the Haunted Mansion 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.
Take a Virtual Disney World Tour
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, there are hours of material for you to watch from the comfort of your sad-sack blanket fort on the couch!
We’ve done the hard work and watched hundreds of hours of parks footage for you (which was very difficult … emotionally) to find the best, most realistic, immersive walk-through videos and pulled them together into a comprehensive, all-day-long Virtual Disney World Tour! We even added in photos, musical cues, ride videos a storyline, and some Disney-tastic jokes.
Schedule a day to just absolutely immerse yourself in the magic of Disney World. Block off your schedule, stock up on drinkables and eat-ables (and edibles) and go HARD. Check out our post and bookmark it for a day you can really give it your full, undivided attention!
Or, if you’d rather skip right to the videos, here are our favorite walk-through videos:
- Stroll through Frontierland
- Hollywood Studios Park Walkthrough
- Animal Kingdom Park Walkthrough
- Sunset stroll through Epcot World Showcase
- Main Street USA at Sunset on Halloween
- Evening stroll through Tomorrowland
- Evening stroll through Future World
- Nighttime walk through Magic Kingdom
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, Amazon Prime, Disney+, 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.
Play Roller Coaster Tycoon
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 a Disney Parks soundtrack on repeat. Awwww, yiss.
Ride Disney Rides (Virtually)
When you’ve got your Disney Parks knock-off in Roller Coaster Tycoon 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!
… or, and this is much easier, just watch ride videos on YouTube. Which brings us to our next suggestion!
Watch YouTube Ride Videos
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: 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. Why yes, it IS incredibly satisfying Voice of God people using flash photography on rides.
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, so you can enjoy hours of your favorite Disney rides, in real time. Amazing!
We included the 15 best ride videos we could find in our Virtual Day at Disney World blog post. Here are a few of our favorites:
Dress Up & Disneybound … at home
You don’t have to dress in a full-on costume or wear Mickey Ears to the grocery store to feel At One With Disney! A comfy t-shirt or a Disney-inspired outfit is enough to get that Disney feeling all day, every day.
Dressing in a way that is vaguely inspired by a Disney character or something at the Disney Parks, aka Disneybounding, is my personal favorite way to express my Disney obsession in a way that’s so subtle, most non-Disney folks won’t even get it. They’ll just be like “wow, she sure wears a lot of bright, primary colors.”
Which means you can safely Disneybound at work, school, home, on your couch … literally everywhere!
I’ve included a few Disneybounding must-haves (like this bright yellow skirt!) in our Disney Packing Guide.
Re-create your favorite Disney recipes
At this point in your post-Disney Depressionjourney, 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!
Even Dole Whips are easy to make at home – if you have an ice cream maker, that is. If you do, you can just whip up a bag of this Pineapple Soft Serve mix and add whipped cream!
Bonus points if you show up to your grown-up job with a Mickey bar and some Mickey waffles 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
Re-create your favorite Disney drinks
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 you 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
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, subreddit, 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, Hidden Mickeys you have yet to find, and that epic Disney World Resort Bar Crawl and ridiculous Disney Parks Scavenger Hunts that you really want to try *ahem*. So pack your bags for Disney, make a plan, and book a flight!
Now, you can start looking forward to your next trip instead of mourning your last one!
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:
- What to Pack for Disney: The Ultimate Disney Packing List (for Adults)
- How to Do Disney: A Disney Parks Guide by a Former Cast Member
- The Disney World Resort Bar Crawl
- The Disneyland Scavenger Hunt
Have you ever had Post Disney Depression? What helped you get through it? Leave us a comment below!
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This I think would help. I’m only on the day after my trip and I’m depressed. So hopefully these tips will give me the happy feeling I felt at Disney World (FL). Thank you
Anonymous :D says
This is definitely true. At the beginning of the Disneyland day, you are so excited for the whole trip ahead of you, but when it is over, you have had the best day ever and the day/trip suddenly ends and it is completely over.
Great list for Disney lovers! They’ll reopen as soon as humanly possible. I believe it!
This post was very inspirational, thank you so much! We’re under home confinement here in Spain and found your post getting inspired to recreate a Disney Parks day at home. We’ll be putting on our Mickey ears this weekend and following this plan! Thank you xxx
Lia Garcia says
Awww, I love that! That’s the perfect way to spend your time in quarantine. Glad you’re staying safe!
You’ve missed my favorite way to beat those Post Disney Depression blues. Listening to some of those great binaural experiential podcasts that put me right back into the parks for free.
Lia Garcia says
That’s such a great suggestion! Our Disney podcast episode is coming out next week 🙂
Laura Schwartz says
Loved this! May I share it with our Facebook group for parents of DCPs?
If anyone here has a student in or entering the Disney College Program, we can help!
Lia Garcia says
I’d LOVE for you to share it there! I had major post-Disney depression after my college program was over, as did all of my CP friends, and this is pretty much exactly what I did 🙂 Would be a great list of ideas for parents of CPs!
Love this, my daughter started with the “I Miss Disneyland” about a day after our last trip, and created her own Disney playlist which we have been listening to continually, this was changed to her Disney Aulani playlist (think Disneyland playlist but add in a couple of Lilo and Stitch songs) for a while after we went to DIsney Aulani resort, but has gone back to the DIsneyland playlist again. Whilst we plan our next trip
Kirstin Street says
I love for your Disney tips! haha I’ve found myself doing most of these things and already all over that playlist 😉 And binge watching fave Disney movies just goes without saying!
I so felt this way after returning home last summer from Disney ! Especially when you have to come back to rainy Seattle! Ha!
I love your pictures!!!
Love this post! I feel this way after every vacation!!! It gets worse the closer I get to retirement and full time travel 😉 Lololol!! Great tips to beat the blahs after any adventure!!
YES!! Disney blues are so real. I usually fix them by booking another trip lol. I am off to Disneyland Paris in 6 day but only for a day and a half and then am back for Halloween but in between trips I definitely need these tips. *skips off to find park soundtracks to play*
Megan Johnson says
Ahh this makes me want to go! I’ve never been to Disneyworld and was planning on going this winter, but funds are low, so I decided to put it off and this makes me not want to put it off now haha. The Disney Kids Pandora station is my favorite.
I’m depressed now just realizing I’ll never work at Disney World. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but for the first time living in Canada (even during Trump-time) is making me sad. I still haven’t been to Disney and I really really need to. I’m going to go use these tips now. Thanks for sharing!
It’s kind of funny, this is actually all the stuff I do leading up to a Disney vacation 🙂 But you’re right, Disney depression is real. Although immediately afterwards, when I’m exhausted from wrangling a 4 year old at a theme park for a solid week, I always swear we’ll never do it again. My kid has been 5 times in 4 years 🙂
Ha! That’s exactly what Jeremy said when he read this post. He was like this is just how I get myself amped up for our Disney vacations 😛 There’s no bad time to dive into a Disney obsession, I suppose!
I’m so excited to return to Disney World in December – I get the post Disney depression!!! I go every single year with my family. The one year we missed our annual trip, we spent months talking about Disney World before booking a trip!
Marvi of Osmiva says
I’m laughing coz i felt the same way too, after visiting Disneyland.. haha :D. we were listening to Disney songs when we returned home, like everyday… he even went on and looked for the song/s played during the Disney in the Stars. LOL.
Oh my god this is a hoot!! Building the park in theme park world is hilarious haha what a great tip!! *leaves to find disney’s Spotify playlist omg*