I am going to preface this with saying that I waited 11 months to write this article; therefore, there are no hard feelings, no bitterness or sadness behind what I’m about to write. Simply an analysis of why the best trip of my life was when I went right after a breakup.
I was on a high; I had just gotten back from my first year at college, summer was starting, and to top it all off, I was going to my favorite place in the world in less than 24 hours: Disney World. But that all came crashing down when my boyfriend of four years broke up with me, five hours before I was supposed to leave for the airport.
Let me set the scene: it was 10:00pm, and my mom and I were leaving for the airport at 3:00am, to be in Orlando by 10:00am. And I hadn’t even packed yet. I had just gotten back from school at midnight the night before. Boxes overflowed from my bedroom into the living room. I had opened just about every box looking for things to put in my suitcase. Clothes were everywhere. And my mother wasn’t happy. This was going to be rough.
It was a whirlwind when I got home; brief meetups with friends and finally a reunion with my boyfriend in the early evening. Four hours later, I came home in tears. I was inconsolable, weeping, saying things like “now my trip is ruined”, recounting the story to my mother. She offered to cancel the trip, saying she’d understand if I wanted to stay home. I denied, knowing there was still nowhere I’d rather be than Disney. She packed for me as I lay in bed crying and talking to my consoling friends, trying to piece things together. Soon, 3:00am came, and I was on my way to Bradley International, with a tear-streaked face, and a nauseous feeling in my gut.
By the time we had landed in Orlando, it was 10:30 in the morning, I hadn’t eaten anything in over twelve hours, and I hadn’t slept in almost 24. I felt conflicted; I should have been overjoyed- I was in my most favorite place in the world, but I was still extremely upset. Oh, and did i mention that the last time I visited Disney it was with my ex in tow for his first magical trip? The happiest place on earth, indeed.
Fast forward a couple hours later: I fell asleep on the drive to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort, had a croissant from the Boardwalk Bakery, and was starting to feel a little (just a little) bit better. After sitting in my hotel room for twenty minutes, I decided I wasn’t going to waste this vacation feeling sorry for myself. Not only was a Disney vacation too expensive to waste, but I only came here once a year- I was going to make the most of it.
With not much spring in my step, I dusted myself off and left for Epcot. My mother told me to enjoy what I could and the rest would follow. What is that phrase? Fake it until you make it? That was me, the big faker: I rode my favorite Epcot ride, Spaceship Earth, ate fish and chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop, managed some popcorn, and had Alice sign my Alice in Wonderland book–which, at 4 inches thick, was difficult to lug all the way from home. And you know what? Things were starting to look up. At some point, the depression fog started to lift.
All in all, my 24th Disney trip was one of my best, if not the best, Disney trips. It was completely unexpected. What started out with tears and anxiety ended up with lightness and contentment. In my down time, I still had moments of loss and thoughts about how I would get on without my best friend of four years. There was also a bit of depressing nostalgia having been there last with my ex.
My big tip for not letting sad events derail a trip: don’t be a slave to the negative emotions.
Surprisingly, when I decided to try to enjoy myself, and it made me appreciate the gift that going to Disney truly is even more. Amidst my first real heartbreak, rather than staying in my hometown, sulking and lying around in a state of depression, trying to avoid my ex, I was running around my happy place. Every time I felt another bout of sadness begin to approach, I had numerous healthy coping mechanisms at my disposal: I could go on my favorite ride, meet my favorite character, or eat my favorite snack. I was constantly distracted.
I won’t sugarcoat it and say it was all easy. Watching “Happily Ever After” made me a bit more overemotional, especially with the happy college-aged couple in front of me. And, though I usually cry during the show, I cried out of sadness. But it was okay–nobody knew the difference! The same was true for my second favorite Disney World nighttime show, “Illuminations.” Basically, anything that tugged at the heartstrings I maybe should have avoided.
For the most part, though, Disney World served as the perfect distraction. It was also a pretty good excuse to treat myself. Hello, second Mickey Bar, and hello, too many souvenirs! This might be one of the bigger reasons this was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken: I felt like I owed it to myself now more than ever to go over the top in treating myself. Self care, and whatnot- something my generation has been big on lately.
I was worried that feelings of sadness on a Walt Disney World vacation were going to taint my feelings towards my favorite vacation spot. But that didn’t happen. I think when you’ve had so many good experiences there, it helps.
All in all, it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had. Not that I’d recommend dumping your S.O. to give your next Disney trip some pizazz, but if you ever find yourself in my situation, I hope you make the most of it. I’ve always known that Disney was magical, but this vacation taught me that magic can be made in the most dreaded of circumstances.