View Full Version : November trip - Down Syndrome

09-25-2004, 12:53 PM
I've just discovered this board and similiar sites since I planned my upcoming trip and can't sit still waiting for Nov. 3 to get here! This will my 5th trip to WDW. The others were in 1999 and 2000, and this past June. The June trip was awful (but not because of anything Disney)- mostly because of rain and trying to balance the desires of an 11 year old with Down Sydrome and a 14 year old who was bored. The 14yo was nasty about waiting for characters and "kiddie" rides and seeing "dumb" shows. So, I decided to take the 11 year old back - just the 2 of us!!! He can see all the shows, ride Dumbo, and meet characters all day long! He's at a great age (developmentally) - he still believes all the characters are real and loves the "kiddie" attractions, but also loves Test Track and Space Mountain.

I'm so excited - but so nervous! I've never tried to handle him by myself for that long and away from home too! The trip will be totally geared for him. Characters, shows, and rides - and we can't forget the nachos in the food court !

Anyway, I'd love to get some tips from others who have been with their children with Down Syndrome. On the earlier trips, we did the GAC for the stroller, and this June got one for "alternate entrance" with the wheelchair (we rented a wheelchair each day - he can't walk that much). But it didn't seem we really needed it - the wheelchair itself seemed to get us in a line that was wheelchair accessable. Our other big problem, which a GAC can't help with is understanding - "the ride is closed," or "you have to wait your turn" or ....When he sees what he wants, he just bolts for it.

The kind of tips I'm really looking for are ways to make this trip extra special for him. Little secrets or special things I can arrange? And other tips to make our days easier. We are staying at ASMo - I think he'll go ape over a 35 foot Buzz. I have PS for Chef Mickey and the Princess breakfast in Norway (couldn't get Cineerellas Royal Table) - he LOVES the princess characters! I plan to split up the days into short segments with breaks back at the hotel.

I've never been in November - hoping the crowds are relatively thin.

Thanks for your advice - I'm glad I found you all!

09-25-2004, 02:34 PM
My brain is in storm emergency mode right now, but if you look at the link in my signature below, there are a few pages about traveling with special needs kids, with some tips and hints. I hope it helps.

09-26-2004, 03:57 PM
Thanks Teri - I had seen that site. Lots of good tips, many of which we've used before. One of my biggest concerns is getting him off of rides - it usually took my husband to pry him out of ride vehicles when he wanted to go again.

The other thing I'm really looking for is ideas for making this a truly memorable trip for my son (he's pretty easy to please.) That's why I did the Princess breakfast - he just eats up the attention from the ladies! He about went crazy when the Fariy Godmother and Sleeping Beauty both waved "at him" during Spectromagic.

Are there any "buyable" extras out there? Just little bits of magi? I looked at the Prince/Princess package, but it is only available for ages 3-9. Connor is 11.


09-26-2004, 07:11 PM
Lisa B,

Although I'm not sure about WDW, Disneyland will let one group per ride up in the pilot house of the river boat. This is the Mark Twain at Disneyland, and I believe the "Lady Belle", or something similar, at Magic Kingdom.

Anyway, all you have to do is ask a cast member before boarding. If nobody else has asked, you can go up to the pilot house and ride way up high with a spectacular view of the park. You can also ring the bell, blow the whistle at key times, and pretend to "steer". I would think your boy would find this quite cool. I know I did, and I was 38 at the time. :) Disneyland also lets you sign the ship's log and issues you an "Honorary River Pilot" certificate.

Can anyone confirm if this is something they do at Magic Kingdom?

09-26-2004, 07:23 PM
Lisa B,

In case you are not aware, Mouseplanet posts weekly Walt Disney World updates which include a list of closed attractions. Knowing ahead of time which rides will be closed may help you avoid disappointment.

Unless you're going just before, during, or just after Thanksgiving weekend, the crowds should be minimal. The Christmas decorations may also be up.

I'm hearing Disney is really pushing the whole Princess thing these days and putting more of the royal face characters out in MK to help sell merchandise. This should provide more opportunities to meet those lovely Disney Ladies and soak up there attention (hey, I think I'd like this as well...).

Another Disneyland vs WDW question: Do they do the Sword in the Stone thing at Magic Kingdom? This is popular at Disneyland. What kid hasn't dreamed of pulling Excalibur from the rock?

09-27-2004, 04:53 AM
I read that they do the Sword and Stone at MK as well. Also, you can ride up front with the pilot of the monorail. I would check in at Guest Relations and explain your situation to the castmembers there, I would bet that they can offer a lot more "special" opportunities.

09-27-2004, 09:45 AM
:D LisaB...
I have a daughter with Down syndrome...and we go to Disneyland all the time (in fact, we will be at DL next weekend!). We have taken her to WDW once...back when she 14.
She just turned 18 now...and has grown up at DL...and LOVES going to the parks.

I also have two other daughters...one older than Kendall, one younger. Both siblings have learned that they have to do things that even Kendall likes...even if they think it is stupid. Kendall has learned to be patient and do things that her sisters like...even if she thinks it's stupid (like shopping at girly stores).
The one things my other girls (who are now 21 and almost 14) can't stand...is waiting around for characters and pictures. Kendall HAS to have her picture taken with every character she sees, and it does tend to get annoying...as we have years and years worth of pictures with each one. But, depending on what we have planned, the timing...we do tolerate some picture taking.

I understand all too well about the walking! All too well. Kendall can drag her feet...and will just stop if it gets too be too much. We have used a GAC often with her...especially for stairs. Stairs are difficult for her...and having the GAC has been helpful in oh so many ways. We have rented a wheelchair at times as well, because we hate having struggle with her to move (I hate to stereo type ...but heck...she can be stubborn at times!). The last few years, we have been lucky and have not had to rent one though. Going back to our hotel room to rest during the day has been the key to keeping her going...and having a good time. Even if she just 'sits' and plays or watches tv for a while...not even taking a nap...she seems to recharge and energize enough to go back later.

I don't know of any 'perks' for you...sorry...but I do know that the characters and CM's at both DL and WDW have always taken the extra step to talk with her, tease her...and give her some special goodies to take along the way. Even one trip to DL without her (I was on my honeymoon with my 2nd husband)...I bought a present for her at the "Pieces of Eight" store in New Orleans Square. When I was chatting away with the CM that this was my honeymoon...and the gift I was buying was for my daughter with Downs...she told me that she was giving some 'extra goodies' for her in the package.
We didn't know what it was, as we were using package express at the time. When Kendall opened the treasure chest (she was really, really into pirates at the time), she not only found the goodies we had picked out...but she also was excited to see some great 'gems' that the CM had put in the box.
It was so nice of the CM to go the extra mile. :D

Good luck with your trip in November. Hang onto your little mans hand well...because I lost Kendall at Typhoon Lagoon for hours during our trip to WDW...and she has wandered off (at 4 years of age) at DL as well!! She used to be such a little wanderer. I am sure glad those times have past!!