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Disney World Attractions for Children with Autism

Updated: 27 Aug 2013 12:57:54 PM

Disney World has been a long-time favorite vacation destination for families affected by autism.

With its wide variety of attractions and sensitive, accommodating staff, Disney has made sure that all children will be able to experience some Disney magic.

That said, the fact remains that Disney World is a place of color and light and noise and, all too often, crowds.

For a child sensitive to external stimuli, the excitement of Disney World can quickly become overwhelming.

Stress Free Disney Vacation

However, there are some useful tips to help the caregivers of someone with autism in planning the perfect, stress-free Disney vacation.

The key is research, research, and research.

Here is some advice to help you get started:

In general, the Magic Kingdom (the most compact and crowded) and Animal Kingdom (the noisiest) tend to be most stressful parks for those with autism, but the stress-level can be greatly reduced by visiting at a less-crowded time of year.

Happily, these times (January, February, and October are the best) coincide with Florida’s cooler months.

Temperatures can become extreme during Florida’s summers and can make a trip uncomfortable and extra stressful for everyone.

Visiting in the cooler months is advisable.

Be sure to snag a copy of the Walt Disney World Official Guide for Kids, which contains lots of helpful info about noise, scares, and darkness levels on different attractions and will help you decide which rides may not be appropriate.

Best Attractions

Some favorite attractions reported by parents of children with autism include:

Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Soarin’ at Epcot

Spaceship Earth at Epcot

The Great Movie Ride at Disney Hollywood Studios

Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World at the Magic Kingdom

Worst Attractions

Some of the worst attractions for children with autism include:

Stitch’s Great Escape at the Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom

The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney Hollywood Studios

It’s Tough to Be a Bug! At Animal Kingdom

Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom

Other Tips

Be sure to get a note from your child’s psychologist stating that your child is autistic and present it at Guest Services to receive a Disability Pass that will allow you to bypass the lines at attractions.

This will help shorten your wait times and prevent any possible discomfort in the crowded queues.

Show this pass to any Disney characters at Meet and Greets. Many Disney Cast Members are given special training in regards to Autism.

Let them know your child’s needs and they will be happy to accommodate them.

Bring earplugs if your child is noise-sensitive.

Don’t spend an entire day in the parks.

A full day can be overwhelming for any child and if yours is hypersensitive to stimulation, it would be wise to pepper your visit with long breaks from the excitement of the parks.

By Marie Ospina

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