Walt Disney World is the happiest place on earth. Just like all Disney Parks. But what would you say if it was really just a matter of science? Disney makes you happier with stress relieving smells, sights, sounds and secrets. Here’s a few ways you can get extra happy at home with these Disney happiness secrets. No Disney vacation required!
Disney Happiness Secrets From the Parks
Taking that first step into the parks at Walt Disney World on your first day of vacation is the most magical feeling on Earth. Ask anyone. “Nothing feels like Disney”. In fact, one of our cousins just got back from a rather amazing vacation and when I asked how it was, the answer was “it was nice, but nothing feels like Disney.” You see, after the hullabaloo of bag checking and scanning in with your magic band and security there’s something about stepping foot into the Disney parks. A waft of relief, of joy, of possibility, and the promise of new experiences simply hits you all at once. The music, the smells, all of it. Of all four parks at Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom does this best so we always start our vacation there for an extra big dose of magic on the first day.
But what if you can’t fit a Disney vacation into your family plans? If you’re hustling your 9-5 job or have become the professional chauffeur for your kids, you need some happy. Here’s how Disney helps lifts your spirits, so you can get onto the fun parts of living life with joy no matter where you are.
Disney Happiness Secret #1
Smells of Mom’s Cooking, Nature, Laila and more
Have you been to Norway? No? Well, you can smell exactly what it smells like at Epcot. It’s one of our favorite smells. Frankly it smells like freedom, adventure, and cold. Have you been flying over the orange grove in Soarin’? Can you smell what Paris smells like in France? See, smells are everywhere.
Happiness is triggered by many things, but first by the senses. So when Disney Imagineers engineer a park they talk about all the facets of experience. Sight, sounds, movement, and most of all smell. The smell of something can immediately trigger a detailed memory or even intense emotion. This is why we recommend bringing along a new scent every time you go on a vacation, so that you can remember and recreate the experience later at will. In Disney Parks, smells are everywhere to create a richer experience. Entering Main Street at Magic Kingdom you can get your first whiff of the Disney Imagineer “Smellitzers.” The smellitzers infuse the air with scents that help release anxiety and increase feelings of well being. You can recreate this experience with candles, diffusers, or a plug in scent like wallflowers.
The Smells of Disney
At Magic Kingdom smells of Mickey Waffles and Cinnamon Rolls make you feel like you’re enjoying an easy morning breakfast instead of fighting for a photo spot in front of the castle with 50,000 other guests. At Animal Kingdom you can get a whiff of earthy nature, smelling of dirt, heat and spices. These smells of adventure are often infused with essential oils that can physically help muscles release and increase oxygen intake. We also love Epcot’s Norway Pavilion specifically because Laila perfume smells like what we assume Norway smells like. It is the most delicious smell. If you’re walking past Norway you can smell the Laila scent without even entering a shop. We love it. Sometimes we go to Epcot just to smell this smell!
- The Beach Club lobby smells like a beach vacation. Grab a similar scent with aloe and cucumber.
- Candles with bergamot, frankincense and woods smell like The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, warm and sweet. As one of our favorite rides we were thrilled to fill the house with feelings of Disney. Bergamot Woods from bath and body works is the closest we’ve found. But every once in while you we get lucky and find a bergamot and tobacco at TjMaxx.
- If you need feelings of comfort you can always grab a candle for the feeling of calm easy mornings. Use this tactic especially if you’re harried in real life wondering where your keys are and why the coffee is taking so long to brew!
Try these smell tactics next time your feeling down. Disney has mastered this simple body hack that can get your happiness feelings back up to par, even when logic tells you it’s not possible.
Disney Happiness Secret #2
Sounds to Release Stress
So many studies have been done about how classical music releases stress on all levels but what about Disney songs? To further help stress levels often caused by crowds Disney uses instrumental music in each area of every park. While we love the cultural singers in Animal Kingdom Africa, or Epcot Morocco, it’s the sounds of music as soft as whisper that cause the most relaxation. Disney speakers across each park are all the same volume-the sound of a whisper. In fact, at one point during your vacation you may actually stop hearing it! But don’t worry, the music is still there massaging the restless part of your brain with the help of 15,000+ speakers. This helps guest feel less anxious. And much like the smells, every Disney park area has a different kind of music to help you remember and recreate your favorite experiences.
Thankfully you can get all the Disney music loops on youtube. So if you want a sneak peek before your vacation or just some nice background music you can grab it online.
Disney Happiness Secret #3
They do It Without Mirrors
Yes, the complete lack of mirrors at Walt Disney World ruins many a Disney Instagrammer’s day. But, there’s a logical and emotional reason for minimal mirrors on the walls at Disney. Every Disney bathroom in the parks has one mirror. Sometimes small and on a wall far away from the sinks. This helps prevent the distracted teens from plugging in curling irons and setting up shop. It also, however, keeps crowds moving.
On an emotional level the complete lack of mirrors means that you may not be focused on your appearance 99% of the day. As a result you can actually enjoy the parks. Never mind what the humidity has done to your hair. It also means you may feel ok about eating the cupcake because you haven’t seen your waistline in a while. Joy all around! This tactic is also said to boost self-confidence. Eight in ten people are unhappy with their appearance. If you’re in the majority don’t worry, you won’t be eliminating the mirrors in your home. You can just take a break from seeing yourself with a little “mirror fasting.”
Get rid of unnecessary mirrors or mirrors that make you feel like crap. This is just one of the many ways Disney helps improve happiness levels in parks that you can mimic at home.
Disney Happiness Secret #4
Media and Mischief Managed
Are you the kind of person that “needs to know whats happening” to feel safe. Science shows that turning off all media actually causes a huge DROP!!! in stress hormones. In fact, meditation practices teach you to guard the gates of your mind by looking at media like you look at junk food. If it’s not healthy enough to put in your mind, you shouldn’t let it in at all. Here are the tactics Disney uses to shut off stress.
Televisions are Nowhere: If you’ve been to Disney you’ll notice right away that there really aren’t any televisions playing anything. And if there is a TV it’s playing Disney stuff. Even in the resort rooms you have to actively find the channel guide to get the tv on something other than the Duffy the Bear Bedtime story. And by active, we mean order an HDMI cord from Amazon Prime and wire your laptop to the television.
How Disney Defeats Stress
News is Nowhere: If you’re hoping to hear about the outside world, go somewhere else. Disney is locked down like a freakin’ casino. Days will go by without outside contact. Apart from what you may get on your phone with spotty wi-fi don’t plan on seeing too much “real life” while you’re on vacation. This situation is purposeful. We’re absolutely positive Disney needs wi-fi to do stuff… so why can’t we get internet on our extremely expensive phones with extremely expensive data?
Disney has made it their business to craft your entire experience while you’re in the parks, so they don’t want media, or reality, getting in the way of their best laid plans. You can add a little of this magic to your everyday by doing a few things of your own at home that will actually improve your life!
- Add a meditation practice to your day or week! Taking even just 15 minutes to sit without distraction, or checking your phone can do wonders! If you need a break from your own reality, read this post for perspective.
- Turn your Phone Notifications OFF! Chances are you don’t need to know every single “deal” that’s happening, or every single news story, or every new instagram post or whatever else you have popping up on your phone all day long. If you have a breakdown each time you read the news, stop reading it. It’s not rocket science, just do whats best for you.
Disney Happiness Secret #5
Hide the Things You Don’t Need to See
Disney Parks has this color called “go away green.” Typically it is painted on the sides of buildings they don’t want you to see. It blends into the trees and surrounding nature. While this is a great tactic for hiding things, its also a way to make things feel cleaner and limit the energetic clutter that could cause stress. This doesn’t, however, mean you should start stuffing stuff under the bed so you don’t see it anymore. Disney hides the inner workings of rides, sometimes kitchens, and anything involving cords. Take a quick glance around your home. What things are in plain site that cause you stress, that could be hidden?
- A book of bills can easily be tucked in a drawer.
- Cords from all your technology can be wrapped with baggy ties and tucked behind things.
- Put things away, like laundry and dishes and get rid of things you no longer need.
You can use this technique on things in your yard you’re trying to hide as well! Painting an old shed, fence, or trunk a variation of green to help match it’s surrounding can make it disappear.
Disney Happiness Secret #6
Have Dinner on Purpose
One of our favorite parts of having the Disney Dining Plan is being forced to sit down and eat together, if only for an hour. Studies have shown the importance of having a family meal together at least once a week. At Disney they promote this every night. Eating together has been proven to relieve stress and Disney has incorporated advanced dining reservations (ADR) into its Disney timeline to make it a perk of your vacation. One of the easiest Disney happiness secrets to accomplish is about enjoying a meal, having a conversation and dare we say not being on your phone.
Hopefully you and your family are having dinner regularly on your own and already know the importance of a shared meal. You can kick it up a notch by using your family dinner nights to experience a new kind of meal just like at Disney. Make Tonga Toast from the Kona Cafe, or try a Udon Bowl like the one at Tokyo Dining. Or make something special, like steak, so that you and your family can look forward to something every week.
Disney Happiness Secret #7
Disney Adds FUN where you least expect it!
Sure, we’re all grown ups but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be reminded of fun on a daily basis. If you’re just going through life on autopilot, stop and look around. It’s time to add a little Disney to your décor as a friendly reminder to have some fun. You can find hidden mickeys all over Disney parks. Just to remind you of our favorite Mouse and the role he’s played in the Disney empire. But you can also find him in the most deluxe resorts on property too. Look down at the carpet, take a second look at the chair in your resort room. Chances are you’ll see Disney has hidden extra fun in everything. How can you add some more Disney to your home? So that every time you look up (or down) you can remember to loosen up a bit and not take life too seriously! It could be as simple as a hidden tsum tsum on a shelf. Or an art print with a fun Disney quote. It doesn’t matter what kind of average, or classy, space at home you’re dealing with, be sure to add things that make you feel joyful.
Disney Happiness Secrets you can bring home
So there you have it. Add these Disney happiness secrets in with all the regular good vibes of being on vacation and you’re probably feeling extra joyful every day! Disney really is the happiest place on earth, but its not magic, it’s science. Thankfully you can buy candles, have family meals, get rid of your clutter, and add soft sounds into the background to calm nerves and relieve stress. Let us know your favorite happiness tricks!
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.