Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Trip to Disney

My family and I returned from our week-long vacation to Disney World. This year was the best family trip we have had. My parents decided to join us for four days this year. They are a lot of fun to have with us, and the kids love having their "Honey" and "Papa" with them. Our great friends, Aran and Chad also drove up to meet us. It is great to see them and their little one, Jon. Connor also had his best trip ever. He was much calmer and more in the moment then he has ever been on a trip. He wasn't consumed with what was next, or overwhelmed by all the excitement as much as usual. He did have a couple moments, but by far he did great.

I must say that going to Disney World with my family is a really fun thing. To be able to go into any restaurant and say we have a gluten, dairy, and soy allergy and still be able to eat fun, new and tasty food is amazing. Connor never had to go without or not have what everyone else was having. We wanted ice cream the first day and sure enough the ice cream stand at Animal Kingdom had gluten free rice dream ice cream. I highly suggest becoming acquainted with what the parks carry that is gluten, and dairy free. If you call or email any of the parks special allergy staff, they will send you a list of every park and what they carry. They even have links to the product websites so you can read the ingredients and become acquainted with the brand.

I did a couple of things this year that I think were helpful. The first thing I did was have every park mapped out for Connor. He and I sat down and decided what rides we were going on and when. He loves roller coasters, so I knew we had to get to those first. Also, I made meal reservations at sit down restaurants (as apposed to the quick service places) so that we could all relax a bit and not be rushed to find a table or to eat. The prices are a bit more, but if you budget for at least one sit down restaurant a day it is worth it. Depending on the park, time of year, and restaurant, you will want to make reservations at these places as soon as possible.

Another reason Disney World is such a great trip for us is because of the special needs pass. This is a pass they give people with special issues like people in wheelchairs or people with autism. Waiting in line is the number one reason people tell me they don't want to try a place like Disney. I will tell you that the day we went to Magic Kingdom, we had a big sit down breakfast in the park (Crystal Palace Character Breakfast) and took a lot of breaks, and we still rode every ride, and some twice, before our six o'clock dinner reservations.

I can not say enough about the food at the parks. Connor is so use to having a hamburger with no bun at every restaurant, that he goes crazy in the restaurants at Disney. Disney also takes food allergies very serious. The chef comes out at every restaurant to to talk about the allergies and discuss food options. One of Connor's favorite dinners was in Epcot at Japan's Tempenyaki restaurant. First the manager came out and talked about the allergies, then the chef cleaned the grill really well, then she cooked Connor's food in front of us first. He is on a seafood kick right now so he got the kid's shrimp meal. She cooked his shrimp and veggies in front of us on the big grill tempenyaki style. He loved it!

Connor celebrated his birthday while on vacation. We actually plan it that way every year. October is one of the slower times a year, so we plan our trip to coincide with his birthday and Halloween. This year, Connor chose to go to Hollywood studios for his birthday. We have never been huge fans of this park in the past, but this year we loved it. I made reservations for breakfast at a Little Einsteins character breakfast for that morning. Connor danced with the characters and had a great breakfast. We had dinner at a place were you sit in cars and watch old sci-fi movie clips like in a drive-in. The food there isn't the best, but Connor gets a rice milk shake, so it is cool. We also had a birthday cake for him. I ordered it about a week in advance. I told them the allergies and that was it!! They did a wonderful job. Connor also got a "It's My Birthday" button with his name on it, so every time a staff member walked by they would say "Happy Birthday Connor". I can't tell you how amazing it was to see the look on his face. He really felt a good way.

Disney does not skimp on anything. My husband and I always say that it is in the details. They really made our life easier for the week we were there. If you have a chance to go, please do. I would recommend staying on Disney. They have great transportation that takes you anywhere on Disney's grounds. Not having to get a rental car saves on the stress and the budget. We are already talking about next year. I am already saving for our trip. I don't want it to be a financial burden, so we use airline miles and start saving the moment we get back.

Our next trip is Mexico for Christmas. My entire family is going to my parents home in Mexico for Christmas. Even my Papa is going to make it. We are looking forward to that. Connor is using that trip as a way to focus. Check out my mom's new blog too


Aran said...

I'm so happy that the kids and Connor in particular enjoyed the trip so much. Disney really does cater to special needs families really well making it so smooth for you. We had a blast and always love seeing the kids. So cute in their costumes!

Paul and Robyn said...

A great time was had by all. Your father and I were so happy to have been able to join all the fun with the kids. How many times did your dad and Connor go on the roller coaster? I think about five times.
Connor was a "rock Star" at all the meals and got great stuff. We did not know he was such a dancer!!

Edna said...

Disney is the favorite spot of my kids too for family vacation trip.

whizkidforte said...

I'm happy that your children (especially your autistic son, Connor) enjoyed your Walt Disney World vacation! I am autistic, and I live an hour near that resort! Cool, huh?