Experiencing Disneyland with an Autistic Child: A Family's Journey

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 30, 2024 19:00 PMNews
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Blue ferris wheel in Disneyland
Blue ferris wheel in Disneyland. Source: Tyler Nix, Unsplash

Visiting Disneyland Paris can be a magical experience for children, but for those with autism, the sensory overload can be challenging. Georgina Fuller, a correspondent for the Independent, shares her family's experience navigating the theme park with her autistic son, Eddie.

 

In June, Georgina's family decided to visit Disneyland Paris for Eddie's birthday. Eddie, diagnosed with autism in 2019, had previously struggled with anxiety, especially in environments with loud noises and flashing lights. To prepare, the family showed Eddie videos of rides and provided him with a visual map of the park to help manage his expectations and anxiety.

 

Upon arrival, they were greeted by Disneyland's accessibility team, who guided them through the disability entrance, making the transition into the park smoother. Despite the dazzling and potentially overwhelming entrance, Eddie felt welcomed and excited. The accessibility team provided a guide detailing ride wait times and sensory levels in various restaurants, which proved helpful.

 

However, the next day, the family encountered a hurdle: they were unable to use the disability entrance without a specific card proving Eddie's condition. This card is essential for accessing disability privileges at many tourist attractions, including Disneyland, and can significantly enhance the experience by reducing wait times for rides.

 

Despite this setback, the family continued their adventure, starting with the Spider-Man W.E.B Adventure, which Eddie loved. They also enjoyed the 3D Ratatouille ride, but the Star Wars rollercoaster was a bit too intense for Eddie. After a few rides, Eddie needed a break. Although there weren't designated rest areas, they found a quiet bench to relax.

 

The family appreciated the numerous restrooms, though Eddie, with his literal mindset, was puzzled by the old-fashioned signage. Overall, the park provided a wonderful experience, but the importance of the disability card for smoother navigation was clear.

 

For accommodations, the family chose Hôtel l’Elysée in Val D’Europe, a quiet retreat a short shuttle ride from Disneyland. This hotel, with its family-friendly rooms and nearby amenities, offered a peaceful haven for Eddie to unwind after the excitement of the park. The hotel's proximity to Disneyland and its tranquil environment made it an ideal choice for families with neurodiverse children.

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