Conquering Disney World with Cognitive Disabilities: A Helpful Guide
10 essential planning tips to help alleviate stress and maintain the magic of your trip:
At FloridaTix, we believe that planning a fun-filled trip to Disney World should be easy, and that includes for guests who may have special requirements and needs.
That’s why we’ve formulated this useful guide to give you a helping hand!
From quiet areas to fluffy friends, we’ve rounded up some tips and tricks to make your trip to Disney as smooth-sailing as possible.
So get those ears ready – here’s how to conquer Disney World with cognitive disabilities…
Prep like a pro: plan ahead and research rides.
Shining, shimmering and splendid, Disney is a whole new world that can be tough to navigate for anyone!
Try putting together a schedule and researching if any attractions could potentially be overwhelming for the visitor with a cognitive disability.
Having a schedule can ensure your day is as fun-filled as possible, as everyone will have a timeline of the day, can anticipate what’s to come, and are able to soak up all the adventure without unexpected stress.
Savvy Nav-ing: study a visual schedule or map.
Though Disney isn’t the place for studying, a quick review of the maps with the guest with a cognitive disability can prove to be an A* idea!
Try to lay out a plan for your day at the park, pointing out areas that may have bigger crowds, louder sounds, or stronger smells so the guest can know what to expect.
We also recommend picking a spot to rendezvous just in case your party becomes separated – be sure the Guest with a cognitive disability is aware of the location and show it to them as soon as you arrive in the park so they know where to find you should they need to.
DAS Delights: cut down queue times with this helpful tool.*
Simply put, Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) is like a FastPass that allows guests to ride their favourite hair-raising roller coasters and visit all the awesome attractions without having to wait in a queue.
DAS will provide a return time for rides, allowing guests to enjoy other areas of the park while awaiting their turn.
You ain’t never had a friend like DAS!
Sensory Serenity: what to bring to avoid overload.
Disney is a playground for all ages, with rip-roaring fun everywhere you look. While we all love the excitement, Disney can also be a lot to take in for those sensitive to sensory stimuli.
Items such as noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, or a wide brimmed hat are not only Mickey-approved fashion statements, but also helpful tools when it comes to shielding from the scorch of the Orlando sun or the screams of Space Mountain.
Breaks and breaths: escape to quiet areas or sensory-friendly rooms.
Feeling overwhelmed and need to take a breath in a quiet space? No problem at all.
Visit one of the many quiet areas dotted around Disney, designed to provide a tranquil break from the whirlwind of the park and perfect to break up a day of back-to-back fun-filled adventure.
Bring a fluffy friend: use a service animal if needed and check Disney’s service animal policy.
Pluto’s always looking for friends!
Provided that they’re certified service animals, fluffy friends are welcome to the Disney parks to provide all the assistance guests need in order to make their day as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
Chat with the Cast: communicate with cast members about any special needs or accommodations.
The only thing Gaston cares more about than his own reflection, is your comfort.
From the princesses to the villains, and even the talking teapot too, all of the cast members at Disney are available for a chat, should you need to make them aware of any needs you may have.
Whether it’s the simple bare necessities, or any special accommodations, all cast members are more than happy to help!
Don’t forget the snacks! Eat well and stay hydrated to keep the energy up!
Let’s face it, folks, all that Disney fun can be quite tiring, and hunger or dehydration can magnify the effects of sensory overload.
Pack some of your favourite snacks and a water bottle to keep those hunger pangs and thirst at bay. Fuel up for all the fun to come!
Help from home: bring familiar items from home for comfort and familiarity.
Whether it’s gadgets, gizmos or thingamabobs, we all have items at home that instantly bring us comfort, so why not bring them along – like your very own travel sensory kit!
From stress balls, fidgets or even a small plush toy, a piece of home can be just what a guest with a cognitive disability needs to help unwind.
Slow down and smell the flowers.
Enjoy the park at a slower pace and focus on the experiences that bring joy, like encountering all your favourite characters, taking in the many splendid sights, and spending quality time with your loved ones.
Sometimes the best memories are tucked away in the quieter parts of your day.
Walt Disney World is a haven of fun, excitement, and adventure for all guests, of all abilities.
The most magical experience for all guests awaits, so, book those tickets now, grab your ears, don’t be afraid to ask the wonderful staff for help along the way!