Maureen Deal, founder of AutismAtTheParks.com, shares with us her recommendations for enjoying shows at Walt Disney World when visiting with an autistic child.
Before seeing a show at Walt Disney World with your autistic child, be aware that a number of factors can affect his or her enjoyment, ranging from waiting in the queue to the sensory impact of a show. Here are some tips:
- Utilize Fastpass+ for the shows to minimize waiting in the queue and/or waiting for the show to begin.
- Consider getting a stroller as a wheelchair tag (available from guest relations for children with disabilities). This tag allows your autistic child to stay in their stroller during the queue to handle being in crowds or if your child is a flight risk. Your child may also find comfort staying in the stroller during the show.
- The time of day can also impact their enjoyment. Your child may have a higher tolerance level for a sensory-stimulating show in the morning versus late afternoon. Also consider whether the show takes place during nap time, mealtime, or after bedtime.
- Verify if the show takes place inside a building with loud acoustics and abundant visual stimuli like The Festival of the Lion King, or if it is outside, like Beauty and the Beast. If you aren’t familiar with a show, review videos on YouTube to decide how your child might react.
- Your family member may need noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to assist with processing the volume of the show’s music or unexpected loud sounds like cannons and fireworks.
- Even with all these tips, the sensory input for a show might be too much for your autistic child. Before being seated, explain to a CM that you may have to leave quickly and request an aisle seat or seat in the back of the venue for a needed escape.
I hope these tips will help your child with autism enjoy the wonderful shows that Walt Disney World has to offer.