Last month, we reported
about an incident that occurred at Disney’s Hollywood Studios involving some
bullies and a child with autism. The incident itself was unfortunate, but
Disney’s poor handling of the situation afterwards created a lot of anger on
message forums and blogs (including our own), with some parents threatening that
they would not be returning to Disney in the future.
In fairness, I have decided to post a recap of our recent trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the most popular of Disney’s four major theme parks in Florida.
Our family, which includes my 9-year-old son with autism, packed our bags and headed to Orlando. Immediately upon arriving at the Magic Kingdom, we visited Guest Services and let them know about our son’s condition. They were extremely accommodating and provided us with a Guest Assistance Card. This is a must-have for families of children with autism who are visiting any of the Disney World parks. It allows your child and up to five other guests to access the "FastPass" areas, by-passing many of the long lines in the process. However, be prepared to show documentation from a doctor about your child’s condition. Additionally, the card does not guarantee your party will skip every line in the park — it only provides the opportunity when available. On some of the more popular attractions, there is still a wait, but nothing near what you would experience from normal lines.
However, the good news did not last for long. Ten minutes after entering the park, our son complained that he felt sick and became very nauseous. We had planned this trip for several months, only to have him get sick almost immediately after entering the park. As a parent of a child with autism, nothing is surprising anymore — after these many years, we have learned to just roll with the punches.
A wheelchair was summoned and I took our son over to the First Aid Station, which is an infirmary located within the park. The nurses there were amazing and incredibly friendly and caring. They took my son in with no wait time, laid him down on one of the many sickbeds and took very good care of him. I have had my share of emergency room visits over the years and the treatment we received today was very different than what we are used to.
After about thirty-minutes of resting, my son said he felt better and we were back enjoying the park after some Motrin was given to reduce a mild fever.
The day went as well as could be expected, but was eventually cut short after the medicine wore off and the fever returned.
The thing that really stood out for me was how accommodating Disney was not only after learning of our son’s autism, but also after he became sick. I found out first-hand that Disney’s treatment of special needs guests is unparalleled to what most are accustomed to in the "real world."
We’re hoping to make it to Epcot tomorrow, but with our son’s sickness, we may have to cut our vacation short and return another time. Regardless of when that is, it’s comforting to know that my son and the rest of the family will be in good hands should any health or autism-related issues arise during our visit.