You will discover two themes running through the majority of my posts, two things that have deeply affected my life: Autism and Walt Disney World. The CDC reports that 1 in 150 children born today develop some form of autism, which is a pervasive developmental disorder four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. My 11-yr old son is one of those boys. The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is one of the most popular, if not THE most popular, vacation destination for families. It is also regarded as being one of the most accommodating to guests with special needs. After numerous visits to “the World,” I can personally attest to the truth in that statement. . . nowhere else has my family enjoyed a more fun and relaxing vacation.
It seems natural that families with children on The Spectrum should be particularly drawn to WDW; but why? Why would parents go to great lengths and usually great expense to bring their ASD children to a place that is most likely to be loud, crowded, hot, and generally overwhelming for them, given their multiple sensory and communication issues. People who have not visited WDW might think so. Isn't the Magic Kingdom just another noisy "amusement park?" You would think that families like ours would avoid it like the plague!
I assure you, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Whenever we read or talk about Walt Disney World, there is always one word that get used quite often. . . Magic! It’s that wonderful intangible element that makes life-long fans of so many. It draws us back time and time again. Yes, the parks are beautifully designed and the entertainment is superb. But that’s not what truly enchants us. That wondrous feeling that brings us so much joy comes from Walt's gift.
He started with a dream of a place where families could play together and have fun. The story goes that one day, he was sitting on a dirty park bench, watching his daughters play on a carousel. He thought to himself that "there ought to be a place where the parents and children could play together." That place eventually became a reality: the Disneyland Park in California.
Walter Elias Disney was already a successful filmmaker. He could simply have built a private playground for his own children and left it at that. But no, he needed to share his dream with the world. He wanted a place where everyone could play, young and old alike. Walt’s legacy does indeed live on in the theme parks that bear his name. Everyone can come to Walt Disney World to play, even if they have physical or psychological challenges. It’s the most accommodating vacation place on earth. And that means so much to families that live with the day-to-day struggles of autism. The Cast Members really seem to care about you and your children. They just make you feel so welcomed, so accepted, and so valued. It does feel magical. It feels a lot like . . . love.
That’s why we love Walt Disney World and that is why we will go back again and again.
The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin’ Spectrum Mom is not affiliated with, authorized or endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with, The Walt Disney Company or Disney Enterprises, Inc., or any of their affiliates. All trademarks, service marks, and trade names are proprietary to Disney Enterprises, Inc., its subsidiary, affiliated and related companies, as the case may be. For the official Disney website, visit disneyparks.disney.go.com