Monday, July 5, 2010

Disney With Special Dietary Needs and Asperger's

I was just talking to someone about Disney World today and now I'm yearning to go.  Not possible at this point, but now that my mind is on it, I might as well post about it.  I was just talking about what a wonderful option it is if you can swing it for Halloween (Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party) in lieu of Trick-or-Treating, with all of that candy that they can't eat.  You might want to consider taking a few safe candies/treats/non-food items with you to give to your child as they will have trick-or-treating stations in various areas around the park.  Enjoy Life Boom Choco Boom chocolate bars are a favorite in our house. 

I have already created a page dedicated to contact info for Disney and a book about traveling to Disney with various disabilities and special needs.  The book is "PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line", by Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma, and I found it VERY helpful.  It provides a lot of details that will help with almost every, if not all disabilities and special needs. 

The people at Disney were extremely helpful.  They made it clear that part of their job was to do what they could to help me relax and enjoy the vacation I was paying for, instead of stressing over what, if anything, I was going to be able to feed my child.  I e-mailed them immediately after booking the trip (this was 2 yrs ago).  Shortly after they received my e-mail, detailing my son's dietary issues, I received not only an e-mail back with lots of great information about the specialty food products they have available to them, what foods might contain problem ingredients, etc, but I also rec'd calls from each of the chefs where I had made priority seating arrangements (as close to reservations as you can get there).  When I made additional priority seating arrangements at other restaurants, I rec'd additional calls.  They also went over what products they had available to them at their particular restaurant, and they were able to make sure they had the products at the particular restaurants ahead of time.  When I arrived at the restaurant, I just needed to ask to s/w the chef and they came out to go over our needs (they already knew but just made sure they had it right).  

The only downside was that you have to pay the adult price vs the child rate, but it was worth it to make sure that they have a safe meal, at every meal.   I went with the meal plan and that worked out very well.  There was even counter service in each location that had something, albeit not too many choices for our particular needs (too many foods to avoid).  I was very happy that they had anything at all, though.  They also had soy milk for my daughter just about everywhere.  It wasn't chocolate Silk Soymilk, but a little Hershey's syrup did the trick.  I can't recall if they had ricemilk or not, but I believe I brought the vanilla rice milk with me each day and they gave me some chocolate syrup to mix with it as needed.  

As for the lines...there is a "Guest Assistance Pass" that is invaluable if you are eligible for it.  You absolutely need a note from your Dr though, specifying the diagnosis and why you/your child can't wait in lines.  Autism is one such diagnosis (includes Asperger's).  If your child has to have enteral feedings frequently, they might accept that.  They won't tell you in advance, though.  You have to get the letter and show it to them the first day in the parks.  The one guest assistance pass will be valid in every park for the length of your stay, and it is for the whole party, so it doesn't split you up.  When we were there, it worked similarly to Fast Pass, but if it was not a Fast Pass enabled ride and the line was long, you could use the handicapped entrance.  We didn't use that when the lines were short, though, as we didn't feel that was right to do.  There are often similar passes in other amusement parks, although I have not found them to be the same or as good as the Guest Assistance Pass at Disney.

Speaking of Dr's notes, it is wise to have the Dr mention in the same letter that you/your child has food allergies and must bring safe food into the park.  This is something you can take with you to various amusement parks, sporting events, etc.   The book I mentioned above also talks about places to rent wheelchairs if there is a need (some of our kids have a hard time walking for any distance, experience pain &/or weakness, etc).

I really wish we could go back.  I REALLY do.  It makes a world of difference in my son, and I have heard that from many other parents, especially those with kids on the spectrum.  It also really makes a huge difference in Mom (that would be ME)!  It is one of my favorite places on earth and if I could afford to, I would be a member of the Disney Vacation Club, with either a week every year in Bay Lake Towers, Saratoga Springs or maybe even Wilderness Lodge.  A room with a kitchen would be ideal.   Ah, but I'm dreaming...where's my fairy godmother when I need her.  ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment