Editor: I’m delighted to welcome Paige to our family at The Affordable Mouse! Paige will be writing each month about Disney with special needs. Please give her a warm and magical welcome! 🙂
Anyone who has a family member or loved one with special needs knows it can be nerve wracking traveling to a new place. Especially a place on such a large scale, such as Walt Disney World. I’m here to assure you Disney does offer special accommodations that can guarantee everyone will have a fun and memorable time. So let’s get down to business…to defeat the Huns! Sorry, I couldn’t resist putting in a Mulan reference. 🙂
My brother was diagnosed with a high functioning form of autism, so being in a crowded place or hearing loud noises can be overwhelming to him. My mom was very nervous about how he would react to the attractions. On a recent trip to Magic Kingdom, we learned about the Guest Assistance Card. You can ask for the card (which is a slip of paper) at any guest service desk at the parks or City Hall if you are visiting Magic Kingdom. This card is offered to guest that may need extra assistance going onto the attractions. It usually states the type of assistance you will be requiring, how many people are in your party, the name of the person needing the assistance and the dates of your stay. This card does not skip anyone to the front of the line, it simply helps the cast members working know that you need extra assistance so they will know how to help.
Tomorrowland’s Indy Speedway was my brother’s favorite attraction by far in Magic Kingdom. He was very nervous at first, but I reassured him he would have fun. I went up to the first cast member I saw at Tomorrowland’s Indy Speedway and handed them the Guest Assistance Card. This cast member was very courteous to us. He instantly smiled and greeted my brother by his name. The cast member then guided us to a separate gate from everyone else. When we were being loaded there was no pressure to hurry, which was great because my brother struggled a little getting in the race car.
The first time we rode my brother wore his “ear cans” as he likes to call them. They muffle out noises so they aren’t as loud. I would highly recommend them if you are taking a loved one that is bothered by noises. After the first time around, my brother instantly wanted to ride again. He felt more comfortable so he took off the “ear cans”. By the third time around (we had to ride again), the cast member asked my brother if he wanted to drive. He was so tickled that he would be able to the driver! Throughout the day we also did Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and the Haunted Mansion. The process was the same on every attraction just handing the first available cast member the card.
The Guest Assistance Card is really helpful in the way you don’t have to explain what kind of assistance you need on every attraction you go on. It’s already listed on the card and the cast members act accordingly to what your needs are. On some attractions we were able to stand in a spot that was more quiet and calm because the card said he had autism so they knew he would feel more at ease away from a big crowd.
If you are taking someone with autism it’s also important to consider what they will be comfortable riding. My brother liked the rides where he was in control like driving the race car on the Speedway and shooting on Buzz. We knew he would be too scared to go on rides like Space Mountain and Splash Mountain because they are more intense. So it’s important to keep that in consideration when choosing what to ride.
Disney really does their best to make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable.
If you have any more questions about the Guest Assistance Card I would be happy to answer them! 🙂
Paige was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Her frequent family trips to Walt Disney World started her Disney obsession and sparked her dream to be a cast member. Paige’s dream came true when she participated in the Disney College Program in 2012. She worked at Casey’s Corner, The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and the Main Street Bakery. Paige shares, “I love to live by Walt’s words, ‘All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.'”