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  • Writer's picturePractically Perfect Pixie Dust

Visiting WDW with Autism or Anxiety

Raising a neurodiverse child comes with an array of ups and downs, from everyday tasks that are difficult to the wonder in how they view the world. Disney World can be a magical place to visit for children on the spectrum, a place where they can find joy and even comfort over time. We have been a Disney family for a long time, and when we started to visit with a child who was on the spectrum we had to do a lot of adjusting to how we approached planning and visiting.

Disability Access Service: Disney offers a Disability Access Service (DAS) pass to help people who are on the Autism Spectrum or have a developmental disability which make waiting in long lines or in crowded spaces difficult. Having an alternative way to wait in line makes Disney a much more doable experience for our family members on the spectrum. You can learn all about the DAS pass, if you might qualify, and how to use it to make a Disney trip with a neuro-divergent individual in your group by clinking here. To read about the new changes that are coming to Disney's DAS click here.

Make sure you have realistic expectations: I’ve mentioned this before - but the point can not be over belabored, when you are planning any kind of vacation, trip, or experience with a child or adult who is not neurotypical you can not expect a typical vacation.  Peopling is hard for them.  The new and unknown is hard for them.  Even if it is somewhere they have been before it will be exhausting.  They will need time away from crowds to rest and recharge, sometimes more than once in a day.  They will reach a point when they are done. You have to respect that.  You have to have very realistic goals, and be flexible within those goals.  Almost every mistake we have made on a vacation, Disney or otherwise, has happened when we did not listen fast enough to our child drawing a line that said he was done.

Do your homework: Disney is a trip that requires planning for a typical family, but families with neurodiverse members need to do some extra planning ahead of time, to help their neurodiverse members know what to expect, to know what resources Disney has, what attractions and events will appeal to their family members - or are doable by their family members, some attractions can be intense and you want to know what you are getting into, and where to go when your neurodiverse family member (or really any family member) needs a break from it all. To the last point, check out our maps here of where to avoid crowds and take a sensory break while in the parks. We also have a post here on how to plan for a Disney trip with your neurodiverse family member to manage their expectations and anxiety.

Disney Cast Members are the Best: Remember that Disney Cast Members are there to help, they can’t always fix everything but they can point you toward useful resources and help you find your way when things aren’t going right. We have had some amazing Cast Members help us through the years, from helping us bee-line out of a crowd right before fireworks started, to offering a kind smile and special attention to a kid who was having a hard time. These Cast Members are one of the reasons we return to Disney time and again.

Traveling and creating amazing memories is 1000% possible and worth it.  It just looks different than for a family that is completely neurotypical. Some of our trips have been almost exactly what we planned.  Some have been derailed by circumstances we were unprepared for.  But every single one of them has created joyful memories that will last a lifetime.  

If you are still uncertain or want help with planning your Disney trip with a neurodiverse family member, feel free to reach out for a no obligation Disney vacation quote. If you book through us, we will help you with figuring out how to plan and facilitate your trip at no extra charge.


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