I totally believe that EVERYONE should have a great time at Disney!! This is why I started working with parents of children with autism.
I have had 3 successful trips to Disney with my nephew with autism. We did it at age 7,9 and 20. The last one was the probably the most important to me. It was his reward for graduating high school. He could have a trip anywhere in the 48 states and he chose Florida. We spent 2 days at Disney.
I did SO much research in advance because I wanted him to have the best trip ever!! We started plan over a year in advance and he kept changing his mind. We actually bought our Disney tickets the day before leaving (I had made dining reservations well in advance, just in case). Also, the day before he said he wanted to go fishing. I knew about the fishing on site and was advised to go out of Beach Club dock by a prior cast member. We did it for 10 AM to Noon. IT was amazing!! He did so well and at about 1155 AM he says “I am done”. I was so proud of him. That is his way to tell us he can’t do it anymore and we need to do something different or he needs down time. It still makes me cry tears of joy when I think about it:)
2-DAY 1 at Disney:
We started very early to get to Animal Kingdom for 815 AM to start our day. ONLY Pandora opens early the rest of the park opens at 9 AM, regular scheduled. He waited and we looked at the different animals (He loves animals). We then walked onto the Safari, walked gorilla trail and then Maharajah Trek. I was happy we were able to get several photopass pictures with him there before leaving. After which he said “I’m ready to go to Epcot”. I should note when he was younger he tried but didn’t get onto Living with the Land at Epcot due to the thunder and lightning at the beginning-he was determined to ride this.
We got in the car and over to Epcot we went. We went directly to Guest Relations and got him set up on Disability Assistance Service (DAS). For those that know me, know I do not like the word disability, I prefer challenge. I could see when we mentioned the name of the service he didn’t like it. My husband explained to him that Disney is rewarding you for coming to Disney with your additional challenges and want you to have a great time. I thought what a wonderful way to explain it! My nephew was much happier once this was explained to him.
3-DISABILITY ASSISTANCE SERVICE:
Here is a great link to help you: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/ Make sure to check it out BEFORE going.
IMPORTANT: You will need everyone’s ticket or magic band when you get set up for the service at guest relations (you only need to do once). Also, you will need the person with the extra challenge with you. After that you will need the person with the challenge and one other person to set up your additional passes with this system. Disney was amazing about helping us! I was a bit nervous myself.
Use your regular Fastpasses and DAS together to avoid waiting which will help your day.
4-Continuing on day 1:
We went to lunch at Rose & Crown. He had learned the day before and I reminded him today, you just need to tell them what you like and don’t like. I know that food and food textures is usually an issue. Disney is VERY accommodating with the foods. He got just what he wanted and was happy.Next we were off to Soarin’-which he loved! Before the ride started I had told him he could close his eyes if he didn’t like it or even hold my hand. Then it was on to Living with the Land. He really liked it. I want to note he never told us why he wanted to go on this ride, but going on this ride was his #1 priority for going to Disney.
My nephew then took advance of the First Aid/ Baby Care centers. He went there and said “With my disability I need some quiet time”. He was able to spend time resting in one of the rooms, listening to his music for about 75-80 minutes and he came out refreshed. I could see the difference in him. When I later asked what the room was like, he told me :like the nurses office”.
We spent time in World Showcase as he loved going through the shops and seeing what they had. He even bought a gift for his Dad there. Then it was on to dinner at Le Cellier. It was great and he tried something new. He had the steak with maple butter, of course no veggies but with fries. He liked it and was happy.
We all enjoyed watching Illuminations together and on the way out I asked for a picture of us all together with Spaceship Earth behind us and he said yes. After they took the picture I went to raise my magic band t get the pictures linked and he said to me “Don’t worry I got this covered”. I cried. Just by watching me he learned how to work the pictures. I think I forget sometimes how smart he really is. Also, children/adults with autism they learn from watching and listening to us. I know I learn as much from him as he could ever learn from me. If he says something about an animal, I would never doubt it-he is always right. He loves animals!
This got longer than I thought so I will get onto day 2 in the next post. Also, check out the post from 4/8/19.
I just want to say you can ALWAYS plan to have fun at Disney. Whatever your challenges are. It just takes some planning and extra knowledge. Make sure to build in flexibility as well. Everyone should have a great time at Disney!!