Treatment of Special Needs Guests at Disney World Unparalleled
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
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.