Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but sometimes, it lets you down. Maybe the park is way more crowded than you thought it would be. Maybe your favorite attraction broke down, and has stayed down. Or, maybe you had a bad experience with a rude cast member. Whatever the case may be, having a “bad Disney day” is really discouraging, and it can be hard to get that “happiest place on earth” feeling going again.

I’ve had a few crappy Disney days, and I’ve found a 3-step way of thinking that really helps me get it together and turn things around. Here’s what works for me, and hopefully it will work for you too!

1. Reflect

When you get that frustrated feeling, just stop what you’re doing. Find a bench or a table and just sit down for a second. Take a moment to actually think/talk through everything you’ve accomplished so far that day. And that goes way beyond rides – what shops did you walk through? Did you find any Hidden Mickeys? Did you find something you’d never noticed before, or get a snack and eat it by the Rivers of America? Count everything as its own item. When I’ve done this, I’ve consistently found that I had more items on my list than I’d previously thought, and that helps curb my frustration right away.

2. Regroup

If you’re having a bad Disney day, clearly your original plan isn’t working. Scrap your itinerary and come up with a new plan. For me, I usually think through 3 options:

  • Go back to the hotel and enjoy the pool/spa/etc.
  • Go to Downtown Disney for a drink and/or shopping
  • Stay in the park and mix things up

For option #3, I then ask myself this question: when I leave the park tonight, what are three things I would want to have seen/done? I focus on those three things, and try to treat anything else I get done like a bonus. Of course this is easier said than done, but it’s a muscle that gets easier to flex with practice.

3. Restart

Once you’ve got your new plan, go in with a clean slate. My personal rule is to set aside whatever’s frustrating me until I leave the park gates, and I do my best to stay in the moment. After I leave for the night, I can complain and get as frustrated as I need to. But inside the park, my focus is on the magic.

Again, this is easier said than done. But here are a few tricks I use to help me stay in the moment and appreciate my surroundings:

  • Take tons of pictures of the scenery. This forces you to slow down and admire the little details of Disneyland.
  • Get a snack before you have to wait in a long line. A simple churro or a Mickey ice cream bar can do wonders for you mood, especially when you have to stand around for a bit.
  • Try something new. All your favorite attractions have crazy long lines? Go somewhere you never go. Hop on the “kiddie” rides, even if you’re a group of adults. Wander the shops. Try a new snack. Having a brand new experience really helps the whole “fresh start” mindset.
  • Dance. There’s almost always some kind of music playing in each land. Grab your kids, or your friends, and just dance a little to the music…even if it’s just an extra spring in your step. You’d be amazed how much it cheers you up when you’re frustrated.

Disneyland is a happy place, but it’s also an imperfect place. Having a bad Disney day absolutely sucks, don’t get me wrong, but there are little things you can do to make it better. And remember, tomorrow is a new day, and today’s bad luck has no bearing on it. So when you have one of those rougher park days, try the Reflect-Regroup-Restart method, and you might just be able to turn it around!

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