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Old 06-25-2014, 10:10 AM   #1
Danadanes
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Adventures with a tween with autism

Returned a few weeks ago from 6 nights in the world with DS 11 (autism), DS4, DH and me. Stayed 3 nights at Coronado Springs, 3 nights on rented points at 1 BR Kidani. Thought I would share a few thoughts related to traveling with a spectrum adventurer!

1. The 1 bedroom at Kidani was MILES better than sharing a hotel room for our family. DS needs space to decompress, away from his brother and us! Also he sleeps with a LOUD white noise machine.

Tip for Coronado Springs: We rented a rollaway cot. It fit (barely!) into the bathroom area with the doors shut. He used that as his quiet space. We had to climb over to get to the toilet, but it was neccessary. Must fold up during the day!

2. Getting the DAS: We arrived on a Sunday around 1 pm, and headed to MK that evening around 5. The line at City Hall was (literally) out the door. Probably 25 people in front of us. There had been a lot of rain, so I assume some rides had closed and these were FP complaints or similar. Some very nice CMs chatted with us and with our son. One even took him to get some water while I waited in line. After spending some time with him, a CM with an IPad took our info and his pic and issued us the DAS within 10 minutes.

3. Using the DAS, General: Set up your fast passes in one hour increments. Get a return time for a longer wait ride before using your first FP. Use FP, Use Return time, Get new return time, Use 2nd FP, use 2nd return time, etc.

By Park:
DAS is best suited for MK because of the number of rides, short shows, etc. THe CMs know the DAS the best there as well, and were very accomodating and kind.

HS. I don't think we will even go there anymore. Toy Story and ToT was the only ride we really enjoyed. The shows are a bit long for my son to enjoy.

Epcot: only time I really ran into an issue with a CM re: DAS. Went to TT for a return time first thing in the mornign (about 15 mins past opening). Wait time was listed on board and app as either 15 or 20 minutes. The CM said, oh its longer than that, I'll give you a return time for 60 minutes...after some smiles she took it down to 45. But I did not like this discretion by the CM...and I doubt the line was an hour that close to opening. We went to Mission Space (0 wait), had a drink, and then did TT. Worked out just fine but..
Agent P is an autism tweens dream! Do this! Great way to explore the countries...normally DS11 loses interest quickly. This kept him engaged and he had a blast. Would have done this ALL day. Best ones for us: Japan, Germany.

Animal Kingdom: My favorite park. Worked great. Unfortunately a LOT of rides here close for storm warnings which I did not realize. Everest, Primevil Whirl, the other Dinoland ride. The Kili Safari ride in the rain is the BOMB. Son loved it, we did this 5 times, with a mix of regular wait, DAS, FP, and "free" anytime FP when we lost our Everest one.

Food: We usually stick to QS for picky antsy son, but one day we went to Sanaa this time for lunch. Son stayed interested because of the animals and they happily fulfilled his lunch wishes (butter pasta, a yogurt and an applesauce). He really liked the Naan as well.

Pools: Great pools at Coronado and at Kidani. Loved them both. We really should have built in more pool time - great decompress time for DS.

TL and BB: Do the waterparks! Go first thing - no DAS accomodations I could discern. The other option (which we did) was to buy a WP Fun ticket, and go for the last 2 - 2.5 hours it is open. Crowds have thinned considerably by then.

Have fun and happy to answer any questions!!
Danadanes
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:53 PM   #2
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Thank you for reporting your experience -- glad your family had a great trip!

You are correct, the DAS is not valid at either water park, only the 4 main theme parks.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:21 PM   #3
opusone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danadanes View Post
Agent P is an autism tweens dream! Do this! Great way to explore the countries...normally DS11 loses interest quickly. This kept him engaged and he had a blast. Would have done this ALL day. Best ones for us: Japan, Germany.
Thanks for the report!

What was it about Agent P that kept your son engaged? Do you think he would have enjoyed it just as much if he was a couple years younger? We are heading there at the end of August, and we were thinking about doing Agent P with our nine year old son (autism) and 11 year old daughter.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:32 PM   #4
Danadanes
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Agent P

Opus One, My son has always gotten a kick out of Perry the Playtpus and Dr. Doofenschmertz. He thinks the one liners are high comedy (There is an Ipad Agent P game - like where's my water, called where's my perry).

It was like a video game in real life, and my son LOVES video games. So it felt safe and familiar but still new to him.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:33 PM   #5
Danadanes
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Originally Posted by opusone View Post
Thanks for the report!

What was it about Agent P that kept your son engaged? Do you think he would have enjoyed it just as much if he was a couple years younger? We are heading there at the end of August, and we were thinking about doing Agent P with our nine year old son (autism) and 11 year old daughter.
And Yes, he would have loved it just as much at 9.
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Old 06-25-2014, 04:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Danadanes View Post
Opus One, My son has always gotten a kick out of Perry the Playtpus and Dr. Doofenschmertz. He thinks the one liners are high comedy (There is an Ipad Agent P game - like where's my water, called where's my perry).

It was like a video game in real life, and my son LOVES video games. So it felt safe and familiar but still new to him.
We have Where's My Perry as well, and he loves it!

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And Yes, he would have loved it just as much at 9.
Thank you. It is definitely on our schedule now!
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:08 PM   #7
AineDeBruggh
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Just wanted to thank you for posting such detailed info re: traveling to WDW with an autistic tween. My DH and I are planning to take the kids to WDW in Dec '15 and my step-son (18) sounds very similar to your DS. We are hoping to make it a pleasant experience for him so that he will have a healthy enjoyment of travel in general. My step kids are a bit older than yours at 18 and 13, but I think the rides will interest them more than the shows.

I'm especially glad to hear about the interest in the Agent P game at Epcot. I hadn't considered that as a way to help him keep interested in that side of the park. We will definitely be giving that a try!
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Old 06-26-2014, 09:07 AM   #8
Danadanes
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Originally Posted by AineDeBruggh View Post
Just wanted to thank you for posting such detailed info re: traveling to WDW with an autistic tween. My DH and I are planning to take the kids to WDW in Dec '15 and my step-son (18) sounds very similar to your DS. We are hoping to make it a pleasant experience for him so that he will have a healthy enjoyment of travel in general. My step kids are a bit older than yours at 18 and 13, but I think the rides will interest them more than the shows.

I'm especially glad to hear about the interest in the Agent P game at Epcot. I hadn't considered that as a way to help him keep interested in that side of the park. We will definitely be giving that a try!
With your crowd, I would definitely think about renting a house with a pool...Windsor Hills/Windsor Palms is very close to the parks and is quite reasonable. Let me know if I can help with anything else! Disney touches our special kids in ways you can't imagine. It will be a wonderful trip.
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:50 AM   #9
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I'm glad you had a great trip! Thanks for the tips, too. my son is 9 and we're heading in to tween territory with him. We were at Sea World yesterday and he started acting up because he was embarrassed to be in the Bay of Play because of Elmo. I'm not sure what to do about that, since we have a 6 year old and a toddler, so there are still many years of Bay of Play type stuff in our future. As you know, for kids with autism, feeling something like embarrassment then devolves quickly in to maladaptive behaviors.

I agree completely about having 2 rooms. We have had to have 2 rooms traveling since ds was really small. When he was little, he absolutely could not sleep in the same room with anyone. If we had one room, the rest of us would have to hide in the bathroom until he fell asleep. Looking back on it, it's kind of funny now. Now, he just needs space away from his sisters to decompress, so we usually have a girl room and a boy room. The cabins at Ft Wilderness are great for this. The next time we go to Disney, I think we will stay there again. It is very quiet and non-stimulating there, and the 2 rooms are great.

I'm also glad your DAS pass worked out for you. We don't usually get one, but it's nice to hear a positive review.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:28 PM   #10
AineDeBruggh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danadanes View Post
With your crowd, I would definitely think about renting a house with a pool...Windsor Hills/Windsor Palms is very close to the parks and is quite reasonable. Let me know if I can help with anything else! Disney touches our special kids in ways you can't imagine. It will be a wonderful trip.
Dana
Thanks for the tip Dana! Right now we are planning to rent DVC points. I'm hoping for a 1 bed suite. We'd prefer to stay on-site if possible (not my first time there and I've always had good experiences with on-site). Even with a normal room he'd probably be okay. He's really good at decompressing on his own with his tablet/ipod. I'll probably take him back to the room each afternoon for a rest and quiet time. We know he won't be able to keep up with his sister (13), and there's a possibility we may have a little one along who will need naps anyway. It will certainly be an interesting experience for us all!
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Old 06-28-2014, 07:11 AM   #11
Danadanes
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Originally Posted by AineDeBruggh View Post
Thanks for the tip Dana! Right now we are planning to rent DVC points. I'm hoping for a 1 bed suite. We'd prefer to stay on-site if possible (not my first time there and I've always had good experiences with on-site). Even with a normal room he'd probably be okay. He's really good at decompressing on his own with his tablet/ipod. I'll probably take him back to the room each afternoon for a rest and quiet time. We know he won't be able to keep up with his sister (13), and there's a possibility we may have a little one along who will need naps anyway. It will certainly be an interesting experience for us all!

An excellent idea! We loved kidani. It was so peaceful and the pool was wonderful. Next time we are going to try for BWV 1 bedroom or beach club. Primarily for easy Epcot access. Don't underestimate the overstimulation at disney!
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Old 06-28-2014, 11:32 AM   #12
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My DS AS is 15 now and we bought into DVC quite a while ago, the extra room to relax and decompress and being able manage his limited diet were the initially why.

Now we are completely spoiled and while we do stay in some studios at the front and back of vacations if we are splitting, the vast majority of times are in villas.

Kidani is our sons favorite and the safari it a multi time ride each vacation.

Indiana jones, Fantasmic and yes still muppets are my DS's favorites at HS.

When he get a little older try lunch with an amagineer.
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Old 06-28-2014, 05:43 PM   #13
Danadanes
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Originally Posted by bookwormde View Post
My DS AS is 15 now and we bought into DVC quite a while ago, the extra room to relax and decompress and being able manage his limited diet were the initially why. Now we are completely spoiled and while we do stay in some studios at the front and back of vacations if we are splitting, the vast majority of times are in villas. Kidani is our sons favorite and the safari it a multi time ride each vacation. Indiana jones, Fantasmic and yes still muppets are my DS's favorites at HS. When he get a little older try lunch with an amagineer.
I think DS would love FANTASMIC but our younger boy has a lot of fear and the seating looks intimidating. Maybe next time!
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:22 AM   #14
lalaric
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Thanks so much!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danadanes View Post
Returned a few weeks ago from 6 nights in the world with DS 11 (autism), DS4, DH and me. Stayed 3 nights at Coronado Springs, 3 nights on rented points at 1 BR Kidani. Thought I would share a few thoughts related to traveling with a spectrum adventurer!

1. The 1 bedroom at Kidani was MILES better than sharing a hotel room for our family. DS needs space to decompress, away from his brother and us! Also he sleeps with a LOUD white noise machine.

Tip for Coronado Springs: We rented a rollaway cot. It fit (barely!) into the bathroom area with the doors shut. He used that as his quiet space. We had to climb over to get to the toilet, but it was neccessary. Must fold up during the day!

2. Getting the DAS: We arrived on a Sunday around 1 pm, and headed to MK that evening around 5. The line at City Hall was (literally) out the door. Probably 25 people in front of us. There had been a lot of rain, so I assume some rides had closed and these were FP complaints or similar. Some very nice CMs chatted with us and with our son. One even took him to get some water while I waited in line. After spending some time with him, a CM with an IPad took our info and his pic and issued us the DAS within 10 minutes.

3. Using the DAS, General: Set up your fast passes in one hour increments. Get a return time for a longer wait ride before using your first FP. Use FP, Use Return time, Get new return time, Use 2nd FP, use 2nd return time, etc.

By Park:
DAS is best suited for MK because of the number of rides, short shows, etc. THe CMs know the DAS the best there as well, and were very accomodating and kind.

HS. I don't think we will even go there anymore. Toy Story and ToT was the only ride we really enjoyed. The shows are a bit long for my son to enjoy.

Epcot: only time I really ran into an issue with a CM re: DAS. Went to TT for a return time first thing in the mornign (about 15 mins past opening). Wait time was listed on board and app as either 15 or 20 minutes. The CM said, oh its longer than that, I'll give you a return time for 60 minutes...after some smiles she took it down to 45. But I did not like this discretion by the CM...and I doubt the line was an hour that close to opening. We went to Mission Space (0 wait), had a drink, and then did TT. Worked out just fine but..
Agent P is an autism tweens dream! Do this! Great way to explore the countries...normally DS11 loses interest quickly. This kept him engaged and he had a blast. Would have done this ALL day. Best ones for us: Japan, Germany.

Animal Kingdom: My favorite park. Worked great. Unfortunately a LOT of rides here close for storm warnings which I did not realize. Everest, Primevil Whirl, the other Dinoland ride. The Kili Safari ride in the rain is the BOMB. Son loved it, we did this 5 times, with a mix of regular wait, DAS, FP, and "free" anytime FP when we lost our Everest one.

Food: We usually stick to QS for picky antsy son, but one day we went to Sanaa this time for lunch. Son stayed interested because of the animals and they happily fulfilled his lunch wishes (butter pasta, a yogurt and an applesauce). He really liked the Naan as well.

Pools: Great pools at Coronado and at Kidani. Loved them both. We really should have built in more pool time - great decompress time for DS.

TL and BB: Do the waterparks! Go first thing - no DAS accomodations I could discern. The other option (which we did) was to buy a WP Fun ticket, and go for the last 2 - 2.5 hours it is open. Crowds have thinned considerably by then.

Have fun and happy to answer any questions!!
Danadanes
Hi! Thank you so much for starting this thread. I am a travel agent and this information is invaluable. Also, my cousin's son is autistic, and she stopped going to Disneyland Resort years ago because their understanding of autistic theme park needs amounts to fp, or waits behind ada folks which can now include anyone with a rented wheelchair or scooter who fill out a form at City Hall.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:47 PM   #15
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Hi! Thank you so much for starting this thread. I am a travel agent and this information is invaluable. Also, my cousin's son is autistic, and she stopped going to Disneyland Resort years ago because their understanding of autistic theme park needs amounts to fp, or waits behind ada folks which can now include anyone with a rented wheelchair or scooter who fill out a form at City Hall.
You might want to check out the DAS stickies near the top of this forum -- there is one for WDW and one for DL/DCA. The former Guest Assistance Card program was discontinued in October 2013 and Disney now utilizes the Disability Assistance Service program. In some ways it is very different than the former program. How well it works for any given family may depend on their specific needs, but it is worth checking out the details to share with your clients.
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