/ Monday, November 10th, 2014

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TOPIC: Walt Disney World is a place where everyone is welcome, and extraordinary measures are taken to ensure that every guest has a truly magical experience. And for those guests that have special needs, whether they be dietary, sensory, physical or otherwise, the Disney parks are, for many, the best vacation destination because of what Disney does to accommodate. And keep in mind that traveling with special needs includes traveling with children, seniors, dietary restrictions, size limitations and numerous other sensitivities. So this week, we are going to discuss some of these special needs, as well as tips, strategies and 10 things your need to know BEFORE you go.

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Sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio show. Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!

– Lou Mongello

QUESTION for YOU from this week’s show: Have you traveled to Walt Disney World with special needs? How was your experience? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Show # 384 – 10 Things You Need to Know When Traveling to Walt Disney World with Special Needs”

  1. Thank you, Lou! It was a true pleasure to be a guest on The WDW Radio Show!

    ~ Kathy
    (KathyKelly_RN in The Box)

  2. Really enjoyed this podcast, even though I don’t have kids or special needs (unless you count my vegetarian wife… I guess I will!). Kathy’s perspective was very well grounded. I liked that she started off by saying you may not want to go, or go now, based on your particular situation or expectations. While I’m sure she’s no less of a Disney Fan, her head is put on right, to keep things in proper perspective.

    Well done, Lou & Kathy.

  3. Bash says:

    Hi Lou

    What a fantastic podcast this was, it really helped on so many levels.

    Once again you and your guests knock it out of the park (is that correct? I’m from the UK). I will definitely check check out Kathleen Kellys website, as my darling son of 7 has Austism, you would not beleive it but the ‘Mickey Mouse Club House’ is where he learnt to pick up words and speak, we thought he would never say a word.

    He uses my iPad, now seemingly his, we search for Clubhouse videos and he watches them, but he also watches the foreign language ones, so we get German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Polish words thrown in the mix, he can count in Spanish, French and German! He loves the Wishes video on you tube and main street video, its the video where some one has placed a camera on top of the main entrance by the station overlooking main street and onto the castle!

    Any way big fan, love your work and enthusiasm, which rubs off on me, love Jim Korkis and your new section with listeners questions.

    I have an idea for a subject for you to may be tackle, have you done a podcast of best Disney apps, educational, tourist, fun and games. My son loves the Disney app Explorer, here he discoverd ‘Its a small world’ interactive fireworks, cannon shooting, its great fun on the phone and ipad.

    Any way my friend, thanks for getting in touch with me on LinkedIn :), will continue to listen to your great podcasts for as long as I can, my drive is perfect to work as it last a complete episode, so no interruptions lol. (This will change when I take up my new post as Senior Designer in a closer location oh well, will just listen to you more frequently.

    See ya


  4. Kelly says:

    Loved the podcast. I always knew Disney dealt well with special needs (as we have our own), but never thought about the wide variety of special needs that need to be dealt with. This was great information that I will definitely be passing on to a colleague who has a child with special needs and was thinking of a WDW vacation.

    Our son has a severe food allergy (peanuts & tree nuts). And vacationing at WDW has been awesome. The chefs & wait staff are always very attentive and accommodating, with some going above & beyond. For example, some chefs have made him his own special bread, because the standard offering (the rest of us had) had a chance of cross-contimination. Boy, we were jealous of that.

    We always feel confident that what my son is eating is safe. He’s been vacationing there now with us for over 19 years and we have never had an issue in all that time.

  5. Devan says:

    I have a gluten intolerance and a carrot allergy and dining at Walt Disney World made me feel like a rock star. Each sit down restaurant we went to, the chef personally came out, discussed my issues and then pointed out everything on the menu that was safe for me to eat. At Tony’s Town Square, the chef took particular time telling me which foods I could have and why I wasn’t able to eat some of the things that didn’t seem like they would affect me (for example, they made their marinara sauce with carrots….something you wouldn’t know by looking at the description on the menu). I was even allowed gluten free rolls as an appetizer when everyone else was brought a basket of rolls (a treat I haven’t been able to enjoy in a long while!). This trip, I didn’t call ahead and let them know of my dietary restrictions, so in the resorts and the dining courts, I was kind of left to my own defenses to figure out what I could and couldn’t eat. A couple of times, that didn’t end well (the gluten free meatloaf was riddled with carrots inside when I cut into it!). Next vacation, I will most definitely be planning with a travel planner and will be planning meals–even the quick service type–ahead of time, due to the excellent service I was given when the kitchen staff was aware of my restrictions. Highly recommend guests with dietary disabilities to give WDW a try!!

  6. Monica says:

    We have visited WDW 18 times in 6 yrs. My family and I are AP holders and DVC members. I’m a mom of 3 boys and wife of 20 yrs. our son youngest was diagnosed at 6 days old with a rare disease of the digestive and intestinal tract know a Hirschsprung’s Disease. It’s where the gangelion nerve cells didn’t develop in parts of the colon to expel waste. 1 in 5000 live births of mainly male infants will be diagnosed. Our son was diagnosed with Complete Intestinal Hirschsprungs. At the age of two, his entire colon and 1/3 of his distal ileum of his small intestine had to be removed. His life is sustained by the artificial means of IV nutrition that is cycled by a pump that he wears in a back pack, the cathered is a tunneled cath that is in the main artery of his chest. He wears an ostomy bag as he has never expelled anything from his bottom due to the disease and has a GTube that was once used for tube feeding thru his stomach. He is now 10 years old. Come June 2016 he will have waited 6 years on the UNOS wait list for a multivisceral transplant of stomach,sm & lg intestine, liver and pancreas transplant. He is officially listed with the Miami Transplant Institute. Although he is very critical internally, on an outward appearance you would never know how sick he really is. When we visit the parks we always get a wheelchair for him and a DAS card as with carrying a 25lb back pack of fluid, I could never imagine him walking the parks. When we travel to his medical appts we always stop at WDW to help our spirit and to give us hope and courage every day. We take no moment for granted, to him and our family WDW is our home away from home. We are hopeful that once the call for transplant occurs , we will have to stay close to the center in Miami, however he wants to be able to recuperate near WDW. We will have to stay 6 mos to a 1 year for his lengthy recuperation. As we have travelled with mounds of medical equipment for our son, we drive over 960 miles one way from Lancaster, PA. We never had any issues with the any cast members , they have been so accommodating. The dining plan is somewhat of an issue because our don due to his illness has never been able to eat a full meal. Many guests have dietary issues that limit them on what they can or can not eat at all, which we have always stated Disney should take into account. But other than that we never had any issues. Our son’s favorite character is that of “Pinocchio”, when our don was about 3 years of age it was during one of his countless lengthy admission in our local children’s hospital that we made a connection we never thought existed until in the eyes of a child who is sick. A nurse from child life brought in several DVDs for us to watch and in the basket was Pinocchio. He wanted to watch so we put it in, as the nurse was adjusting his IV pump, Pinocchio started singing ” I’ve got no strings” and there my son in a hospital cage bed pointed to the screen and said ” Mommy, I want yo be like him, no strings!”. We were all in tears and since then ” Pinocchio” is very special to us that when viewing Wishes Fireworks and you hear him” I want to be a real boy!” that too is our boy. When cast members hear that story, we have received so many Pinocchio’s that once Disney’s Port Orleans Resort had every cast member sign a poster that hung over the bed in our room and drawing from one of the artists from the Art of Disney created a special piece. Walt Disney World will always be a special place to our family. It’s a second home where my son can feel like a real boy, where he can escape all medical and just have fun!

  7. Chuck Zitta says:

    Enjoyed listening as you and Kathleen discussed how Disney goes well beyond peoples expectations to accommodate those with special needs to make their experiences just as magical as those of us who take every day tasks for granted. Our younger son has epilepsy, which we had just discovered before our last trip down to WDW. Once we learned that Disney was more than capable of providing particular services for such a need, our stay in the Kingdom became that much more enjoyable and relaxing.

    Thanks again for another fabulous and thoughtful show, Lou and Kathleen!!!