Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Our Trip to Disney World

We did it.  We actually did it.  We decided to take the kids to the largest playground in the world....Disney World that is.  Plan.  Boy did I plan, research and plan some more.  Went to all the blogs, read articles and took notes.  This was a big trip after all.  There would be driving, plane rides, a hotel, massive parks and tons of walking but we decided it was time.

Let me start by giving Krystina Steinhauser - Mickey Vacations a HUGE shout out!!  When hubby and I decided it was time to go I immediately contacted Krystina. I could've went to any travel agent but she had the 'ins' that I needed; she has a son on the spectrum.  We met in October to talk about the upcoming trip....yep, that would be 7 months before we were to leave.  I'm a planner.  She brought up things that were very helpful and I took notes, lots of notes.  During that 7 month process, any question I had, she answered it fully with additional things I should consider.  So I HIGHLY recommend working with Krystina if you are planning on traveling to Disney but especially if you have a special needs child.  Her FB page has lots of tips on it also.  Even if you aren't ready to plan a trip yet, like and read her page.

Hubby and I wanted to surprise the kids and that we did.  They had no idea.  Actually, we didn't tell people we were going.  We didn't want any slip-ups.  Daughter is very observant and would pick up on anything out of the ordinary.  Friday, before we left, I packed all of us up and hid the suitcases.  Kids thought I just needed to do laundry when they noticed clothes were missing.  Ha ha. 

Saturday at 4:30 in the morning, we woke them up and told them.  It didn't really sink in until I told them they didn't have to go to school that entire next week.  Then they were excited!!  I told them they could take one item from home and put it in their backpack.  Son packed his 3DS and charger and Daughter packed her stuffed animal, Tabitha. 

I was nervous about the plane ride.  Neither of them flew before.  Both handled the busy airport, security and waiting like champs.  No problems at all.  He loved the plane ride.  No problem with his ears.  He kept saying, "We not going down.  We not falling."  Bonus for him, he got to drink soda on the ride.  He enjoys his Coke but rarely gets it. 

After the plane ride, which was awesome, we hopped on Magical Express that takes us to the resort.  When we arrived the kids were so excited to check everything out and as soon as we were in the room, they picked out their beds and unpacked.  So far, so good.

Let me say the weather was absolutely perfect.  Low 80s, low humidity with a bright blue sky with puffs of white clouds.  It only rained once while we were sleeping.  Couldn't have picked a better week.


Whooping it up at the
Hoop Dee Doo Review
Son needs to have a full belly in order to keep his blood sugar up.  This I know.  We had the Disney Dining Plan which is fantastic because you get so much food!  My Disney Experience app allows you to plan your vacation and do research.  Boy did I research restaurants.  He eats anything but she is a problem feeder.  With such a limited diet I read almost every menu available and guess what?  She was able to go to any restaurant.  The parks were incredible.  We even went to the Hoop Dee Doo Review and the chef prepared chicken nuggets and fries just for her.  All you have to do is ask.  We had each dinner scheduled around the same time everyday so that part of his schedule was the same.  We ate in truly unique restaurants.  He had problems with two of them.  I thought he would enjoy them but there was so much going on all the time that he couldn't wait to get out.

Parks.  Let's talk parks.  They were magical and huge.  Lots of people.  Seas of strollers.  Crying babies.  All to be expected.  My son doesn't like crying babies.  He gets worried.  He needs to see the baby crying to make sure he/she is OK.  After a while, it did get to him.  There were lines but they were short and by short I mean we could be on a ride in 15 minutes or under.  He had no problems waiting for 15 minutes as long as it was in shade and most of the lines are under something. Misting stations were awesome for him also.  He would stand under them to cool off.  They also sold hand fans that sprayed water on you.  We did not buy any, he would go spray himself then continue on.

Fast Pass.  Best invention ever!  I didn't understand the use of Fast Pass and wasn't going to use it but Krystina asked me if I had booked my rides yet.  I told her I didn't want to research each ride to see if that would be something we would want to go on.  She asked if it was OK if she booked them for me and I said YES!  One less thing for me.  I gave her my email and password and she did it.  Above and beyond what travel agents do.  She did have the inside scoop after all.  She understood autism and sensory.  She saved us.  I had no idea how beneficial Fast Pass was and will utilize this program again.  Loved it! 

He tried all types of
sodas from all over the World.

Heat.  It wasn't that hot for us but it was for him.  We managed to find shade everywhere. So much so, our kids didn't even burn or tan or look like they actually went to Florida for vacation.  LOL.  EPCOT was his favorite park because most of the rides are inside where there is air conditioning plus, remember I told you about his love for soda?  They have Club Cool where you can try different sodas from all around the world.  This was so exciting for him.  He tried every one a few times.  Ah, so good!

When he was having a hard time he would tell me he needed a break and when he absolutely had enough we would get him to stay a bit longer because he knew we would leave the park after dinner.  That was acceptable to him. 

After he experienced each park one time, he had enough.  So much so that on Thursday, we were going to go back to Magic Kingdom because there was so much we missed the first time, he absolutely refused to leave the hotel room.  We tried everything but then real tears rolled down his face and we knew he needed a break.  Hubby stayed with him so he could regulate himself.  He didn't leave the room all day.  Not to go swimming.  Not to get anything to eat.  He had enough.  Daughter and I came back around 5pm and he was ready to go to EPCOT to get a bite to eat.  This was the night when were going to go to each country to try out a new food.  Of course he was excited to go and he did a great job eating his way through all those countries.  He even wanted to stay for the laser and fireworks show that night.

So, what I have learned. 
  • No matter how much planning you do, you may still have other things come up that you have no control over. 
  • Be flexible and have a back up plan.
  • I highly recommend dealing with a Travel Agent who understand autism.
  • If we ever go again, go to the parks early in the morning, break in the afternoon and go back early evening. 
  • I may consider going in March/April for cooler temperatures.

Over all I think he did have a good time but as we were in the airplane coming back home I asked each child a question and took a picture of their response.  I asked, "How do you feel about your vacation being over?"  Daughter gave me a sad face.  Son gave me a huge smile.  He was happy about going back home.  In fact, we came home after midnight on Friday and he stayed in his room all day Saturday and Sunday, only to come out to eat but if you ask him about his vacation he will tell you, "The Best Vacation Ever!"

Telling me
He Hearts Disney the first
day we were there.

If you have any specific questions about our trip to Walt Disney World, please leave them in the comment section so we can keep them all in one place.