As a parent of an autistic child, you always want to do what’s best for them. This includes taking appropriate family vacations, so they won’t feel completely overwhelmed or overstimulated. You may think that theme parks can’t be anywhere near the top of your list, because they are loud and super crowded. However, there are some incredible autism-friendly theme parks where your autistic child will thrive. Today, I am going to share the best autism-friendly theme parks with you. This will allow you to have an idea of what is possible if you have been yearning to visit a theme park with your autistic child and the rest of your family. And yes, I know every autistic child is different and we can always chat to see what specific needs your child requires while away from home.
The Best Autism-Friendly Theme Parks
The theme parks I am sharing with you today go above and beyond when it comes to being autism friendly. All these theme parks offer special accommodations for autistic families like yours. Dedicated spaces include sensory rooms and quiet areas. Your family will even be given special access passes to ensure everyone has a positive experience during your visit.
All three of the Legoland theme parks now have even more special accommodations in place to ensure they meet the needs of every autistic family. One of the best accessibility features at these parks is the stimulation rating for each ride. When you approach a ride or research it prior to your visit, you can see how stimulating it will be for each of the five senses. This will ensure you can choose the rides that are most appropriate for your autistic child and avoid the rides that may be more of a trigger for overstimulation.
If your autistic child does happen to get overstimulated during your visit to Legoland, or simply needs a break to avoid overstimulation, there are low sensory areas available. Those areas are marked on the theme park’s map. Every staff member can also assist you by giving you directions to the nearest quiet area.
You may always travel with noise-canceling headphones. However, if you happen to forget them for your visit to Legoland, you can request a pair of earplugs at the First Aid station.
Any guests that have difficulty standing in line for long periods of time can request an Assisted Access Pass. You can request this pass at Guest Services.
Sesame Place was one of the very first theme parks to become autism friendly. They have a sensory rating for each of their rides just like Legoland does. This makes it easier for you to determine which rides your autistic child will be successful going on and which ones you should probably avoid. However, Sesame Place takes these ratings even further by also including shows, parades, and dining experiences.
How amazing would it be to choose a restaurant from the list that will accommodate your child’s needs instead of trying to guess which option would be best for your family??!!
The quiet room at Sesame Place can be found near Big Bird’s Rambling River. Once you step inside, you will be greeted by adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area. A stop at the Welcome Center is necessary, so you can receive the access code to this space.
There are also low sensory areas scattered throughout this theme park. One of the best quiet areas is behind the Sesame Street Neighborhood. Not too many people spend time in that space, so it is the perfect spot to go for a little downtime.
Another fairly quiet zone is near the Mix ‘n’ Match Twiddle Tracks, which is next to Ernie’s Teeny Tiny Tidal Wave. You can also request noise-canceling headphones at the Welcome Center if the noises from the rides, or crowds, are bothering your autistic child.
If your autistic child has difficulty standing in long lines, you may want to request to be a part of the Ride Accessibility Program during your visit. You must have a valid IBCCES Accessibility Card to participate in this program. Simply present your card at the Welcome Center when you arrive at this theme park.
Sesame Place also has a Special Access Pass. With this pass, you receive a wristband. That wristband can then be used for priority boarding at three water attractions and six dry rides for that day. This pass can be used with the Ride Accessibility Program.
Dollywood’s Splash Country
At Dollywood’s Splash Country, your family will have access to a private Calming Area. This gated space is filled with natural surroundings, therapy balls, rocking chairs, and a weighted lap pad. You can easily access this area after speaking to a staff member at the Hospitality Booth, Safety Office, or Splash & Dash. This space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, it may not always be available when you need it. Staff members can always assist you in finding alternate quiet areas if necessary.
As for the rides at Dollywood’s Splash Country, each one has a rating of one through four. Rides that are rated as number one are either low-speed or have minimal water. Rides with a rating of four are deep-water or high-thrill attractions. Ratings of two or three are somewhere in the middle. You can check out the ratings online prior to your visit.
These are the best autism-friendly theme parks and I know your autistic family will enjoy your visit to any of them. You simply need to decide which theme park is at the top of your list to visit. I would love to help you plan your next autism-friendly vacation, whether it is to one of these parks or a completely different destination. My goal is to always provide you with the resources and tools you need to have a successful autism-friendly vacation in the destination you want to visit the most. Contact me today to see how we can work together to make your vacation dreams come true!