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

Responses: 5

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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.

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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