Florida: discover Disney with a child with autism or special needs

2023-10-29 04:00:00

Your child is not quite like the others… But like any good parent, you want what is best for him. Disney seems unattainable to you, even if it remains a dream destination for your offspring. Well here is some good news for you! The most famous amusement park in the world will meet all your expectations.

Annie Filion, her partner, Marco Miller, and their two children, Alexandre and William. Photo provided by Annie Filion

Annie Filion has autistic twins and, believe it or not, she has been to Mickey’s Land about thirty times with them. Disney does everything to make her life and that of her children easier, and her experience was so positive that she became a consultant specializing in Disney travel. Here, according to her, is what makes Mickey Mouse Country a particularly inclusive and welcoming place.

Trained and attentive staff

Of course, Disney parks are not suitable for all children, but people with differences or disabilities are always welcomed with open arms and the staff is very sensitive to their reality, considers Annie Filion.

“All their employees – called Cast Members – receive training. They learn to recognize these children, to be attentive to their needs and above all to offer them help if necessary,” tells us the travel advisor who is responsible, among other things, for helping the parents of these children to plan their trip to Disney.

She also adds that as the company has a reputation for welcoming this clientele, there are many people with special needs who frequent its amusement parks. Employees are therefore used to interacting with them.

Moreover, with her autistic twins, Annie Filion sometimes found herself in difficult situations, like this time when her son William decided to climb into a setting, and ultimately found himself on the ground, crying. The staff immediately knew how to respond to him, and that really made all the difference for the parents. In short, open-mindedness and inclusion are very important values ​​within the company, believes the mother and travel advisor.


When asked what is the biggest apprehension of parents of different children who are thinking of visiting Disney, she answers that it is the so-called “regular” queues which are often very long. To make life easier for these families, Disney offers what is called the Disability Access Service.

The Journey of Water attraction at Epcot. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

In summary, this service allows you to get appointments at attractions, using the My Disney Experience mobile application. When it is time to ride the attraction, the child and their parents or chaperones can then take the fast lane, the Lightning Lane. Visitors normally have to pay more to access this line. But in this case, they will not have to pay additional costs.

The Toy Story Land attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

To gain access, prior registration is required. Registration can be done in advance by videoconference on the Disney website or at one of the visitor services counters at the entrance to each of the parks. The child will then be able to present their famous Disney Band magic bracelet. It is also possible to prove your registration via a cell phone, a magnetic card or a configured Apple watch.

Accessibility for people with reduced mobility

For those who don’t know, it is possible to rent wheelchairs or even scooters in Disney parks where there are specific queues to accommodate them.

For some rides, it is possible to get on without even leaving your wheelchair or scooter.

Spaces are also reserved for them during shows, parades or fireworks, etc.

It goes without saying that certified service dogs are accepted in Disney parks and hotels.

Rest and meal areas

All of these activities can be dizzying and exhausting at times, and this is even more true when you have to take care of a child with special needs. Disney therefore provides visitors with specially designed areas for some peace and quiet. The best way to spot them is to ask the Cast Members who are there. Family toilets are available to accompany your child. There are also first aid centers with a closed room where you can isolate yourself with your child if they are having a tantrum or are overstimulated.

In addition, if he has to follow a special diet you don’t have to worry, because unlike other amusement parks it is possible to bring your own food, which at the same time allows you to save.

If you prefer to eat at a Disney restaurant, know that the company takes food allergies very seriously and all menus are well detailed to help you make the best choice for your child.

A detailed guide to attractions

An attraction may not be suitable for your child. Disney therefore offers a detailed guide to all its attractions on its website. It allows you to know if some have special effects that may disturb your offspring, such as intense lights, periods of darkness, rapid movements, odors, etc. It also indicates the duration of each attraction. This way, you can choose the ones that best meet your needs.

Moreover, Annie Filion suggests that all parents bring noise-cancelling earmuffs or noise-cancelling headphones for children who are sensitive to sounds.

Good to know


Air travel can be a challenge for a child with autism or special needs, and it is best if they are well prepared before the trip. Montreal-Trudeau International Airport presents a video on its website, in the form of a scenario, which will allow your child to know how the airport works. In addition, once a year, the airport organizes, in collaboration with Air Transat, a simulation where children with special needs can familiarize themselves with all the stages from arrival at the airport to takeoff.


When booking your flight, be aware that it is possible to obtain a discount when an attendant is required. Conditions vary between airlines. They can offer suitable places; this could be, for example, a seat with more space, near the toilet or an exit. Priority boarding will also be preferred.

Remember: you should never hesitate to ask for a wheelchair at the airport or to use the queues reserved for people with disabilities.

► Annie Filion, travel advisor specializing in Disney destinations: www.facebook.com/Annie.VoyageEnchante.

► To find out more, follow our collaborator Marie Poupart on Facebook.

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