Walt Disney World and ASD — The Bump
Special Needs

Walt Disney World and ASD

Hi everybody. Haven't been on the board in a few weeks. I felt I needed a short break from the SN world (as much as is possible while still hanging with my kiddo, of course). But I'm back.

So, who has braved WDW with their ASD child? We are going with extended family in late April. Everyone else lives there and has season passes so we won't "ruin it" for everyone if we need to set the pace a little slower. Plus they adore DS, and his cousins are older and patient.

I've read a few articles on the issue and they recommend getting a "guest accommodation card" which may help. Did you/would you? I am reluctant because I don't want to feel I'm taking advantage, but at the same time, if we can have access to calm spaces or shave a few minutes off a line here and there, DS would certainly be easier to manage and less prone to meltdowns. But I realize no 4 year old LIKES waiting in line, so part of me says just bring toys/snacks and deal, like everyone else. Opinions?
~formerly Bride2bMO~
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Zeus and Bubba

Re: Walt Disney World and ASD

  • To clarify, I believe the guest pass isn't for cutting in line, but maybe letting him wait in a less stimulating/crowded place.
    ~formerly Bride2bMO~
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    Zeus and Bubba
  • We went last November and had a really, really good time.  We took it slow - picked 2 - 3 things at each park that we wanted to do and everything else beyond that was a bonus. 

    We went first thing in the morn, and left in the afternoons for naps / rest, then back in the evening for parades etc.

    We didn't use the GAC but if you think it would help, absolutely do it.  There were moments when sitting in a different area away from the long hot crowded line would have been a lot easier.

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  • My one nephew had a PDD-NOS dx when he went to Disney two years ago and they used the guest accommodation card and had a good experience. The Disney cast members are used to visitors with all sorts of needs and are very accommodating. My nephew was 7 at the time (he recently tested of the spectrum but he still gets OT and likely has SPD).

    I'll ask my SIL for more info if you'd like. Hopefully someone else will have personal experiences to share, as mine is second-hand.

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  • We  just tackled WDW last year with our girls, the youngest of whom is on the spectrum (PDD-NOS). They were 5 & 3.5 at the time, and I was pretty anxious about how she'd do. Did tons of planning, though- figured out each day's itinerary, built in lots of down time, researched the different parks' daily volume and visitor traffic, etc., so I felt cautiously optimistic.

    I'd also heard about the guest assistance card (GAC), and decided to request one when we got to the park. Hands down the best thing we did. The cast member who gave us the card informed me that it didn't give us access to the front of lines, but would provide any accommodations available that might help DD (like a separate place to wait- lines were really hard for her last year.)  I was more than happy with that. However, it quickly became apparent that the GAC did in fact provide us access to the park attractions I never dreamed of. We were able to bypass lines and wait in separate areas for attractions. These two things literally changed our trip 100%. I'd originally anticipated being able to see maybe 3-5 attractions each day- I just knew DD wouldn't be able to handle the lines and waits. By eliminating them from the equation, though, we were able to enjoy WDW the way I imagine a typical family would... Maybe even more, since I didn't take one minute of the experience for granted. We made a point to not abuse the GAC, but it did improve the quality of our trip dramatically. It was very clear to me that cast members weren't as concerned with what's written on the GAC as they were providing us with a great Disney experience- and that felt so awesome.

    Any questions, let me know. I credit WDW for giving my family a trip I honestly didn't think was possible! 

    When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? ~Pam Brown
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  • We went to Disney and got the "stroller as a wheelchair" tag and a GAC card.  They were invaluable.  Stroller as a wheelchair allowed us to contain our son in lines and at shows (we went to the Fantasma light show at Hollywood Studio and were able to keep him strapped in the whole time, rather than having to park the stroller with the others before walking in).  The GAC generally allows you to use the disabled entrance to the ride, if there is one, or the Fast Pass lane.  Combined withe the stroller tag, we could contain Z while waiting in line, too.  The GAC card also allowed us to view the parades from special roped-off areas (and they had some good ones, too).  It was really nice because there weren't people bumping up against us the whole time. 
    Zachary, 8.31.2007 * * * Adam, 3.24.2010<BR>

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  • imageJenGK:
    We went to Disney and got the "stroller as a wheelchair" tag and a GAC card.  They were invaluable.  Stroller as a wheelchair allowed us to contain our son in lines and at shows (we went to the Fantasma light show at Hollywood Studio and were able to keep him strapped in the whole time, rather than having to park the stroller with the others before walking in).  The GAC generally allows you to use the disabled entrance to the ride, if there is one, or the Fast Pass lane.  Combined withe the stroller tag, we could contain Z while waiting in line, too.  The GAC card also allowed us to view the parades from special roped-off areas (and they had some good ones, too).  It was really nice because there weren't people bumping up against us the whole time. 

    Our trip was similar to this!  The GAC and the stroller tag were amazing and truly made our trip.  It was such a great experience for all of us and DS had a blast.  We are planning to go again this year :)  I did not know about the parade spots though so I will find out about those this year.  We skipped the parades because of the crowds.

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  • We went to Disney in September with my daughter who has a seizure disorder and ASD.  I didn't want to use the GAC at first because I felt guilty.  My daughter was just under 2 at the time and I figured everyone would think we were taking advantage of it.  On the second day there we got to a building that did not allow strollers inside.  My daughter had just fallen asleep and without a nap the rest of the day would be ruined.  I went and got the GAC and stroller as a wheelchair tag and the rest of our trip was amazing.

    It was great for the whole family.  My older daughter (5) and my niece (8) are used to having to wait for everything because of catering to the younger one.  Now we were able to get right on the rides, wait out of the heat and have a few other magical extras because of the card.  My daughter will never sit on someones lap to watch a show, but will sit in her stroller.  We were able to sit in a special section of all the shows and leave her in her stroller where she was happy.

    Disney does an amazing job catering to families with special needs and we are already planning our next trip!

  • Ladies, thank you! All of your replies are much appreciated. Having the stroller in line sounds great bc we have a sit n stand and DS likes to sit on the back and pull the shade down when there are big crowds. I think this is going to be ok. Maybe even fun! ;)
    ~formerly Bride2bMO~
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    Zeus and Bubba
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