Touring with Disabilities - need advice

We are visiting WDW next month with a teenager with severe anxiety/OCD/mild autism and another teen with Ehlers-Danlos, a connective tissue disorder that causes joint, blood pressure and digestive issues. I’ve scoured the internet to learn everything possible about the DAS pass but am concerned it may not be enough for us. While DD1 needs to skip the lines, and DD2 can’t stand in long lines, we also need to minimize walking & backtracking for DD2. DD1 is also very unpredictable - she may last several hours in the parks or need to leave after 3 rides. Her tolerance for frustration is low and she has sensory processing issues. I’d appreciate any tips on how to manage & what help is reasonable to ask for at the parks.

Why not ask your doctor what he/she recommends? Then at least you will have an idea. I don’t know your daughters so it is difficult to suggest what adjustments are reasonable. Has your doctor confirmed that your DDs are well enough to cope with WDW?

How old are your kids? Could DD2 use a scooter or wheel chair to deal with the walking and inevitable backtracking sometimes?

Will you have two adults to be able to divide and conquer if DD1 needs to go home and DD2 is still good to go?

Thanks! Our kids are 13, 15, & 17. The older 2 have the issues. We are working on DD2 for wheelchair use, but she is still struggling mentally with her diagnosis & in typical teenage fashion, hates the idea of wheelchair/scooter.

We will have 2 adults, but the kids have a very “stick together” mentality, so not sure if the other 2 will stay if DD1 has to leave. Also, we’re staying off property, which makes logistics tricky.

I’m really looking for ways we can maximize our abilities in the parks - any quiet spaces people have found, how to handle parade and possibly evening shows if we get that far, which QS locations may be less crowded or just less noisy? Anyone who has used a DAS pass and has pointers? Anyone who has had needs beyond the typical DAS pass and whether Disney has been able to help?

Also, I have cancer. In remission right now, but my energy level isn’t the best. This is our first vacation in a few years because of all we have had going on. WDW wouldn’t have been my first choice, but we haven’t been there in several years & the kids wanted one more trip as a family. So, I’m just trying to make the best of it by planning as much as possible and asking advice before we go.

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I think that Disney has a list somewhere of quieter areas that could be used if you need a little break from the crowds. I’d also say that first aid might be a good place to reduce overstimulation!

Here’s the info that I found, not sure if you’ve already seen it or if the info will be helpful!
https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/wdpro-assets/help/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/WDW_Cognitive_Guide_compressed.pdf

I think that it might be a good idea to prioritize certain things that you want to see/do in the parks. If you ask everyone for their top 2 for each park, you could make a touring plan that includes those items, and has an early finishing time. Then if there’s more energy than you expected, you could stay and do more things.

You can set the touring plan to minimize walking, and also to a slow walking speed.

We’ve never been a “take a break in the afternoon” kind of family, but there are tons of people that do that, and they are huge advocates for that technique. If it’s a priority for you to ride the headliners and also see the evening shows, it might be good to rope drop for the headliners, then take a break, and then go back for the evening shows. It’s less convenient to do that when you are staying offsite, but it’s not a deal-breakers. Just save your parking receipt and they will let you back into the lot at no charge.

We also find table service meals to be a good way to sit for a bit and get out of the crowds. We typically rope drop, so we find some snacks around 10-11 (before the lunch rush), and then we make a table-service reservation around 2 (after the lunch rush). It does pretty well for recharging us.

I know this won’t help your fatigue, but for your teenage daughter with EDS, something like this might be helpful:

I’ve used one like this in the parks many times. I have chronic foot issues, so walking 25K steps a day is just not realistic for me. I’m opposed to the idea of an electric scooter and I don’t want someone to push me around all day, so this is a good compromise. I like that I don’t have to stand in line at the beginning or end of the day to rent it (cause I bring it with me), and the batteries don’t have to be charged (unless you count all the diet coke I consume for energy). It’s very agile, and is easy to lift it onto the monorail or whatever. I also love how it keeps my head at head level instead of bum level.

If you decide to buy one, the basket is ssuuuupper convenient, and 4 wheels are MUCH more stable than 3. KT tape is helpful to put on her knee (like moleskin), and an extra pad/cushion for the knee rest wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Also, if you buy it online and bring it with you, it will help with boarding on the plane. You can gate-check it (like a stroller) and then after you get there you have to wait at the bottom of the jet-way for them to bring it up from the bottom of the plane.

Like I said, I’ve taken it with me multiple times, and I’m happy to give you more information if you want it.

As far as quiet places… there is a walkway between the circus area and space mountain that is usually pretty quiet. It is the smoking area though, so there will be that to deal with. But the pathway is long enough that you could probably find a smoke-free place to be for a bit.

Depending on your DD1 sensory issues…would headphones be helpful? She could listen to calming music or an audiobook or something that would at least drown out the noise? Maybe she would only need it sometimes.

It’s going to be a great trip, and it’s awesome that you are doing research and trying to find ways to set it up for success. I hope things go super smoothly for you!

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Thanks so much! I’ll download that onto my phone so I have a list of quiet areas with us.

I’ll show that scooter device to DD2 and see what she thinks. Thanks for all the advice!! Hugely helpful!

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Not sure your budget allows it but have you considered any of the after hour events? We’re doing one at MK for our upcoming trip and just from a planning perspective it made it much easier to make sure we get all the things we want done without having to worry. Our whole family also hates crowds (well honestly who doesn’t) so we booked a few of the dinner/dessert and fireworks show so we won’t be in the thick of things for the evening shows. We also figured that a few sit down meals…though it may be more expensive is a nice break (and hopefully a little quiet too) during the day without necessarily having to “lose time” leaving the park and coming back.

I may be wrong, but I think that quiet walkway between Storybook circus and Space Mountain is closed due to the Tron coaster construction, I haven’t been recently enough to say for certain, but maybe someone else can confirm.

If you haven’t already, I would contact Disney https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/ and ask them for thoughts on what has helped other families facing similar challenges. I have contacted Guests with Disabilities Services before to ask about options for my son and found them very helpful. They can’t tell you what would work for your children but they have helped many families have a successful and fun vacation so I am sure they have some ideas on what has worked for others that you could consider. I have not found the in park guest services CMs helpful at all in terms of my son’s needs. In fact, I have had to tell them every time what equipment they have (which they tell me they don’t every time even though they do) and helped them find it in order to check it out. But the folks I have spoken to/emailed with in advance and afterwards to provide feedback through the number and email listed in the link I provided, have been very helpful.

Valid point! I hadn’t even considered this!

I do not know how much help I can be I have never dealt with those with mental disabilities. .

I know magic kingdom best. As for quiet spots I can suggest the following.

Maybe first aid/chikd care in any park.

In tommorrowland the walkway between space mountain and the trail is usually quiet but there is now construction. Another quiet spot is by the exit for carousel of progress. The area buzz lightyear meets is good when he is not there.

In the new fantasyland area the area by Gastons can be quiet. Also the area by the bathrooms of picchinoco village Haus. Has a quiet spot. Behind the castle and carrousel by the wishing well. And across feom the tangled bathrooms is a little quiet.

The second floor of coulmbia harbor house can be quiet. The pathway from liberty square to splash and big thunder mts. And Tom Sawyer Island has its empty spots.

On main street there is an alley on the tommorowland side. There is a little area near the firehouse by the bathrooms that can be quiet.

Also the area where you come in between the tapstiles and tunnels can work too but very sunny and hot.

There are probably a couple that I missed but those are the ines i know in the MK.

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So, I have EDS. (As does one of my kids).

I tend to pop joints out and heat can be exasperating.

We use DAS, take breaks, and have rest days.

I’ve never had an issue with guest services, it’s just key to take breaks, watch the heat, and allow extra time to get places as well as allow for feeling icky at times.

You shouldn’t have any issues.

In fact, one of the new disney parks lols panelists for 2019 has EDS pretty bad. Kind of neat to see some awareness!! Shoot me a private message if you would like more specifics.

DAS is really just a “virtual” wait time. You still wait the posted time for the attraction, you just can go sit somewhere and come back to the fastpass entrance when it’s your time. You can also use on some of the character experiences that don’t have a fastpass line, just have a quiet word with one of the CMs.

Shoot me a PM if you have any super specific questions. :grin:

New panel?

What kind of lols are they empaneled to discuss?!?!? :wink:

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HahaHaha, OMG! Mom’s not lols!

We were up until 3am chatting. So…this is totally a no sleep trip! :joy::joy::joy:

I really need to proof read don’t I?

Or perhaps it’s even funnier!

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hey, I got lots of lols out of it. I think you won! :smiley:

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What about walking over to one of the resorts if you need a bit of a break? From what I understand you could head over the Polynesian and take a break in the lobby or on the grounds, and even eat at one of the restaurants there - it might be less busy and let you have a refresh without having to actually go back to your place.

Thanks so much to all of you for your excellent advice! I’ve added quite a bit of it to our plans!!

I had been in touch with Disney in the early stages of planning our trip, but they were very non-specific over the phone. It seems like we just need to work with Guest Relations at the parks themselves. Our first day is Epcot. Hoping to get there early, encounter someone really helpful at Guest Relations, and then get on our way.

We are trying to set reasonable expectations for what we can accomplish while there, but teens are their own challenge - as unreasonable as toddlers sometimes!

Thanks again to all of you!!

I think you should get 2 DAS, one for each daughter. That way, if your older daughter has to bail, the rest of your party can still do the ride and you can meet up afterward.

For the daughter with anxiety, I recommend having a plan prepared beforehand to self-soothe. I don’t know if she has done a WRAP course, but I highly recommend them (http://mentalhealthrecovery.com/wrap-is/ ). For me, having something cold (frozen washcloth to wipe face, holding ice cubes in my hand) is a good way to distract myself, shock myself out of an overwhelming situation. Scent is another - I like lavender, I’ll put a drop or two into those pocket kleenex packets. Walking very fast is another but that one doesn’t work well at WDW!

I’m sure she doesn’t want to wreck the vacation for the others which will cause her anxiety. At the same time, the first trip to Disney will be a learning experience for her, and she needs to give herself permission to not be perfect.

Having a touring plan is immensely helpful. The lines app is also hugely helpful as a distraction. Timing waits, submitting them, marking steps as done.

Guest services will probably set you up with a regular DAS, where someone in your party will walk or run to the next ride to get your DAS return time. This is what my family has always done - now that we’re all older and have more injuries, I am planning on stopping at Guest Services at the beginning of the park day to see if they will give us a DAS time there, saving us a bit of walking. I haven’t tried this myself yet, I have heard that it depends on the CM and what ride you are requesting (not FOP, for eg). Our next trip is in May, so I can let you know then.