Did you know that in 1931, Walt Disney had a nervous breakdown?

He was only 30 and had already accomplished more than most of us do in a lifetime.

Fun facts.

To remedy his mental fatigue, Walt and his wife, Lillian took their first ever vacation together. When it was over, he returned eager and inspired to move forward with his multitude of dreams and schemes, all of which have culminated in a legacy that has long outlived his short 65 years.

Did you know that a year later Disney won an Oscar for creating Mickey Mouse? MORE FUN FACTS.

Now, I haven’t had a nervous breakdown and I certainly haven’t accomplished anything quite as impressive as the big D (although I guess I still have a few years, right?) but I can certainly speak to the healing properties of a good ol’ fashioned vacation for the mind, body, and soul. Mine was pretty good.

Add that to the fact that said vacation happened to be at Walt Disney World and this intro just came full-circle. BOO YAH.

(And yes, I did learn that piece of Disney trivia while I was there. The trip was fun AND educational!)

Vacations, getting away from the everyday and “reconnecting” yourself, are generally good for reasons that probably don’t require explaining. I didn’t realize how badly I actually needed to get away until I did; turns out I was just a tense, high-strung ball of nerves and didn’t even know it. Travelling to the other side of another country and going completely off-grid (well, save for a handful of “yes, I’m here and not dead” texts and two phone calls to my boyfriend) can really clear a girl’s head. Nothing helps you gain some much needed perspective like disappearing for a while.

But I think there’s also a lot to be said for shamelessly catering to your inner child for a while too.
I just spent two weeks wearing mouse ears, learning, thrilling and rediscovering classic moments of my younger years I had all but forgotten as I got older. It may very well have been one of the greatest things I’ve done for myself since… Well I guess since Operation: Laser Eyes (they’re still working!).

Aside from a suitcase full of souvenirs (Christmas shopping, DONE. Everyone’s getting mouse ears), I also came home with a reviewed sense of inspiration and creative drive. Hanging out with Mickey Mouse seems to have amplified that childlike sense of wonder that makes the world exciting, something I’m actively clinging too now that I’m back to reality.

As for Disney World, allow me to share some tips:

  • The US Thanksgiving weekend seems to be the QUIETEST time to be there. We pretty much owned Epcot on the Sunday.
  • That said, if you’re planning on staying at a Disney hotel (and I think you should – the perks that come with having a key card will make your trip so much easier and enjoyable), and you think you’ll be there early in December, call about a week ahead and ask if any “Pop Warner” participants will be staying at your hotel. If they say yes, ask to be transferred to a hotel where they will NOT be staying. Just trust me on this one.
  • Get the Disney Dining plan. Make reservations EVERYWHERE (World Showcase FTW) and try things you’ve never had before. Seriously, when else are you going to have so many different types of amazing world food at your disposal in one place? You can have burgers and fries the rest of the year. (Also, making meal reservations is highly recommended).
  • Going around Christmas? Take in the Candlelight Procesional. It’s pretty. I recommend buying a pass though – otherwise you’ll need to park yourself in the standby line at LEAST two hours before the show if you want even a slight chance of getting a seat.
  • Also worth spending the extra money on? Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The Magic Kingdom is one of the busiest parks and it can really mar the experience. A Christmas Party pass means you get to stay late when the park is at a fraction of it’s capacity, see amazing Christmas shows, get free cookies and hot chocolate and (best part) there are virtually NO lines for all the rides. We rode Big Thunder Mountain Railway three times in a row and closed the park. It was awesome.
  • Fast Passes: USE THEM (especially if you want to ride “Toy Story Mania” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Go early in the day and get your fast pass before you do anything else. Plan on spending the day there – we had 6 hours until our ride time BUT it was way better than spending almost two hours standing in line).
  • We were lucky to have two weeks to get everything done, which means we got to know each of the theme parks really well. I know not everyone is going to have that much time down there but do yourself a favour and try to get to each of the parks – you’ll be missing SO much of the Disney experience if you just go to one.
  • Planning on doing a lot of shopping? Wait until the end of your trip – you’re going to find all kinds of cool things as you go along and you don’t want to max your budget one too much too soon. For one-stop shopping I suggest Downtown Disney’s “World of Disney” or Epcot’s “Mouse Gear”.
  • Walt’s birthday is on December 5th. If you’re there, make the time to celebrate it 🙂
  • And finally: Make a little extra time to visit “Winter Summerland Mini Golf”. It’s a wicked good time and if Jim’s working that day, tell him the two crazy girls from Canada (the ones with the Fosters) say hi.

And to wrap things up, I give you some pictures:

Commiserating with our fellow lumberjacks. I mean Canadians...
Just hanging out with the king. No big deal. Just kidding. SUCH a big deal.
We had no idea who Phineas and Ferb were when we got there. We left with an obsession. Curse you Perry the Platypus!
Duffy the Disney Bear MIGHT just be the cutest thing in the whole world. Just sayin.
Spaceship Earth at Epcot. So much love for Epcot.
I think it might be impossible to take a picture of the Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life that captures how truly AMAZING it is. So you get this instead.