Autism & Vacation
Jess is an adult with autism and cortical blindness. We recently returned from a week-long vacation, 6 days of which were spent at Walt Disney World Florida. All things considered, Jess adjusts fairly well when we travel. This time though, we definitely reached that point of being gone too many days. Was it because of the combination of autism & vacation or was it just time for us to go home in general? It has been a long time since we were on a vacation that extended. Our 6th day of Disney was our 7th day of being gone from home.
Our Final Day
We checked out of Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House and were on our way to the Magic Kingdom by 8:00 a.m. on our 6th and final day.
We had a great last day at the park – until we hit the wall. Six days are a lot of days at Disney – even for me, and even at a leisurely pace.
It was the extra magic hours day at Magic Kingdom. Once again, we learned something new. All sections of the park are not open early for EMH. Frontierland, Adventure Land, Liberty Square, all were not open early. The rope drop for those areas was at 9:00 as usual.
People must go nuts at rope drop in those areas. As we emerged from a walkway between Adventureland and Frontierland, I saw people in an all-out run coming from the direction of Fantasyland. Alas, there was another rope drop which included extra lectures about not running into Frontierland. The cast members held up the rope as they walked us all the way to the Splash Mountain/Thunder Mountain Railroad area.
Soaked on Splash Mountain
Splash Mountain is my favorite ride at Magic Kingdom. It last 10 minutes. It’s a cool place to be when it’s hot, includes music and water (J’s 2 favorite things), 3 dips, and a 5 story splashdown ending. Typically, we get a little wet, but mostly just enough to cool off.
We arrived at our first “dip” and it was as usual. No big deal. As our boat floated around to head back up to the next section we could watch the other boats come down the 5 story splashdown. Sometimes, that’s when a little after-splash happens. I warned Jess we might get a little wet. But no, not when the first boat went down. Little did I know what was in store for us as we almost made it back under cover.
We have never ever gotten so wet on Splash Mountain. Jess and I were wet for the remaining hours of our Magic Kingdom visit.
Seven Dwarves Mine Train Calmness
Finally, a roller coaster that Jess didn’t flip out on. I was so proud of her. Seriously, this is one of the smoothest rides around.
The Wall Was Coming
That last-day wall was quickly approaching. I saw it coming, but we were committed to our course. Even Jess wasn’t ready to give up. We just had a few more things on our list before our lunch reservation. It kind of cranked up when Jess had to leave her chair behind to ride an attraction.
The People (Re)Mover
Okay, so this is one of J’s most adorable references to Disney. She always, without fail, refers to the PeopleMover as the “PeopleRemover.”
Once loaded, Tomorrowland Transit Authority’s PeopleMover is an easy and smooth 10 minute ride around Tomorrowland, and a great reprieve from the sun. The track winds around Tomorrowland and through Space Mountain, offering a great opportunity to confirm my decision to not ride ever ride Space Mountain again.
Accessing this attraction requires exiting the wheelchair and taking a ride up a steeply sloped autowalk. Jess is scared every time. Our method of managing the moving walkway is having one person in front of Jess and one behind, both of us holding her steady.
Jess Became Agitated
Quickly. She started spouting off a steady stream of negative comments. We offered to be done for the day, but no. She wanted to stay longer.
This is the point at which the autism & vacation factor became an issue, but not critical. Jess was mostly upset because her phone got left in her wheelchair. But we didn’t know that because she wasn’t able to express that until ½ way through the ride.
Carousel of Progress
Next on our list was The Carousel of Progress, which Jess was okay with especially since she could stay in her wheelchair. Still, though, I looked over at one point and she had tears running down her cheeks. All other factors like fatigue, missing routines, home-sickness, etc., were added in to that one issue about the phone.
We were walking a thin line.
Lunchtime – Could Chicken Tenders Save the Day?
No, not really. We had reservations at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD which is in Adventureland. We decided this was our last activity of the day, except for shopping on our way out.
Jess was still sour. She and I were both still wet from our first ride of the day. Jess was worn out from the week. Also, hangry maybe, and she was convinced they wouldn’t have crispy chicken tenders. Our goal was to keep her from an all out meltdown until we could get back to the car.
The emergency deck of cards came out, and thankfully it was also time for her daily call. I think it’s interesting how the autism routines that can be so rigid, and at times have to be portable, can be the very things that keep us all held together when needed.
We made it through the delicious meal without any major issues. Btw – our dining experience was great. We definitely will hit this spot again in the future.
All we had left was shopping. The only thing on Jessica had her heart set on was a CD. Guess what? We couldn’t find one. Anywhere. We went through all shops as we walked past them. No CD’s. Jess was crushed. The tears were falling. She headed out of the park empty-handed.
Time for a Drive
When we made it back to our car it was 1:15pm. Jess and I were still wet from our 9:15 ride on Splash Mountain. We both changed clothes in the parking lot so that we weren’t wet for our 3.5 hour drive to Hannah’s.
Pretty soon after we hit the road…
We were on our way back to sweet Hannah’s apartment.
Autism & Vacation or Just A Long Vacation
In the grand scheme, I don’t think the autism factor made the vacation too long. Jess did absolutely great (although she was somewhat clingy). This last day was the only day that was challenging.
It was just a long vacation for us. The truth is – I was ready to be done with vacation, and ready to be home, too.
Jess and I – we’re peas.
Love this trip documentation! We have been to Disney once and stayed at Magic Kingdom for the most part. What places do you recommend for sensory issues (especially to noise) where they also have fun characters?
Thanks for the question!! I’ll get back to you soon with some suggestions! ?