Maureen Deal, the founder of Autism At The Parks shares with us a summary of accommodations at Orlando’s theme parks for guests with autism. Maureen and her husband visit all Orlando theme parks often with their son, and they know first hand how crucial it is to be prepared when visiting with a guest with autism.
Visiting Orlando’s theme parks can be overwhelming for guests who have a family member with autism. Knowing what accommodations are available is a key component in preparing those families.
Walt Disney World (WDW), Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando provide accommodations for guests with autism and other cognitive disabilities. One accommodation available is a “stroller as a wheelchair” tag or pass that allows your autistic child to stay in their stroller during the queues. Another accommodation for guests who are unable to tolerate extended waiting at attractions due to their disability, is WDW’s Disability Access Service Pass (DAS) loaded onto your Magic Band or park ticket, Universal Orlando Resort’s paper Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP) and SeaWorld Orlando’s paper Ride Accessibility Pass (RAP). These disability passes can be obtained at guest relations and accommodates the person with a disability and up to 5 other members of their group. The disability pass allows the guest to schedule a return time based on the posted wait time for an attraction. For smaller rides at SeaWorld, guests present their RAP at the ride exit and typically ride after one or two ride cycles. Guests may only have one active return time on their disability pass.
WDW has a “Resource for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” guide on their website. This guide features information including a description of the DAS, quiet places in the parks to take a break, and details about sensory/physical experiences for all attractions.
Universal Orlando Resort’s Guide for Rider Safety and Accessibility is available online and at guest relations. The guide outlines guests’ physical requirements, if guests can remain in their wheelchair, description of the AAP and height requirements for each attraction. However, the guide does not provide sensory information about the rides or attractions.
Recently all three of SeaWorld’s parks became designated as a Certified Autism Center with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). Employees at SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove receive “specialized training including sensory awareness, motor skills, autism overview, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness”. The IBCCES Sensory Guides found on SeaWorld’s, Aquatica’s and Discovery Cove’s websites and in each park ranks the sensory experience for all rides and attractions. Each SeaWorld park provides quiet rooms. If available, noise canceling headphones are available at SeaWorld for guests who may need them.
SeaWorld’s Aquatica has elevated the standard regarding accommodations for guests with autism at Orlando’s water parks. After visiting guest services, guests whose disability inhibits them from waiting in long lines can obtain a special access wristband. This wristband allows expedited access onto the attractions using the Quick Queue entrance. The wristbands are for the person with a disability and up to 3 other members of their group. Disney and Universal do not offer accommodations in relation to waiting in the queue at their water parks.
Knowing what accommodations are available at Orlando’s theme parks help ease the anxiety of planning a vacation with a family member with autism and create a memorable vacation for the entire family.
You may also like reading Maureen’s other post:
- Tips for Families With Autistic Children
- Enjoying Shows at Walt Disney World with an Autistic Child
- Tips for Guests Visiting With a Family Member on the Autism Spectrum
For more tips on visiting Walt Disney World with kids check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here.