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Visiting theme parks with a person with mental, physical, or learning disabilities can be an anxious time for families — even if you are the person in the wheelchair or using a cane. There are more recognized disabilities now than ever before, and not all of them are visible. Having to wait in line with a person who is incapable of understanding basic directions, manners, or who has physical limitations can sometimes become overwhelming. Most parks now offer help and alternative ways to experience the fun many others take for granted, and Universal Orlando is no exception.
Universal Orlando is well-prepared to handle any type of disability, including autism and related disorders. A highly trained staff is knowledgeable and eager to assist.
- Reviews 0 Reviews0/5
- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Moderate
Universal Orlando Theme Park & Resort
Resort Style & Type: Theme Park
This Resort is Rated: 4-Stars
This Resort is Beachfront: No
This Resort is Best For: Families, Groups, Single adults & Couples
This Resort is All-Inclusive: No
This Resort is Autism-Friendly: Yes
Minimum Age at This Resort: N/A
Green-Certified Hotel: Yes
This Resort is IBCCES Certified: No
This Resort Offers a Program for Children: Yes
Universal Orlando for Guests with Autism
Plan Your Visit While At Home
Advance planning is a requirement for a successful theme park vacation with a child with autism. Your vacation will include a plethora of sensory stimulation, from crowds to lights to noise, so prepare your child in advance to help your child get used to the stimuli, and will allow you to determine what will and will not be appropriate for your child.
Research the rides, shows, and attractions offered at Universal Studios in advance. Universal’s free guide, “The Rider’s Guide for Rider Safety and Guests with Disabilities,”. The Guide outlines the specifics about each attraction, from height requirements to health restrictions. The Guide is quite detailed and can be invaluable in making your touring plan.
Get your child involved in planning as much as possible. Have him view the movies that are related to the attractions he will experience. Make a visually interesting graphic layout of your day by day plan, and review it with him frequently prior to departure. The more familiarity the child has with the parks prior to your vacation, the more successful the trip will be.
Speak with your child’s doctor and other specialists before your trip, and ask for their suggestions on making the trip successful. Also request a note from the doctor that outlines the child’s disability. Although not strictly necessary, the note will minimize the time and effort required at Guest Services. If your child has specific dietary needs, or if you use food as a behavioral reward or a distraction, you will love the flexibility of the Universal Meal Deal. For a reasonable price per person (half price for children), your family can eat all day at selected counter service restaurants. You can also add a Universal sipper cup at a small additional charge, which will allow free refills on fountain beverages all day.
Once You Arrive At Universal Studios
When you arrive at the parks, you should first rent a stroller or wheelchair if required. Then proceed directly to Guest Services. Take both the doctor’s note and the child with you. Due to recent incidents with disability fraud, the Guest Relations Team Member will want to see the child, just to ensure that he or she actually exists. You will be issued one of a variety of passes, depending on your exact needs. If you need additional accommodations, such as a place to wait out of the sun, let the Team Member know that as well.
With pass in hand, you are ready to explore the parks. None of the passes will grant you immediate access into attractions, so be prepared to entertain the child during the wait. Books, games, and snacks may help. Be sure that you are following a tightly organized touring plan, but be ready to change it on a moment’s notice should your child require it.
Do not plan to spend the entire day at the parks. If you are visiting on multiple days, and your child does well in the morning and afternoon, you may gradually add more in-park hours. Be aware of restful attractions and quiet places that will allow your child to regroup. Both parks have first aid stations and rooms for nursing mothers, either of which will do nicely in an emergency. Additionally, play areas (if not overly crowded) and sidewalk cafes provide a nice break from the sensory stimulation.
Islands of Adventure is a particularly sensory park. Each island is carefully crafted to represent a certain theme, and oversized props are the norm. Depending on your child, this may prove to be a wonderful experience or a disaster. Monitor your child’s reactions and respond accordingly.
If you have any doubts whatsoever about an attraction’s appropriateness for your child, have someone in your party ride it first. Team Members are wonderfully understanding about this and will engineer a Child Swap-type arrangement to avoid your party having to wait in line for a second time.
Discuss any and all concerns with Team Members. Most are at least somewhat familiar with autism, and they are happy to answer any questions. They may also have suggestions or ideas that you have not yet considered on any topic from the best row in which to sit, to where to have lunch.
Universal Orlando is a wonderful vacation destination for families of every description. Autism is becoming a more common, and families who live with autism visit Universal Orlando every day. A plan, a bit of flexibility, and a sense of humor, along with a willingness to ask for and accept assistance are all that are required for a successful vacation.
Most of our Guided Tours Include the Following:
- Entrance fees as listed in the itinerary
- Meals as specified in your itinerary
- Hotels: Hotel based on two persons sharing one room with twin beds or a king size bed; all hotels as listed in the above itinerary
- Transportation: Flights or train as listed in the itinerary. Flights: airport tax and fuel fee included, economy class, 1 checked baggage per ticket, no checked baggage weight to infant ticket
- Sightseeing: As outlined in the Itinerary will be escorted with English-speaking guide; Service of a local guide and van is for a maximum of 8 hours during the full day individual tour packages
- Private Transfers between airports, hotels and attractions while sightseeing in each city or area by private air-conditioned vehicle with a driver and English-speaking guide as listed in the itinerary
- Service Charge (the planning, handling, operational and communication charges) & Government Taxes
H. Luggage Transfers between airports, trains and hotels
What’s Not Included:
- Flight not listed in your itinerary
- Accommodation not as listed in the itinerary
- Visa Fees: Please make sure that you have got your valid passport and visa before your entry. We can send you a free official invitation letter to assist you in obtaining your visa after the reservation deposit is received
- Sightseeing not listed in the itinerary
- Meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses such as room service, internet charge, laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional activities, etc.
- Gratuities, tips to guides, drivers, bellboys, etc.
- Airline baggage fees
- Travel Protection Plan – Please kindly note that the full coverage travel protection from your country of origin should be purchased in advance on your own
- Optional activities