Going to a theme park with family is almost a rite of passage during the summertime. But in the event that one or more of your children have special needs, you’ll have to do a bit more planning and be a bit more intentional before heading out so that your entire family can enjoy the outing. One of the reasons you need to be prepared is that children whose special needs issues are of a sensory nature may find the noise, the flashing lights, and the large crowds to be overwhelming. And this can turn what should have been a fun-filled day into anything but.
What follows is a look at how to plan before heading out, what to do while at the theme park, and which theme parks to consider visiting with your family.
Preparation Before Heading Out
You’ve probably heard the saying that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Truer words have never been spoken. Before heading out for a day of family fun at a theme park, be sure to do the following:
Picture Perfect: Bring a recent photo of your child in the event that he or she wanders off unbeknownst to you.
Think Comfort: Bring things that will comfort your special needs child if he or she becomes overwhelmed. These can include toys or even games that will calm your child down if need be.
Don’t Do Too Much: One of the biggest mistakes that you could make is to pack way too many activities into a single day. Doing an excessive amount of stuff can overwhelm anyone, so think quality of experience rather than quantity of time.
Bring Snacks: While many theme parks forbid people from bringing in food, they will generally waive this ban if your child has any food allergies. So be sure to let the staff know if there’s any issue.
When You’re At the Theme Park
Planning before heading out is a good idea, but you’re not home free once you get to the theme park. There are things you can do once you arrive that will help your child to enjoy the occasion.
Visit Guest Services: As soon as you arrive, you should head right over to guest services to let them know that you have a special needs child. Some theme parks will give out special access cards to special needs kids that will make for a more pleasant day out. Don’t be shy. Ask!
Time Out: If your child suddenly gets overwhelmed by all the noise and activity, you should ask a staff member which areas of the park are the quietest. This will provide your child with a place to calm down and unwind before heading back to the fun and games.
An App for That? There are apps that are geared towards special needs children, and they can be helpful if your child has a case of sensory overload. So bring games along just in case.
Theme Parks to Visit
There are plenty of theme parks that offer special needs access passess to those who need them. The complete list features a variety of parks for the whole family. Here are three that stand out:
- Morgan’s Wonderland: This theme park is located in San Antonio, Texas. Even better, all of the rides that the theme park offers are suitable for people with special needs. Admission is free to people who have special needs.
- Holiday World: This theme park, located in Santa Claus, Indiana, offers a special pass for people who have special needs. This boarding pass, as theme park refers to it, allows a person with as many as three of his or her friends to bypass the lineup for the rides.
- Sesame Place: This theme park, located in Longhorne, Pennsylvania, offers a wristband and special access card to patrons who have disabilities. Such people can avoid lines at as many as half a dozen rides and three wet rides each day.
If you plan ahead, you and your special needs child can enjoy a great day out at an amusement park. Have fun!