Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Disney Vacations 1

A few weeks ago I started to talk about good vacation options for families with special needs.  I would say that for us, by far, the most impressive place to take Tyler was Disney World.  It may take me a few posts to cover all of it but I do want to share some great stories from Disney.  Some of the most cherished photos and memories come from our family vacations there.

We have done Disney World in a few different ways.  There is no question that it is expensive.  But there are ways to do it and save money too.  And there are also ways to do it and make the trip more comfortable for your special needs person and the family as a whole.  Good careful plan will be the difference between a smooth trip and a rough trip.  

First of all is the planning of WHEN to go. There are resources that will help you pinpoint the best times of year to have good weather but more manageable crowds.  We chose to go in May, right around Mother's Day.  The weather is certainly warm enough (I think about 90 - 92 every single trip) and the crowds are moderate at best because it is too late for spring break but too early for school dismissal.  We also travel on the weekends so that our main park days fall in the middle of the week.  This helps us avoid the local weekend crowds.  There are also resources that will tell you which day of the week trends busier at which parks, so this keeps our wait times even lower.

Also planning where to stay is critical for you comfort and pocketbook.  The temptation can be to automatically stay inside the Disney resort, and maybe for some people that makes the most sense.  But carefully consider staying just outside of the park.  The cost difference can be significant plus the options on where to eat and what to do can be easier to manage. Yes you will need a rental car and you will pay to park, but the flip side is that if you are forced to only use Disney buses all week you could be stuck on a standing-room only vehicle for up to a half hour.  With our autistic son this would be a baaad idea.  There are many hotels within minutes of the parks with tons of food options that made Tyler much easier to manage.  One year we stayed at a hotel that had a basketball court which allowed us to shoot hoops with him each night to help him have fun and decompress at the end of the day.  You have to think about your special person's strengths and weaknesses and then decide which will provide the best option.  After all, the more manageable they are, the more you can enjoy the vacation too!

Also consider the best way to travel there. We flew with Tyler when he was quite small, but as he got older and the outburst risks became more worrisome especially in an enclosed environment, we decided to drive.  Last year we drove 15 hours to take the vacation.  That sounds crazy I know, but consider my thinking: Tyler does very well in the car.  I am in significant control in the car. When we arrived we didn't need to rent a car.  So as painful as the car ride was it allowed us to play to our overall strengths and thus the vacation was better managed.

Take the same strategy with your vacation as you do with every day life...the better you plan and the smarter you plan, the better your experience will be.  Take the time to sit and consider what your situation needs, what you are good at, and what you stink at.  Don't try to suddenly change your daily strategies because it is vacation, because your special person doesn't work that way.  Even if it means doing something crazy like driving 15 hours you will find yourself being glad in the end. 

As you can see by the photos, we were able to create memories that will sustain us for a lifetime.  I will never regret the planning, the money, or the effort because in the end all of that stuff fades away anyway.  Only the love remains. 

Create great memories, be well, and good luck.  Tom

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