View Full Version : Special Needs Child--What Kind of Accommodations are There?

03-21-2007, 09:24 PM
Hi All,

I'm planning our first family trip w/my dd to DW in May. She is 6 y.o. and has mild cerebral palsy. She walks and doesn't ecessary "look" disabled but she tires easily and can't walk distances. She also easily overheats b/c she has to work so had to move her body.

I have taken her to DLand before and they gave her a "pass" to put on her stroller (that basically indicated her stroller was her "wheelchair") and for most rides we were able to enter through the exit and have easy access to the rides.

I'm not one to line jump but I also don't want her to literally fall over from standing out in the heat so can someone clue me as to whether the system that's used at DL is also used at DW?

It's a bit harder now that she's older to find a stroller to accommodate her but we haven't made the jump to a wheelchair yet for situations like this. We plan on bringing a stroller and spending the hotest part of the day back at the hotel or in the pool (I'll be traveling w/ a 9 month old so he'll need to nap anyways). We also plan to bring those personal misting fans to help stay cool and we'll obviously make every effort to stay hydrated. Any other tips in addition to these?

Thanks in advance!

03-21-2007, 09:52 PM
WDW does offer a guest assistance pass. All you have to do is ask for it at guest relations in any park. They should have no problem giving you one considering your daughters condition. Also, you may want to consider renting a double stroller at WDW, at least while in MK, AK, and EPCOT because the doubles at these parks are larger and she may be more comfortable with more space to move than she would be in a single stroller. They are just hard plastic so you may want to line it with towels or a blanket for comfort. The doubles at MGM are jogger style strollers and have a divider down the middle so they aren't as roomy as the doubles at the other parks. Hope this helps. Have a great time at the world. :mickey:

03-22-2007, 12:08 AM
Are you me in a parallel universe? :secret:

My DD is now 8, has mild cp and a 2 year old brother.

We have been using a Maclaren special needs stroller for several years now and LOVE it. We don't use it much at home, but for trips like WDW, it makes an amazing difference.

I used a baby bjorn when DS was an infant so that I could carry him and push DD. It also enabled me to take both of them on certain rides and feel more secure. We had very little trouble getting around WDW - although some of the shops in Epcot were more of a challenge than I was prepared for.

As soon as you arrive at your first park, go to Guest Services and ask for a guest assistance card. It is good for the length of your stay. We usually bring a note from DD's doctor, just in case. It is written on the script pad and just says "can't ambulate long distances without assistance. Dx is cp." I've shown the note, but never been asked for it - I just feel better having it with me. Also, ask for the red tape strip that indicates you may use the stroller as a wheelchair - it saves you having to whip out the pass every 2 minutes as well-meaning CMs start to tell you that you can't have a stroller here, only to feel badly when they realize their faux pas (I say faux pas, because these CMs are usually well into the interior of a ride, meaning you've already passed by several other CMs).

Take advantage of morning EMH - it's a great way to avoid the heat, beat the crowds and not have to deal with long lines for the most part.

Certain rides (typically the older ones like Dumbo) have a special entrance where you can wait. Often, the wait may be somewhat shorter than if you were in the traditional line, but I make it clear to the CM that so long as DD has her stroller, we can wait our turn. I do this because 1) I don't feel comfortable "cutting" and 2) it is important to me that DD realize that she should follow the same guidelines as everyone else. In most of the newer rides, the queue is designed so that DD can comfortably go through in her stroller (Soarin' comes most readily to mind).

The misting fans are a great idea. We also take a change of socks and towel/cornstarch since DD wears a leg brace and her leg can get uncomfortable.

We'll also intersperse outdoor stuff with indoor stuff (Country Bears / Philharmagic at MK for example) to get out of the sun and into the AC for a few minutes.

I also take a first aid kit with extra large bandaids for when DD stumbles and skins her knee. It doesn't always happen, but it's much better to have them on hand.

DD is a disney junkie just like her mommy :blush: We have had several wonderful trips - feel free to PM me with any questions, or just post them to this thread

Matt's Dad
03-22-2007, 02:22 PM
All the good stuff has been said above.

All I wanted to add is if you ever need anything at a park ... Ask a CM. Never demand, never push ... but if there is something that would help your Daughter, find a CM and explain your situtation.

My son is autistic, and CM's have done wonderfull things for us (from special meals, to arranging a special ride - which was way more than we expected), but never because we demanded it .... but because the CM's are basically good people and I think part of thier job is to make sure that kids have a magical time at Disney, and they realize that some kid's need a little different magic.

Plan to move at your children's pace ... take advantage of early and late hours when things aren't that crowded, and be prepared to have a great time.

And especially since you have younger one too, you may want to check out the Baby Stations in the parks if you need a break. The one in the AK is wonderful. Basically, airconditioned areas with family changing rooms, quite areas, a room with toys and usually a video playing (disney movie: for sale at any one of a number of shops close by), and they have all baby supplies for sale. But they can also make for a nice break area in the middle of a hot afternoon, where a 6 year old can play with a toy, watch a movie, or just sit out of the heat for a few.

Again, I hope your family has a great time .... ENJOY.