Finding Joy at Disney After Loss- Our First Disney Vacation

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Here at Walt Express, we have a whole new series asking our guest bloggers and readers to tell us about their first Disney vacation.  Our third installment is from a new guest blogger, Vanda Bean:

My love for Disney began at an early age. My grandparents always took me to the latest Disney movie when I was a child back in the 80’s. I can’t forget about the books either, oh how I loved them! That instilled in me a great imagination and the idea that anything is possible. Anytime I was stressed or upset, I would grab a Disney movie or book and get lost for a little while and the stress of the world would just melt away.

113332_v0_600xMy husband spent some of his summers in Disney World while visiting his dad and it was always his dream that our boys would do the same. He worked hard to fulfill that dream for us, but he didn’t get a chance to see us there. He died 3 years ago from Huntington’s Disease. Prior to his passing, we would talk and plan about how we would go, where we would stay, all the fun stuff. When he was very sick and after he passed away, I guess you could say that Disney became my therapy.  I would often sit at the computer, learning about the resorts, learning about what Disney World actually had to offer…but mainly dreaming and wishing about a trip that I knew was important to Gene. Nothing I read prepared me for what Disney was really like.

I had never really cared for the whole “theme park” deal. Waiting in line forever for rides, all the walking, and food that was not even mediocre. Not to mention, as a mom, you are NOT on vacation! You are constantly the one who has to remember everything, keep everyone fed and clean, drive, and continue to do all of the things you normally do on a day to day basis. We all know that is not a vacation for us. However, because my husband wanted us to do this, I wanted to take our boys to Disney World, JUST ONCE.

Gene and I with my oldest son (and baby on the way) during our first Christmas together.
Gene and I with my oldest son (and baby on the way) during Christmas.

That was my “original” plan. One single trip to honor his memory and his vision for a fun vacation with us. I was in for a BIG awakening! I had no idea that we would be spoiled the way we were! Yes, “spoiled” is the exact word! From the moment we were in Disney World’s clutches, I was hooked! They took care of our luggage, food, entertainment, pretty much every whim we had! The best part? I didn’t even have to drive anywhere.  Nothing I had read or learned about Disney World prepared me for what was in store for my family.  Nothing could have prepared me for how every cast member at Disney goes above and beyond anything I had ever seen to make sure we have a wonderful time and just “get lost” in this magical world. I remember one of the first signs I saw upon arriving was a quote from Mr. Disney. It said “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they are in the park. I want them to feel they’re in another world”. That is exactly what it was like! We concentrated on each other as a family and it really did feel like the rest of the world was on hold. I knew this is what my husband was talking about and I also knew he was there with us.  I was amazed that we could just walk out of our rooms, ready to go and I didn’t have to worry about anything, not even if my boys were ok. We were all grieving, but Disney World was helping us cope in a way I never expected.  I could really concentrate on just having fun and living in the moment and it was a beautiful sight to see my boys smiling so much.  Anything the boys wanted to do, anywhere they wanted to go, we did it. We didn’t have any of this business such as “wait, let me clean up or no, we don’t have time for that…or wait, let me do this or that”. Nope, we were waiting on go!


We now have several trips under our belts and I don’t need that Disney “therapy” as often; I need the full-fledged, adventurous, “nothing like it” FIX! That first trip taught me how to let go and have fun. It taught me how to forget the trivial stuff and be a kid again, with my kids. Disney helped me learn to laugh again. That is what Disney will do for you! Now, I work as a travel agent helping other families fulfill their dreams and wishes, helping them find their happy place both in the parks and within themselves. This is something I would have never had the courage to do…without the help from a mouse, of course!

More My First Disney Vacation Stories

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Vanda Bean

Vanda is a Mom of 2 boys who is always thinking about or planning a trip to Disney World! Thanks to them and her work as a travel agent, she has become an expert on planning the perfect Disney trip and making wishes and dreams a beautiful reality. When she's not planning trips for others or visiting Disney herself, she graciously shares her knowledge and experiences here on Walt Express with our readers to help you plan your very own magical Disney vacation!

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