So here I am; sat in Starbucks a month after leaving the most magical place on earth. I’m not sad that I’ve finished the Disney Cultural Representative Program yet, though. Yes, I completely miss it, but I’m incredibly excited to be starting the next chapter of my life and to have new adventures. As some of you may know, I have moved to Chester to be closer to some of my best friends and begin the next stage of my life. Something different and a welcomed change. Don’t get me wrong, I love Manchester and called it home for over four years but, I need a fresh start. Some of my closest friends have moved and it would have been daunting to have to move there without my nearest and dearests only a walk away. Be prepared for a long post…I’ve broken it up a bit with a few pictures.
With that being said, I thought I’d talk about the emotions you could go through after doing the Disney Cultural Representative Program. Some are relevant to people that have generally been travelling for a long period of time and have just come back home. It’s ok to be scared of what happens next and to not know what you’re doing.
First, let’s get this one out the way; PDD or if you’re unfamiliar with the term, Post Disney Depression. We joke about it but it’s definitely a real thing. I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet, I know it took about six months the last time I was out here. You’ll miss everything about the Disney Cultural Representative Program; your lifestyle, the friends, the weather and it will feel like you’ll never get out of that mood, but you will. Don’t worry, it will happen. Keep your mind active and try to move on as best as you can. I wanted to offer a little advice as to what I’ve been doing, as well as getting friends who have finished the Disney Cultural Representative Program to give their insights.
Your friends that are also home from the Disney Cultural Representative Program are going through the exact same emotions! Speak to them. Whether they have been home for six months or six days. The friends you make there are for life. Get your fix talking about the parks, the memories you have but most of all, talk about what you’re doing now and next. You’ll have crappy days when the heavens have opened up and you’re just generally feeling down in the dumps. Chat to them, make plans, go on new adventures in the UK or wherever with them.
I know the thought of exercise to some people is ridiculous but it makes you feel so much better and perks you up straight away. Whether it’s walking into town just to have a wander and a window shop or doing a circuits class until you feel like you’re dying. You release endorphins that make you happy and promote positivity. And, if you’re anything like me, you start to feel like you’re taking steps back towards your pre-Orlando bod.
Keep busy. Get a hobby. Make plans. Just make sure you do something. Whether it’s meeting up with old friends or new ones. Create an ultimate road trip, it doesn’t matter whether you do it or not. Scrapbook your amazing year away. Make more new friends, move somewhere. Keeping busy takes your mind off the things you miss in Florida. Just keep looking forward and stay busy and before you know it, life will be going in a new direction.
The most important piece of advice I can give someone; stay positive. Life after Disney is not the end of the world. There are more adventures to be had. It can be difficult to keep that frame of mind if you feel incredibly stuck where you are or you keep getting knock backs from not getting jobs but I am a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. Keep positive, keep your chin high and never give up! It will all work out in the end, I promise you that. Keep smiling, princess.
Whether it’s a job, a hobby, a new hometown…change something. It’s a very weird feeling when you get home and you’ve changed so much, yet nothing at home has changed (even though my mum had basically remodelled our house). For me, it felt like I’d never done my program which is a VERY odd feeling. I was lucky enough to get a job before I left Florida but that seems to be rare. Sure, Disney on your CV might help you get interviews but you’ve still got to be shit hot to get the job, Disney can’t help with that part! Definitely focus on getting a job as having something routine to do every day will help you feel ‘normal’ again, but don’t rely on this for the change. Move to a new town, take up a new hobby…running, knitting, anything to keep you busy! Laura Brown
Personally, I found coming back to reality pretty difficult to deal with. Being separated from people you spent every day of the last year with and having to see everyone still out there on social media isn’t the easiest. My advice would be to give yourself a little while to settle down and accept that it’s not going to be easy. Having been busy working/playing non-stop for an entire year is way more exhausting than you realise! I slept for a very long time before even considering looking for a job. After catching up with friends and family and eating as much Cadburys and Nandos as possible, that’s when I started the job hunt (be prepared for every interviewer to ask you about the Disney Cultural Representative Program!). There was no way I could totally cut myself off from Florida life, I still really love WDW but now it has a different part in my heart. I think the most important thing is to accept that things aren’t always going to be as fun at home – you’ll take for granted that you can pop out to Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours or chill by the pool in the evening. New adventures are always out there, even if it might take a while to reach them (especially if you were on a merch/HRC wage…) Hollie Watson
Three main pieces of advice I would give someone who is newly Disney dead and faces the long road of PDD would be these:
1. Indulge in your experiences and your memories – it really helped me to make a scrap book so I had something to look at when it felt like it had never really happened and it was all a crazy magical Disney dream! Let yourself go there and remind yourself of all the incredible things you did.
2. Cry about it. A lot. It’s a grieving process and you’ve lost something huge. You’ve lost your Disney home, your Disney family, constant companionship, and a lifestyle that you can’t match back home. Listen to the parade and fireworks music and cry like a baby and don’t feel bad about it. It’s totally normal and you have to feel the bad to remind yourself just how good it really was. We wouldn’t have tear ducts if we weren’t supposed to use them, so go nuts. The worst break down I had was when I was annoying my boyfriend by singing Disney World music to him in bed and during my rendition of Wishes I had a full on melt down. I made myself cry through song and I am not ashamed. It felt great.
3. Talk to your Disney family. The only thing that makes me feel better is to talk to my ohana who’ve also left and know exactly how I feel. You might feel strange or unusual to feel as sad or alone or as lost as you do, but it’s only when you talk to your friends that they tell you they feel exactly the same, and it makes you feel so much better. It justifies your pain and your sadness and you can share your loss together. As much as your friends and family from home will try and understand, it’s something very difficult to comprehend unless you were there. Talk to the people you experienced it with and it’ll make it real. You are homesick for something you can’t get back, but the closest you can get is by sharing it with the people who were there. They are friends for life and shared an unbelievably special year with you. You’re never truly alone again once you have a Disney World ohana. Hollie Caskie
Keep busy, you will have serious fomo like you’re having withdrawals. I decided to delete my facebook app for a while & socialised more with my home friends. Go to work – best thing I could have done otherwise I’d be depressed & poor. Start fresh – a haircut, piercings, clothes anything that means you’re starting a new chapter. Scrapbookin’ – it took me months but a really nice way to look back & remember all the beautiful things you’ve seen & done. People don’t really want to hear about your time away but that’s what your Disney friends are for, to remember & re-tell stories of all your wonderful experiences. Tinder (lol). Jennifer-Rose Thomas
This post is a fair chunk heftier than I thought it would be but I hope it helps some of you, even if you only read part. The Disney Cultural Representative Program is one of the best years of your life, it’s hard to compare once you return home. It can be difficult to adjust, but you will eventually.