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Everything Autistic Families Need to Know About Visiting Theme Parks During the Pandemic

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Going on vacation might always seem to be challenging for autistic families, but honestly, a little pre-planning goes a long way towards a successful trip. By now, you should understand that you can travel anywhere with an autistic child. And anywhere includes theme parks. Of course, with the current pandemic, you may be wondering how you could possibly keep it together at a theme park while figuring out all the new rules and guidelines.

No worries, because I have you covered! I have discovered everything you must know about visiting theme parks during the pandemic with your autistic family. You won’t need to worry about missing even the slightest detail. Instead, you can focus on the fun you will have with your family during your next theme park vacation.

Everything Autistic Families Need to Know About Visiting Theme Parks During the Pandemic

When you decide you are visiting a theme park, you must choose your dates in advance. Currently, you cannot show up at a theme park on whichever day is most convenient for you. Instead, you must plan your theme park days carefully. Reservations for those days must be made in advance.

The reason you must reserve your days in advance is theme parks are currently operating at approximately 30% capacity. Social distancing guidelines are also in place.

When you arrive at a theme park, you will need to have a mask on if you are age two or older. Your mask will need to stay on when you are indoors, on an attraction, or ride. You are now permitted to remove your mask if you are vaccinated and outdoors. There is no one asking for proof of vaccines at this time. Your temperature will be taken before you can walk through the gates.

If you happen to forget your mask, or something happens to yours before you arrive, you will be given a disposable mask. Over at the Disney theme parks, be prepared for your kids to ask if you can purchase the Disney masks that are for sale in all the shops! Of course, all the other theme parks have their own stylish-themed masks to choose from at all their stores and kiosks.

While you must wear your mask at all times in the theme parks, you can obviously take them off when you are sitting down in a restaurant to have something to eat and drink. At Disney and Universal theme parks, there are mask-free zones that your autistic family will want to take advantage of during your visit. The smaller parks do not have those zones, so you will want to keep that in mind when you are planning your next theme park adventure!

Your time in the theme parks may not seem too different at first, but after you are walking around for a little bit, you will realize a few changes. Not all the attractions and restaurants are open at the moment. Some attractions are closed, thanks to the social distancing guidelines. As for the restaurants, the lower capacity, as well as social distancing, has created limits on what restaurants are allowed to be open right now.

All theme parks still have their disability pass systems in place, so you won’t need to worry about missing those benefits during your visit. And theme park staff are still receiving specialized training, so they know how to interact with people who have autism.

Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Autistic Child for a Visit to a Theme Park

  • Practice Mask Wearing – Wearing a mask can be difficult for anyone, but autistic children really struggle the most. It is best to start wearing a mask at home for a few minutes and keep increasing the time, so your child realizes wearing a mask is not a bad thing.

  • Practice Not Touching Everything – Some autistic kids will not touch anything, while others will touch anything they see. If this is your child, talk to them about not touching everything while you are visiting theme parks.

  • Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizer – Hand washing is the best if your autistic child does go around touching everything, but it is not always a practical solution. Therefore, practice using hand sanitizer with your child before you head to the theme park. Not every child loves the feel, or smell, of hand sanitizer, so you may even need to try a few before you can find one your child can tolerate.

  • Waiting Your Turn – Waiting can be so difficult for an autistic child. Make a game out of waiting at home, slowly building up the time your child needs to wait. If you make waiting a fun experience, your child won’t mind quite so much.

There are so many things you can do to prepare for your visit to a theme park as an autistic family. But trust me when I say it can be a struggle to keep things straight and stay ahead of the game! This is why I always recommend that autistic families use a travel advisor for their vacations. Imagine not needing to stress out about what you need to know because someone gives you all the information you need! If you want to visit a theme park this year and don’t want to stress over all the new guidelines and rules, you definitely want a travel advisor like myself guiding you every step of the way.

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