Disney with Special Needs: Keeping the Spirit Alive

I am always ready for a Disney World vacation. Always. Like, I could climb in the car right now and head to Florida and be the happiest person ever. Well, when I could get over the initial panic that I always feel when I’m traveling more than 30 minutes away from my home. Then. Then I would be the happiest person ever. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. I can’t just wake up and decide that today would be a good day to visit the Mouse, and that means that there are stretches of time when I have to just settle for keeping the spirit alive in my heart.

We’ve already talked about how difficult it can be for me to keep my mind firmly in the same reality as everyone else. That can be a blessing, as I tend to cope fairly well and get accustomed to even difficult situations because they feel like they have “always” been that way. But it can also be not so delightful in that it can leave me feeling like if something isn’t happening right now, it will never happen again. I’m going through that right now with my Disney trip. My heart still says that we should be leaving in a little more than a month, which means my mind is saying that I will never get back. Doing little things to keep the spirit alive is a critical part of boosting my mood and keeping me from being absolutely devastated. Fortunately it is also a way to keep my family super excited and getting ready for when we do finally pack up and head home.

Some of the ways that I keep the spirit alive in between Disney trips include:

Home decor. What’s better at home than having a little bit of your home away from home? Home. I’ll try to find a few more ways to work that word in. You might recall that we moved just a couple of months ago and while we’re still definitely feeling the growing pains and trying to settle in, there were a few things that were non-negotiable and needed to go up immediately. Namely, Disney stuff. I was delighted by a shelf in my new kitchen that I knew would be perfect for some of our treasured collectibles. Even though the dining room directly connected to the kitchen is still overflowing with boxes, that shelf is holding three of our favorite popcorn buckets, including a Mine Train mine cart bucket that was one of my favorite parts of last trip. We also put out our Magic Kingdom throw in the living room and the baby’s Tomorrowland Speedway driver’s license and Haunted Mansion caretaker certificate in her room

Birthday celebration. This week marked a momentous occasion for our family: the little one’s birthday. She turned 8, which completely astonishes me, and decided to celebrate in true Disney fashion with a Moana-themed party. While I filled the party with details including a Jello ocean filled with gummy fish, heart of TeFiti confetti, and even an island backdrop for her photo booth, Avalon’s favorite was a giant shell that looks exactly like the one that the sea gave to Moana. She carried it around her party and fell asleep in the car cradling it on the way home

Gift cards. Nothing says fun vacation planning like paying for it, right? Well, sort of. The money you spend on your trip is probably not your favorite part of getting ready for a Disney vacation, but it can be made a bit more bearable when you look at it as getting a step closer each time you pay a little more. My favorite way to do this is buying gift cards. I usually get them at a local store where I can get a little discount on them. The only issue with this is that they only sell them in $25 increments. This is nice in that I can snag one or two when I’m just out and about without making a big investment, but it can get a little overwhelming when buying large quantities. Last year we cleared out three different stores of all that they had in stock to make a payment. That meant more than an hour of scratching the backs of the cards to get the code, inputting them into the gift card site, and transferring the balance onto one card so we could use it. It was fun in its way, but I appreciate sprinkling these purchases across multiple months when possible

Holiday gifts. The holidays are coming and that means thinking about gifts. Of course, this year I’m thinking about what I can give my family that will be delightful for them right then, but will also be great for our trip. Picking out these items and wrapping them up is a way for me to keep my mind on the fun of our trip to come, and gives me the added bonus of not having to wait until their Welcome Gifts to give them the little treats I find. Some gifts I know I’ll be giving will be specially designed shirts, fun socks, themed bath and body products, custom candles, and a few little toys (not just for the little) to keep our eyes on the Mouse and our hearts feeling happy.

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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 It’s Better in Vinyl.

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