As summer nears, more families may be planning not only vacations, but possibly Mickey themed vacations. A family who recently left on their Disney vacation shared a website they found very helpful when planning to go to the Disney parks. Autism at the Parks is a website of a family who moved to Florida in 2007 and visits the parks nearly every weekend. It is full of helpful information! As a personal Disney lover and frequent visitor, some of the things I recommend are:
- Visiting in non-peak times. Even if you go in the summer, try to go later in the day or the evening when people are headed back in or are tired. Evenings are typically less busy than day time and less hot!
- Utilizing the baby care centers which are also set up to assist kids with special needs. There is only one per Disney park and it is usually at the front, so don’t wait until full meltdown mode to try and find one! They are cool, relaxing, quiet, and a great place to rest from the parks.
- Don’t pack the schedule! Make sure and have down time, pool time, and follow the child’s lead. If he/she wants to ride Dumbo over and over and the lines aren’t long, go for it. If he loves Nemo and music? Do the Nemo musical at Animal Kingdom. There’s something for everyone!
- Take advantage of the Disability program Disney has. Plus fast passes! You can book fast passes 90 days out if you stay on property and approximately 30 days in advance if staying off-site. These really make the lines shorter. The new disability program allows one “fast pass” type ride at a time.
- Do fun things out of the parks! The mini-golf and Chip & Dale’s Campfire Sing-Along and Movie are truly fun. There’s a movie somewhere every night on property and it’s free for resort stayers.
- Prepare beforehand as much as possible! Watch youtube videos of parades, rides, and look at pictures of the things they will see. Even making a social story about the Disney trip can be helpful and relieve anxiety or stress.
- Keep expectations low for each day. What are three things you want to do each day? If you do those three, count the day a success. After all, it’s quality vs. quantity and quality wins. If they want to ride the train over and over or watch the Electric parade every night, enjoy those special moments. It will be a vacation to remember!