My kids have been begging to go back to Disney. The last 2 years we’ve gone for Spring Break to the Disney Social Media Moms conference and it was amazing. This year, we were thinking of heading west to DisneyLand in the summer. Either park can seem a bit daunting to take 3 kids to, especially when one is autistic with food allergies. It can seem like an impossible task to take him and have fun. Here are a few tips to make you more comfortable exploring the Happiest Place on Earth with your special needs kid.
1. Plan, plan, plan ahead. Make sure you book your hotel and transportation early. There are many websites designed to help families with special needs to plan ahead.
2. Stay on property. By staying at a Disney Resort, you will have access to things like busses, boats, and the famous Magical Express that can make travel to/from the airport and parks a dream. With the Magical Express, you can also check your luggage when you fly out of your home airport, and they will deliver it right to your room at your resort! Fewer things to carry around makes it easier and less stressful for everyone. Just make sure to bring any medicines, special foods, IDs and other essentials with you in your carry on.
3. Guest assistance cards. It might be a good idea to bring a note from your doctor stating your child’s diagnosis and anything that may hinder your child from being able to do or special accommodations you might need. If you child is autistic and has a tough time waiting in lines, is fearful of loud noises, or just needs some extra help, it’s good to get it in writing.. To learn more about Guest Assistance Cards, this post from WDW for Grown-ups is a great resource.
4. ID tags and wristbands. Each resort or the guest assistance counters in the parks will have plain paper wristbands available for you to write your child’s name, if s/he is non-verbal or highly allergic to something and your name and phone number. I suggest this for all kids to wear in case they get lost or separated from your group. Another idea is to make an ID badge at one of the gift shops. Many of them have machines to engrave luggage or ID tags. A luggage tag with the following information would be ideal, then you can attach it to your child’s belt loop.
“If Lost Please Call (Parent’s Name)”
Your Cell Phone Number
5. Prepare for breaks, lots of them. Either schedule for a long day at the parks, finding places to rest in shady/calm areas, or better yet, map out the parks ahead of time and schedule time to go back to the hotel/resort for a rest in between. Each park and resort will have cast members ready to help you plan your day, find show times, even book reservations for dinner for you. This is all included in your resort cost, so don’t be shy to ask them for assistance.
6. Have fun! That’s the biggest tip of all, and the most important. With a well planned out trip, lots of breaks and safety precautions taken, you can ensure a great time is had by all!