Last week my family and I took a trip to the happiest place on earth to Walt Disney World and a four night Disney Cruise. I had planned for months. I took great care in my planning for all the obvious reasons you would for a trip to Disney World. But, mostly because I try to make it as easy and stress free for my husband, our 16-year-old son and myself. Besides being an awesome, funny, theater and Disney loving kid, my son is autistic. He is high functioning, and has come a long way since he was diagnosed at 2 1/2 years old. He does still get upset about waiting in lines, delays, changes to his routine, and new places/things. I was worried when I had seen the changes that Disney made to the guest assistance pass that was being offered to people with special needs. But, I knew with Disney that somehow it would work out.
Sure enough, we got to Magic Kingdom on our 1st day and it took all of 2-3 minutes to talk to a cast member in City Hall, they took my son’s picture and they gave me his pass. The DAS pass works with the Fastpass+. We went straight to “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” to get a wait time. All we did was walk up to the cast member at the front of the fast pass line, hand them the pass, they wrote in the return time, and then stamped it. When you return the cast member crosses off the return time so that you may use it at the next ride. If the wait time was less than 10 minutes we were able to walk onto the ride. The system worked so well for us for our entire trip.
But, besides the help of the DAS system, there are helpful cast members everywhere. They make his experience at Disney even more magical. While we were in Magic Kingdom we were checking out the menu at “Harbour House” (which is at the border of Fantasyland and Liberty Square). My son did not seem too happy that we were looking at the menu and said out loud “I don’t know if I want to eat here.” Cast member Michael was outside ringing a bell (town crier style) and said to my son “Would you like to try a sample?” My son said he would. Michael handed him the bell and told him he needed to ring the bell while he went and got it for him. My son was thrilled to get to ring the bell, (a bit of Disney magic). Sure enough Michael returned with a sample of the shrimp and my son loved it. Half hour later we returned to eat there and Michael was thrilled to see us. In Epcot, we were trying to get onto Test Track because my son was insistent he had to ride it one more time before we left. We had used a fast pass earlier, but he loves Test Track and wanted to ride it, as he put it “one last time”. We also wanted to see Illuminations and it was already 8:15. I went up to cast member Marty at the entrance of the line and explained my situation. He said that at Test Track after 8:15 they do not make the DAS people wait, they allow them to walk on. I thanked him, grabbed my son and husband and went back to Test Track. Not only did we go right on but another cast member Lexie walked behind us to make sure we got on. I didn’t see her till we got to the entrance to the ride and I thanked her over and over.
I so appreciate all the effort that Disney and it’s cast members make to help children and adults with special needs have a great experience in the parks. Disney has always been one of the few places my son is comfortable and happy. It also makes me so happy to know I can bring him there and he (and all of us) will have a magical time. Thanks Disney!!!
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