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Readers Respond: What Are Your Special-Needs Strategies for Disney Theme Parks?

Responses: 8

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Have you developed some great strategies for surviving a Disney trip with a child with special needs? Clue your fellow parents in on your discoveries. Share Your Disney Tips

Fantastic Disneyland Trip

My daughter and I went to Disneyland last year in June. We were able to get a pass so that we could move ahead in the lines which created even more excitement. Our trip was for 4 days which gave us time to explore every single inch of Disneyland. We stayed across the street from Disneyland which cut down on walking and anxiety, ate outside the park for meals which saved a lot of money except for the last day-we did whatever she wanted to do for the whole entire day and ate whatever she wanted as well. To this day, she wants to go back to Disneyland-we had a blast. If your child gets along with younger kids, plan a trip with cousins as we did. They were just as excited as my child and it helped a great deal that she wasn't the only one super hyper those 4 days!! Planning is key I must say from the reservations, to the food, the rides, and having fun. If you plan ahead, your trip will be enjoyable and fun. Parents, its okay, let your kids go wild and have fun-even if others stare!!!
—Guest lele

Disney Tips

We went to Disney with our 17 year old daughter with multiple disabilities and our 8 year old daughter. It was our first time attempting a vacation of this magnitude. Disney was so accommodating, it was really amazing. The tip I would like to share is shipping the bulk of your luggage to the hotel ahead of time and avoiding checking bags at the airport. The hotel was very accommodating, and I was even able to confirm that our things had gotten there before flying out of our city. It was an added expense, but it made travel so easy that it was worth it.
—Guest Holly

Read our Guide - we went in 2013

I recently took my child with special needs to Disney. It was a fantastic vacation for us, and we want to share what we learned. Here is the link: http://sharedabilities.com/family-social/vacations-camps/disney-special-needs-guide/
—Guest Shared Abilities

Hope this helps

My son is hypo & hypersensitive spinning will revive him so when he was tired of walking the tea cups were like a cup of coffee for me :) The fireworks & the crowd that went with it were way too much for him we just walked away & headed back to our hotel. We got the pass so we could get thru the lines faster and it was a life saver. Thank you Disneyland :) I basically let him call the shots as to what rides he wanted to go on then when he started to wear out his sister got to go on the rides it really helps if you have at least 2 adults if there is more than one child as my son didn't want to participate in alot of things. He didn't want to meet the characters etc... Hope this helps enjoy.
—christie70

Disney Tips

Here are some tricks that helped us: I let the kids have input about retaurants, rides, attractions. My son was the keeper of the itinerary - it helped him to follow a schedule. Pack lots of healthy snacks and water for the flight, helps pass the time while sitting on the runway and helps with ear-popping on the take-off. For us a portable DVD player was a must - buy an adapter to hook up two earphones so a sibling can share. Airplanes are loud, so good earphones are worth it. At Disney, bring your own water bottles and individual sized packets of lemonade powder, refill bottles at waterfountains. Mini fans with water sprayers are GREAT. They cool and pass the time in line. One of the single best decisions we made was to make dinner reservations for every night there. Never leave it to chance that when you are tired and hungry that you will all agree on a restaurant and that you'll even get in. Leave yourself time to get everywhere. Don't sweat the small stuff and have FUN!
—k.surak

Think ahead

Make sure you have a doctors letter to get on rides faster, but also talking about the sensory needs. We took our daughter to Disney and Sea World and she melted down when we were leaving and when my husband had to get her out, she was screaming. The security guards would have arrested him, but the doctors letter and a her picture ID saved his arrest. They thought we were kidnapping the kid who by this time lost her ability to speak. She would not answer any question "is this your daddy?" I ran back and handed the guards the letter and he pulled out his ID with this name and also his physician ID and our daughters picture ID. She did not want to TRANSITION OUT of Disney, she was stuck and overstimulated. Another piece of advice, leave when there is not a crowd, as onlookers can be a big problem. Our daughter created a major disturbance and no HIPPA applies, as MOM is telling them she has autism and sensory issues and doesn't want to leave the fun.
—Guest Ann Yurcek

Disney Trip

My family loves visiting Walt Disney World; however, it requires planning to insure the entire family has a good time. Last year we stayed in the Fort Wilderness lodge that offered home like accommodations with wheelchair accessibility. First, I plan each day! I allow my kids to pick what rides they really want to get on and we go to those rides first. This strategy prevents later disappointments when we get on rides that are convenient for my daughter who has cerebral palsy. Secondly, I have a set time to eat lunch and I try to be consistent. Third, rest during the day and take a break from the theme parks.
—Guest Gloria C.

Some things we did

First we got a condo so we could have a home away from home. Not only did it save money but it helped us keep a familar routine (like quiet breakfasts without overwhelming crowds) Second, we wore matching t-shirts with names on the sleeve so if anyone got lost our kids would be identifiable. Third, we scouted out gift shops near the firework sites that would offer a "quiet, safe" view of the show since my little man is terrified of the fireworks. Finally we took breaks in the middle of the day to help prevent overload. The one day out of 5 we didn't do this is the day we had problems by 4 pm.
—tcvagle

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What Are Your Special-Needs Strategies for Disney Theme Parks?

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