“A joyful heart makes good medicine.” – Proverbs 17:22
Have I ever told you how much I LOVE Disney World? There aren’t a whole lot of things that are easier with a special needs child in tow, but a family vacation to Orlando just might be one of them. In case you haven’t heard, there is this wonderful little thing called the Guest Assistance Card, or as we call it in our household, the Magic Pass.
With this card, we get to sit in the front row at every show, and get instant admission to every ride. No lines! What could be more magical than that?
It’s as easy as pie to get your hands on this coveted card. When you get inside your theme park (I have personally tried this at Sea World and Walt Disney World), look for the building labeled “Guest Services.” Tell them that you are traveling with someone with special needs (usually they want to see the person), and voila! Up to six people can use one card. It takes just minutes!
Nick and I became virtual experts in Disney vacationing this past year (we went five times in twelve months). With our handy-dandy Magic Pass, we can easily cover two parks in a single day. We also discovered this great place called Character Spot at Epcot that accepts the Guest Assistance Card. Within a few minutes, my kids met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy. This is the only place within the Disney World theme parks that accepts the card for character pictures, so it’s helpful to know it’s there.
So here it is! Our recipe for a wonderful Disney vacation (with a side of autism or the special need of your choice):
1. Get your Magic Pass! Duh!
2. Make reservations for character dining. If your kids are like mine, it’s hard to get them to sit still so that you can enjoy a meal. This way, the kids stay entertained watching the characters, and you get a bunch of character pictures without waiting in all those pesky lines. Our favorite restaurants for this (and yes, we’ve tried them all) at each park are as follows: The Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom (Winnie the Pooh & Friends), The Garden Grill at Epcot (Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale), Tusker House at Animal Kingdom (Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Mickey), and Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios (The Little Einsteins & varying Disney Junior friends).
3. Set aside at least one day for the Magic Kingdom. All of Luke’s favorite rides are there. It’s a Small World, the carousel, and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party provide a virtual sensory extravaganza that little else can match!
4. Finally, just go with it. Don’t feel the need to keep to a schedule. If the kids are cranky and tired, go back to the hotel and take a break. Remember, this is supposed to be FUN!
Have a magical day!