Orlando Vacation with Autism
This past week, we ventured down to Orlando, FL for a vacation. We wanted to take David to a few theme parks and experiences. It was also my husbands birthday who is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so we hit up Hollywood Studios for him.
I wanted to share my tips and observations for anyone traveling with an autistic or special needs child to these parks in the future. These are solely based on our singular experience, so keep that in mind 🖤
The circus area! There was a water feature which was a hit for David. Also, this area seems to be for small little ones, so it wasn't full of loud rollercoasters and screams, or crowded at all.
Stimulating. This is a pro or con depending if your child is sensory seeking (pro for this) or sensory avoidant (then mark this as a con for you!)
The transport in. I didn't realize we would have to monorail or ferry into the park. I believe Epcot is the same but could be wrong so don't quote me on that. This created an issue simply because it involved waiting in a cramped line instantly.
The majority of anything to do involves waiting, which can be hard for our littles.
Majority of the park is crowded and loud.
Score for special needs: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Not the best but definitely not the worst.
Honestly, the only positive we had here was the fact that the kids play area had a Curious George land. Which is why we bought tickets to Universal.
This park was very over stimulating in general. While some may love it, it was even overwhelming for myself.
Very rude employee! We had someone literally scream at David for not wearing shoes. He has sensory issues with his feet, but will wear shoes if he has to. There were no signs or anything, or else he would have had them on. I don't have an issue with the rule, I have an issue with the employee bending down screaming at my 4 year old son to put on his shoes. This infuriated me.
Confusing layout with massive crowds.
Curious George land was neat, but the water features were pretty dangerous. A giant tub of water dumped out and if it would have hit me, a full grown woman, it would have taken me out. If it hit a kid, I could definitely see that causing damage.
Score for special needs: 👎🏼 Unless you or your child has a love for one of the themes there like David did with Curious George, I'd say skip it. Others may have loved Universal, but it was definitely our least favorite experience, which is super disappointing because we were very excited for Curious George Land.
So many neat sensory experiences with the different lights and environments.
We experienced less wait times
Sesame Street area was AMAZING. Seriously so cute and fun! I didn't care to see it until we got to it, it was so much better than I could have imagined.
In Sesame Street, we saw some helpful things. There's lots of family spaces for your family to unwind and rest, as well as a QUIET ROOM 🙌🏼 If your little one (or you!) gets over stimulated.
We weren't directed into any special parking with our handicap parking. It could have been a mix up but it almost seemed like you'd have to pay extra as to buy premium parking for handicap.
Score for special needs: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Only lost a star because of the handicap parking. Again, this could have been a mix up or anything so double check before you go if that's a concern!
Neat things to look at like Galaxy's edge
A lot of things like the Disney Jr store were closed.
Way too busy for such a small park.
Very overstimulating due to crowds.
Nothing for kids other than rides. Like no splash zone or play area.
Score for special needs: ⭐️ Cool if your child likes rollercoasters and a lot of visual stimulation. For us, it didn't work well.
BONUS: We skipped Epcot and Animal Kingdom because we weren't riding rides, and figured we could do a more intimate animal experience with less crowds. I booked a tour at Giraffe Ranch about an hour away from the theme parks.
Stay in vehicle so our child was very comfortable.
Knowledge and beauty!!
Score for special needs: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Not just great for those with animals as their special interest like David. It was so fun for all of us and very affordable for what we received.
Hope this helps in some way!