One of the most normal opportunities in everyone’s life is enjoying the experience of going to an amusement park. Trafveling with a special needs guest does not require any additional planning that you would not already do.
Start with looking at park brochures. While it may not list everything, it should give you an idea about height requirements along with any other requirements. A good place to start is at the Walt Disney World website. They have a good general handbookfor guests with disabilities.
You can also find some very helpful information at the Allears website. If you have a traveler on the Autism spectrum, like I do, you can always find very helpful information from Ray and Rachel Pilgrim’s website. For those special needs travelers who have a hard time waiting in line, you should really ask the park for accommodations. At Walt Disney World, you can ask for a guest services card, which provides some helpful assistance to people with disabilities. You can read about the card, and how it can help you here, here, and here.
If you have a child with special needs, you might want think about doing some prep work before heading down to Walt Disney World. One great way, that I have used in the past for my son is developing a social story. Social stories are tools that many teachers can utilize to describe social events or introduce situations that children with intellectual disabilities might find difficult or confusing. These stories help those with special needs understand what is to be expected and is an great way to discuss meeting Disney characters.
Walt Disney World is filled with some much to see and do, you might think that you have get everywhere when the park opens and spend the rest of day zooming all over one park or hop between parks in one day to do everything. Remember, you are not trying to establish a beachhead, you are on vacation, and you need to take your time and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Walt Disney World. I always look for is a quiet space, which are hard to come by, but I’ve used this website it in the past for research – http://www.wdwautism.com. They have a section called “Quiet Places in the Parks,” which is especially helpful when you need to get away from the activity and noise of the day. I like to try to use these quiet places as a transition place before going to eat or before going back to the resort for the night.
There is so much stimulation going on at the parks and everyone needs a break at some point. We are early risers so we start out the day early and finish it early. By 5pm we have had some quiet time and are eating dinner or heading back to the Resort to relax for the evening. If you do intend to stay late and enjoy the extra magic hours your park offers, make sure to take a break during the day before hearing out later in the evening time.
If you do need any type of special accommodations for your special needs traveler, you can call the Walt Disney World Resort Special Reservations at 407-939-7807 or 939-7670 [TTY].
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