Have you ever seen someone complain throughout an activity, and later tell people that it was amazing? When people do this, they may actually believe it. Rosy retrospection, or remembering experiences more favorably than they were experienced.
In an experiment, vacationers were asked to rate their vacations at two time intervals: shortly after taking them, and a few months later. Participants gave higher ratings at the second interval in the first, showing that their perception of the event became more positive as time passed. In the same study, cyclists held rosy accounts of a three week tour of California, despite telling stories of rain, exhaustion, and unpleasant company during the trip.
Visitors to Disneyland encountered the familiar headaches of long lines, crying children, excessive heat, and unappetising food, but their retrospective accounts hewed much closer to the park’s description of “the happiest place on Earth”.