This article is on how I planned a successful Disneyworld vacation with my autistic child. These tips listed below are just some of the careful planning I did before we ever left home! I wanted to ensure that she had a fantastic time while staying safe. Of course I let my daughter in on the plans so she knew exactly what to expect while at Disneyworld. She was really nervous about being so far from home and out of her usual routine. Once there the careful planning paid off in more ways than I could count!
1. I booked a Disneyworld resort which had my daughter’s favorite characters as the motif. So she was amazed from the very first day. It really helped her settle in and relax.
2. I let everyone from Disneyworld to the airlines know that my child had special needs and may act inappropriately at times, especially when stressed. All assured me that they understood and noted this on our reservations.
3. I borrowed dozens of materials from the library on flying in an airplane and going to Disneyworld. Not only did they have videos to watch but dozens of books too! My child read them over and over before our trip. I was disappointed that the one Disneyworld video that would have helped so much was not available until we were actually there. The Magical Express video that plays on the bus shuttle as you leave the airport and head to Disneyworld!
4. I planned out each day where we were going to be based on crowd levels. This information is available easily online and is based on yearly crowd numbers. My daughter knew exactly where we would be each day and what to expect, from the shows we would watch to the rides we would be doing.
5. Reservations could be made in advance and I made sure we chose a time that was less busy each day. Many folks dislike reservations but we loved them. Knowing exactly where we would be eating each day took one less stress away during the trip!
6. Since my child has some stomach sensitivity, I did choose to speak to the allergy line at Disneyworld so I could choose the best restaurants for my child’s needs. This phone number was given to me when I called the dining reservation line. If your child has a medical need for special foods or drinks or medication, a free fridge is available in the resorts. Make sure and request a larger fridge if it is for food or drinks.
7. I read everything that I could get my hands on and knew ahead of time which rides my child was big enough to ride. This prevented a problem if she was too little and was expecting to ride.
8. Youtube also had some videos of the rides available so my child could watch and know what to expect. It also gave her an idea if she wanted to ride the particular ride or not.
9. I planned on taking a stroller as it would be much easier for my child when in crowds and much easier to keep her contained while watching shows at Disneyworld.
10. I purchased waterproof tattoos (removable by alcohol only) and waterproof wrist bands in case my child was lost, my cell phone number and resort information was listed on her person.
11. I put together new small items to keep my child’s hands busy. I pulled out one each time she was getting a bit antsy. This worked really well! I also checked out two new books from the library for her. The books were the best at keeping her busy on the airplane.
12. I brought along noise cancelling headphones (others use earplugs) so when the crowd was rowdy or the show was loud, my daughter did not get upset and out of control. First Aid in the parks do have earplugs if you forget to bring them along.
13. I made sure that we had park maps so I could find restrooms, First Aid, and Baby Care Centers quickly in case my daughter needed a quiet place to relax for a few moments. Many times in the parks we could find a bench in an uncrowded area to watch the animal life scampering by which worked just as well.
14. I packed a care packet with alcohol pads, bandaids, sunscreen, bug spray, and additional ID wrist bracelets just in case. Samples of suncreen and bug spray work best and can be carried in a carry on bag! I kept this care packet in the stroller pocket.
15. I made copies of our plans for each day so in case one suitcase was misplaced, we would still have it. This really helped keep up with restaurant reservations too!
16. I went to Guest Services right away and attained a Guest Assistance Card for my child. This enabled her to stay in her stroller while entering rides and shows, as well as let her wait in uncrowded areas. I always asked that we be placed near an exit in case we had to leave a show there. I did have a doctor’s note listing her disabilities but it was not needed.
17. Each time my daughter would want to see a character, I called to find out where that character would be in the parks. Much easier than walking to the opposite side of the park only to discover that Mickey is at the entrance!
You really can’t plan for everything as some of the most fascinating things happen at Disneyworld. So expect surprises and expect your special needs child to do well with them! It is Disneyworld after all. The most magical place on Earth. Do have a plan in place for things happening like your child becomes sick. Don’t be too worried about keeping your plans if everyone is exhausted and just needs a day of rest. Our trip went very well at Disneyworld and it was magical for my child. I am sure it will go well for yours too!