UPDATE: This article has been updated now with news of Disney World’s closure through the end of March.
Disclaimer: This article does not address the medical concerns of Coronavirus itself, nor is it to tell you whether you should or should not travel. It is just commentary on how to deal with anxiety as a result of having travel to Disney planned.
It seems like Coronavirus has invaded every area of our lives, and travel seems to be at the very forefront of that. Of course that affects Disney as well! Whether you had a trip to Disney World planned this month, you have one in the next few months, one further down the road, or you’ve been thinking about booking a vacation, you probably have some questions and concerns.
I’m going to start out by saying that I don’t think anyone is “wrong” or “right” in what they decide to do. Some people are getting very opinionated about whether or not you “should” be traveling. Choose to go, choose not to, I’m not judging one way or the other – I’m just going to try and ease a little anxiety about the whole situation.
Also, much of this could change as time goes on, because we really don’t know what will happen at this point. All we can do is make the best choices with the information we currently have.
I am a long-time sufferer of anxiety. Sometimes there is a trigger, sometimes it’s just stress. While I am not overly worried about getting sick myself, a lot of other stresses exist when it comes to this virus. Will my day job close, and if so will I still get paid? Will I be making any money as a travel agent the next few months? Will travel be limited for my personal travel? Could the Disney parks close? Will the races and half marathons I signed up for cancel?
Yeah, it’s a lot to deal with. If you suffer from anxiety like I do, it’s probably hitting you hard right now when you think about travel. Anxiety is usually made worse by uncertainty (will the parks be open? Will I be allowed to get on a plane)?, feeling out of control (if this gets cancelled there’s nothing I can do about it), and fear of losing something important to us (I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months and it might be taken away from me).
Here are some ways you can deal with anxiety you might be having about Disney travel:
Prepare yourself for different scenarios
Uncertainty is scary – but one way we can deal with it is by trying to be prepared for whatever we imagine might come. Make a plan, and then make a back-up plan. What makes you most nervous? Is it losing out on money? Buy travel insurance and rest assured that Disney has a good refund policy. Worried about getting sick? Maybe it is better to postpone your trip to a time when this has died down and you can fully enjoy it. Worried about the parks closing and the trip being cancelled against your will? Look at your calendar and see what other dates you can travel, then think about some of the bright spots of waiting til then (maybe you postpone til December and get to see the Christmas decorations, maybe you wait until 2021 when new rides like Tron will be open, etc.).
Control what you can control
Try not let anxiety control you – take charge of what you can. Proceed as if your trip is happening. Keep reading fun blog posts about what restaurants and activities you might want to try (hey, I’ve got a lot right here on this blog!). Make your packing lists. If your trip was supposed to happen while the parks are closed, pick new dates and work towards that.
Appreciate what Disney means to you
The fact that this is causing you so much anxiety actually means something positive – it shows that you have something in your life that you really value and appreciate! Maybe it’s Disney in general. Maybe it’s having a family trip there and being able to share the parks with those you love the most. Embrace the fact that you have something like Disney (and family, friends, etc.) in your life that means so much to you it could cause this sort of anxiety. And know that Disney will still be there for you whenever the time comes to visit again.
Don’t cancel unless you absolutely have to
If your trip is coming up in the next few months, you still have plenty of time to decide. If you’ve booked through a travel agent, you can rely on them for knowledge and information. Disney has a great refund policy – with a package a $200 deposit is due at the time of booking, and then the remainder is due 30 days before travel. You can cancel without penalty 30 days before travel. From 2-29 days beforehand the typical rule is $200 will be charged but the rest refunded (though we may see a more generous cancellation policy given the circumstances). Most airlines are also offering changes free of change. So you really do have a lot of time to decide. So much can change even within the next month. Don’t panic yet.
Obviously if the parks are closed like this month, you won’t be going. Disney is offering free rescheduling or cancelling without penalty, whichever you prefer right now.
Book your trip anyway
For the reasons stated above, if you were thinking about booking a Disney trip I wouldn’t let this stop you. Most people are planning ahead, and if our country is taking the measures to limit outbreaks eventually this will be over. Even with the uncertainty it’s literally no-risk to book your trip with Disney right now and then cancel later if you have to. And buy travel insurance to give you peace of mind.
Limit time on social media
I’ve seen everything on social media about Coronavirus at this point – it’s going to kill us all, it’s fake news, if we don’t all stay in our houses for the next few months the population will suffer, it’s okay to travel, it’s not okay to travel… people have strong opinions. Reading all of these opinion pieces can make things worse. Find a trusted source to get some updates from and then try not to listen to the mass hysteria. If you want to chat Disney without the constant barrage of questions from people asking if the parks will close, my small but friendly Facebook group is there for you!
Be willing to embrace disappointment
Don’t be afraid to be upset, frustrated, or angry if your trip does have to be cancelled or postponed for any reason. This is a legitimate thing to be upset about, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. People might make you feel like you come from a place of privilege if “this is what you’re worried about.” They might look down on you. Don’t listen to them. Disappointment in this scenario is normal and it’s okay to feel it. Once you’ve taken some time to deal with these feelings, try to get back up again. Think about when you can reschedule your trip, what else you could do. Have an at-home Disney movie night. Just do something to lift your spirits a little bit.
Take care of your mental health
You are important! Anxiety can really get to people. I know this all too well. Don’t feel guilty about needing to do what is necessary to deal with your anxiety. Maybe that’s watching mindless TV or a feel good movie. Maybe it’s taking a bubble bath and having a glass of wine. Or just taking some deep breaths. Do some stretching or yoga. Write in a journal. With everything going on it can feel like there’s no time to ourselves, but make sure to remember to take care of yourself and your mental health.
Do you have a Disney trip coming up any time soon? How do you feel about this whole situation?