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Tips for the Anxious Walt Disney World Park Hopper

Living with and managing an anxiety disorder can sometimes feel like a full time job. On a daily basis, there’s a surprising number of circumstances that arise which require a certain level of personal acuity. After all, learning how to properly handle an anxiety induced episode is half the battle to ensuring a successful day. The other half is learning about and preparing to circumvent any personal triggers — things that have a high potential of causing an anxiety attack. This is even more imperative when someone like myself, who has a moderate anxiety disorder, decides to go outside of their comfort zone. Despite the fact that I immensely love Walt Disney World, going on vacation to the happiest place on Earth can cause a good deal of anxiety. Over my years of theme park hopping, I have come up with some helpful tips to make sure all my days at the Disney parks are magical!

Know Your Triggers
I know this is easier said than done, but understanding what can cause an anxiety episode is the only way to prepare and prevent them. Learning the things that can trigger an attack does take time and deep soul searching, but it will be worth it. For example some of my personal triggers include; feeling dirty (sticky hands), wet socks, overstimulation, and sensory overload. Knowing this about myself allows me to better prepare for what the day may bring.

Pack a Bag
Packing a bag is a simple and easy step to prevent any potential episodes. I find that having a bag with my anxiety essentials gives me peace of mind to enjoy the day. Identifying your triggers means you can prepare items to help cope and offset an attack. Given my previously described triggers, I like to include the following items in my bag; wet wipes (for hands, tables, railings, bathrooms, etc.), extra socks, travel size baby powder and deodorant, journal, and emergency medication.

Have a Game Plan
Having a game plan is essential to any Walt Disney World vacation but even more so when you have an anxiety disorder. Begin by using the park hours to your advantage. I would love to spend my entire day at the park, but the reality of the situation is I just can’t. It is important that I pace myself. I do this by being at the park at rope drop and taking a break around noon. After relaxing for a few hours, I head back to the park.

Have a Backup Plan
When you have an anxiety disorder there’s no such thing as being too prepared. For me, this means I give myself options when I reach my sensory limit. If I don’t want to leave the park but need a break, I look to remove myself from the general hub bub by taking advantage of the many seating areas. If I absolutely need to leave the park I also love to resort hop – for me this is a great way to get some quiet time while still embracing all the Disney magic.

I hope these tips help enable you to have a more enjoyable and less stressful day in the Walt Disney World Parks!


About Lou Mongello

Lou Mongello is a former attorney who left the practice to pursue his passion, and is now a recognized Disney expert, author, speaker, and host of WDW Radio. Learn more…

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