Disney With Special Needs: Have a Plan…and Don’t Stick to It

13010745_978281105594025_5826212891892031478_nI firmly believe that the words “Disney World” and “planning” are used in more sentences together than nearly any other words in the English language. That’s for good reason. A trip to the World is not a fly by the seat of your pants situation.

It might be for some of those lucky, lucky fans who happen to live close enough to just drive up there when they want to. For those of us who live in different states and are only able to make a pilgrimage every few months, every year, or even less often, though, some serious planning needs to be involved for the trip to be a success. Planning helps you to structure your trip, lets you know what to expect, and ensures that you maximize your time. Sometimes, however, that plan is just not going to work out. Knowing this before you head it – and being willing to accept it – is an essential part of keeping your trip as enjoyable as possible. That’s why my next insider tip to you is:

Have a plan… and don’t stick to it.

Planning is critical to having a successful trip at Disney World for any family, but when you are dealing with the celebration of special needs that is my family, it is absolutely vital – but also sometimes futile. With an adult with Asperger’s, an adult with Asperger’s who is also vegan and has a heart condition requiring constant hydration and food, a senior, an only child, and a super-tolerant husband on board, we have to have our days pretty well scoped out to keep everyone having fun. Sometimes, though, this doesn’t work out.
I might decide I can’t ride the ferry again. My brother might need to ride it’s a small world five or six times. My daughter might have to see the fireworks at Magic Kingdom rather than Illuminations. My mother might get tired. My husband might very well reach his limit and need to go have a Beer Around the World evening.

Having the plan makes us feel secure, calm, and in control, but having the option of changing it according to how we are all feeling and what we want in that particular moment is what ensures we actually have fun. This is why my first recommendation to any family visiting the World is to get Park Hoppers. They are slightly more expensive, but the freedom and ability to go with the flow depending on crowd levels and your particular needs at any given moment is priceless.

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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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