Is it possible to have a magical Disney vacation with a child that has autism? Yes, with proper planning by one of our travel planners here at Middle of the Magic Travel. I am Traci Elswick, the agency owner, and my love for Disney started when my son, Lucas, was a small child. He was diagnosed with autism and the way we communicated with him was through Disney movies and toys. Now he is 23, and we still do most of our communicating with him through all things Disney. He is the biggest Disney fan out there. We even moved to Orlando to be closer to The Mouse! Here are some of my best tips for traveling to any Disney destination with your child who has autism. This comes from real-life experience and not something I read in a book.
• One thing that we noticed from Lucas being a small child visiting the parks is he seems to be more verbal and “living in the moment” unlike in the “real world.” Lucas is hypersensitive to sound and loud noises. Thats why we always bring a pair of noise-canceling headphones with us to the parks or on a Disney cruise ship. Children just look like they are listening to music, and blend right in without standing out.
• Be sure when you make your reservations to let your travel planner know about your special needs. That way, they can recommend the best resort that will work for your family. Our top pick for families traveling with children with autism is the Contemporary resort. That has always worked well for our family. We like the ability to walk or take the monorail to Magic Kingdom. The walking path can be a lifesaver during a meltdown. If that is not in your travel budget, we also recommend renting a car. We always recommend staying on site though. Keep in mind the Walt Disney World Resort is double the size of Manhattan. Who wants to try to drive into that each day of your vacation!
• If your child has special dietary needs, you have picked the right place to vacation. Disney will take special care in making sure you have the right things for your diet, and make it extra delicious as well. On land or on the cruise, Disney takes special dietary needs very seriously. A chef will come out and talk with you at each meal. Be sure to talk with your travel planner about your special dietary needs. We will make sure to note it on all of your reservations!
Lucas really loves character interaction! When traveling to Disney World or Disneyland, there are several character dining experiences we would recommend. That way you can avoid lines and the characters come right to your table. We also recommend booking dining during off-times to make sure your experience is even more magical with less people. You can also use FastPass+ to reserve several character meet-and-greets as well. With Disney Cruise Line, you can check your Personal Navigator for character appearances, or you can also reserve several when you do your Online Check-in. There is also the DAS card you can obtain at Guest Relations at any theme park that can help with wait times as well.
We have all that information for you and much more when we plan your upcoming Disney vacation FEE-FREE, here in #mickeysbackyard, Orlando, Florida! Contact us for a quote now!