Disney with Special Needs: Finding Your Comfort Zone

12615385_924671714288298_8167250148234695019_oYou have made it down Main Street! There’s nothing more exciting than those first few moments in the Magic Kingdom – except, of course, actually getting all the way into the park and being able to enjoy the attractions. Since you embarked on your own little virtual vacation before you left, you are already pretty familiar with the rides and other experiences, but nothing compares to actually climbing aboard an experiencing it for yourself. This is the spectacular experience that you have been waiting for – but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to hit some rough patches.

As excited and happy as you feel one moment, it is possible that the next you are going to be overwhelmed, disoriented, and anxious. Remember the story about the person sitting on my hair on the resort bus? Well, I have a couple of those for every park and every place in the resorts. In the Magic Kingdom one of my most frightening moments was coming out of the restroom and realizing that an afternoon stage show had just ended so a throng of people were coming toward me. I couldn’t see anyone in my family, my dog was with my mother, and I suddenly had no idea where I was. We’re friends now so I have no problem telling you that I was a mess by the time my husband found me. So what did we do? Run back to the bus and go back to the resort? Absolutely not. We went to the Haunted Mansion.

And that’s why my next tidbit for you is…. 

Find your comfort zone.

Venture around the park riding the rides and take in all of the delightful little nooks, crannies, and corners that you can only discover with exploration. (Fun detail: remember Vladimir and his collection of ceramic unicorns? They remind me of my Viking-looking brother who also loves unicorns. If you head to the Rapunzel-themed restrooms behind Independence Square you can see the poster for when Vladimir had the formal showing for his collection, complete with refreshments.)

While you are doing this exploration, pay attention to how you are feeling. Find that one place in the park that really makes you feel comfortable, safe, and happy. This is your comfort zone. My mother describes it as being the place that brings me peace.

For me, this place is the Haunted Mansion. As soon as I am close to it, I start to feel better. Though I have a place that makes me feel safer and more comfortable in every park we visit with regularity, the Haunted Mansion is my absolute favorite. If you are searching for my brother in the park, head over it’s a small world. He’s probably there, riding as many times in a row as he can.

Your comfort zone doesn’t have to be a ride. It can be a favorite bench, a special walkway, or a show. Wherever you can go and feel a bit more relaxed, safe, and distracted from whatever triggered you can be your comfort zone. This is where you will go when you feel overwhelmed, if something happened to upset you, or if you get lost and need a central meeting space. If you are spending more than a couple of days in the World, you are going to want to find one of these comfort zones in each of the parks. While you are likely to have one that is your favorite and that may influence your Park Hopping, at least you will know somewhere that you can feel better when things get to be too much. It might not completely take these feelings away, but it can help you to calm down to the point that you can make a clear decision whether you want to continue on with your touring or go back to your resort to decompress.

If you are having trouble choosing your comfort zone, you are welcome to borrow mine….Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom, The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot, the Tower of Terror queue in Hollywood Studios, and the safari at Animal Kingdom.

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop Baby and Toto, Too.

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Related posts:

  1. Disney with Special Needs: Lose Yourself in the Magic
  2. Disney with Special Needs: Expect the Unexpected
  3. Disney With Special Needs: Have a Plan…and Don’t Stick to It
  4. Disney With Special Needs…Have a Plan and Do Stick to It
  5. Disney With Special Needs: Using Sensory Conditioning
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