Who doesn’t love a Disney vacation? While it may be the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland and its counterparts around the world can pose a host of overwhelming challenges for visitors with special needs. Large crowds, long lines and loud noises all have the potential to ruin a well-planned vacation for children easily affected by these overwhelming stimuli.
Special needs should in no way stop your family from enjoying anything together and theme parks like Disneyland go to great lengths to accommodate people of all needs. One of the best ways to ensure things go as smoothly as possible is by planning ahead. Start off by checking out Disney’s Attraction Details guide before you head to the park. This helpful guide lists which rides have specific features your child may be sensitive to, such as flashing lights, loud noises or periods of darkness. Knowing which rides are appropriate for your child’s specific needs not only helps take the guesswork out of the equation, but helps avoid potential disasters.
When you arrive at the park be sure to visit Guest Services right away to see if your child qualifies for the Disability Access Service which helps them (and their families) to access rides with much less wait times than traditional queues. Be aware this service requires a registration process that involves having your child’s photo taken.
Familiarize yourself with the various “quiet areas” around the park. These are locations that are great for taking a time out when the commotion of the park gets to be too much. There are a few spots throughout the grounds that tend to be quieter and offer some calming comfort, such as the base of Tarzan’s Treehouse in Adventureland and the first aid station on Main Street. You can also head to Critter Country where you will find things less hectic near the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction.
While there is no off-season for Disneyland — the park’s popularity and Southern California’s year-round sunshine keep it busy all year long — some days are worse than others. Plan your visit on one of the days the park is less likely to be filled to capacity — avoid weekends, holidays and traditional school breaks. That way you have a better chance of hitting the park on a day when the crowds aren’t as intense and overwhelming.
Lake Powell, a family-favorite vacation destination in the American Southwest, lies between Utah and Arizona — an ideal place to rent a houseboat and spend your time exploring the lake and its shores as a family, enjoying the sun, the water and plenty of adventure.
If you’re looking for a charming new island escape on the East Coast, get away to a locale many have yet to discover. Daufuskie Island considers itself the Nantucket of the South, a hidden gem off the Southeast Coast, near Savannah, Georgia, and Hilton Head. The luxurious environment is unpretentious, but filled with all the amenities discerning family travelers need.
A beach vacation is a family favorite in the summertime; the weather is nice, towns are thriving and there are fun activities all season. For families looking for the ultimate summer beach vacation, consider Ocean City, New Jersey.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.