The Disappointment is Real – Helping Our Kids Deal with a Canceled Disney Trip

The specially-colored t-shirts for each theme park were all sorted in boxes, ready to be worn. The numerous MagicBands, FastPasses, and meal vouchers were all prepared and ready to be used. Our oldest son’s middle school chorus teacher had spent hours and hours planning the trip, and the students had worked hard and fund-raised all year to go to Walt Disney World for a music workshop. Some had never even been to a Disney park.  

Our family had even more special plans. We were picking our son up in Animal Kingdom on the last day of his chorus trip and staying a couple of extra days to take my Star Wars-loving husband to Galaxy’s Edge for his birthday. We were all excited about the new experiences planned – Galaxy’s Edge, the Disney Skyliner, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. We couldn’t wait! Our two boys had also both been saving their chore, Christmas, and birthday money to build a lightsaber in Galaxy’s Edge.

Then, the unthinkable happened. The coronavirus pandemic stopped everything. While our nation’s health is more important, the disappointment is still there, and my husband and I are helping our middle school boys handle it. Here is what we are doing to help them, and ourselves, deal with the canceled trip we were looking so much forward to.

Understanding is the first step to dealing with the disappointment. My boys are not preschoolers anymore. Even though they would rather do math than watch the news, they’ve seen and heard enough about it through others and social media to know what is happening. We are helping them sort through the information to determine the truth of the situation. As a result, they understand the health risks involved to all, and they realize that all of these decisions have not been made lightly.

Secondly, we are teaching them optimism. We are concentrating on all of the people that may not get sick and lose their lives to this sickness as a result of all the closings. We are also hoping to use the money we will be refunded to plan a future trip to Disneyland, where they have never been. We sit at dinner together and talk about the things we would love to do there, and the money for the lightsabers is staying in their savings accounts! Instead of focusing on the present disappointment, we are staying optimistic and focusing on our hopes for a future trip.

Thirdly, we are creating fun every chance we get. Even in quarantine, you can be creative and plan fun into every day of your life, and especially on the days you would have been on your vacation.

We are playing lots of board games, having family soccer practices, watching movies, baking, and even having our own Lego Masters competition. My husband loves this just as much as my boys. I am the host and the judge, which can be the hardest part! So far, they have built spooky houses, movie scenes, alien worlds, and even Disney-themed builds. We like to add a bit of Disney magic into each day, whether it is watching Disney+, dancing to Disney music, or building Disney icons with Lego!  

Lastly, we are practicing thankfulness. We are remembering and looking at pictures of all the past Walt Disney World trips and other vacations we have been blessed to take. Being thankful is truly the best cure for disappointment. We are thankful for our health and making plans for our next Disney vacation!   

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