Making Disney With Your Child With Special Needs Even More Special

When you wish upon a star, sometimes your wish really does come true and you end up sitting beside a princess in the Orlando airport.

When we arrived in Florida and boarded the Magical Express to our hotel, it started–the happy tears. Each seat on the bus had its own T.V. playing images of Disney. I challenge even the coldest heart not to melt during a “Let the memories begin” video. Seriously.


So while her sappy mum indulged in a misty moment, a little girl looked out the window pointing and laughing, bouncing up and down unable to contain her excitement. “I so happy!” she shouted.

The lady in front of me turned and smiled warmly saying, “How sweet. She’s so excited.

Then my daughter added, “I on a bus!!!

Sigh. Perhaps we could have just stayed home and ridden around town on the city bus a few times?

But then we would have missed the magical moments that followed over the next few days. Avery soon realized that though the bus ride was fun, riding the Tower of Terror, going on safari, and meeting Mickey Mouse IRL were more fun than any bus. Even a double decker.

My husband and I had concerns about travelling with our daughter. What if she had a seizure at the park? And how would she handle the line-ups?

We were soon put at ease. We learned you can call from anywhere within the resort and medical assistance will be there in minutes. There was even an ambulance station three minutes from our hotel.

When Avery fell while we were at Epcot (the kid has two left feet, like her mother) we were taken care of immediately. She was fine…just a swollen upper lip (very Donald Duck-esque if you ask me) but it was comforting to know we had support for whatever we needed.

fat lip
“Duck lips”

We also obtained a Guest Assistance Card. For many children with special needs, line ups and crowds can pose a challenge. The card is meant for visitors with disabilities that may not be immediately apparent (like autism, cognitive delays, or other physical or developmental issues that result in difficulties with crowds or standing in line).


On our first day at a park we arrived early and visited Guest Relations just inside the park gates. After explaining Avery’s specific needs, they issued us a card that lasted the duration of our visit. For any rides that Avery could go on, we entered via the Fastpass entrance or the exhibit exit, showed the pass and our entire family was allowed on the ride without having to line up with the crowds. This is not to say we didn’t have to wait. Sometimes we did, but in a more comfortable area. The pass made a world of difference for us.

Sadly there are those who seek to abuse any system, the Guest Assist Card not withstanding. Therefore, Guest Relations Reps may ask for written confirmation from your doctor. Before your trip, have your doctor write a note explaining your child’s needs so you are able to receive your card without difficulty. Also, be sure to bring the family member who requires the pass with you to Guest Relations.

Kudos to Disney for ensuring that every family feels special and is able to enjoy this magical experience to the fullest. 

Disclosure: The folks at Disney generously provided us with a one day Park Hopper Pass so we could experience two parks in one day. Opinions are my own…and my opinion is Disney is indeed magical. 

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