Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Moms Panel Monday: Guests with Special Needs at Disney Parks? Hakuna Matata!

posted on December 10th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort


Traveling with a family member who has special needs can seem like quite a challenge to some. For those getting ready to hit the road, a million and one questions come to mind. Moms Panelist Anna Skamarakas loves to help plan vacations for families traveling with challenges. She brings her own unique travel experiences to those looking to plan a Disney Parks vacation.
“Disney

“If you have someone who is unable to transfer from a wheelchair to an attraction vehicle, there are attractions that have specially designed vehicles that can accommodate a wheelchair guest. My dad’s favorites always were the classics! He loved being able to ride ‘it’s a small world’ and Pirates of the Caribbean with the rest of the family,” said Anna.
“Disney

Whether you want to spend your vacation relaxing and enjoying your resort, or you plan to hit the theme parks all day, Anna feels that cast members do their best to help you during your stay. “The staff is amazing and can help before you even leave home with requests for accessible accommodations, show you how to automatically open doors and some of the resort pools are even zero entry.”

Transportation options for moving around the vast resort include the monorail, watercraft and buses. Guests with mobility issues who are walking or using wheeled assistance can be seen navigating the high ways and byways of the resort daily.

Disney Parks Accommodates Those Vacationing with Special Needs Guests Disney Parks Accommodates Those Vacationing with Special Needs Guests

As someone who has had gastric bypass surgery, Anna knows a lot about making sure her dietary needs are also met while on vacation. “They barely bat an eye at special dietary needs, so you can eat just about anywhere,” she said. She feels that whether you have allergies, strictly dictated diets, experienced various types of surgery or have cognitive or sensory disorders, Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Parks are can be your oasis from the everyday.

“The best advice I can give is to leave your worries behind when you are on vacation. Enjoy the attractions and parades. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The cast members are always ready to help make your experience magical.”

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8 Comments

1

Diane on December 10th, 2012 at 9:11 am

I think it’s great that every person who comes to Disney has options and can enjoy. It’s a great thing to have to zero entry pools because my mom is a senior and loves having “no worries” when getting in. ;-)

2

Lori on December 10th, 2012 at 9:46 am

Disney is INCREDIBLE with guests with special needs! My six year old is in a wheelchair due to CP, and also has some food allergies. Disney is the one place that we can go and she can truly enjoy her vacation, because she can do everything! The first time we took her, she was so young…in January when we went in the Magic Kingdom for the first time, she cried she was so excited! I can’t wait to see what her reaction is when we make that trek again in a month and a half!!

3

Anne on December 10th, 2012 at 9:52 am

Love the article. I would also like to point out that they are very understanding of emotional issues as well. My son Is on the Aspergers Spectrum and has a very difficult time with waiting in those crazy queue lines. They have always been very accommodating, either they put us in a different wait area, or they send us through the fast pass line. He is a true believer of Disney Magic and I think it’s because they always make him feel so special and they understand his needs. Two quick tips, my son also has some sensory issues and earplugs dimmed the noises of the parks to a manageable level for him until he learned to tolerate it, even at age 14 I keep his. “”Bravery plugs” handy when trying a new attraction in case he gets overwhelmed. I would also recommend visiting guest services in whatever park you visit and explaining your situation, they are great at designing a custom built solution to meet your needs. Don’t let any disability, physical or emotional come between you and the magic that is Disney : )

4

Kathryn from WA on December 10th, 2012 at 10:35 am

I’ve noticed an interesting thing at Disney. If you wear an ‘It’s My Birthday’ pin or ‘It’s my Anniversary’ pin or anything like that all the Disney folks wish you happy birthday or happy anniversary. Because all the guests see this they start to do it too. Everyone wishes you happy…. The same thing happens when you have someone with you with any kind of disability. The Disney folks go out of their way to accommodate and make sure that person is having fun. The guests start repeating the same behavior and usually automatically start doing things to make it easier for someone next to them with an issue. Disney is the only place we’ve been able to take my sister in law who has physical and emotional challenges due to a stroke. It’s also the only place she feels safe with so many people around her.

5

Otto on December 10th, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I wish Disney would make it possible for me to visit just a hour or 2 or 3. I’m in a lot of pain and because of that very tired all the time. I can do a bit a day and often 2 or 3 days later a bit again. I would love to visit Disney but buying a 14 day pass costs a lot and only gives me just a bunch of hours fun.

6

Jackie on December 10th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi Laura!

Thank you for posting this article, it means the world to me as a mom of a beautiful, autistic teenaged boy. Our son makes huge developmental strides every time we vacation at Disney Parks and with Disney Cruise Line. He navigates the parks and the ships with ease and confidence and is always ten strides ahead of us, leading the way.

On our most recent trip last September, soon after finishing Toy Story Mania, not only did he score his personal best, demonstrating an improvement in motor skills but came out and for the first time ever asked me to give him a kiss. This, from a child who has never told me he loved me, and after thirteen years, you can imagine how I felt.

Leaving Disney Parks becomes increasingly impossible after each visit as we always wonder what else our son would have done or said.

Happy holidays and a fabulous new year!!

Best regards,
Jackie

7

Vicki on December 11th, 2012 at 8:35 am

Hi Laura and Jackie,
I have a teenager what has developmental disabilities and we go every year to Walt Disney World. We often wondered about going on a Disney Cruise. Do you have any information or advice on the services for disable children on the cruise? Thank you.

8

Jackie on December 11th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Hi Vicki,

While surfing around on the Disney Cruise Line website is informative, user friendly and easy if you head over to the Disney Moms Panel, you’ll find in-depth advice from people who specialize in all aspects of Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line planning.

All you have to do is go to Disney Moms Panel, log in with the same user name and password that you used to respond here, and ask a question. You even get to pick your question category and Panelist. They respond quickly and you can even read through past responses to questions. Isn’t that neat?

Best of all you’ll get expert advice with the most up to date information and it’s all free!

Happy browsing with the Disney Cruise Line website and have fun over at the Disney Moms Panel, Vicki.

Best regards,
Jackie

8 Comments