Sensory friendly advice for family travel to Disney

By Chanda Alicea

This week I’m going to switch gears and dive into traveling. I have mentioned before how much I love Disney parks. I’m such a huge fan, that I recently decided to become a Disney Travel Agent. While recently booking a trip to Disneyland for a friend of mine, we were discussing some things that she and her husband can do to help her son as much as possible if he becomes overstimulated when they take their first trip to the park.

So that got me to thinking that since this is something I do actually have experience in, that with spring break around the corner for a lot of our kids, this is a great time to give some tips and pointers of things that I have learned along the way on my daughter’s journey with sensory processing disorder. Now I do want to disclose that some of these tips aren’t going to be helpful for all, but I hope regardless of whether you are traveling to a Disney park or somewhere else that you can find something on this list helpful. Some of these tips will include links to products or the Disneyland website, and I feel it’s probably important to note that I’m not sponsored by any of them.

  1. Noise canceling headphones (aka ear muffs)

I found these things on Amazon. We have 2 pair. We’ve been using them since 2015, and I will tell you that the ONLY reason I ever had to buy a second pair was due to a lice outbreak at her school, which unfortunately we were plagued with right before a Disneyland trip. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. And to give you an idea how much we use them, when I initially ordered them, it was at the beginning of her sound sensitivities so they went everywhere we went out and the were worn everywhere. They’re sturdy and do the trick. These are ALWAYS a must for every park trip. Things can be loud and overwhelming with parade music and fireworks, so having these on hand whether your kid chooses to use them or not are a real lifesaver. There have been certain situations where I have given them to my daughter to put on when she’s overstimulated to block out the sound and just regroup and it works. When it comes to the ear- muffs, I always feel that it’s better to have them and not need them as opposed to needing them and not having them.

  • Covering automatic toilet sensors. This tip is one that I saw in a Facebook group that I am in and I wish that I would have known this a long time ago. Now this is a tip that can be used anywhere. There are several ways to go about this. Some of the suggestions were to use post-its or paper tape, but let’s be honest, neither of those options are very convenient because I’m definitely not remembering to pack them and carry them around, so toilet paper over the sensor is the best way to go for this.

Another trip for avoid automatic toilets in Disneyland park specifically, is to take your kiddos to the child care centers where they have smaller toilets (if your kid can make it there in time), or find some of the older bathrooms in the park if you have that option. I actually know of some of those bathroom locations, feel free to ask me in the comments and I can tell you.

  • Speaking of bathrooms. I am sure that there are varied opinions on this one, but I’m pro flushable wipes, so that is what is next on this list. This may seem trivial and mundane, but it’s really necessary. I mean who likes to walk into a busy bathroom and discover that their stall is out of toilet paper. It’s happened…even at Disneyland. And not only is it about saving yourself from that problem, but when kids have any kind of sensory or texture issue, one ply TP is just terrible. I’m an adult and even I don’t like it. And that’s all I have to say about that 😉
  • Pre-plan meals as best you can by checking the restaurant menus on the website ahead of time. Now listen, I’m not going to pull any punches here, so I totally get how time consuming, mind numbing and eye blurring this can be. However, if you have an eater with texture issues or only eats a limited number of things, this is a necessary evil. From personal experience, I can tell you that there are currently only 1 place in ALL of both Disneyland Parks that you can get a grilled cheese sandwich. That is Smokejumpers Grill in California Adventure. HOWEVER, if your child is insistent like mine, don’t hesitate to ask anywhere that serves a burger to make a grilled cheese on a bun. I’ve had luck with this at the Hungry Bear restaurant in Critter Country.

There you have it everyone! 4 Sensory Friendly travel tips for yours truly. Next week I’ll be back to give you 4 more and maybe share a little insider knowledge after attending our first Disneyland After Dark event!



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