Fourteen Tips for Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World

Fourteen Tips for Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World pin

Disney World with its five parks is vast, and there’s so much to experience. No parent wants to deal with a meltdown on vacation, let alone at Disney World where admission tickets are so pricey. In reality, chances are the intense activities of theme parks might kids with autism into sensory overload. To help parents mitigate such an occurrence here are our tips.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World plant

Plan a Longer Vacation

Parents of kids with autism may find that visiting the parks over the course of a few days is much less stressful for everybody. Though it might sound less budget friendly, there are plenty of great deals on multiple Disney tickets as well as lodgings. At a minimum, parents should try to allocate one separate day for each park.

Rest Well

For the lodgings, even those on a budget should try to get their kids a good night’s sleep. Parents could pay extra for a rollaway or, if possible, getting the kids their own room. Sleeping in beds with siblings or parents can get in the way of an optimal night’s sleep. If kids are more rested in the morning, they’ll be more able to handle their emotions at the park.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World castle

Take Frequent Breaks

Plan snack and lunch break times during the day. Parents of younger kids or those not used to spending the entire day at a theme park should schedule more frequent breaks and see how it goes.

Stay on Property

If at all possible, parents should find lodgings on the property for easy access to the park. For parents looking for a cheaper alternative to the Disney pricey hotels, the Wyndham has a property near Disney Springs that is affordable and still gives its guests access to the complimentary Disney transportation.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World red

Avoid Crowded Areas

Parents should avoid crowded areas, like the parade thoroughfare during the shows.In fact, they should skip the shows since they tend to be crowded anyway and try to go on typically full rides during that time since they’re mostly empty. Moreover, families should also eat meals on off hours, meaning before or after traditional lunch or dinner times.

Limit Shopping

Limiting the shopping adds to time spent enjoying the park itself and reduces arguments with kids. Parents should tell their child before entering the park that they are going to shop at the end of the day for a set time or online as an alternative.

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Plan Outdoor/Indoor Rides

Parents need to know that the weather in Orlando is usually warm and humid no matter the month. Though Disney accommodates autism on many of their rides, there are often still waits. These waits can be challenging for kids who are temperature intolerant.

Parents should do the indoor rides in the middle of the day, then try to do the outdoor rides in the early morning or late evening when the temperature cools down and the crowds are gone.

Stay Hydrated

This advice applies to all parents traveling with kids but is of particular importance in a theme park situation where there’s a lot of walking involved.So, parents should either purchase several beverages for their kids during the day or bring refillable water bottles to fill up at water fountains in the parks.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World sky

Avoid Sugary Snacks

Most theme parks, especially Disney, have sugary snacks available for purchase literally at every corner of the parks. Pumping kids on sugary snacks and driving them into a sugar rush is seldom a good idea. Parents should discuss ahead of time with their kids what snacks they are allowed to have every day to avoid disappointments and meltdowns later.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

If kids get wet or sweaty, they might react adversely. It is a good idea for parents to make them as comfortable as possible. Since staying in a theme park for ten hours in a stretch is enough of a challenge for most kids,  parents should bring a change of clothes for emergencies.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World dumbo

Bring Headphones or Earplugs

Some noise sensitive kids will react to sounds and noises in the park. These sounds can include screaming, shots, or explosions from fireworks. It is, therefore, important to bring headphones or earplugs for these situations. It is important to note that some rides will not allow kids to wear headphones while riding for safety reasons.

Don’t Use Park Hoppers

It is better, especially for younger children, to spend the entire day in one park. Also, using the Disney Transportation from park to park can add a layer of stress for some kids due to the waiting time and buses that might be crowded.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World car

Get a Stroller

Renting a stroller for younger children or those who can’t walk much is best for families. Visiting the Walt Disney World parks involves a lot of walking, and no parent wants to argue with children or try to force them into anything. So, even for older kids, a stroller may be a good place to relax if they get tired or cranky.

Keep your group small

Going in a large group to a theme park can be overwhelming, and the needs of a child with autism might be overlooked. Kids with autism might want to explore at a certain pace or adhere to specific mealtimes. The best ratio is two adults per kid so the adults can alternate taking care and helping accommodate their needs.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World teacups

Clothing Tips for Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World

Clothing Tips for Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World pin

Unknown to many, clothing choices can be quite important for a theme park visit. For those who deal with sensory issues, clothing can make a day visit unpleasant and lead to meltdowns. Here are our tips for making good clothing choices for Walt Disney World.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World train

Shoes

Visiting Walt Disney World involves a lot of walking throughout the four large parks. Even groups who set themselves to one park a day can expect a lot of walking. Also, the parks have areas with water attractions, and Florida often has lots of afternoon showers. As a result, the ground frequently gets slippery, which can be dangerous for kids running around.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World walt

Non-slip shoes, like crocs, are essential. Parents can use fabric on/off shoes for the best results. Everyone in the family should avoid flip-flops, heels, or wedges. They should especially avoid leather or suede shoes, as they can get ruined by rain and shrink.

Pants

Choice of pants is of particular importance for those who want to go on the water attractions. Thick denim pants will not dry out easily, leaving kids with wet denim sticking to their legs for the duration of the trip.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World water

The best option is pants made of thin, lightweight material that quickly dries. Parents can find pants like these in most travel and camping stores. Alternatively, parents can bring a change of clothes for their kids.

Colors

Bring colors that stick out in a crowd is best, especially for little kids. Parks get crowded, and kids can easily slip away. In this situation, he or she would be easier to find if they’re wearing, for example, a bright orange jacket.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World car

Ponchos

As we mentioned before, at Walt Disney World it frequently rains in the afternoon. Ponchos are the best option for people who don’t want to have to stay indoors for the two to four hours these afternoon rains last.

Long ponchos are best, and parents can either bring them from home or buy them from the parks. We like buying them from the parks because they double as an excellent souvenir for kids to get from Disney. We suggest not buying expensive ponchos since ponchos are an item that one can easily lose. Also, if someone forgets their poncho in a bag, these expensive ponchos can develop mildew.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World clock

For the most budget friendly option, parents can buy a one time use poncho from the dollar store.

Jacket

Easy to dry, thin jackets are best for theme parks. The jacket should preferably have a hood that it easy to take off. The jacket should also zip, not button.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World rest

While it may seem like a good option, parents shouldn’t take heavy coats. The kids are not going to be wearing them the entire time, and nobody wants to walk around with a jacket all day for miles.

Pockets

Clothes with multiple pockets are always helpful. Parents and kids can either wear cargo pants or a jacket with many pockets. There’s a lot of knick knacks that parents will want to store, such as phones, wires, wallets, and small water bottles.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World red

Expensive or favorite items

Parents and kids should not bring expensive clothing or items into the parks for many reasons. These items can get snagged on rides, lost, or stained by food items. Jackets can especially get easily lost or misplaced between attractions.

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Bags

While tempting, parents shouldn’t bring large bags into the park. Many of the rides will not allow riders to carry large bags. And dragging these bags through the park gets tiring quickly.

Instead, parents should either wear clothing with lots of pockets or wear a fanny pack for small items.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World butterfly

Tight fitting

Mini skirts and tight pants might be fashionable, but they’re not optimal theme park attire. Being confined in tight clothes for an entire day can be challenging to many.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World building

Loose fitting cotton clothes that breath are best for these environments. Dressing in layers is also crucial since the temperature can be highly variable throughout the day.

Costumes

Although the idea of letting the little one walk around in a princess dress might seem fun, having kids dress up in costumes is not the best idea.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World sign

The costumes are often pricey and can easily get ruined in a theme park environment. In some cases, the costumes are long, such as with princess dresses or capes, and can get caught in ride mechanisms or doors.

After reading our tips it is your turn to chime in! What are your clothing tips when visiting the theme parks?

Our Family Stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian pin

When visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, families have many options for lodgings. For the most elaborate and luxurious  experience, we suggest staying at The Grand Floridian. This elegant resort is surprisingly family friendly, with plenty of activities for kids and parents alike to enjoy.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian lobby

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This hotel is opulent with all sorts of amenities. It is also close to the Magic Kingdom. Guests can enjoy free WiFi in both the rooms and public areas as well as free parking.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian playground

Our Welcome

When we arrived, the staff was friendly and welcoming. We experienced practically no wait before we got to our rooms but spent the time enjoying the meet and greet with Cinderella in the lobby.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian ceiling

Hotel Decor

The hotel’s lobby is a sight to behold, decorated with a Victorian aesthetic. Guests walking in will see a ceiling five stories high with huge chandeliers. Throughout the hotel, one can see detailed latticework and ornamentation. The lobby is a lovely spot to relax while waiting to check in or after returning from the parks.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian white

Our Room

We stayed in room 9409 in a Garden view room. The first thing we noticed was the locking mechanisms for our door. Everyone gets a magic band as their door “key,” and guests can even customize this band with their favorite color. The bolt mechanism on the door is pretty high up, which is great for child safety.

Our room was decorated in rich creams, golds, and greens, with lovely crown molding. We had wood flooring, perfect for those who suffer from allergies. The entire room was also extremely well maintained. We saw no scuff marks, dirt on the carpet, or peeling on the walls.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian bed

The room featured a large two door closet with complimentary robes. The safety deposit box sat at a perfect level and could easily store a 15-inch laptop.

We appreciated the two queen sized beds, as not every Disney hotel has this. There was also an overhead fan, perfect for the hot, humid Florida days. We had a lovely nightstand between the beds as well as an opening desk next to the bed. Guests should look for one of Disney’s well-known Hidden Mickeys around the room,. We found several including one on the back of the desk chair!

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian TV

Our room boasted a red sofa, a relaxing place to stay and lounge after a day in the park. We also had a TV with all the Disney movies. The TV displayed a daily schedule, which included a weather report. We found the mini cooler under the TV and a coffee maker next to the TV. The room featured plenty of hidden places to charge electronics, such as behind the coffee maker.

We loved the gorgeous setting out of our window. We requested a quiet room with “no view” but still got to see a lovely stretch of beach outside.Our room featured a big balcony. It struck us how squeaky clean it was with two white chairs and no bugs, impressive in Florida.
The door to the balcony had a high up double lock so little kids can’t unlock the door by themselves. The door itself was hard to open, another good safety feature.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian outside

 

Our Bathroom

Our bathroom featured tan marble tile throughout, with the hypoallergenic wood floor continuing into the room. We enjoyed the double sink, something that all families can appreciate, as well as the hair dryer and complimentary toiletries.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian sink

We had a tub with a showerhead as well as a clothesline. Unfortunately, the showerhead was not handheld, but the tub had a grab bar.Our biggest surprise was the laundry hamper. Not every hotel has one, but a basket is perfect for keeping dirty towels off the floor.

Dining

The Grand Floridian offers several choices for character dining, such as the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast on 1900 Park Fare. Parents can even book the Wonderland Tea Party where kids can chat with Alice.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian piano

 

Those looking for Mediterranean fusion can try Citricos. This restaurant does have a relaxed dress code; men can wear khakis, slacks, jeans, or dress shorts, and women can wear capri pants, skirts, dresses, jeans, or dress shorts. They do not allow tank tops, swimsuits, torn clothes, or t-shirts with offensive graphics. Parents can book their reservation online or over the phone, which we recommend.

Narcoossee’s features seafood dining on the waterfront. This restaurant boasts beautiful panoramic ocean views. Narcoossee’s has a slightly stricter dress code than Citricos, essentially business casual.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian cupcake

Victoria & Albert’s is the most high-end establishment at the Grand Floridian. Here, patrons dine on award-winning cuisine in a classically elegant environment. They have a strict dress code; men must wear dinner jackets, slacks, and shoes, and women must wear either a dress, dressy pant suit, or a skirt with a blouse. Guests must also book in advance to dine here.

More budget friendly options include the Grand Floridian Cafe, Garden Tea View Room, or Gasparilla Island Grill. At the Gasparilla Island Grill, our son particularly enjoyed their cupcakes and had to have one every night before bed.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian car

Those who can’t or don’t want to leave their rooms can enjoy the hotel’s 24-hour room service.

Amenities

The Grand Floridian boasts several pools. We particularly enjoyed the zero entry leisure pool with an 181-foot tall water slide, whirlpool spa, waterfall, and hammocks. One can get towels and lifejackets at The Captain’s Shipyard. Guests with disabilities can also arrange for pool lifts and other access options at the Front Desk.Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian night

Those wanting to get their feet wet can enjoy fishing, water cruises, and motorboat rentals. There’s also plenty of other outdoor fitness activities such as tennis, volleyball, and golf.

The Grand Floridian offers plenty of activities. Parents can sign kids up for such activities as Campfire Activities or Grand Adventures in Cooking. There is also Arcadia Games, featuring both classic and modern arcade games.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian grass

Cost

The Grand Floridian is pricey, with rooms starting at $570 a night. The Garden View rooms are typically the cheapest option.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian duck

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Though the balcony is secure, parents should still try not to avoid booking a balcony room when traveling with young kids.
  • Make sure all balcony doors, and windows are locked. The balcony doors have two high up locks for added security.
  • Parents need to bring a non-slip bathmat, as the hotel does not provide one.

 

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel pin

Walt Disney World is a magical place to bring families together. This year, when my family visited Walt Disney World, we decided to stay on a non-Disney property to see how it compared to staying at a Disney resort. Facing Crescent Lake, the Swan Hotel, with its 1509 rooms, is located at 1200 Epcot Resorts Boulevard in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The resort is part of a duplex along with the Dolphin hotel. Together, the two hotels create the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort complex.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel swan

What Makes it Family Worthy?

For families looking for a resort offering a luxury stay for everyone, the SPG run Swan Resort is the way to go. Though not officially part of the Disney property, it is a boat ride away from Disney’s Epcot theme park. As the Swan is in a complex with the Dolphin, patrons have access to multiple restaurants within walking distance. The hotel is also close to three Disney hotels; the Boardwalk, Beach hotel, and Yacht Club. Each of these hotels has their restaurants for additional choices.

The property is much more budget friendly than the average Disney resort, and one can use SPG points to stay there. Even with the lower prices, families will find the hotel boasts larger rooms with two queen beds, something that not every hotel offers. Some of these large rooms also connect so more people can stay there comfortably in the same area.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel view

Fellow travelers range from business people attending conferences in the buildings to families wishing to try out a non-Disney, luxurious but slightly cheaper lodging option.

Our Welcome

Due to an unexpected snafu with our flight, we arrived at the hotel at one in the morning. This delay was unusual, and we were exhausted after flying from CA for six hours. The staff at check-in not only assisted us, but also upgraded us to a suite.

We had previously contacted the property to inform the staff that we needed certain accommodations, like feather free pillows and a quiet room. Therefore, they already knew about our needs, but it was a lovely added surprise that they upgraded us.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel bench

Hotel Decor

The lobby featured warm colors of yellows and browns highlighted with occasional touches of soft greens. The flooring alternates between flower patterned carpet to marble and natural stone. Guests walking out into the main lobby would see a large fountain with four white swans drizzling water out of their beaks. The area is well lit with lots of subdued lights with multiple tropical plants scattered around the lobby and public spaces.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel hall

Our Room

When we arrived at our suite 731, we were delighted with how spacious and comfortable it was. Throughout the room, we saw large floor to ceiling windows. Out of these windows, guests could see the iconic Epcot dome, which was lit up bright blue at night. Both thin and thick curtain covered the 180-degree suite windows.

Much of the decor in the suite consisted of glass top countertops, dark wood furnishings, tan walls, and greenish-gray carpeting. The room featured decorative plants which are usually used in luxurious upscale suites.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel room

The suite had two large closets with shutter doors and ample hanging space, shelving, and place for our luggage. The closets housed an ironing board, bathrobes, slippers, and a blow dryer. We found the in-room safe in one of the closets, an important feature for families who want to store valuables they don’t want to take with them into the theme parks. We noted the bar area, which included a coffee maker.

The huge living room was divided into a seating area and a dining area. The seating area had a dark blue velour opening sofa perfect for our son with autism to sleep in comfortably while the dining area was comprised of a table with several yellow chairs. There was a large screen TV over a chest of drawers facing the opening sofa in the sitting area perfect for our son to watch his favorite TV channels.

Our bedroom, aka the parents’ bedroom, featured two beds in the room with a nightstand between them. On the nightstand was a standing lamp with additional outlets, an alarm clock, and a soothing sound machine. The mini sitting area consisted of an armchair and a glass table that could either be a regular table or a desk. Across from the two beds was a rather large dresser on top of a flat-screen TV and a coffee machine along with another standing lamp. The dresser had many drawers and also housed a mini cooler.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel blue

The door between the main bedroom and the rest of the suite could be locked from both sides, a fantastic privacy feature.We particularly loved the ample seating and the fact there were two TVs in the room. We regretted getting to stay only for one night and  not being able to fully enjoy the suite.

Our Bathroom

Our suite boasted two bathrooms which turned out to be a very convenient feature for our family stay. Though both bathrooms were similar in size, they differed in decor. The first bathroom, just off the living room area, had tan tiles and marble flooring. There was a brown countertop with plenty of towels for all of us staying to use.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel sink

The second bathroom, right off the entrance hallway, featured modern decor with a glass mosaic green backsplash along with a wooden vanity with Corian countertop and sink.

Both bathrooms featured combination tubs/showers with grab bars, but the one in the first bathroom had a curtain while the second had a glass enclosure. We appreciated that both had a hand held shower head and a separate rain shower head.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel tub

Amenities

In addition to boasting terrific views and a luxurious decor, the Swan Resort had excellent family-friendly recreational offerings. Guests who love swimming could try out one of five different swimming pools. Two of these pools were lap pools, perfect for those who enjoy exercising. The most popular and featured pool was the three-acre grotto pool with a beautiful waterfall and rock caves. There was also a “kiddie” pool on site for younger kids to enjoy the water safely.

Guests who love swimming could try out one of five different swimming pools. Two of these pools were lap pools, perfect for those who enjoy exercising. The most popular and featured pool was the three-acre grotto pool with a beautiful waterfall and rock caves. There was also a “kiddie” pool on site for younger kids to enjoy the water safely.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel outside

Travelers looking for relaxation should try out the Mandara Spa. The Spa features a large selection of leisure options, including body wraps, facials, mani/pedis, and deep tissue massages. Guests could also enjoy sitting or sampling soothing tea in the Meditation Garden themed after a Meru Temple.

For those who want to keep in shape on their vacation, the Swan Hotel had a lot to offer. Guests could indulge in the Swan Health Club for access to workout machines like treadmills, stair climbers, and stationary bikes. Those staying could also participate in different sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, and mini golf, all without having to leave the property. Finally, the hotel offered guests access to jogging trails. One of these trails takes runners around Crescent Lake and through five other hotels in the Epcot area.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel swan

Dining

Both the Dolphin and the Swan share a common area where they have several restaurants. There’s something for just about anyone in this joint area.

Regarding restaurants unique to the Swan, we had many options. For fine dining, visitors could go to Kimonos for Japanese sushi or Il Mulino for Italian cooking. Casual, more budget-friendly dining options included the Garden Grove, featuring Disney Character Dining in a beautiful garden setting, or Splash Terrace, where one could get grass fed burgers or ice cream right next to one of the Swan’s lap pools. Families looking for fast service could stop by the Java Bar to get a quick coffee or pastry. Of course, for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave their rooms, the hotel provided 24-hour room service.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel food

We ultimately decided to try Todd English’s Bluezoo, a restaurant technically on Dolphin property. We enjoyed their Happy Hour where we got to try their nachos, loaded with guacamole, beef, cheese, and sour cream.

For those wanting something different, one can access the three Disney resorts via a free short boat ride or a five-minute walk. Guests can also take the boat straight to Disney Springs for even more options.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel bluezoo

Cost

The price for a one night stay starts around $300 and includes free Wi-Fi. The hotel offers plenty of package deals, especially in conjunction with Disney parks. One can find self-parking near the entrance to the park costing $18 per day. Guests can also utilize valet parking for $26 per day.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel sky

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The suites feature lots of glass standing lamps, which can be hazardous to kids if they get knocked over.
  • We saw lots of living plants throughout the hotel, including in the rooms. Parents of children with Pica might want to request a plant-free room.
  • The mini suite had quite a few vases and other breakable artifacts. These might be a problem for rambunctious kids with autism. Parents can request the removal of such items while booking.
  • There wasn’t a no-grip mat in the shower. However, guests can easily bring one from home to further assist those who need it.
  • Bring a nightlight as the suite is a really a big space and can be difficult to navigate in the dark.
  • The dresser and the nightstand featured glass tops, which could be hazardous for kids.

 

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort pin
In the early sixteenth century, a Spanish explorer came to the American South West looking for rumored cities of gold.  He might not have found the aforementioned treasure, but as part of the yearly Traveling Mom conference in Walt Disney World, we had an excellent stay at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort named for that explorer, Francisco Coronado.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort entrance

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This family-friendly, budget-friendly 1,915-roomed hotel was lovely and quiet with a rustic feel away from the heavy traffic and noise. The breathtaking view of the beautiful human-made lake that surrounded the hotel buildings contributed to the feeling of being on holiday!

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort casita

Our Welcome

When we arrived, we liked the fact there were many check-in counters all staffed to check in families, so there was no waiting in lines. The hotel provided a separate little area for children to watch cartoons while their parents saw to the paperwork. There was free wifi available in the public areas which also came in handy when traveling with antsy kids.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort fountain

Hotel Decor

The décor was an American Southwest theme and touches throughout the resort included impressive wooden carvings, furnishings, and doorways. Disney’s Mickey, in little icon form, was there to be found in all sorts of fun and quirky places like the carpeting, in the furniture and even on the handles of the room doors.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort check in

Our Room

Though we traveled as a small party, if we had come with a larger group, we could have done so comfortably. The room we stayed in had a doorway to an adjoining room making it readily available for larger families.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort palm tree

Upon entering the room, the first thing we noticed was the beautiful carvings in the wooden headboards. The dominant Southwestern theme was apparent with features such as lamp fixtures, motifs on the brown and turquoise bedding, the brown flooring, and the turquoise wallpaper. The two comfortable queen-sized beds also featured upholstery in the typical terracotta coloring.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort room

Additional features of the room included a deep-shelved chest of drawers, a ceiling fan in addition to the air conditioning, and a coffee maker with pods and a two cup dispenser. Unusually, the closet was not in the actual room. It was instead next to the sink in the bathroom. This placement was rather handy because it meant we didn’t have to go looking for our clothing outside of the bathroom when getting dressed. The room ‘s closet was not a traditional one featuring doors. It was instead open and doorless with a shelf on top and still had plenty of room on the floor for all our luggage as well as plenty of hangers for all of our clothing.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort lake

We liked the pocket doors closing off the bath area for privacy when needed as well as the adequate supply of power outlets. We found one behind the nightstand which had a splitter for six devices. This fact was exceptionally handy after coming back from a long day at the park when guests have cameras and other devices per person that need recharging.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort sink

Our son with autism spent hours searching for the hidden Mickey’s throughout the room. There were some on the throw pillow, on the duvet cover and in the wallpaper, just to name a few.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort amenity

Our Bathroom

The bathroom was very compact but functional. We would have liked to have seen a shower glass enclosure for the shower or a handheld shower head attachment. However, we appreciated the grab bar in the shower as well as a retractable washing line for hanging up swimming suits. The resort provided an adequate amount of towels, and there was a standard set of toiletries on the bathroom sink counter top.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort tub

Dining

The décor of the Pepper Market continued the resort’s SW theme with a fun giant bird pillar statue in the middle of the area. The locale was perfect for parents traveling with children or picky eaters as it was self-serve and fast. In addition to having a wide variety of options including Mexican, barbecue, Chef’s specials, macaroni, and dessert bar choices, take away meals could be brought back to the room.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort bird

However, the Coronado Springs Resort had two other places worth mentioning for dining and liquid refreshments. Adult guests wanting to get a drink while spending a day in the Parks could relax at the Rex Lounge. Meanwhile, those interested in sit-down meals could enjoy one at the Maya Restaurant.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort bar

During our stay, we did check out the Maya Grill for dinner. We tried some of their appetizers along with their great delicious margarita flight sampler while listening to their mariachi band.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort drinks

Amenities

Like all other Disney properties in Walt Disney World, this one too had various amenities to help guests the most of their stay. For example, there was the La ViClub that combined a workout gym with a spa.
There were also four pools at the resort; one for the younger kids and the others for older kids and adults.The largest of the four pools was located at The Dig Site and boasted a pyramid-like structure that housed a 128-foot tall waterslide.In addition to the pool activities the Dig area also had an arcade for teens to enjoy and a playground for kids to run around in.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort gym

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Disney accommodates travelers with allergies. Be to ask during the reservation for any accommodations you or your family need.
  • We stayed in Casita Number Four which was quite a walk from the lobby and restaurants. Parents with kids who have trouble walking around or tire quickly should book a room close to the lobby.
  • Parents should know the resort has two lakes surrounding it and that the casitas have long open corridors. These can both be unsafe for kids that wander off.
  • Parents need to pack an anti-slip bath mat, as the hotel does not offer one.
  • Be sure to pack a night light since the room might become hard to navigate at night in complete darkness.

 

 

 

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

 

At the DSMMC 2016, there was a thread of empowerment alongside exciting news. From Disney’s Moana to social media tips, there was a plethora of great information with quality Disney entertainment to follow.

Last month I had the unique opportunity to attend the DSMMC 2016 (Disney Social Media Moms Celebration) and enjoy a day in the Anaheim parks.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

The event took place at Disneyland Resort Paradise Pier Hotel. It gave me the opportunity to experience the Resort’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebrations, which were ending in less than two weeks while catching up with Travelingmom.com bloggers and networking with fellow influencers.

Though this was a mini half day event (compared to the larger one that takes place in WDW), it was jammed packed with plenty of useful information, inspiration and of course, the typical Disney pixie dust welcome and swag.

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The magic started from the moment the invitees arrived. We were each gifted a goodie bag filled with the 60th celebration items and park hopper tickets for the day. The surprises continued as we moved onto the large ballroom. There were a dozen or so tables each decorated with a pair of light up ears and a “paintbrush” for each attendee, perfect to use during the “Paint The Night” parade. The paintbrush next to the ears is a wand that lets users change the Mickey ears of anyone nearby by choosing a color and pressing a button. Needless to say, all of us had fun switching the colors of each other’s ears!

 

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

But let’s get to the Exciting Disney News!

Michele Himmelberg, Director of Public Relations at the Disneyland Resort, who had recently attended Disney’s Shanghai park opening and Leanne O’Regan, Director of Content Relations for Disney Parks, started our day by sharing details of all the upcoming changes in the Parks.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

The Disneyland Resort

 

The not to be missed rides in the parks this season are ‘Frozen’ at the Hyperion theater and ‘Soaring Over the World’ which replaced Soarin’ Over California.

Both Anaheim parks are ready to celebrate another spooktacular Halloween season with the Haunted Mansion turning into a ghoulish attraction with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme starting September 9th.

Be on the lookout for Elena of Avalor, Disney’s first Latin princess who is an elegant warrior.
Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016 dolls

Also, this will be the final season for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, as it is closing in January to become Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout. Apparently, the Tower’s free fall drop will transform into an intergalactic experience featuring characters from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.

Walt Disney World

The Orlando parks just got four new attractions: The Tree of Life Awakening at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot’s Soaring Over the World and Frozen rides, and the ‘Frozen Ever After’ show at the Hollywood Studios. Last April, I got to check them out first hand during Disney’s Awaken Summer event for the media.

We also saw BIG changes to Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney. The new area is revamped and is worth spending an afternoon or evening in after spending the day in the parks.

However, the BIGGEST thing to hit WDW is going to be Pandora – the new world of Avatar in the Animal Kingdom slotted to open in 2017.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

The Disney Cruise Line

According to the PR team, the cruise line will be adding new itineraries and ports of call from San Diego and Galveston by next year. They will also be adding two new cruise ships by 2021 and 2023. If you still haven’t sailed with Disney, you should seriously consider doing so if possible. The experience is unparalleled when it comes to entertaining families. Did I mention the Disney Wonder will get a Frozen show, too?

Moana

We were shown a preview by Amy Smeed, first female co-head of animation on a Disney feature film. Moana, scheduled for release November 23rd of 2016, promises to be a huge success. Set in the islands of the South Pacific it has all the markings of a quality Disney franchise – a beautiful, strong-willed princess, an angry demi-god, Maui, and two quirky pet characters, Pua the pig and Hei-Hei the rooster.

Moana, played by Auli’i Cravalho, is the movie’s adventurous and tenacious teen heroine. She sails off on a daring mission in an attempt to restore her people’s past as explorers. The themes of female empowerment, culture, and heritage are thought provoking and inspiring.

Amy shared with us through the copious amount of research her studio staff put into recreating the customs and cultures presented in her slideshow. These included details like the culturally significant tattoos of the men.

Watch the Moana trailer here:

 

Tapping into Disney’s bag of tricks on social media

Erin Glover (Editorial Content Director for the Disneyland Resort) and Victoria Lim (Managing Editor of Content at Walt Disney World) shared their secrets to success in the constantly evolving world of blogging and social media platforms.

 

Erin discussed running the Disney Parks Blog and described the challenges associated with organizing content and editorial calendars. She reminded us of the importance of syndication and promotion of content on multiple social platforms.

Victoria shared her favorite digital apps that help her create short professional looking videos on the go. The apps, which include Magisto, Videolicious, Quik, and WeVideo, sounded useful and user-friendly for anyone with a social media presence. All of the apps allow users to create personal collages with pictures and short clips along with music and graphics. I will try them all out and see which one I prefer.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

Our surprise guests

Leave it to Disney to make our day more special by bringing two hard working celebrity moms to share their personal stories of balancing demanding jobs and family life.

Our surprise guests were Tiffani Thiessen (aka Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell) and Ginger Zee (ABC News & Good Morning America meteorologist).

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

In their speeches, both women emphasized that though it wasn’t easy, women can have it all if they stay focused on goals and ‘just do it’ instead of being paralyzed by criticism or obsessed with perfection.

Tiffani spoke of her life as a mother, wife, and host of her own cooking show, Dinner at Tiffani’s, while running her blog. Ginger Zee relayed how she struggled to balance everything with her busy travel schedule and how she is frequently scrutinized on social media for ‘neglecting’ family.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

After listening and taking selfies with these two hard-working women, we were more than ready to head on to the parks and try out the new attractions for ourselves!

Mini tour of the Parks

After the conference had ended at noon, I headed into the Parks to check out all the exciting changes since I had last visited.

Disneyland

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

Walking around the Magic Kingdom filled me with nostalgia and memories of the times I had visited the park with my kids over the past two decades.

However, what caught my eye were two specialized shopping spots that are sure to be a huge hit with kids, particularly for holiday gifts and birthday celebrations – the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Star Wars store.

The boutique sells princess outfits complete with accessories. It houses a mini beauty salon perfect for young children. Here, they can get a mani, pedi, hair and makeup done and then get a souvenir photo of the experience.

In the Star Wars store guests can construct and personalize a light saber with different saber colors, hilts and even with dual blades. The sabers light up and can be folded in like any of the light sabers you can buy at the park. Perfect for fans of all ages!

California Adventure

Though I craved my usual Dole Whip at the Tiki room, the line was rather long. Instead, I headed to the New Orleans section instead and enjoyed a refreshing mint julep before moving on to Disney’s California Adventure Park.

Since it opened back in 2001, this park has been our favorite with its thrill rides and boardwalk atmosphere. I was sad to hear that Soarin’ Over California was gone but the new Soarin’ Around the World is even better! This ride takes guests over the iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, ending right over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

Attendees to the event had to select either ‘Soaring’ or ‘Frozen’ for their fast pass.Blogger friends that saw the show raved about it so I will be sure to go next time I’m in the park. For both attractions, I highly recommend a fast-pass! Even with a fast pass, there’s still a wait since the rides are currently insanely popular.

 

 

As I was heading out, I did stop to gawk at some of the eateries and stores in Downtown Disney. Here, my top picks for entertaining the kids are Build-a-Bear (currently offering unique 60th-anniversary accessories), the Lego store, and Ridemakerz, where you can build your own RC car from scratch. These are all fun options but are somewhat pricey; make sure you discuss a budget with your kids before entering.

Networking and Fun Times at the DSMMC 2016

Though my one day in Disneyland was short, it was well worth the two-hour drive for the networking, information, inspiration and fun memories.

 

 

disney statue

Disclosure:

I was invited as a guest of Disney Parks to attend this conference and given a free park hopper for the day as well as a bag of souvenirs. Rest assured that all opinions are my own!

Family Stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort

Since we became parents two decades ago, we’ve visited Walt Disney World multiple times.
This year, as part of the TravelingMom.com influencer retreat, we stayed at Walt Disney World Boardwalk.
The quintessential family-friendly hotel;the Disney’s Boardwalk  Inn Resort offered some of the best service, entertainment, and pools in Walt Disney World that we’ve seen so far.

The Boardwalk Inn named for its central location on the boardwalk is across from the Yacht and Beach Club hotels and close to Disney’s Epcot and Hollywood Studios theme parks.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: Building

Unique Décor

With its muted, sherbet colors and traditional nautical awnings, the décor is reminiscent of pre-WWII Atlantic City and New Jersey hotels. What sets it apart from other properties is a unique style that combines kitschy, carnival objects with antiques and a hint of Disney pixie dust.
Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort BELLMAN

Magical Welcome

The Disney’s magic touches started from the minute we arrived at the property, and the doorman wearing Mickey gloves shook our son’s hand. The staff helped with our luggage while we walked to the check-in counter artfully decorated with colorful balloons available for guests to take.

A staff member greeted us and handed us our Magicbands that served as our room key, park ticket and resort charge card for the duration of our stay.

Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort BALLOONS

Our Room

On the 5th floor, elegantly decorated in muted shades of yellow and green, away from the elevators and service rooms, our room was (as requested) silent and feather-free, to accommodate our son with autism.
The room boasted two very comfortable queen sized beds as well as an opening sofa. There was ample storage for our belongings in the closet and the oversized chest of drawers incorporating the flat screen TV. The writing desk and chair complete with Mickey carvings added a touch of whimsy.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: room

A coffee maker, mini cooler, and free bottled water added a nice touch, and there were several sockets to power up electronics near the desk and beds.
Guests who are temperature sensitive will be glad to know the room had central A/C and a ceiling fan. As with all Disney properties, the Wi-Fi was reasonably fast and reliable.
Our only disappointment was the room safe that was tiny and couldn’t adequately fit more than one iPad.

The bathroom featured two separate areas: the granite double sink vanity (very useful for a family with kids heading out in the morning), and the tub/shower area with a fixed shower head and commode.


Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort BATHROOM

Hidden Mickeys

Like all the Disney properties, this one too challenged guests to discover the Mickeys hidden in the different designs.We found them everywhere; the exit room map, bed cover, Mickey shaped folded towels, door handles, the desk lamp and even carved into the furniture.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort:room chair

Best Surprise

The mini balcony with two chairs was surprisingly squeaky clean with no insects even though it was springtime in Orlando and the Love Bugs seemed to be everywhere.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: Room balcony

The Pools

The hotel featured three pools; our favorite was the Luna Park themed area with its ‘Keister Coaster’– a 200-foot long water slide providing continuous entertainment for the kids.Despite its length, the slide was mild, didn’t toss guests into the water at any significant speed and was suitable even for children who are less comfortable in the water.
The pool area was well designed with plenty of covered spaces and seating for guests who wished to dine or just relax.

Unlike some other hotels, Disney takes water safety seriously and not only provides vigilant lifeguards but life jackets for all guests that can’t swim or who simply feel uncomfortable in the water!
Staff members told me that the pool is beautifully lit at night and worth visiting even if one is not a big fan of swimming pools.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: pool 2

Fun for the kids

If you need to entertain the kids after a long day in the park, the lobby area with its nightly free magic and juggling acts is the place for you.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: Lobby sofa
You can also admire the unique lobby furniture (check out the ‘witch’ chairs by the fireplace), elaborate dioramas and listen to the antique lobby carousel play Disney favorites every half hour.

Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort JUGGLERS

The Magic we didn’t expect to see

If you are staying in the hotel during the weekends, be on the lookout for Cinderella’s carriage that is used for weddings.
Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort CARRIAGE

The Service

Autism awareness and the service at this hotel is excellent.
Starting with the speedy check-in process to the housekeeping staff that catered to our needs, we were extremely satisfied.
A special shoutout and thank you to the quick thinking front desk staff member who not only got our son a fast replacement of his Magicband but succeeded in calming him down hence preventing a meltdown.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: ROCKERS

Autism Travel Tips

  • The property has very long corridors so make sure to ask for a room close to the main entrance if your child tires easily.
  • If your child is noise sensitive, request a room on a higher floor that is not facing the boardwalk area or pool.
  • If you don’t mind some noise and want to watch the Epcot Illuminations Fire Show from your hotel room, be sure to ask for a room facing the adult pool.
  • The rocking chairs located at the hotel entrance were a great decorating idea and helped our son with autism calm down after a long day in the park.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: promenade

 

 

Disclaimer-A discounted media rate was provided for my stay. Opinions in the post reflect my personal and honest opinions.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Tips for Attending

Last week we finally got around to attending the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.
D23 (D is for Disney and the 23 the year 1923 when Walt Disney founded the Company) is the official fan-club expo started by the company in 2009 and held every alternate year since.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending sign

The concept behind it was to give loyal fans a more in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at all the company’s projects; from future movies to theme park expansions.
The convention is highly popular and attracts more than 20,000 visitors during its three-day duration in August. Despite turning out to be one of the hottest weekends of the summer, the large crowds, and long lines; our son with autism managed to have a reasonably good time.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending audience
So, if you are a parent to a child with autism and are considering attending the D23; here answers to questions you might have.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending registration

Should young kids attend?

The expo is structured and geared towards teens and adult guests more than younger fans.
Aside from waiting in long lines to enter the different rooms, young children or kids with autism may find it difficult to sit through the actual panels which can range anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours.
There are specially priced children’s tickets available for those ages 3 – 9. Under three’s receive complimentary admission to the D23 EXPO.
For parents who do decide to bring their young child, the Expo provides a designated Family Play area with seating, entertainment, and games on the second floor.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending

Where is the best place to stay?

If your budget is somewhat flexible, strive to stay as close as you can to the convention hall so your child with autism can take a break if they get overwhelmed or overstimulated; or if you need to run pick up any items you forgot in your hotel.
The two properties closest are the Hilton Anaheim and the Marriott Suites Anaheim. Make sure you book early to grab the best prices, as these hotels tend to fill up months in advance.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending people you meet

Are costumes recommended?

Some guests do come dressed up, but if your kid has sensory issues, I’d strongly advise against it.
Most of the costumes sold in stores aren’t comfortable enough to wear for prolonged periods of time; especially if one needs to sit on the floor.
Also, bear in mind that if you or your child dress up, you might spend your Expo time posing for others’ pictures instead of enjoying the exhibits.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending R2D2

What to pack?

Since you’ll be standing on your feet or sitting on floors most of the day, you should bring along the most comfortable pair of shoes and pants you can.
The Expo doesn’t make public announcements in the event of a child getting lost so carrying two phones to communicate with one another in case you get separated along with a cord to recharge the devices is a good idea.If your kid is nonverbal then temporary tattoos or clothes patches should be used to help him or her be identified fast.
An additional benefit of bringing the phones is that it can entertain your kid if he or she needs to wait in any lines.


Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending ZOOTOPIA

What’s there to see?

Depending on your child’s interests there are quite a few choices to consider. The key is in the initial planning. You need to pre-plan your days at the Expo just like you’d plan your day in the theme park.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending ANIMATORS
Use the D23 website and mobile app to find out which presentations and pavilions to attend and where each one held, so you don’t waste precious time running around looking for the particular room.

Since there are several presentations given at the same time, you will need to pick which one to attend and arrive at the assigned room, at least, a half an hour before the doors open (for the sought -after presentations you need to come even earlier.)

If your child needs a break, the convention lobby is a great place to people-watch and strike up a conversation. It can be especially fun to see the homemade costumes.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending MOODS
At this year’s expo, the presentations included introductions to Walt Disney’s, Pixar’s and Lucasfilms’ new movies, multiple celebrity appearances; as well as the reveal of the Star War planned expansion in the US theme parks!

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending STARWARS
The Expo featured Live performances at the Disney Channel and Disney Radio booths with presentations from the Disney archives and Disney Imagineering.
There was an entire section dedicated to toys and video games and all the Disney memorabilia imaginable to gawk at and buy for the avid shoppers.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending CAR

Where to eat?

The Expo boasted diverse food venues both inside the convention building all cafeteria style, as well as outside food trucks.There were long lines at lunch time especially the indoors places, sparse seating and few options for guests with special diets.So, my recommendation is that attendees with special dietary should bring their food.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending FOOD

Is the Expo autism- friendly?

This is the million-dollar question.
The Expo states on their website that it can accommodate special needs attendees of all types including those using wheelchairs and service dogs and that requests can be helped by the guest service personnel in the lobby.
However, in reality, the accommodations varied and were not consistent.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending ACCOMMODATIONS

On the first day of the Expo (Friday) our son was let into the building fast without needing to sit in the long lines outside which was a blessing since the temperature outside that day was quite high and he is temperature intolerant.
He was also helped to get a stage pass so he could attend the Inside Out panel he wanted to see.Later that afternoon he asked to attend Pixar’s presentation and was also let in with little wait after explaining his condition.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending QUEUES
Things didn’t go as well the following day Saturday when there were many more visitors than the day before.
He wanted to attend the Lucasfilm and Marvel presentation for which people started queuing the night before.

When we arrived five hours before the doors opened there were already thousands in line. We went back and forth asking guest services and the staff at the hall’s entrance for accommodations, but no one could tell us where to go. An hour later as he tried again to enter the room he was told the event had been sold out.He got highly agitated and experienced a serious meltdown that continued for over an hour. The staff there was nothing short of amazing -they worked on calming him down and were well trained in de-escalation techniques.
As the time neared, a kind staffer was able to secure us two seats in the room which needless to say ‘made our day.
Disney needs to formulate more transparent policy when it comes to persons with autism explaining  when and where to go to ask for accommodations.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending GIFTS

Tips for minimizing wait times

If you’d like to shop in one of the three official venues without standing in the long lines, go to the pass store desk in hall A and ask for a Store Pass that gives you priority entry and a designated time slot to go and shop.
This applies to the Disney Dream Store, Disney Store, and Mickey’s of Glendale, too.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending MEDALS

If you don’t wish to ask for special accommodations but still want to get priority entrance to panels, the Expo offers a system of stage passes that you can get at the designated desk in the hall.
Be aware that this is only applicable for panels that start at 11 a.m., and you can only get one stage pass at a time so if you wish to attend more than one panel you have to go back and get a separate pass before each panel starts.

StagePass tickets are not available for Hall D23 sessions, or for presentations scheduled before 11:00 a.m. in Stage 23 and Stage 28 so if you would like to attend any of these presentations you need to ask Guest Services for help.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending DECOR

Autism Travel Tips

  • The best way to start preparing your kid is to show them video clips and pictures from past events that are available online.
  • Make sure you print a copy of the building map and acquaint your child with the location of the different halls.
  • We didn’t do that and spent valuable time the first day getting lost in all the different rooms.
  • Teach them how to use the phone app to check for new updates.
  • Discuss and formulate a plan B if you can’t get seats for a specific panel that they wish to attend.
  • Explain the reality that they may not see all conferences because of time and logistics.
  • Shopping is an integral component of the Expo so make sure you set a spending budget to avoid arguments and potential meltdowns.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending MONSTER

As longtime Disney fans, attending the D23 was a special treat for us.

Though, things didn’t go as planned (do they ever?) my son looks back and remembers all the fun times he had.

In fact, he is looking forward to booking his tickets for the next Expo as soon as they are released, sometime in January of 2016.
Hopefully, the above tips will be helpful to you as you plan for the D23 of 2017, and you will be inspired to join us.

Disney’s D23 Conference : Helpful Tips for Attending BUZZ

Theme Park Tips when Traveling with Autism

This month’s ‘Ask Margalit’ question comes all the way from  South Africa via e-mail.The writer, a mom who would like to visit the US theme parks with her child on the autism spectrum, is asking for tips on how to accomodate her son with his sensory challenges.

 

Hi Margalit,
My name is Marietjie, and I’m from Bloemfontein in South Africa.
My 11 year old son has autism and loves all sorts of sensory experiences even though he communicates with sounds, not words. We won a prize to visit Walt Disney World  and we are so excited. As we have never been to anything like this before, it will be entirely new.
Do you have any suggestions and advice for us?
Thanks so much.

Dear Marietjie
Congratulations!!!
What a wonderful opportunity for you and your son.
Theme parks are one of the places my son loves to go to, and we have traveled to quite a few as a family. In fact, we attend the yearly Travelingmom retreat at WDW every April.
Since each visit and theme park present a learning experience. I am happy to share the following tips with you.

Theme Park Tips when Traveling with Autism tree
Safety First

One of the most important things in my opinion is safety and security so my tips will reflect this.
When my son was younger, I was concerned that he might get lost so I made sure he was dressed in bright and bold colors making him stand out. I took pictures of him each morning in his clothes for the day so that we would be able to display a recent photo for recognition, in the event that we became separated.

You mentioned that your son doesn’t use words; I would recommend using a temporary tattoo with his information and maybe a picture App like TalkRocketGo for cell phones that help users ask for directions.
On the same note, there are GPS apps like Life360 that can pinpoint your child’s whereabouts.

Even now that our children are older, as soon as we get to the park we still arrange a meeting place in the event that someone gets lost or there is any other emergency. We all take a picture of the meeting point so we have it on our phones.

Theme Park Tips when Traveling with Autism apes

Clothing is the next ‘big’ problem

The next issue for me is practical and weather-related– clothing.
I always avoided loose-fitting and baggy clothing, accessories like scarves, hats and gloves and things with strings; anything that could get caught or fall or make him trip.
You didn’t say what time of the year you will be traveling and which theme park but if your son has sensory issues like mine does, bring your chosen brand of insect repellant and sunscreen and a set of extra clothes to change into if he gets wet.
I also recommend closed shoes , not flip flops as some rides have a moving platform to entering and exit from.

Theme Park Tips when Traveling with Autism river

Map your trip out!

I always did as much research as possible about the park that we would be visiting to educate myself to prepare my son. He always felt more secure knowing about each of the rides and knowing what to expect meant that there was less chance of being overwhelmed and having a meltdown.
Make sure you make note of bathroom locations  (bring duct tape to cover the automatic sensor if he is scared of automatic toilets) and quiet spots to take refuge in if the ‘going gets tough.’
I always say that being proactive is so important.
I have done my best to make my son be part of his own safety and security by teaching him about the different security features on the rides.
Seatbelts of course are extremely important. They should be kept ON the whole duration of the ride.
I had to remind my son to not stick his hands and feet out of the ride and not to touch anything.
He also needed to be told to be polite and not kick the seats in front of him.
It’s important to heed the rules of the park and know that you can rely on the staff’s guidance because they are there to help.

So, these are my tips in a nutshell.
Of course you are more than welcome to go through the website posts and find so many other tips that I have shared throughout the years.

I hope you have a fantastic and fun visit!

Theme Parks with Autism –Top Seven “Must Pack” Items



One of the more pressing and recurring questions that many parents to special needs children ask is, “What should I pack when planning a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation?”
So whether you are a first time visitor or have visited before and could use a refresher list, this post is for you.

Hand Sanitizer Wipes

Sanitizing wipes are not only useful for cleaning hands after bathroom breaks or before snacking and meals but to clean toys that get dirty or sticky from food spills.And don’t forget you can use them for scrapes and cuts if necessary too.

Ponchos

You will need ponchos for all your family members since it not only rains almost daily in Florida, but most of the water rides  WILL soak you to the bone.
Parents can either pack ponchos or purchase them at the park where they are sold for around $8.Though eight bucks is a bit pricey in my opinion, they can serve as an inexpensive souvenir since they do come with the park logo printed on them.

Crocs

The Parks are enormous, and there is a lot of walking involved, so the best thing is to invest in a pair of Crocs ™ shoes. to use when the ground is wet around water slides or after the rain.
As they are closed in the front, they protect toes better and don’t fall off like flip flops do, if you use the back band.
If your child doesn’t like wearing Crocs ™ you can opt to bring a pair of fabric sneakers that can dry fast if and when they get wet.

Themeparks with Autism – Top Seven “Must Pack” Items crocs

Cell Phone Chargers

In today’s world, mobile devices rule so you should bring not only your mobile phone but your kid’s too so that you can find each other in the event of them wandering off and getting lost.
Besides, the phone can double as an entertainment device if they have to wait for a ride.

The most important point is to pack and bring a working cord with a wall plug so you will be able to recharge the device, as battery life on a phone is relatively short. Those who don’t want to spend time looking for an available outlet can bring a power bank to juice up your devices when they are out of power.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Some rides and shows can be on the loud side, so if your child is noise sensitive you may either want to bring a set of noise-canceling headphones or ask at guest services if there are any sets available to rent.

GPS Device or Temporary Tattoo

If your child is young or unable to communicate, you need to consider using a tracking GPS device or temporary tattoo to make sure that they can get help if they get lost.

Duct Tape

If your kid is noise sensitive and frightened of the automatic flushing mechanism some of the toilets in the parks have, then you need to bring a small roll of duct tape to cover the sensor while they use the commode (remember to remove it before you leave.)
The tape can also be useful to stick on soles of shoes as an anti-slip mechanism after a downpour when the ground is very slippery.

Do you have any items you pack with you when you visit theme parks?
What are they?

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