Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Special needs and Disney

We had a great experience at Disney, and it is completely due to the parks' policies and the cast members themselves. The trip was completely overwhelming for our two, (and David and I) especially Summy. As we planned for the trip, we asked our OT to write a letter to the parks in preparation. It discussed the boys SPD, Jack's quick fatigue, and the things we planned to use at the park. (Weight belts, vest, noise-cancelling headphones.)

I will start by saying that Summy had trouble on day one with the pool at the hotel. Unfortunately, it was all one depth (3' 4") which was just slightly above where he could comfortably reach. I was so thankful they had free life vests for the kids to wear, and while we couldn't convince Summy to wear one the first day, the third day he did and had a blast.

When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we went straight to guest services. We were given a pass for visitors with disabilities that allowed us to get in the fastpass or handicapped (it varied by ride) line at each attraction. This was a godsend. It also allowed us to use our stroller (we rented) as a wheelchair. There were many rides we could have taken the stroller right on, but we only did this once.

We headed straight for Buzz Lightyear, worried about lines...not realizing we would wait in minimal lines all day. This was a big mistake: Summy was so scared, he literally was shaking. It was too loud and I forgot the inside part of the "tunnel" made it appear the stars were spinning. I felt awful, but he rode the people mover a few times and calmed down with the help of his weight belt.

As the day progressed, we were very thankful that we didn't have to wait on many rides. Lots of times, cast members talked to Summy about the ride in advance so he was not overwhelmed...most notably at the Peter Pan ride.

We took a sensory break at 4 and went back to the hotel room where I gave the boys a bath to cool down and we just tried to be quiet. With the heat (105 heat index) the tension vest was never used (I feared overheating) but the weight belt worked really well for both boys.

Staying at the Contemporary was the best choice we ever made because it was a quick monorail ride back for the break. If we were to do it again, we'd probably need to pick it again, or another hotel on the close monorail loop.

Everywhere we went cast members were kind and helpful. It was truly amazing and a few times I teared up. Setting the bar low at one day in the parks was the way to go for us and next time if we stayed longer, the most we would do would be 2-3 days spread over a week.

I hope this information helps those of you out there with little ones with special needs. I couldn't be more complimentary of Disney and how much they truly do to make sure everyone has a magical experience. Looking back, all Summy remembers was the fun he had and not the times he was overwhelmed. We probably would have only lasted a few hours if we had had to wait in long, noisy lines. I am so thankful that their first experience was so great.

1 comment:

Danica said...

I'm glad that Disney was so accomodating. The Contemporary is my favorite place to say.