We all know that having children and going on vacation has it’s ups and downs… we also know that when one of those children has special needs it only adds to the planning.
Our trip had been planned for months and it was planned as much as possible with four kids and one being on the spectrum and another with severe food allergies, but I knew there could be hiccups along the way, as there always are. As we prepared to leave I learned that Disney would be changing the GAC ( Guest Assistance Card) program after our visit, but there would be the possibility of dry runs on our trip and that could hamper our days as well.
Upon arrival, which was about bedtime, we figured the kids would be tired from school and travel and it would make it easier for us to get an early start the next morning. Boy were we wrong!!! Three out of four kids were happy to cooperate… One not so much. Our little ASD boy was on complete overload and even with his evening regimen, could not settle down! So now after a long day, tough flight, and total exhaustion our little guy is like a ping pong ball and keeping all of the kids up. We were helpless. The one thing that has aways been the trigger to settle our little man down was NOT working!! All I could think was that this trip was going to be a disaster!! So here I was at midnight, totally exhausted, and could do one thing…. sit on his bed and try rubbing his legs until he fell asleep… Thankfully after 20 minutes, he was asleep!! Time for me to regroup and hope for the best in the morning.
We started the day early and wandered to the Hospitality House at Old Key West where we were staying to catch the bus to Animal Kingdom. We would arrive before 9am and hope to get on the three rides the kids wanted and then move on to Hollywood Studios… The bus arrived quickly and we were off to a good start!
Disney tends to let us know what rides will be under refurbishment so that we can plan, but I tend to forget that the rides may have a mishap and not run on any particular day for any amount of time… NOT wise. And that was EXACTLY how our first day began.
So there we were well in to Animal Kingdom and headed to Expedition Everest and just like that… the ride is down! We convince the kids to go on Kali Rapids, but our little guy is not quite understanding as to why he can’t ride Everest. We keep going and of course everyone thinks it is the funniest thing when Mom gets SOAKED, and they were just sprinkled! We decide to make a quick bathroom stop to change and head off to Kilaminjaro! A great time was had by ALL even as the rain poured down on us. We figured since we heard Everest we would give it one more shot… huge mistake! How does one explain that although the ride is up and running, it is not open to a child who does not comprehend or have logic to understand?! You don’t!!
We had to think fast and we let the kids figure out what to do next, but it came from our ASD child. Magic Kingdom it was! We were successful in getting to the park and on our first few rides without incident and were hopeful the day would continue well. And who knew, it did. We had lunch and even hit a third park, Epcot and of course rode the new Test Track…. repeatedly!
Day one was officially a success!! Day two was to be a pool day and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! Pool time went well with the usual kid stuff that falls under unexpected and then off to Magic Kingdom for the party! I have to be honest… I was a bit worried. Our ASD guy was fixated on the Disney resident Lizards and our peanut allergic child was worried he would not get any treats! I was even more afraid of another hospital visit thanks to inconsiderate people on the busses eating candy!
We made it through! And we didn’t just make it… we had a blast. We danced the night away with Mike and Sully, my husband was “That Guy” during the laugh floor, we caught the Boo to You Parade and Hallowishes! The worst that happened was my little guy wasn’t feeling Space Mountain that night! So, we hit the busses and the kids fell asleep on the ride back to the resort! I was definitely surprised that things went as they did!
With two full days left and lots to do, I was worried how to fit it all in! I also didn’t want to overload our little guy. I was soon going to learn what overloading would be for him. Our son has always loved fireworks and parades and suddenly this trip he couldn’t tolerate it. He did however enjoy Tower of Terror, being the spy during Star Tours, and Toy Story mania during our time at Hollywood Studios.
We managed to hit all four parks in one day and the success of it was incredible! Our ASD boy made a new friend in Larry the Lizard who thought it would be fun to jump in his shirt while we waited for our turn on Haunted Mansion! ALL of the kids had a blast and the only hiccup was when our five year old requested Goofy”s Barnstormer and we forgot! As we walked to the monorail to ride to park number three, our little man became hysterical! Quick fix dad to the rescue!! Dad and little man went back in to the park and B-lined to Goofy…. the rest of us hung out and road the monorail and this Disney Mom got to see her little man smile on his very first time on “Classic Dumbo” thanks to face time. Goofy was stuck with people on it waiting for help and my husband explained it to our son, who was sad, but A-OK when he was offered a ride on Dumbo. It was a magically unexpected experience for us! We moved on with a monorail ride to Epcot where we all enjoyed the Food and Wine Festival, Soarin’ and Test Track!! This mom was exhausted, but the kids and Dad had a surprisingly different idea as to what was next!! A boat ride to Hollywood Studios gave us a ride on Toy Story Mania and Star Tours and a really cool meet with a cast member!
We met Benjamin, a supervisor at Star Tours and he chatted with us about the actual speed of various rides and how gravity affected the speed. The kids were hooked, at 10:45pm! Benjamin even gave Mom and Dad some fun tips of things to do without the kiddos! Our last full day was exactly that… FULL!
Our last morning we promised the kids a princess breakfast and a couple last rides in Epcot and that is exactly what we did… All went great!
Here’s what I can tell you… Life is unexpected and even more with kids. Disney is crazy, fun and magical all in one. You never know what will happen day to day at home, so why should it be any different on vacation. When you have children with special needs, life has to be taken in stride and you have to be prepared for the unexpected and then some.
Have a magical Day!