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ADHD and Autism at Walt Disney World
“Hi. I am looking to take my nine-year-old boy to Walt Disney World, but I am finding it all very daunting. He doesn’t really like rides and waiting in queues is almost impossible. Loud noises and too many people result in meltdowns, but he does love Disney. Is it worth taking him, and if so, how can I make the visit magical?”
This is a great question. It’s not one I’m real familiar with. So I asked Shannon from Destinations to Travel (Dad’s travel agent partner) if she had an agent with experience that could answer this. Nancy Castillo, one of the agents for Destinations to Travel sent me and answer, and I’m just going to read it. It’s a really, really good answer.
Here’s Nancy’s answer. “Disney is magical for everyone, and I think it’s absolutely worth taking your son.” I agree with that. “There are some things you can do before you leave that will make your trip more enjoyable.
First of all, I would suggest you purchasing a pair of noise blocking headphones. You may already have those. You can get them on sites such as Amazon, very reasonable price. They come in different colors. Let him pick his own color. Your son will be able to watch fireworks, parades, and stage shows and not be overwhelmed with that noise stimulant. He may find that he just likes wearing them in the parks, too. That way to get rid of some of the crowd noise and some of the noise that goes on.”
“Take advantage of Fast Pass Plus with your three attractions. You can also consider Rider Switch.” If you have a party and somebody doesn’t want to ride, you go to the ride. You tell them you want to do Rider Switch, and some of your party can ride. Then when they get done, the rest of your party can ride. It’s a cool little thing. Disney’s done this for years. They used to call it Baby Swap, but now it’s called Rider Switch. That can really help if he’s got a ride that he can’t go on.
“When you arrive at the first park of your trip, go to guest relations. There you can request a Disability Access Service, DAS pass. DAS is designed for exactly like your son, for individuals that have problems with queues, with lines or have mobility issues or just can’t stand in lines.”
“How DAS works is, you go to the ride, you go to the FastPass+ entrance. You say, “I’ve got the DAS.” They tell you when to come back to ride the ride. Then you come back at your appointed time, jump in the FastPass+ line. Boom. You’re right in the line. You’ve got to go to guest relations when you’re first there. The DAS will be good for your while trip. Start with that. If you’ve got less than six, the whole party can stay together and ride the ride together.”
Dad’s Bottom Line
There are a lot of other tips she gives, but the bottom line is, Disney is really good about helping people in your situation. They go out of their way for people that have special needs. They really do help. If you can get the Disability Access Service, DAS, it will help you.
Thanks, Nancy, for the answer, and I hope that helps. There’s a lot of things you can do. It is worth it. It’s going to be fine. Just go at his pace. Don’t overwhelm him. Take breaks. If he likes to go swimming, let him go swimming. If he likes to just sit in a cool dark room, go back to your hotel and sit in a cool dark room. Just take care of him. Do what he needs to do.