Disney World Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian, MGM Studios

      Disney World with Special Needs


You're going to Disney World, but you or someone with you has health challenges.  How do you plan? Vacationing at Walt Disney World is a unique experience. It is true for everyone that the better you plan, the more likely you are to enjoy it.  With health conditions the planning phase is even more important. 

When traveling to Disney World, the sooner you can secure any of your reservations the better off you'll be.   Disney is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, and things can fill up early and fast.  You will want to be sure to secure a room that best meets your needs. Here are some things that we recommend you take care of as far in advance as possible. 

2008 Calendar1.  Pick your dates.  That seems too simplistic to even put in a list like this.  Yet when traveling to Disney World with health conditions, choosing dates can be complicated. 
There are a variety of things to consider including crowd and weather conditions.  Large crowds can mean significantly longer wait times in lines for attractions, food and just about anything else.  It can also make it more difficult to navigate a wheelchair or stroller. For some people the stimulation and challenge of navigating in the dense crowds can be stressful. 

Then there's the weather.  Summer may be too hot and humid for some.   In the winter it can get very cool (though not as cold as in most of the world). This can be wonderful if you’re spending most of your time in the parks. Yet if you were planning on swimming, keep in mind that Florida winter temperatures can swing dramatically.  Though the Disney resorts heat their pools, we find it nearly impossible to enjoy the pool during most of the winter.  This is especially true if you spend the days at the parks and hope to enjoy the pools in the evening. However, there are always some brave souls who are enjoying their swim regardless.

There are a variety of other issues some may need to consider including seasonal allergens. The Florida seasons bring on different allergen issues at different times that some wouldn’t expect.

2.  Decide where to stay and book your room.  This is another decision that may be more complex at Disney than at most other destinations. You’ll need to decide whether to stay on Disney property or off.  If you stay on Disney property, choosing the right resort for you can take a lot of thought and research.  

While we enjoy the themes and perks of staying at a Disney World resort, there are also some very compelling reasons to stay outside Disney grounds.  One option is to stay in a vacation home where you can have the peace and quiet of a private home to unwind in.  Those who have special dietary needs will enjoy a full, working kitchen with everything you need to cook your own meals.  Of course, vacation homes have significantly more space than hotel rooms, and you have the privacy of multiple bedrooms.  Another consideration is that these homes usually turn out to be significantly less expensive than staying in a hotel. 

3.  Create your schedule of entertainment. You'll need to evaluate and determine which rides and attractions are appealing as well as physically and emotionally compatible. 

We always create our own calendar with each day split into three sections - morning, afternoon and evening.  We start by filling in the days we’ll be going to a park, and we note which park we’ll be in.  By writing all of this down, it helps us to manage the next two steps.

Disney World Menu4.  Make your Dining reservations.  We love the themed restaurants at Disney.  It’s part of the fun for us. You're able to book up to 180 days in advance for many of the restaurants at Disney.  Believe me; people take advantage of this, so get your reservations as soon as possible. 

Those with special dietary needs or anyone wanting to know more about the restaurants will want to check out our website's restaurant section before you make your reservations.  You can see the restaurants, menus and the special dietary needs policies of the restaurants at www.diz-abled.com

5. Make other off-site entertainment reservations.  Will you be going outside of Disney to other Orlando attractions? If so, you'll need to buy tickets and when necessary, make reservations.  If you plan to check out the Orlando area, research what's available as far in advance as you can. 

It may seem like a lot of effort, but you’ll find it’s worth it.  Planning for a magical vacation can be a lot of fun itself.  Have a wonderful trip!

Article contributed by Stephen Ashley

Stephen Ashley is the author of Walt Disney World with Disabilities: Unofficial in-depth planning guide for your fun, comfort and safety. The book is available on Amazon.com and on the official website at www.Diz-Abled.com.  Also visit this site for extensive free information designed to help you plan a great vacation at Disney World with health and emotional conditions, special needs and disabilities.