When it comes to going anywhere with Dylan, we like to be prepared, be it a last minute trip or one which is planned months in advance. We come up with a plan of action so that Dylan will have just as much fun as what we will have, and this is no different with our upcoming trip to Disney World in Florida.
We do have the advantage that we had already experienced Disneyland in California a few years ago, but that was back when he was younger, the place was not as busy due to the time year we went, and there were only two parks compared to the six parks at Disney World. I’m going to share with you how we are preparing in advance our visit to Disney World with Autism.
The DAS Pass
The DAS (Disability Access Service Card) allows guests at Disney World to visit an attraction and receive a return time based on the current wait time posted. It accommodates those who aren’t able to wait in the queue environment due to a disability. This includes non-apparent disabilities, such as autism or other sensory disorders, so this is the perfect scheme for us as a family who wants to go on rides but has a child who just cannot cope with the concept of queueing. This worked brilliantly for us at Disneyland, so we are looking forward to using this again to give us that stressfree family day out. Cards issued at Walt Disney World Resort are good at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so once we have that DAS pass we are good to go for the duration of our trip.
The fantastic news is that the DAS service can also be used in addition to Disney’s FastPass and FastPass+ services so I have taken full of advantage of the fact that staying on resort means we can book our chosen rides & shows 60 days ahead of our visit with our FastPass+. Because we cannot use the DAS on rides that Dylan isn’t on, I have used our FastPass+ to reserve times on rides that his siblings would want to go on, this means we won’t be joining a long queue for these rides and Dylan won’t be waiting a long time for us.
We want to make sure our boy is as comfortable as possible during our trip, we have to make allowances for his needs, and this includes us seeking out the quiet rooms when he needs to escape the crowds. On the crowd front, we will make sure we leave last or early when it comes to things like the parades or the show we plan on watching to avoid a situation where we are surrounded by people with no escape. He will be in his stroller, and this is his comforter, he will be able to take on the world as long as he’s strapped safety in this.
There are many items we will be packing such as his chew necklaces and what will be essential, his ear defenders. We are hoping this time around we can experience the evening time at the parks and get the joys of watching the fireworks as a family. We have pre-booked a table at a restaurant where we can see fireworks from the comfort of indoors on one of our evenings there.
Staying On Site
For the first five days of our trip, we are staying in a Disney Resort Hotel; this gives us less travel time between the parks we plan on visiting as well as giving Dylan that familiarity each day. We have a family suite with a pool outside our door, so if for any reason he needs to leave the parks Daddy or I can come back to the room, and he can go for a dip in the pool instead as he loves swimming.
We plan on ordering food deliveries to our resort so that we can make sure his dietary needs are sorted ahead of time. We will do the order a couple of days before we fly so that we know we will be sorted that evening when we arrive in Florida. Our child has a restricted diet with that he lives off crisps, fruit and yoghurts, he does not eat hot food and won’t touch most of the food which is on the menu in the Disney parks. They have no issue with us taking our own food in, and this is one reason why we love Disney as an attraction to visit.
Preparing In Advance
Our son is non-verbal, we have no idea if he understands the fact we are going to Disney, we tell him, but it goes right over his head. So we have created our own social story, these are easily done by taking the images you need from the Disney website and putting words with them, print them out and make them in a book. We have also found watching videos a great way to show our children ahead of our visit what to expect, and we can gain an insight into what kind of rides they would like to go on. There’s also the My Disney Experience dashboard which you can incorporate into a social story to help show your child what they will be doing and when they will be doing it.
We have also mentally prepared ourselves that we won’t be able to do everything a family with a non-ASD child can do. Day to day we know this, but we can get carried away with high expectations when it comes to an experience like Disney World. So we need to reign this in and remember that our child’s needs come before our own, for example we have booked a table at the T-REX restaurant and videos over on YouTube have shown us that this can be rather loud, and over stimulating so we may have to cancel our reservation or split the family up, though we know there might be the option of a quieter table somewhere in the restaurants, but we prepare for all situations.
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