Best Disney Rides for autism
Many children run the risk of sensory overload in Walt Disney World. The boisterous shows, crowds, attraction music, and general hullabaloo from the rides are sure to influence many children. We developed a list of the best Disney rides for autism from many trips with our child.
Because children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD), or Sensory Processing issues may become uniquely overwhelmed. Each child is invariably different with personal tolerance for wait times, ride conditions, and stimulus threshold.
Your child and you know your strengths and limitations. Please review Walt Disney World’s PDF File, Resource Guide to Walt Disney World, to check a short description of the sensory experience for each ride. I also recommend looking at the YouTube videos of each ride to prepare your child for what to expect, and to gauge their comfort level.
These are the ten Disney rides for Autism that reduce sensory overload and work best for OUR kindergarten son.
10. Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
(EPCOT: World Showcase) First of all, we find that this gives us the opportunity to walk around World Showcase and explore. Our children are completely enthralled with this attraction. This mission begins on the Odyssey bridge as you make your way from Future World towards the World Showcase.
You sign up for your assignment, and pick up a FONE (Field Operative Narration Equipment) or use your smart phone to join the adventure. As a result, the Agency will send clues in the form of texts to your phone. This involves a race around each World Showcase country in real-time to discover a number of exciting clues to thwart the evil Doofenshmirtz. The following countries take part in Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure:
- China Pavilion
- France Pavilion
- Germany Pavilion
- Italy Pavilion
- Japan Pavilion
- Mexico Pavilion
- United Kingdom Pavilion
9. Swiss Family Tree House:
(MAGIC KINGDOM) I find this ride works well when our family is in the need of motion and “shaking out our sillies”. While the attraction is a walking tour of the Swiss Family Robinson’s tree home, the view from the summit of the 6-story tree house is a gorgeous 360-degree view of Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise River. The potential issues with the tree house are due to a fear of heights, the difficulty of a quick escape, and being at the mercy of the speed of the guests in front of you.
8. Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros:
(EPCOT- World Showcase) This boat ride is located in the heart of the Mexico Pavilion. The most difficult part, in our experience, is making it through the marketplace unscathed. The marketplace is dim and has brightly colored souvenirs, most of which are breakable. The ride itself is a lighthearted boat ride that features some dark areas, but also loud singing. If your child is a Donald Duck fanatic, the Three Caballeros’ shenanigans will fascinate them.
7. Frozen Ever After:
(EPCOT- World Showcase) This movie feature boat ride is located towards the back of the Norway Pavilion (where the old Maelstrom used to reside). Because of it recently opening in June 2016, and the increasing popularity, you should use one of the FASTPASS+ or Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) to limit wait times.
The ride occurs in some darkness, although is overall much brighter than it’s predecessor. There is a small downhill drop, and the ride momentarily sails backwards. There is loud music featuring Frozen songs. If your child is a Frozen fan, they will love this!
6. Jungle Cruise:
(MAGIC KINGDOM) This is an older boat ride with scenes from the jungle. There are occasional gunshots, and some darkness as the boat floats through a dark building. This ride is not modern or beautiful, but features a number of Dad jokes. We revel in this ride for soothing outdoor scenery, and it always has a shorter wait.
5. Liberty Square Riverboat
Looking for a relaxing boat ride? Due to the fresh air, this is perfect to slow down the pace. Enjoy a lazy riverboat ride around Frontierland. This boat ride does require standing and features a startling horn.
4. Spaceship Earth:
(EPCOT) This is the classic silver geosphere that you see upon entering the park. This is one of my favorite Disney rides for Autism. It features a 16-minute trip through time to the “dawn of recorded history” and continues to a more modern review of communication. The ride ends with the opportunity to design your ideal tomorrow by incorporating technology of the future. This ride is continuously moving, in the dark, which is disorienting for some.
3. Walt Disney World Railroad:
Closed for Refurbishment January 9, 2017 – March 2, 2017
(MAGIC KINGDOM). This is a train circling around the perimeter of Magic Kingdom that features an up look close at a number of attractions. It is fairly peaceful, and a way to escape some of the chaos from the crowds. There are three train stations: Main Street USA, Frontierland and Storybook Circus. You can get on or off at any stop. The train whistles loudly, and is too much for some children. If all goes well, this is a family favorite in our search torn Disney Rides for Autism.
2. Toy Story Mania:
(HOLLY WOOD STUDIOS) This is an arcade shooting game using a giant hand cannon in a ride car that spins you between video screens. It is bright, over-exciting , and noisy. However, our son loves this ride.
Probably the most important preparation for any parent is letting go of any expectations for this ride. The most challenging part is the wait time. While the queue is interactive, it is often overwhelmingly boisterous and bright with too much to look at. This is a very popular attraction, and using a DAS or Fastpass+ may be necessary to ride this family favorite. Our son does not like to take part in the actual shooting portion, but loves to sit and watch the action on the screens.
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris:
(ANIMAL KINGDOM) If your child loves animals, this will be the absolute pinnacle of your Walt Disney World vacation. The Safaris features an 18-minute open-air drive through the “African savanna”. The ride features cameos by lions, rhinos, hippopotamus, and elephants. The vehicle is a safari truck driven through the landscape and is not on a track. Consequently, this can result in unexpectedly bumpy adventures. Also, it means that you can pause for unexpected visiting animals, such as giraffes.
Finally, these are the Disney rides for Autism that work best for our family. Actually, each child is different and their individual needs should be evaluated before embarking on these attractions.
What are your family’s favorite Disney Rides for Autism? How do you prefer to get away from the noise and the crowds? Do you struggle with sensory overload at Walt Disney World?