Going anywhere with a child with Autism (or any special need) can be overwhelming to say the least. It’s part of the reason so many special needs parents opt out of going to lots of places and Disney World can be one of the most intimidating places to visit.
My son David has been going to Disney World since he was 7 months old (he’s now 7!) and has visited at least 10 times since he was diagnosed with Autism at 3 years old. We’ve been so many times with him that we’ve learned the best dos and don’ts for a great trip while still catering to his special needs and still making it fun for the rest of the family.
*This post was sponsored by Kingdom Strollers. They provided me with a special needs stroller rental in exchange for review. All opinions are my own.
Special Needs Stroller Rental
David doesn’t use a stroller on a daily basis but for Disney it’s good to have one. He gets tired and likes to have his own space to rest away from crowds. He also likes to stay in his stroller when he’s upset or overwhelmed so we like to have it for those times.
For this trip we wanted to try out a new stroller because at 66 pounds he’s outgrown his old City Mini. I researched and found the Liberty Special Needs stroller available for rent from Kingdom Strollers. With a weight limit of 100 pounds and a height limit of 60″, this was perfect for David.
Kingdom Strollers was excellent to work with and they delivered the stroller right to our hotel. It was so nice to see it there waiting for us when we were checking in. The stroller was clean and in great condition when we got it and that made me feel better about renting one.
We were also able to return it right to our hotel concierge upon check out. The whole process was easy and their customer service was great. If you need a rental stroller for visiting the Orlando area definitely check out Kingdom Strollers.
The Liberty Special Needs is a HUGE stroller and made for those with real mobility issues but I was excited to try it out because of the weight capacity and how comfortable it looked for David. They have many other options available that you can consider based on the weight and height of your child so you don’t need to rent this specific stroller if you don’t want to.
Since it’s so big and David is also pretty big, my husband was pushing it most of the time. The handle bar is adjustable and really sturdy so we appreciated that very much. It comes with a big undercarriage area for storage and I was able to fit my bag in there no problem. The best part is it’s easy one step fold system that allowed my husband to fold it up quickly when needed.
Disability Access Service
To make our Disney visit less stressful, we use the Disability Access Service or DAS Pass provided for guests with disabilities. According to the Disney website, Autism falls under cognitive disability making David eligible for this service. We love using this because it’s like having extra fast passes and really helps with being able to enjoy more attractions than we normally would.
How to get the pass
To get the DAS pass you have to first make an account on the My Disney Experience app. Do this prior to your trip so you don’t waste anytime once you get there. When we arrived on our first day (or first day at the parks) we headed straight to Guest Relations and let the cast member there know we need a Disability Access Pass. They asked who it is for and why the person needs it. I have never been asked for too many details about David’s needs and all I ever disclose is that he has Autism and they accept that and give us the pass. The cast member then takes a picture of David and connects the DAS pass to my My Disney Experience account.
The cast member also handed us a sticker to place on our stroller that makes it equal to a wheelchair. We use this to sit in wheelchair access areas for shows so David can be comfortable and if he freaks out or has a meltdown, one of us can leave with him easily.
Update: The pass allows only up to 6 people in your party to use it at a certain time. For example, you may have 10 people connected to your My Disney Experience account on your trip but only 6 people are able to use the DAS pass at a time for any one attraction. This is important to note when planning your trip!
How the pass works
The DAS pass works kind of like a fast pass in that it saves your place in line so you don’t need to wait in the queue of the attraction. The big difference is you cannot choose your DAS return times in advance like you can with the fast pass plus system.
To get a return time for a ride we went up to the cast member at the front of the attraction and told them “we need a DAS return time.” The cast member then scanned David’s magic band (they will scan a ticket if you don’t have a magic band) and gave us a time to return usually 10-20 minutes less than the current wait time. For example, if the wait time for Splash Mountain was 80 minutes and the time was 10:00am, our return time would’ve been to come back anytime after 11:00am.
When we went back for our return time we went in through the fast pass line and David always had to scan his magic band first. When David scanned his band his photo popped up on the screen for the cast member to verify it was in fact the person using the pass and then the rest of us could scan our bands to go in.
You can see in the picture above how the DAS pass shows up in my My Disney Experience app. The return time we had for that ride says 6:15 but we could have returned anytime after that time. However, we were not allowed to ask for another DAS return time until the current one was used.
Ultimately, it’s a great service Disney provides for people with disabilities and we always use it to make our trip better for us and especially more fun for David.
For more info on the Disability Access Service click here.
For more info on other services Disney provides for those with Autism click here.
Planning a Disney Trip soon? Check out my DIY Disney countdown with free printable!
Disney and Autism Extra Tips
– Disney can be very noisy, especially with fireworks. Noise cancelling headphones are a great option.
– Bringing an iPad, iPhone or any tablet can help during down times or if things are too overwhelming.
– Rider swap is available for you to experience the attraction while another person waits with the guest that does not want to ride and then you switch without having to wait in line all over again. It’s happened to us where David is okay in the ride queue but has a panic attack when it’s time to ride and this is a great option for those moments.
– Click here for a printable resource for guests with cognitive disabilities (Autism). It includes frequently asked questions and everything needed to plan a trip for a child on the spectrum.