Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts pin

Everyone who grows up in the United States hears about Plymouth, Massachusetts. Often called “America’s Hometown,” Plymouth was the site where the Pilgrims on the Mayflower famously arrived in 1620, “discovering” America. It was the location of the first Thanksgiving and remains a port city for the area. Plymouth makes for a great day trip from Boston, and there are two main attractions of historical significance to see: the ship and the plantation.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts sky

Historical Significance

Before the Pilgrims settled in the area, Plymouth’s location was a village of over two thousand Wampanoag Native Americans called Patuxet. European explorers visited the area twice prior to Plymouth’s establishment. In 1614 and 1617, two plagues possibly transmitted from visiting British and French fishermen killed about 96% of the local population. The tribe abandoned their cornfields and cleared areas that the Pilgrims later occupied.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts boat

As mentioned, Plymouth was founded in 1620 by the passengers of the Mayflower, the pilgrims. The pilgrims were separatist Puritans who broke away from the Church of England because of their belief that the Church did not complete the work of the Protestant Reformation. The town was named after the English city where the Mayflower departed. It is one of the oldest municipalities in the United States and served as the capital of the Plymouth Colony until the Colony merged with the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1691.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts item

What You Will See

At Plymouth, there are two main attractions: the Ship, and the Plantation. We’ll discuss each attraction separately below. In addition to these main attractions, there are many other things to do, such as checking out a cranberry farm, the 911 memorial, historic sites, museums, and different fun events.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts inside

The Ship

The ship is a full-size replica of the original Mayflower, called the Mayflower II. Travelers can explore two layers with in-character docents who tell visitors about what it was like to sail a ship in that time.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts shipGuides also inform travelers about the history of the Mayflower and the Mayflower II. Currently, the Mayflower II is at Mystic Seaport getting a full restoration until 2019. However, visitors can still see many of the shops nearby. Those interested can actually donate to help with restorations for the ship here.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts wood

Of course, visitors get to see the great Plymouth Rock, allegedly the one the first settlers stepped on upon arrival. Nearby, active kids can run around the beautiful beach front park.

The Plantation

This plantation is otherwise known as the “Plimoth Plantation.” It is a living history museum with acting volunteers and replicas of different sites.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts outside

Upon arrival, visitors first watch a movie about the settlement, detailing the history and daily life of the settlers. Only after watching the video are visitors allowed to explore the rest of the site.

The area is divided into a replica of a Wampanoag village and a Plymouth settlement. Volunteers in costumes reenact daily tasks like cooking, weaving, making posts, and making a canoe. After that, travelers can visit the artisans. Here, the volunteers show visitors how to make traditional items such as candles, clay pots and bread.
Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts bull
There is also a separate area that shows how the settlers lived – their homes, a church and even the backyards with livestock such as cows, sheep, goats, and hens. What is fascinating about these animals is that they are actual rare direct descendants of specific breeds actually used by the original settlers. These breeds include Kerry cattle, San Clemente Island goats, Tamworth Pigs, and eastern wild turkeys. Plimoth Plantation does its part to help save the genetic diversity of these rare, endangered breeds.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts native american

Location, Hours, and Admission

Travelers can find Plimoth Plantation at 137 Warren Avenue. They can locate the ship at the nearby state pier. The sites are both open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts man

To get to Plymouth, travelers can take the train from Boston, then take a cab from the train station to the ship or plantation. Travelers can also drive or take the bus from Boston’s South Station.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts ship

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is a cafeteria onsite. The cafe serves various foods, including “settler’s grub” and Native American staples.
  • Families can enjoy the special events throughout the week.
  • Much of the area is outdoors, so parents should take weather issues into consideration. Parents should also make sure everyone’s wearing comfortable shoes.
  • There are no wheelchairs or strollers available. However, the staff does offer golf carts to transport visitors to various sections on a first come, first serve basis.
  • There is a handy Parent’s Guide available on the website that has some great tips and educational information.

 

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families

 

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families pin

Located on the eastern coast of Denmark, this tenth-century fishing village has turned into a famous cultural city for all of Scandinavia. There are a variety of museums and even the two oldest amusement parks in the world in Copenhagen! Check out this list of what to see when visiting the city of spires.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families cake

Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park

Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park opened in 1843 in central Copenhagen, making it the second oldest amusement park (behind Dyrehavsbakken). Visitors can enjoy a roller coaster, Rutschebanen, built in 1915. They can also ride the oldest Ferris wheel still in use, built in 1943.

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There are also new rides, like the Star Flyer, that gives visitors a 360-degree view of the city. However, those who don’t want to go on the rides can still enjoy many other attractions. Tivoli regularly holds various shows at the Concert Hall. Also, the staff lights up parts of Tivoli with festive lights during the holidays, including the lake.

Dyrehavsbakken (Bakken) Amusement Park

The oldest amusement park in the world, founded in 1583, is surrounded by 400-year-old trees and thousands of deer in the forest of Jægersborg Dyrehave. There are thirty-three rides and attractions at Bakken, more than any other amusement park in Scandinavia. The park also boasts several restaurants, pubs, and live music, so there’s something for everyone in the family here. Due to its location and historical value, no big name brands can set up in Bakken, and all neon signs are banned.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families street

The Little Mermaid Statue

Many of Copenhagen’s visitors make their way to Langelinje Pier to see the sculpture of the Little Mermaid. She is over 100 years old and was a gift to the city from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen. The sculpture was inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson tale about a mermaid and is made of bronze and granite. The mermaid has been vandalized several times but is always restored because it is such a popular tourist sight.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families statue

Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace, made up of four identical buildings, was constructed in the 1700s.  The Amalienborg Museum has rooms dedicated to the traditional and modern royal family. This museum displays history going back 150 years to Christian IX and Queen Louise, known as “the in-laws of Europe” because four of their many children ruled England, Greece, Russia, and Denmark. The rooms of these monarchs still stand intact to this day, reflecting the period’s tastes and personalities of the kings and queens.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families water

Beside the Amalienborg Museum, the Palace also features an event for the changing of the guards. Each day at noon, the guards march from their barracks by Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen to Amalienborg Palace.

Rosenborg Castle

Finished in 1633, Rosenborg Castle was one of Christian IV’s many lots and became his favorite summer spot. The palace was built in four phases in the early 1600s and was used as a royal residence until 1710. Guests can see artifacts from the kings and queens that lived at Rosenborg throughout the years, such as, sculptures, furniture and more. These objects represent the history of high Danish culture from the late sixteenth century to the nineteenth century. Of course, everyone wants to see the exclusive Crown Jewels displayed on a Schatzkammer, as well as the Throne Chair of Denmark.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families ride

Hans Christian Andersen’s Childhood Home and Museum

Hans Christian Andersen and his parents lived in a small house close to St. Knud’s Cathedral for just over ten years. The exhibit in the home helps remake the interior in the image of the description Anderson gave in his autobiographies. Here, guests can see the simple rooms where the world-renowned fairy tale writer found inspiration.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families ship

Next to the home is the Hans Christian Andersen museum, opened in 1908 and one of the oldest poet museums. It celebrates Andersen’s life, inspiration, and writings.

Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale House

This museum focuses on what Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Here, visitors can see hand-written manuscripts as well as a trip to Andersen’s study to hear “him” speak about his life and travels abroad. Families can also enjoy the live fairy tale exhibit which boasts advanced lighting effects and a sound system translated in Danish, English, and German.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families statues

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Tivoli joined the Accessibility Label Scheme in 2005, meaning parts can find info on the park’s accessibility online.
  • Public accessible parking spaces are available for Tivoli by the main entrance at the Glyptotek entrance. Wheelchair users can access all entrances.
  • Visitors who bring electric wheelchairs can recharge them at various charging points by the lockers near the Pantomime Theatre and near the Nurses’ Station.
  • Parents can book tickets for the Concert Hall and Glass Hall Theater in Tivoli.
  • Support companions are admitted to Tivoli for free.
  • Bakken houses absolutely no big name brands regarding vendors. Parents of kids who want something familiar ought to eat before going to the park.
  • The Bakken amusement park is free to get into, but parents will need to pay extra for a multi-ride pass.
  • The Hans Christian Andersen childhood home is not wheelchair accessible.

Eight Things to Do in Copenhagen for Families shore

 

Taking the Family to Boston’s JFK Presidential Library

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library pin

Boston is a city full of interesting historical places for traveling families to see. However, a fascinating place every family in Boston needs to experience is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. This library is the perfect place for families to know more about the life of this noteworthy president. Traveling families can also enjoy the nearby Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library view

 

What You Will See 

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum honors the life and legacy of the President through exhibits about his public and personal life, as well as events that occurred during his presidency.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library office

The museum is focused on both John F. Kennedy’s public and private life. Permanent exhibits include coverage of his campaign, how he effectively used the television to get his message to Americans, the “Space Race” to the moon, furnishings from the Oval Office and exhibits about his wife, Jackie, and their family. The museum also features special exhibits about a variety of Kennedy-related topics (Presidential getaway to Cape Cod, the Cuban Missile Crisis, his Inauguration, and more).

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library appliance

Our son loved the slabs from the Berlin Wall that he had also seen in the Reagan Library. He commented on how both a Republican and Democrat president had a slab in their respective libraries. He was also fascinated with how the Kennedy family, JFK in particular, led the advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. One of JFK’s sisters was mentally disabled, so the topic was close to his heart. Furthermore, our son liked seeing JFK’s office with a replica of the ship he was on while he was in the Navy. We also saw all the gifts sent to him and his family while they were in the White House, including a small Japanese doll for his daughter.

One of the best things to see in this museum is the artifacts and memorabilia from the JFK election period. Visitors can see an extensive collection of newspapers, TV clips, costumes, dresses, hats, and pins. All these items get guests to relieve the tense environment of the election.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library hat

Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Located near the JFK Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is a tribute to the influential senator’s 47-year career. It also educates the public about the Senate and encourages visitors to participate in the democracy of the United States.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library posts

 

At the entrance to the Institute, visitors first see impressive granite pillars carved with the names of the fifty US states and the year each was accepted into the Union.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library hall

The Institute boasts interactive exhibits to help both children and adults gain a better understanding of this governmental body. Visitors can get a real experience of being in the United States Senate in the full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber. They can also learn all about what the Senate is, who works there, how a bill becomes law and how we can all make a difference. In fact, kids can create their own bill and try to convince fellow congress people the importance of what they’re presenting in the Senate Chamber. The Institute also features an issue of the day, rotating between Immigration, Health Care, and Civil Rights.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library ship

Visitors can also learn about Edward M. Kennedy’s legislative battles, where he stood on a variety of issues and can hear some of his speeches. Also not to be missed is his office, which includes a bust of his brothers RFK and JFK. Here, visitors can see his paintings, since Edward Kennedy had a talent for landscapes.

 

Location, Hours, Cost 

The JFK Library is located at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is next door at Columbia Point 210. Both are roughly a 20-30 minute drive out of Boston. The JFK Library is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and the Institute is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library display

Admission to the JFK Library is $14 for adults and $10 for children 13-17. Children under 12 get in for free, and there are various discounts for seniors, college students, and veterans/active military.

Admission to the Institute is $16 for adults 25-61, $14 for adults 18-24, and $8 for children 6-17. One can get discounts for seniors, veterans, and MA residents, and children under 6 get in for free. Visitors can enjoy a $2 discount if they show a same-day ticket for the JFK Library.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library tv

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The JFK museum features a free educational iPad app for children called the JFK Challenges. This app focuses on astronauts and the moon landing, as well as the Peace Corps created during JFK’s presidency.
  • There are some great resources on the website to help prepare children or adults who might not know what to expect at the museum. These sites include photos and recordings of speeches from John F. Kennedy, a family tree that starts all the way back with Joseph P. Kennedy (born in 1888) and the many legacies that JFK has left behind (the Peace Corps, Green Berets, different funds and charities).
  • Families should attend a family friendly docent-led tour to learn more about the highlights of the museum.
  • Both institutions are ideal for older, school-aged children. However, younger ones might have a tough time staying interested.
  • The website recommends 1.5-2 hours to visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
  • Visitors can enjoy a café, gift shop, and coat check at the Institute.
  • The Institute is wheelchair friendly.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library variety

 

 

 

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS?

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? pin

 

With more and more cities offering a “city pass,” many families might be wondering if it is worth it. On a recent trip to Boston, we decided to grab city passes and ended up saving some money!

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? building

What is it?        

The Boston CityPASS is a ticket that can work for admission to the city’s four major attractions – the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and either the Skywalk Observatory or the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Currently, a CityPASS is $49 for adults (ages 12+) and $36 for children (ages 3-11). Buyers also get nine consecutive days to visit the attractions, beginning on the first day of use.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? turtle

We got it for the day and focused on the four main sites within the city. Since Boston is a compact city, it is easy to get from place to place. We wanted a mixture of art, history, and animal interactions. Here’s what we got to see in one day.

Pros

Buying the CityPASS in advance saves visitors 46% off what they would pay if they paid for each attraction individually. Also, the CityPASS will also save time because it allows buyers to skip the ticket line.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? flag

Cons

This card isn’t the best option for families who don’t want to visit a large number of attractions in a short amount of time since it is pricey.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

While the Museum of Fine Arts is not as interactive or kid friendly as the other local museums, they have family programs throughout the week, most of which are included in the admission cost. The exhibits change throughout the year and include paintings, photographs and sculptures from artists around the world, with a variety of themes.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? art

The museum is located at 465 Huntington Avenue. Their hours are 10 am – 4:45 pm Sat-Tue and 10 am – 9:45 pm Wed-Fri. Our son found the furniture exhibit interesting.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Weekday afternoons are the best time to visit to avoid crowds.
  • The museum has a café on-site, but limited parking.
  • The museum is wheelchair friendly. They also provide large type maps, ASL interpreters, and Assistive Listening Devices.

The Museum of Science

This museum is ideal for families who want to interact with the over 700 exhibits. There is something for everyone! Permanent exhibits include birds, butterflies, dinosaurs, the moon, math, engineering, and micro-robotics. The museum also has a 3D theater, a Planetarium, a Butterfly Garden, and a Theater of Electricity, some of which come with an additional fee.

The day we visited we got to see a traveling Pixar exhibit which delighted our son with autism.

The museum is located at 1 Science Park. It is open from 9 am – 5 pm most days.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? sign

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is on-site parking, a café and gift shop.
  • Weekday afternoons are the best time to go to avoid crowds.
  • The museum is wheelchair and stroller friendly. They also offer assistive listening systems.
  • Families who require sighted guides or interpreters for a foreign language or ASL need to request the service two weeks in advance.

The New England Aquarium

Kids will enjoy looking for harbor seals on the Front Plaza and seeing Myrtle, a 550-pound sea turtle. The aquarium is kid friendly, with an interactive sea turtle exhibit and the largest “touch tank” on the east coast, with over 100 animals available for children to feel. There is also a whale-watching cruise from April-October for an additional fee.The aquarium is located at 1 Central Warf.

By the time we reached the Aquarium our son was somewhat burnt out, so we focused mainly on visiting the penguins before heading to the Wharf’s Legal Seafood for a late lunch. It is open Mon-Fri from 9 am – 5 pm, and on weekends and holidays until 6 pm.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? penguin

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The aquarium has on-site parking and is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
  • There is a café on-site.
  • Personal photography is allowed.
  • The best time to visit to avoid crowds is as soon as the aquarium opens.

Skywalk Observatory

The Skywalk Observatory may be a bit frightening for those with a fear of heights, but well worth the trip to see a 360-degree view of the city. It is the only observatory in New England and is found on the fiftieth floor of the Prudential Center. Also at the Observatory is the Dreams of Freedom Museum, an educational experience to give children (and adults) a sense of not just Boston’s, but America’s cultural history through interactive exhibits.

We arrived late in the day to the Observatory which worked out well since visibility was better in the afternoon. Also, this stop was short since there wasn’t much to see except a short intro movie and the spectacular city views. However, we were thrilled to discover the Observatory was next to a great shopping mall that offered multiple dinner options.

This observatory is located at 800 Boylston Street. It is open daily from 10 am – 10 pm in the summer and from 10 am – 8 pm in the winter.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • The observatory is wheelchair accessible.Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando:Tmom Travel Disclosure
  • Families can get a self-guided audio tour.
  • Guests can enjoy the gift shop and restaurant on the fifty-second floor of the Prudential Center.
  • Due to weather and special events, the 360-degree view may not always be open. Parents should check the website or call before going.

Overall as a family with autism we found the pass helpful as it a fast way to visit several landmarks on the same day without standing in lines.

Have you tried the Boston passes? What was your experience?

 

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort pin

The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas is a giant, resort complex comprising of several hotel towers on 141 acres of land. It offers a unique opportunity for guests of all ages with its magnificent lagoons, water slides, water sports, animal encounters, shopping, multiple restaurants and more. Also, the seascape island retreat is part of the Marriott chain of residences which ensures quality service and luxurious accommodation. We had meant to go there for many years, so we were excited to at least get a sampler for the day during a Royal Caribbean shore excursion while we were cruising last month aboard Oasis of the Seas.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort blue

What You Will See

There is something here for everyone. There are several areas where one can walk around,  engage in water sports,  do some shopping and have a quick bite to eat.

Complimentary Attractions

Upon first visiting Atlantis, travelers might decide just to walk around the big resort to get an idea of what it looks like. They can also check out its sheer magnitude, free exhibits, and shopping options. There is plenty to keep one occupied, and one can walk around the grounds and enjoy the lovely scenery, well-manicured gardens, and the beautiful lagoons. There is a shopping mall across the mini bay called the Marina Village with over thirty stores!

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort building

Guests should visit the Dig Deck, an Aquarium like structure, and experience the lost world of Atlantis. This visit is a self-guided tour in which one walks through tunnels and sees large water tanks and different artifacts. The floor is paved and easy to navigate. It isn’t too hot or stuffy, and it is all shaded.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort swim

The first stop is an ‘archaeological base camp’  followed by a lobster exhibit that is captivating to watch. The little reef-dwelling crustaceans go up and down small bars and ladders which are very entertaining. There’s a wishing well overlooking the lagoon that is teeming with different marine life, including friendly stingrays.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort arch

Visitors can admire the murals and check out the lab and Fountain of Youth along with the Treasury room. The aquariums are filled with groves of coral reef with eels, seahorses, and jellyfish. Of course, the aquarium has everybody’s favorite – clown fish. The kids will love all the little “Nemo” fish.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort art

Anyone can also enjoy the Predator Tunnel. This attraction is a giant aquarium with sharks and other marine life, and it feels like they are watching every move from every angle. Not to be missed is the tunnel where guests can sit cozily on the inflated tubes and float in a clear plastic tunnel while sharks swim all around the tunnel in plain view gawking at the visitors.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort horse

The Aquaventure park (requires a ticket)

Stretching across the vast waterscape and well-kept beachfront is the Aquaventure Waterpark. It is perfect for thrill-seeking guests as well as family members of all ages. The park is free for guests staying on the property, but visitors can purchase a day pass.There are animal encounters with dolphins, stingrays, and sea lions. There are also two slide sections each offering their unique features and a Lazy River. The first slide is a replica of the Mayan Temple that encompasses the 60-foot Leap of Faith, Five-Story Serpent slide, Challenger slide and Jungle slide.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort slide

For those wishing the push the envelope further, they can take the 200-foot long Abyss plunge at the Power Tower along with several other shorter slides. Even the resort’s Lazy River here is upgraded with wind-wave panels and bridges and water cannons. For an additional charge, visitors can interact with dolphins or stingrays. Those who book in advance can enjoy the “join a marine trainer for a day” program.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort shark

Location, Hours, and Admission

Travelers can fly into Nassau Bahamas or takes a ferry from Miami. Another way to visit is of course as we did while on a  cruise ship shore excursion which includes a water taxi or bus shuttle from the port.

A day pass to the resort will be around $150 per person. The property does limit the amount of visitors per day so booking ahead of time is essential.Parents should check how long their cruise ship is in port for to get the most out of the day. The Aquaventure park opens at 10 AM.

Family Fun at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort underwater

 

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents need to prepare their children for a lot of walking around in wet areas around pools and slides. Kids can’t run around and need to be aware of other guests.
  • During high traffic days, there are often lines by the slides with no real way to get in front.
  • While there are accessible ramps throughout the resort, most of the slides are not equipped for special needs.
  • The best time visit is during the non-Hurricane season between November and April when it is not too hot outdoors.
  • The resort sells sunscreen and insect repellent. We discovered on our visit that mosquitoes were less of a problem than bees.
  • .There is no need for parents to bring life vests or inflatable tubes; the resort has these on hand.Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando:Tmom Travel Disclosure
  • We were impressed to see that the staff is well-rehearsed and trained as well as helpful with autism. All pools have lifeguards, and the slides have staff who explain the slide procedures correctly.
  • There is Wi-Fi available  for purchase for all guests there for the day.
  • The resort offers chairs, towels, umbrellas and of course showers but for an extra fee, visitors can rent a cabana for the day by one of the lagoons.
  • There are multiple food venues dotted throughout the resort that offers snacks and drinks as well as places to sit down and enjoy a quick meal.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust pin

The Holocaust is a dark historical event that can be hard to comprehend for most people let alone kids. Some parents may find it easier to visit particular sites offering educational and interactive resources than talk about the events with their children. For families wishing to introduce their kids to the topic here are some suggested sites to explore.

 

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust sign

Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany

Dachau, Germany is the location of the first Nazi concentration camp created in 1933. Initially, the camp held political prisoners. Soon the camp also housed not only Jews but artists, intellectuals, members of the LGBT community, and even the physically and mentally disabled. Sadly many of the detainees were subjected to cruel medical experiments and torture too.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust path
A memorial was created for the prisoners in 1965 where visitors can visit some of the historic buildings in and around the camp. The landmark also offers access to its library and some special exhibits containing materials related to Dachau’s history.

Visitors should be aware that there is quite a bit of walking involved and that a typical tour can last anywhere between 2-4 hours.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust walk

Resistance Museu, Copenhagen

After the original museum closed due to an intense fire in 2013, the archive and artifacts of the Danish Resistance Museum moved from Denmark to Brede, North of Copenhagen. Nowadays, travelers can only visit these archives if they make an appointment ahead of time. Officials are hoping the new facility will open by the end of 2018.

When we visited in 2008, our kids had just read Lois Lowry’s Number of the Stars novel that described the plight of the Danish Jews, so they found the museum and its artifacts fascinating.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust window

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

Located in central Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is where the fifteen-year-old novelist lived during the war. Today, the house stands as a preserved national icon visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust anne frank

 

The house acts as a biographical museum for Anne Frank, her family and those who also hid with them. The museum displays original maps, letters, and stories written by Anne and her family. Visitors can also see interviews with Anne’s father (the only member to survive) as they travel through the house.

Parents should know there are quite a few stairs to climb to get to the Franks’ hideaway. The tiny alcove can get quite crowded with visitors during certain times of the year.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust statue

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

The Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel is a living memorial to the Holocaust that safeguards the memory of the past and its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, Yad Vashem became the world center for documents, research, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust stone

Today, Yad Vashem is a comprehensive primary source for those who wish to learn about the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Here, visitors can find a variety of original Holocaust-era documentation provided in English such as letters, diaries, and testimonies of survivors as well as photos.

Not to be missed is the outdoor garden. This place is dedicated to non-Jews like JanuszKorczakk who risked their lives to save kids and families during the Holocaust.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust forest

Pinkas Synagogue, Prague

Aaron Meshullam Horowitz built the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague in 1535. Originally a private establishment, the Pinkas Synagogue is covered with 77,000 names of perished Bohemian-Moravian Jews. It is Prague’s second oldest surviving synagogue, connected with the well known Horowitz family.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust bag
Exceptionally touching are the series of pictures drawn by children forced into concentration camps in Theresienstadt during lessons by painter Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. Before her deportation to Auschwitz, Dicker-Brandeis hid these drawings to ensure their survival, totaling 4,500 pictures.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust bench

Shoes on Danube, Budapest

Travelers to Budapest can view this great iron shoe memorial created by Can Togay and Gyula Pauer.
The site is dedicated to those who died by the hands of Arrow Cross, a concentration camp enforcer run by the locals. Here, the victims were taken to the edge of the river and ordered to remove their shoes before getting shot and tossed in the Danube.

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Holocaust Museum, Washington DC

The Washington DC Holocaust Museum holds a permanent exhibition that tells a narrative story of the Holocaust. At this museum, there are photos, film clips, historical artifacts and eye witness testimonies from this time. The museum also features numerous other exhibitions that change with time. These exhibits discuss how genocide happens and how to prevent it in the present and future.

Not to be missed is Daniel’s story. There’s also the thousands of shoes brought from Majdanek exhibits that create a powerful visual for visitors.

Seven Moving Places to Teach Kids about the Holocaust museum

Photo Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents to kids with autism should prepare their children for the visits ahead of time by watching age-appropriate movies and reading books.
  • Due to the popularity of the Anne Frank House, parents should prepare to stand in line for up to four hours before they can enter the museum.
  • Many of these locations feature extreme content that might not be appropriate for younger kids. Parents should use discretion before visiting.

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv

 

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv pin

About an hour’s drive away from the ancient capital city Jerusalem is Tel Aviv, the second most populated town in Israel. Situated on the Mediterranean coast, tourists come for the white, sandy beaches and surfing. However, there is far more to this fast-paced city than meets the eye. Here is our list of fifteen must do things for kids in Tel Aviv.

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv sky

Zapari in Ganei Yehoshua

In the heart of Tel Aviv is Ganei Yehoshua. It is basically to Tel Aviv what Central Park is to New York, but on a much smaller scale. A peaceful oasis of grass and trees, children’s playgrounds, picnic spots, paddle-boat hire, climbing walls and much more, it is a fantastic place to take the kids.

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There is also the Zapari, the biggest bird park in the Middle East. This park features an interactive parrot show and avian nursery where they teach visitors how to look after and hatch eggs. Also, they have a petting zoo, animal feedings, reptiles, and other small animals.
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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should allow a few hours to enjoy this location thoroughly.Packing sunscreen , insect repellent and hand wipes is a good idea.
  • This place is the perfect location for antsy and active kids to get out some energy.
    Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv beach

 

Tel Aviv Old Port

Built between 1936 and 1938, the old port of Tel Aviv is now far more famous for its restaurants, pier, and water sports among other things. The Yarkon River estuary empties into the Mediterranean here and offers spectacular scenery making it a popular place for walking. Travelers will see joggers passing by at all hours of the day from sunrise to midnight.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bring the kids here for some delicious ice cream or gelato while you watch a magnificent sunset over the sea.
  • There are bikers and skaters everywhere so parents should be attentive.Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv red

Carmel market

For those wanting to give their children a real cultural experience, the Carmel Market is the place to go.
It is the largest open-air market in Tel Aviv and the sights, smells and sounds should not be missed! What both tourists and locals alike enjoy most about the “Shuk HaCarmel” is that everything is fresh.

Travelers can walk through the alleyways seeing the spices, dried fruit, and yellow and white cheeses. They have other ready-to-eat meals with Druze, Yemenite, Iraqi and Eastern European influences, as well as traditional Middle Eastern street food.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Don’t miss out on the freshly squeezed and pressed fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Parents with kids with smell sensitivities might want to avoid the smelly alleyways where fresh fish, meat, and chicken is prepared and sold.
  • Like most markets, this one can be noisy which may be challenging for noise sensitive kids.
  • The market tends to be crowded on Fridays.
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Nachlat Binyamin

Keeping with the open-air theme, another great place to take children is the Nahlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall. During the week, it is a favorite place to buy fabrics and art materials. However, twice a week, there is the Arts and Crafts Fair where local artists sell their extremely well made and unique wares. Street performers wow the crowds and there are all sorts of delicious foods to purchase to satisfy all palates.

 

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • This area is a great place to introduce kids with autism to street performances.Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv car

Neve Tzedek

This neighborhood, dated back to the 1880’s, started out as a prosperous little suburb of Tel Aviv where artisans lived. One hundred years later, it had become a neglected slum full of ruins and a bad reputation. If some of the houses had not been on the preservation list, the whole area would have been demolished. Plans were made instead to renovate and beautify Neve Tzedek with an attempt to restore it to its former glory.Nowadays, Neve Tzedek is also known for its winding alleyways, charming restaurants, and beautiful architecture.
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One of the places to take your child to see is the Nahum Gutman Museum of Art which is named for a very well-known Israeli author, painter, sculptor, illustrator and all-round artist who was born just before the turn of the 20th century and spent a good portion of his early childhood in Neve Tzedek. The museum exhibits much of the late Nahum Gutman’s work in all sorts of mediums.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This area is the perfect location to take art and history buffs.
  • The sidewalks aren’t well kept so close toe shoes are advised.Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv pond

Sarona

Sarona is a newly renovated neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Children might like to see houses that were moved whole from one place to another in the preservation project. Virtually each house in the neighborhood serves as a museum with a story to tell.

Sarona was originally a German colony established in the 1870’s, and as the residents got older and moved away, the population dwindled. Now, visitors will find a  bustling market, a vast grassy area with the best outdoor gym and a popular place for community events and performances.

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv play

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a great place to relax outside between events.
  • The indoor market can be noisy at rush hour.17104889215_89ea63552e_k

Beit Hatfutsot

No matter how old they are, something every child would enjoy is Beit Hatfutsot. Located at the Tel Aviv University, this is the Museum of the Jewish People and their culture. Many displays and exhibits depict over four millennia of Jewish history in permanent displays. There are also temporary exhibitions during the summer or other times of the year. Children and adults alike enjoy seeing the incredibly colorful dioramas and other audio-visual displays. It is an excellent introduction to Jewish history and life both local and international.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Best time to visit is in the early afternoon after the school groups leave.

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Azrieli Mall and mini theme park

The Azrieli Mall is the place to go for a unique theme park experience. Made up of three geometrically shaped buildings, the Azrieli Towers are a landmark in central Tel Aviv and currently include the largest shopping center in this city.
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On the third floor, there is a roof section with a mini theme park called The Island. It is a water-based park and has a pirate ship with slides. There is even a little train ride around the ‘island.’Throughout the area, there are trampolines, climbing walls and rope sky-walks all with supervised lifeguards.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Budget a few hours at this place and have lunch in one of the restaurants in the Mall’s food halls.

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Old Jaffa

The most southern and coastal part of the Tel Aviv municipality is Jaffa. With its ancient port and its ancient winding alleyways and arched walkways, it is quite an adventure to explore. There are little museums and even the remains of a second-century house.In the newer section of Jaffa, there is a flea market as well as lovely little cafes and restaurants with excellent menus.

Old Jaffa is an artist colony with amazing galleries and workshops, and the weekly craft market should not be missed. One can visit St Peter’s, a centuries-old church, an old lighthouse, and a wishing bridge with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be aware the Old Jaffa area ground is uneven, and there are steps to navigate.

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White City Tour

A little-known fact about Tel Aviv is that this city was a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. This is because of a unique architectural style of residences, the largest collection in the world, called Bauhaus. It became very popular from the late 1920’s and into the 1930’s because it combined practicality, design functionality and the ability to use less expensive building materials; perfect for that time in Tel Aviv’s history.The city’s municipality offers Bauhaus tours and even free guided tours for visitors.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should try the free tours since they can leave at any time.

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Gordon Pool

This Olympic sized pool was first built in 1954 and has undergone much reconstruction. There is an entrance fee, but it in worth it to be able to experience the refreshingly cold water in the summer and also make use of the heated indoor pool in winter.

 

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • For kids who are afraid of swimming in the sea, this is an excellent introduction to swimming in salt water.

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Tel Aviv Marina

With beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea and the piers, the stretch of white beaches, and a variety of hotels and restaurants, the Tel Aviv Marina should not be missed. The area is well known for its surfing, sailing and canoeing activities and other outdoor sports.A popular past-time among locals in this area is a bat and ball game that has the locals call Matkot. The trick is to break the record and not lose the rhythm by dropping the ball.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • There are a lot of great physical activities here for energetic children with autism.16484685583_9d97695246_k

Buffet Israeli breakfast

There is no shortage of good places to partake of this delightful culinary experience. Children would enjoy having an Israeli breakfast buffet style.

Each establishment has their atmosphere, style and signature dishes. Start off with a selection liquid refreshments both hot and cold. Move on to cereals, porridges, yogurts, eggs: boiled, fried, scrambled or prepared by the chef in a design-your-own-omelet variety.
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There is also Shakshuka, an egg poached in a spicy tomato based sauce or the creamed spinach white version. One can try savory and sweet pastries,  freshly prepared local or international salads and the option to build your own with seeds, dried fruit, and dressings.

There are cheeses, both yellow and white that come with added olives or garlic and herbs. Also, there are different fish options like smoked salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Continue with the Israeli version of pies called bourekas and end the meal with fresh fruit, either whole or in a fruit salad There is no way to leave a Tel Aviv breakfast buffet hungry!

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents of children with food sensitivities should always ask servers if they are unsure about what ingredients make up a dish.
  • These breakfasts are an excellent way to introduce kids with autism to new tastes and textures.

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Hotel Sabbath Dinner

Many hotels offer this experience, like the Hilton Tel Aviv for example. This activity is a cultural experience that requires much preparation in advance on the part of the staff to get everything served before the sun sets on a Friday night, so as to comply with the kosher laws of Judaism. The dinner is a wonderful way to start the Shabbat, the holy and commanded day of rest.

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There are hot and cold dishes including various meats and poultry, vegetables, side dishes, and pastries. The desserts catch the eye of those who have a sweet tooth. Some hotels have an allocated room for a synagogue especially for conducting religious services. It is very special even to be on the outside hearing prayers and singing.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should make sure their children are respectful of the customs they witness.8573265967_5b2f113c48_k

Holon Comics Museum

To the South East of Tel Aviv and under a different municipality is the Holon Comics Museum. It is a unique institution in Israel and specializes in cartoons and caricatures, humorous and artistic in nature. They have exhibits and displays as well as workshops for children and adults of all ages. There are life-sized cartoon cutouts dotted about the museum grounds and massive sculptures based on pictures that are interactive and children can climb on them. It is an excellent experience and a great way to introduce children to this form of art.
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Autism Travel Tips:

  • This area is the perfect location for any comic collector. Parents should be advised most signage is in Hebrew.
  • Children interested in art may be interested in the workshops offered at this site.

 

 

 

 

London Day Trips for Families with Autism

 

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Although London itself is packed with plenty of things to do, sometimes the bustle of the big city is overwhelming, and travelers often find themselves in need of a change of pace. So, without further ado, here are some of our favorite day trips from that particular city.

Stonehenge

Perhaps the best known day trip from London, this ancient stone circle attracts attention from scientists, historians, neo-pagans, and the merely curious. Located just outside the town of Wiltshire, England, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on a twenty thousand acre plot of land that is considered to be the most archaeologically rich area in all of Europe. Admission to the site is currently at £14.90 ($22.98 USD) for adults and £8.70 ($13.42 USD) for children between the ages of five and fifteen.

Complimentary admission may be available during the summer and winter solstice. At such times, guests are also allowed the privilege of walking through the stone circle. Seeing all of Stonehenge usually takes about an hour. However, visiting the site requires careful planning, especially if for those using public transportation as a means of getting there.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism stones

 

 Autism Travel Tips:

  • During the winter, the Stonehenge winds are harsh and may not be suitable for temperature sensitive kids.
  • The toilet is a mile and a half away from the site so kids should use the facilities before visiting.Families can take a shuttle bus from the  English Heritage visitor center to the site.
  • The ground is uneven. Parents should make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, closed toe shoes.
  • It is important to know that visitors are not allowed to vandalize the stones in any way.
    London Day Trips for Families with Autism spa

Bath

This historic spa town has been particularly popular during the Georgian era, and many sights remain from that period. The main attraction here is the Roman Baths, a spot that dates back over two thousand years. Those who want to test the health properties of the water for themselves can even sample it at the Pump Rooms for 50 pence (77 cents). Also, one can sip on luxurious Afternoon Tea at the Pump Room Restaurant.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism clock

 

Travelers that are interested in soak in the waters might want to head across the street to the Thermae Bath Spa. Other attractions found in Bath include the Abbey with its’ gothic architecture, the shop-lined Pulteney Bridge, and the famous Sally Lunn Bakery.

 

The town is easily reached by train from London in about an hour and a half. Travelers should make sure to disembark at the Bath Spa station if they are headed to the town center. Admission to the site is £13.50 ($20.82 USD) for adults, except during the months of August and July when the cost climbs to £14 ($21.59 USD) per visitor.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism water

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Children’s audio guides are available.
  • The bath water is smelly, and the taste is harsh. Some kids with sensitivities might not enjoy it.
  • Wandering kids might not be safe. Parents should supervise their children at all times.London Day Trips for Families with Autism ladies

Warwick

This particular town set on the banks of the River Avon is located about two hours north of London by car. However, trains also stop at locally at Warwick Station. The area is primarily known for its magnificent castle which dates back to the Middle Ages. Younger kids can enjoy the swordsmanship workshops or falconry displays all included in the price. They can also enjoy guided tours geared towards four to eight-year-olds where the kids see a real secret passage.

Another interesting spot in Warwick village is St. Mary’s Church, known for its medieval style architecture. The church was one of the few buildings to have survived the fire of 1694.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism swords

 

Castle admission costs vary seasonally but adult admission is generally around £14.95 ($23.05 USD) and entry for youngster typically runs about £8.45 ($13.03 USD). The building is open from ten am to five pm year round, but stays open an additional hour between the months of April and September.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • The dungeon experience and tour of the towers are not included in the admission costs.
  • Parents should buy tickets in advance, as the queue to buy tickets can take up to an hour.
  • Those waiting on tickets can enjoy the nearby cafe.
  • The castle has lots of steps and can be exhausting for some kids.
  • Some towers, like the princess tower, are only available for timed shows. Parents should pick up tickets for these shows as soon as they arrive, as they fill up quickly.
  • The castle has a nice playground for kids.
  • The exit is through the gift shop, so there is no way to avoid it.
    London Day Trips for Families with Autism castle

Stratford-upon-Avon

Although the famous English playwright Shakespeare spent most of his life in London, his birthplace has certainly capitalized on their most famous resident. Some the town’s buildings survive from the Tudor period, lending the village a medieval air. Of course, travelers won’t want to miss seeing Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Anne Hathaway home where his wife grew up, and the local church serving as the great man’s burial grounds. The guides liven up the experience by telling compelling stories. Families can enjoy the film which introduces Shakespeare’s plays to those watching. They can then travel a one-way route through all the open rooms of the house, observing the impressive displays.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism bard

 

Other places of interest include the Tudor World museum which offers insights into that particular period and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre where that prestigious acting troop makes their home. Stratford-upon-Avon is a two-hour drive from London, but the town can also be reached using the local train system.

Nearby, families can also experience Mary Arden’s Farm, the farm of Shakespeare’s mother. Volunteers dress up as different farm characters and do chores. Kids will love the falconry show here, and it can be relaxing to walk through the gardens for an hour.
London Day Trips for Families with Autism jester

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Shakespeare fans can enjoy the exhibition in the Visitor Centre for some extra details.
  • This location can get crowded in the summer.
  • We suggest booking online to avoid queues.
  • Parents can get a multi ticket that includes other properties.
  • Travelers have to take the train, bus, or a car to this location.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism view

Oxford

Located approximately 50 miles away from London, this historic college town has been occupied since the Saxon period. It was here that the University of Oxford was founded during the twelfth century. This event began the city’s standing as a premier place for academics, a reputation which has continued to this very day.

However, travelers should note that the various college campuses are spread throughout the city and are open at different times. Christ Church College, in particular, is home to several of the locations seen in the popular Harry Potter films.Christ Church Cathedral offers a family friendly “Head Hunt” trail where travelers can look closely at the details of the church. Exploring guests should seek out the stained glass windows near the St. Frideswade memorial to see the only image of a toilet in stained glass in any UK church.

Other interesting spots in this town include the Bodleian Library, which is among the oldest of its’ kind in Europe, and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, built during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Also, Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, actually studied at Oxford, and the real life Alice was the daughter of the college dean. Watchful visitors can see Lewis’s many inspirations for his Alice series in the decor through Oxford.
London Day Trips for Families with Autism dining hall

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a working college, so parents should plan when they go. The Great Hall will not be open to nonstudents during regular mealtimes.

 

Story Museum

This museum, based at Rochester house on Pembroke Street in Oxford, promotes the art of storytelling. The museum features several rooms based on different stories by British authors. Kids can enjoy playing in the themed rooms, such as walking through a wardrobe into snowy Narnia or the Bedtime with the oversized bed.Families can attend special events showcasing authors as well as workshops.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Flighty kids can run around in the courtyard outside.
  • There is a cafe onsite for families to enjoy.

 

 

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism

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Originally opened at 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida as a single theme park in June of 1990, the famous Universal Studios Orlando still flourishes. Islands of Adventure was added later, and together these movie-inspired theme parks draw almost 30 million visitors per year.For visitors who have autism, visiting a theme park can be fun but also quite challenging. To help families plan their visit here are our tips and suggestions.

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What You Will See

Rides

The rides in the park range from mild to extreme and may present some sensory challenges for visitors with autism.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism ride

Children on the autism spectrum can range anywhere from thrill seekers that crave G-forces, and sharp roller coaster turns to being sensitive to even the slightest of motion. Many rides include moderate to high movement while others are tame. Furthermore, many of the rides are digitally simulated which involves being rocked in a seat.
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The park’s most extreme rides include Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. All of these rides feature sudden stops, spins, and turns. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a simulated coaster but still features extreme movements in all directions except upside down.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism river

 

More moderate rides include Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Transformers 3D, Pteranodon Flyers, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. In Despicable Me Mayhem, guests can choose immovable chairs for a more surefooted experience.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism boat
The feet of guests dangle on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which can prove a problem to some kids.  While Pteranodon Flyers is a smooth ride, it does suspend riders in flight over the Jurassic Park and is therefore not for those afraid of heights.

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The milder rides include Men in Black Alien Attack, Hogwarts Express, and The Simpsons Ride. The Simpsons Ride is another simulated roller coaster that’s mostly a mini Simpsons cartoon with a few ups and downs. The Hogwarts Express features mild train movement and can, in fact, be relaxing. For visitors who wish to experience very mild rides the Suess Landing area in Islands of Adventures is recommended.

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Effects

Many of the attractions at Universal feature loud noises. Some especially stand out with loud explosions, gunfire, and screams.  For example, Diagon Alley’s giant dragon often growls and spews real fire, while the train to Hogsmeade features whistles and screams.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism train

Though several rides at Universal are virtual they employ special lighting, darkness, and 3D glasses for their effects. The 3D glasses are not a requirement, so those sensitive to 3D effects can choose not the wear them during the ride or attraction. Those scared of the dark can wear a glow in the dark armband in attractions such as Revenge of the Mummy, Knockturn Alley, and Poseidon’s Fury.

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Other attractions involve water sprays, winds, and smoke effects, which can prove a challenge to some kids. Water based rides include Jurassic Park River Adventure, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.
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Most rides have riders wear a helmet or seat belts which again might bother some kids.

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Shows

Macy’s Holiday Parade, the Mardi-Gras parade, and the Superstar Parade all run outdoors in the afternoon with spectators lined along the parade route. People can sit on the sidewalk or stand during the half hour ceremony. Parents of kids who can’t sit through the entire show can leave at any time.

 

 

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Families can also visit the Character Party Zone where they can find dancers from the parade performing and gsigning autographs in front of Mel’s Drive-In.

 

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Throughout the parks, there are also mini performances where spectators can stand and attend like the Blues Brothers concert stage in front of Rip Ride Rockit, and Hogwarts Frog Choir where performers sing songs from Harry Potter movies.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism parade

There are plenty of character Meet and Greet opportunities in the parks. Though there are no accommodations for them, the lines are usually short.

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Finally, there’s Shrek 4D, a 3D movie with extra sensory effects like smells and water sprays. This show is an unusual attraction but can be scary or challenging for viewers with sensory issues.

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Playgrounds

Universal boasts several playgrounds like Curious George ,If I Ran the Zoo and The Olive where antsy kids can let out steam. Many of these places feature water spray areas.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism park

For kids that are temperature-sensitive, the Camp Jurassic and Jurassic Park Discovery Center are recommended.
The former is a shady playground where children can explore secret caves, climb through nets, run across bridges and slide down slides. The latter features an air-conditioned educational area focusing on the prehistoric past.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism hat

Food

Restaurants inside the parks as well as Universal City Walk feature several vegan, kosher, halal, dairy-free, gluten-free, or nut-free options for those with special diets.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism restaurant

Guests can make reservations at most sit-down restaurants on the property. However, except during very busy times of the year, one can usually just walk into most restaurants. Diners can ask about the dietary options when they book online or by phone.
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Souvenirs

Like a so many other theme parks, Universal is a souvenir heaven.
Each area has unique merchandise so guests can get items ranging from favorites like Dr. Seuss, Despicable Me, Shrek, Marvel heroes like Spiderman and Hulk to Terminator, Transformers, and The Simpsons.

 

 

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism potions
But none can compare to the memento explosion of Harry Potter items to choose from: T-shirts, school uniforms, and even owl cages. Of course, most people want to get the new interactive wands. These devices interact with various locations in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Guests can purchase these wands in several spots in the two parks, but by far the most popular place is Olivander’s Wand Shop.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism wand

Location, Hours, and Admission

Families can buy tickets online or when they get to the park. Multiple day passes are the best deal. However, the park does offer three great options for children with autism.

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Universal Express Pass

The Universal Express Pass, or UEP, is a paper pass with a printed bar code that can be used around most areas of the park (excluding some Harry Potter rides). Parents can get one for everyone in the family at no additional charge when staying at any USO properties (excluding Cabana Bay).

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism coaster

They can also purchase the pass separately when arriving at the park. The UEP itself features two kinds of express passes. One offers a limit of one entry a day for each attraction. The other offers unlimited entries. Parents of children with autism who like to go on the same rides over and over again should get the unlimited pass.

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Attraction Assistance Pass

There is also Universal’s Attraction Assistance Pass or AAP. This feature is a free pass given to accommodate guests who can’t wait in regular standby lines. One can use this pass for any ride or attraction, even one without a Universal Express Entrance. Parents can get their AAP card upon arriving at Guest Services and present identification while describing the accommodation needed. A doctor’s note explaining limitations can be useful but is not legally necessary.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism seat

The card can accommodate up to six people. It also remains valid at both parks for the entire length of one’s stay. Families just need to show a cast member their card. If a ride’s wait time is less than half an hour, they will get in immediately through the express lane. Otherwise, the cast member will write on the AAP card the attraction name, time of day, wait time, and a return time.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism street

Guest Assistance Pass

Finally, there’s the Guest Assistance Pass or GAP. These passes are identical to a one day/two park unlimited UEP. They provide immediate entry to any attraction’s Universal Express queue, regardless of the standby wait. Guests can only get these on a strictly limited basis.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • While the park features monthly events, summer and Christmas time are the most crowded times of the year.
  • The best way to dress is in layers since conditions vary from attraction to attraction and throughout the day.
  • Non-slip shoes are a must.
  • Parents should pack a change of clothes if anyone wants to do any water rides. The park does offer blow dryers for rent for five minutes at a time.
  • We recommend bringing a poncho to protect family members from getting soaking wet on some water rides along with flip flops.
  • The park can get crowded. Parents should snap a photo of their child to show authorities if they wander or get lost.
  • In addition, parents should get temporary tattoos or patches with their child’s name and the parent’s phone number in case they get lost.
  • Families should prepare children ahead of time that there are height restrictions on some rides.
  • Guests that can’t climb the two flights of stairs at Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade can ask staff to use the elevator to take them straight to the train platform.
  • There are no accommodations for attending parades.
  • At night, some parades may have fireworks.
  • Parents can use available lockers for shoes, socks, and small backpacks.
  • While the pathways are all paved and accessible, there might be slippery or muddy areas due to water attractions.
  • Orlando can get hot during the summer. This fact can make it uncomfortable for those waiting in outdoor lines for extended periods of time. Thankfully, many attractions at Universal are indoors and have air conditioning.
  • Those who don’t want to go on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride can go through the queue line and experience all the Harry Potter items and scenes from the films. Interested guests just need to tell the attendant they are not riding. The attendant will then show them the exit.
  • Though the park allows guests to wear noise canceling headphones, some roller coasters like Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket and other motion intense rides won’t allow it.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square

 

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square pin

New York City is the number one destination for many travelers, and with all it has to offer it is easy to see why. Since the Big Apple is famous for its bargains and souvenirs, here are our top five shopping spots around Times Square for kids and parents.

 

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Macy’s on 34th

The first place to take visiting kids is the most famous store in all of New York City, Macy’s. Built in 1902, Macy’s was originally a dry-goods store that continuously supplied the American population. It eventually became part of American culture.

Featured in numerous movies, this flagship store was considered the largest store in the entire world until 2009 when South Korea opened up Shinsegae. Despite the loss of their title, Macy’s is still the largest store in the US and its popularity grows with each generation.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square macy's

Children can explore and ride the original wooden escalators while parents shop for fashionable clothes at unbeatable prices. Those who decide to visit New York around Christmas time will be amazed at Macy’s famous window displays. Each year the Macy’s staff comes up with a different animated theme with elaborate scenery to get people even more in the holiday spirit.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square american

American Girl Store

Next stop is the American Girl store, located in the heart of Manhattan. American Girl features all of the characters including the classical favorites and the current Girl of the Year. While visiting the Truly Me section children can design their very own American Girl doll with different skin tone, hair color/style, eye color, and clothing options.

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Visitors can also stop by the doll hair salon to give their American Doll a fresh look. In the ‘Dress like Your Doll ‘ section, kids and their dolls can share the same outfit and hairstyle.

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The store features an exclusive Doll Hospital for dolls who get sick aka need repairs. Depending on the severity of the ‘injury,’ recovery can take anywhere from two to three weeks. However, they will ship the toys home.

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Travelers feeling a little hungry should check out the café serving a themed brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. After dinner, visitors can swing by the bookstore. Here, all of their children’s favorite characters and their stories are on display.

 

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M&M Store

Families in the mood for something sweet should make a pit stop to the M&M store.
Located in the heart of Time Square, the store offers three floors filled with delicious little m&ms.

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The store is New York’s biggest candy store with a fifty foot, two-story high wall of chocolates containing seventy-two tubes from which guests can fill containers. Of course, guests can also purchase themed clothing, dishware, watches and piggy banks.

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Hershey Chocolate Store

For more chocolatey goodness, families can make their way across the street to the Hershey Chocolate Store. This store specializes in the brand’s favorites like Mr. Good Bars, York peppermints, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.Those who can’t get enough of the stor’e merchandise should check out the entrance lamps shaped like authentic kisses.

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Like in the M&M store, there are plenty of logoed souvenirs here for fans to purchase. These include a giant-sized kiss ideal for birthdays and Valentine day gifts.

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Disney Store

A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some Disney Store magic. From the up and coming movies to the classic Disney films, this store has something for everyone who has ever grown up watching Walt Disney animation.

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Visitors can find stuffed animals, games, costumes, travel cups and movies in this two-story marvel. Kids needing a rest after the extensive shopping spree can relax in the castle, read a Disney tale or watch a short animation clip. Also not to be missed is the NYC souvenir section with items that are sold in this store only.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should advise kids to stay close to them while walking the streets of New York City, especially at night.
  • For travelers wishing to fly with less luggage, most stores offer a ship to home option.
  • Parents wanting to partake in any American Girl activities should book tickets ahead of time. They should also mention any necessary accommodations to staff.
  • Parents of children with noise sensitivities might wish to avoid the area during peak hours.
  • Hershey’s has a strong smell of chocolate throughout the store that might present a challenge for smell sensitive patrons.

 

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