Going on vacation might seem like a challenge for autistic families, but a little pre-planning goes a long way towards a successful trip. By now, you should understand that you can travel anywhere with an autistic child. Anywhere includes theme parks! Of course, you may be wondering how you could possibly keep it together at a theme park this year with constantly changing rules and guidelines! Don’t worry, I have you covered! I have discovered everything you must know about visiting theme parks this year with your autistic family. You won’t need to worry about missing even the slightest detail. Instead, you can focus on the fun you will have with your family during your next vacation.
Book Your Visit in Advance
When you decide to visit a theme park, you must choose your dates in advance. Currently, you cannot show up at a theme park on whichever day is most convenient for you. Instead, you must plan your theme park days carefully.
The reason you must reserve your days in advance is that theme parks are currently operating at approximately 30% capacity. Social distancing guidelines are also in place.
Wear Your Mask
When you arrive at a theme park, you will need to have a mask on if you are age two or older. Your mask will need to stay on for the duration of your visit with a couple of small exceptions. Your temperature will be taken before you can walk through the gates.
If you happen to forget your mask, or something happens to yours before you arrive, you will be given a disposable mask. Be prepared for your kids to ask you to purchase the stylish theme park masks that are for sale in all the shops and kiosks!
While you must wear your mask at all times in the theme parks, you can take them off when you are sitting down in a restaurant to have something to eat and drink. At Disney and Universal theme parks, there are mask-free zones that your autistic family will want to take advantage of during your visit. The smaller parks do not have those zones so you will want to keep that in mind when you are planning your next theme park adventure.
Be Aware of Other Changes
Visiting theme parks this year may not seem too different at first, but after you walk around for a little bit you will realize a few changes. Not all the attractions and restaurants are open at the moment. Some attractions are closed due to the social distancing guidelines. The lower capacity limits, as well as social distancing, have also resulted in some restaurants remaining closed.
All theme parks still have their disability pass systems in place so you won’t need to worry about missing those benefits during your visit. And theme park staff are still receiving specialized training so they know how to interact with people who have autism. However, it is important to note that no skip-the-line passes are currently being offered.
Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Autistic Child for the Visit
- Practice wearing a mask – Wearing a mask can be difficult for anyone, but autistic children really struggle the most. It is best to start wearing a mask at home for a few minutes and keep increasing the time so your child realizes wearing a mask is not a bad thing.
- Practice not touching everything – Some autistic kids will not touch anything, while others will touch anything they see. If your child is the latter, talk to them about not touching everything while you are visiting theme parks.
- Practice using hand sanitizer – Hand washing is best if your autistic child does touch everything, but it is not always a practical solution. Therefore, practice using hand sanitizer with your child before you head to the theme park. Not every child loves the feel or smell of hand sanitizer so you may even need to try a few different brands before you find one that your child can tolerate.
- Practice waiting your turn – Waiting can be so difficult for an autistic child, especially now that the skip the line passes are not available. Make a game out of waiting at home, slowly building up the time your child needs to wait. If you make waiting a fun experience, your child won’t mind quite as much.
There are so many things you can do to prepare when visiting theme parks this year as an autistic family. But trust me when I say that it can be a struggle to keep things straight and stay ahead of the game! This is why I always recommend that autistic families use a travel advisor for their vacations. Imagine not stressing about what you need to know because someone gives you all the information you need! If you want to visit a theme park this year and don’t want to stress over all the new guidelines and rules, you definitely want a travel advisor like myself guiding you every step of the way.
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