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Navigating Walt Disney World with Autism: A Guide to a Magical Experience

By: Brenda Royan

 

Travelling to Walt Disney World can be a dream come true for many families, but it can also present unique challenges especially for autistic individuals and their loved ones. Fortunately, Disney is committed to providing an inclusive and magical experience for all guests. In this blog post, we'll explore some tips, resources, and accommodations available to make your visit to Walt Disney World as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Consider seeking assistance from a Certified Autism Travel Professional who specializes in planning Disney Vacations specifically. These professionals are trained to understand the unique needs of neurodivergent guests and can help you plan a trip that caters to those needs while maximizing the magic of your Disney experience. 

CATP-Badge-300

A Certified Autism Professional are knowledgeable and capable of providing support and individuals on the autism spectrum as well as their families

 

Planning Your Trip

Preparation is key! Knowing what to expect and how to minimize uncomfortable experiences will make a big impact on everyone’s vacation.

Start by researching available resources. Disney offers a variety of services and accommodations to meet the needs of individuals with autism and other cognitive disabilities. One invaluable resource is the Disability Access Service (DAS) program. This program allows guests who have difficulty standing in traditional attraction queues to schedule return times for attractions, reducing wait times and providing a more comfortable experience. You can sign up for this service beginning 30 days before your visit via an online interview with a Disney Cast Member. Reach out to one of our Pure Magic Vacations travel agents for more information about this service. 

 

Quiet Areas and Sensory Guides

Navigating the sensory overload of Walt Disney World can be challenging.

Fortunately, tucked away in the parks are quieter areas removed from the crowds and noise. These areas offer a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the parks, providing a calm and soothing environment where guests can take a break and recharge. For example, every Walt Disney World theme park has a Baby Care Centre where families can utilize a multitude of resources.

Additionally, Disney has created informative guides that provide essential resources and tips to help guests navigate the parks and resorts. The guides include detailed sensory information for attractions and shows, as well as social stories to prepare guests for their visit. Additionally, they offer valuable links to access further resources and contact information. These guides are useful tools for families looking to make the most of their magical Disney vacation while ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone. You can find the Walt Disney World Resource for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities Including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) here.

 

Special Dietary Needs

What sets Disney apart is its unwavering commitment to ensuring that every guest's visit is not only memorable but also inclusive, especially when it comes to dining.

One of the most remarkable features of Walt Disney World is its willingness and ability to accommodate special dietary restrictions. Walt Disney World goes above and beyond to ensure that everyone can enjoy a delicious and stress-free dining experience.

Be sure to inform your server of any dietary restrictions when dining at Walt Disney World, and they will happily assist you in finding suitable options including speaking to the restaurant chef to get something custom ordered that fits each individual's needs. If you have a dining reservation you would like specific assistance with you can also choose to make the culinary teams aware of any dietary needs ahead of time by reaching out to Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com 

 

Navigating the Airport

Travelling to Walt Disney World often involves flying and airports can be overwhelming. However, the TSA Cares program provides assistance and support to travellers who may require it. By contacting TSA Cares at least 72 hours before your flight, you can request assistance navigating security checkpoints and other airport procedures.

Additionally, many airports participate in the Sunflower Program, which aims to raise awareness and provide support to individuals with hidden disabilities. Sunflower lanyards and other identifying materials signal to the staff at participating airports that you may require additional assistance or understanding.

 

In Conclusion

Travelling to Walt Disney World with autism may present unique challenges, but with careful planning and the support of Disney's inclusive accommodations and resources, it can also be an incredibly rewarding and magical experience.

By using a Vacation Specialist that specializes in Disney vacations and accessible travel, taking advantage of services such as the Disability Access Service program, exploring quiet areas and sensory-friendly spaces, and communicating your needs to Disney's cast members, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to the most magical place on earth.

 

Brenda Royan, is a Certified Autism Travel Professional with Pure Magic Vacations

Contact Brenda here

Brenda_Royan

 

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