2017 was a rough one for me, I was burnt out, unhappy and my hair would not behave no matter what I did. I needed a break, a big dumb holiday with zero thinking and a lot of magic. I know I live close to Europe which has history, and art and the best pizza in the world – but I didn’t want a holiday that involved even an ounce of thinking. I didn’t want to learn or be cultured or go exploring, my brain needed to switch off and so I set to planning my big dumb holiday.
I could have gone for a beach break, but let’s be honest I would have just spent a week thinking a million miles an hour about all the things I should have or could have done, just with extra sand involved. No, I needed a distraction. Disney World in Florida was my destiny.
I had been wanting to go to Orlando ever since they opened the Harry Potter parts of Universal Studios, and then last year I really got into Disney vloggers as a bit of escapism (if you need a quiet thing to watch with no surprises and it’s just people walking around doing Disney rides – Disney vloggers are the way to roll). Two things had always stopped me booking it however. The first is that it seemed like a ridiculous holiday to book when I could go to Iceland or Rome or literally any place that has real culture. I mean, part of Disney is actually called ‘the world showcase’ and has pavilions from France, Norway and Morocco – all countries I could actually have gone to instead of travelling in the other direction to see a fake version.
And the second thing that stopped me was the money. Disney is prohibitively expensive, and add on top of that Universal (different parks, different expensive ticket you have to buy), the lack of public transport so you have to cab everywhere, and hotels who know you are in Orlando for one reason so can charge what they like. Disney is a very expensive holiday.
But mid last year at work I won an award that came with a cash prize, a cash prize that would be enough to cover my flights and some of the park ticket. And I knew after living in London for all of time that winter is rubbish even in the best cities in the world. So I did it, I booked a trip to Disney, a once in a lifetime trip that would allow my brain to have a break, me to recharge and most importantly actually see the sun for the first time in months.
I called my Dad to tell him my plan, and he asked if he and Mum could gate-crash my trip (Florida is kind of [but not really] half way between NZ and UK). Now, Dad does not have the authority level to make these decisions without sign off from Mum. So I said sure, thinking that Mum would never go for it. But to my huge surprise she was totally on board for my big dumb holiday. I can’t tell you how amped I was for them to join. I hadn’t seen them in about 10 months, and I hadn’t spent actual holiday time with them in two years – this was going to be epic.
Then came the spanner in the works. Dad called me and said “we have had a look and Disney is quite expensive, how about we go to Peru instead”. I had two issues with this proposed amendment to Plan A, firstly it was my damn holiday that they were gate-crashing so who did they think they were changing the destination, and secondly the key factor in this was Disney World – and Disney World was not in Peru.
We eventually worked through the logistical issues and my god I’m glad we did because it was exactly the holiday I had dreamed about. We didn’t do any full days at the park, normally we either had a sleep in or went super early and were back by 2ish. We filled the rest of the time with outlet mall shopping, a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre and going to the Olive Garden three nights in a row (those breadsticks!!!). There was no thinking involved outside what rollercoaster we were going to go on that day and which snacks we should pack.
I wish I had got off my cultural high horse earlier and gone to Disney World. Would I go back? Probably not, it is a hella expensive couple of weeks. Would I try to find an equivalent to give my mind and body a break? Absolutely. Except this time I might do it before burning out.