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Autism doesn't take a vacation: Disney's new disability passes in action

A fun moment in Epcot
C.Dagnelli

Part one: Autism Doesn't Take a Vacation.

The pass works like a fast pass, for the most part. If there is a 20 minute wait or less we got right in the fast pass return as before. Once we encountered a cast member at the Pirates of the Caribbean who said, they weren’t supposed to do that. But as soon as I told Noah we had to wait in the line for a bit, he said "never mind" and went to skip away, they immediately let us on. If the wait is 30 minutes or more, they give you a return time 10 minutes less than the wait. So if its 1 p.m. and there is an hour wait for Soarin (which happened to us) we were told to return at 1:50. This one particular wait was probably the only annoying one. (We used Fast Pass Plus for Test Track) But that could have been avoided for anyone who didn’t ride the Land (which didn’t have a wait) but we had already done it, and he wasn't interested in riding the boat again. We were hungry so we did go eat and let our son mess around with his iPod. We returned to the line just prior to the wait, the let us on once I let them know we just can’t wait anymore.

Many rides had the fast pass return stated as 20-30 minutes so those had no waits for us, we would go right on. Anything with a 40 minute wait or more meant we had to sign up for it and do something else in the area, this didn't happen very often. In Tomorrowland, the Laugh Floor was this way, so we signed up and went on both the People Mover (no wait) and Buzz Lightyear which we got instant access. I scheduled Fast Pass+ for Space Mountain.

We rode Big Thunder Railroad one night and Noah wanted to go back on right away, the line fortunately wasn't very long, so we only had to wait 10 minutes (as opposed to 30 in line) plus another 5 minutes in the line. This worked out fine since he just rode it and was feeling good, it was also late in the day so no bright lights from the sun, and the weather was perfectly pleasant in the upper 60's, low 70's.

Disney has free Wi-Fi in the parks, and they have fast pass Kiosks all over the place for those who don’t’ have Wi-Fi enabled devices (I do not, but my son does) the My Disney app is awesome. It will give you wait times on all the rides so you can actually make your plans better by having this information, and planning your fast passes, then using the card where needed.

Preparing is key; going to Disney is a big deal. It is something we were fortunate enough to choose to do.Even if it took years to save to do it, and a lot of creative planning. There really is something magical about the place. Preparing comes from looking at the maps, getting a feel for where things are what rides your family will want to do. What kind of day do you want to have, what kind of vacation or trip? Time of year makes a difference on crowds, whether or not you have a disability pass. We were here during a very slow time, through one of the busiest times of year (week before President's Day, is dead..weekend before and through President's day, wall-to-wall people). Make sure you give yourself plenty to time, there is much to see and do. Magic Kingdom is probably the easiest to navigate once you know where the different lands are. Epcot, also, because it is just one big circle.

I signed up for one ride once at Animal Kingdom’s guest services. The safari is the furthest spot in the part and had an hour wait, so he was able to give us a time 50 minutes from when we got there, which worked out perfectly as it took a lot of time to make our way there with stops along the way. We made Everest at the ride also, because we were doing 2 parks this day and had our fast pass + set up for Magic Kingdom evening (it was open until 1 am which suits my night owl) Everest wasn’t as long a wait surprisingly, we had to wait around about 20 minutes before boarding. Fortunately at Animal kingdom they have the Wilderness Explorer program, so our son could get a few explorer badges while waiting. More on this in another article. 3 out of 4 parks have programs like this for kids to help with the waiting; they are free and much fun!

Overall I believe adding a picture to the pass was essential and necessary. I would say, if your experience is not positive and it's not you making it that way, then do talk to guest services. Word on the street is there are other options. Bottom line, you will have the trip you want, it's not impossible. And as Walt Disney said himself, "Doing the impossible is fun!"

Changes to the New Disney Disability System.

Perks at Disney to Help Disabled Kids.