Coping With Anxiety in Disneyland (and Other Crowded Places)


Everyone struggling from anxiety knows anxiety doesn’t exactly back down when you’re wanna have fun… It would be so much easier if it did. Somehow the more excited I am, the more anxious thoughts float through my mind.  And I’ve not often been as excited as when I started planning our summer trip to Disneyland in Paris!

A few weeks before departure, my anxiety started its warm-up. My mind got clouded with awful thoughts where everything went wrong. Our booking didn’t come through. We forgot important documents. We got lost. I don’t speak French, so no-one would understand a word I would be saying… Do I need to go on? Serious question. Because I can. The list is endless.

When it was time to go, everything went OK. Perfectly fine. Obviously! And I had lost a lot of time – and what should’ve been a fun looking-forward-to period – to worrying about absolutely nothing. I regained my calmness slowly…

Until we left our hotelroom and visited the park for the first time. My anxiety started screaming again, almost instantly. Get out. Too many people. I so don’t wanna do this.

Waiting lines were the worst. Twenty minutes crapped up in a small place with 100,000 people (or at least that’s how many people there seemed to be) isn’t fun for anyone, let alone someone who gets panic attacks regularly when being surrounded by screaming, laughing people.

I skipped all attractions that could potentially contain any scary effects. And while getting my food at the buffet, I had to keep reminding myself over and over again that nobody was watching me and that it was OK to only eat pasta. No one was judging me on what was on my plate.

But.. I was so happy being in Disneyland! And despite all the anxiety, all the crowds and all the irrational thoughts: I was so proud of myself for being where I was.

Mickey Mouse was all around me, Disney tunes played literally everywhere and the delicious smell of fries or cotton candy hung in the air.

So, yes, we did spend afternoons in our hotel room because I got overwhelmed. And yes, I constantly needed to sit down for a few seconds, just to stay calm and regain myself… but nonetheless, it was incredible.

I usually try and avoid crowded, chaotic places, but Disneyland is an exception. I wanted to go so bad. I love Disney so much. I decided if those negative, anxious thoughts were going to keep me company during my stay, they’d have to be heard, but not always obeyed.

Crowded places will always be my weakness. I can’t deal with them, and I just wanna go home and read a book. But the great thing about places like Disneyland is you can set your own limits. I didn’t go on any (scary) rides. I didn’t stand in lines longer than 25 minutes, and we took a lot of breaks in between.

If you want to go to a theme park or any chaotic place, go. Take all the time you need. And don’t be afraid to set limits, whatever they may be. And don’t forget to have fun. You can do it!

P.S. If someone from Disney(land) happens to read this: Thanks for the lovely music around the park. It really made my anxiety bearable. Thanks for all the kind, smiling employees and the lovely vibe that’s just spread like a blanket. 

Image via Disneyland Paris

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