Travel Tips to Make Your Trip to Disney Easier with a Chronic Illness or Disability


As I sit down to write this I wondered if I really am an “expert” in this subject and after much thought I realized I may not have all the answers, but I have a lot.  I am a mom with two boys 8 & 15 and have traveled from Seattle to Disneyland (DLR) more than 50 times in the last 10 years, not to mention my one trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) last January.  I also deal with Lupus and Fibromyalgia on a daily basis.  I have learned to go through the parks with children and without children in ways that make the trip successful on my pocket book & on my body.

Listed below is a list of key things I do and suggest to others in order to make their trip a huge success.  I have purposely left out nap time or rest time.  Mainly because when I am in the “Happiest place on Earth” I want to utilize every waking moment.  Yes that means sometimes I over-do-it, but it also means I have come up with simple ways to give my body rest and not miss out on a single thing.  So if you need nap time, feel free to add it in anywhere it’s needed.  So if you like to take naps or you are like me and enjoy being on the go these tips will help you survive your trip to the parks.

  • Get a Schedule in advance: When you are planning your trip go online and get the schedule for all the shows and parades.  You need to arrive early to get seating to most of these items, which is a great excuse to sit down and let your family wander off while you hold their place.  Plus you can plan each day out so you know when and where you need to be.

  • Avoid Park Hopping:  This is key at WDW.  One day per park is plenty.  It allows you plenty of time to see everything and if you must return to your hotel mid day for a nap you can and still not miss a ride.  This also allows you to take your time and not rush from one place to another. 

  • FastPass and Rider Swap:  A FastPass allows you to return to a specific attraction at another time and wait in a shorter line.  I don’t usually use the FastPass unless I know I am going to be back in that area, and if I am then it’s a great tool to use.  A Rider Swap allows parents to take turns waiting with small children to swap with another adult from their party so both adults can experience the attraction without having to stand in line twice.


  • Shopping: A great benefit to staying on property at the park is that you can send your items back to your hotel for no additional charge.  Another note is to plan your shopping trips first thing or mid day.  Everyone shops at the end of the evening when the park closes.  So if you shop early you won’t have to wait in line nearly as long.


  • Take Breaks: this is a hard one for those with small children who want to see it all.  My suggestion, go on the rides that allow you to sit for long periods of time.  My number 1 recommendation is Pirates of the Caribbean.  This ride is about 24 minutes long and keeps your family entertained while you rest.  I have even been known to doze off while on this ride.  It’s a Small World, the Jungle Cruise, Rivers of America, Train and almost any ride in Fantasy land is a great option for this.  Also if your child is old enough pull up a bench and let them stand in line on their own.  Rides like Dumbo, the Tea Cups & Rocket Ships all have the option of you sitting down and monitoring your child while they wait in line & ride the ride.  This is also a good option for visiting characters.  A cast member is usually right there to take their picture with the character.


  • Wheelchair/Scooter Rentals: All parks rent these on a “First Come/First Serve” basis and they cannot be used to hop from one park to another.  It is sometimes best to rent from an outside vendor and have it delivered to your hotel room. 


  • Plan a day (at least) of rest after the trip. I always take a day after I return home to just let my body rest. This makes a big difference on whether or not I go into a flare when I return.


Article written by guest blogger Cori Lewis for

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  • April

    Thank you so much for the tips..any others would be greatly appreciated. We are traveling from Portland Oregon to DL from Dec. 19-26 of this year. My dad is paying for the whole vacation so that our kids ages 9, 11, and 13 can experience the magic. I have never been myself and want to enjoy it, but I suffer from gastroparesis and chronic gi problems. I have a feeding tube and get tired out rather quickly. We are going to be at the park for a long time and are staying at the paradise pier hotel, so we will be on site. We are riding the train down and 30+ hours there and back…my dad also wants to purchase birthday and anniversary packages for the kids as well as the whole room to be decorated and Santa to visit Christmas morning…he is going all out…over 7 grand being paid…any other suggestions for this once in a lifetime visit would be wonderful..I don’t think we will ever be able to get back there….so I want to make sure we are able to get everything in. I will have a wheelchair waiting for me in the room from an outside vendor and my dad is bringing his because neither one of us can walk for any distance. Thank you so much in advance.

  • Sally

    I have a mobility scooter (I live in the UK) and take it with me when we fly (it travels for free, makes the airport easier to manage as I can take it to the door of the plane) and for the last few years we have stayed in a Disney hotel allowing us to use the buses to the parks. We breakfast in our room (really saves energy), you can ask for a toaster to make your toast/heat croissants etc. I’ve always found you can ask for anything you need and they are very helpful. You can get a disabled pass at each park, but with a scooter or wheelchair this is not really necessary! Get the disability guides so you know where the back entrances/disabled entrance are, they are not always sign-posted. Make sure you transfer to a wheelchair on rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean (where you cannot take a scooter in the queue and there is no back entrance) as the queue is very long, I tried to walk it but could not manage it. We book evening meals at appropriate venues if we want to see an evening attraction such as fireworks, parades etc. as it allows a good rest. If you’re from the UK or Europe and have a Blue badge, it is not valid in Florida – you have to go to the local tax office and pay for a visitors disabled parking pass, using your blue badge as proof. Sorry it’s a messy list – hope it helps.

  • Sue Rollins

    As a Disney lover this is wonderful news to hear. I was just telling my husband that I would love to return to WDW but was concerned about staying in the rooms due to chemicals and mold. I am so happy to learn about the allergy package and have written it down for future reference. Happy to hear that they are so helpful and accommodating!!!!

  • Renee

    You might also consider getting a pass for the disabled. It keeps you from having to wait in line. At Sea World and Disney World, they have special accommodations for disabled children and adults, so that you can get right on the ride. Thank you for sharing your tips!

  • Jen Martin

    I have to agree to all of the suggestions!! I did way too much when I went. I loved every minute of it. Last time we just did Sea World, went several times in the week, and spent tons of time at the hotel’s pool and enjoyed ourselves. I’m a hard core Mickey lover so when I first went to WDW I just had to absorb it all, I think I was worse than my son. 🙂 My next trip, I will just **enjoy** instead of having to do EVERYTHING xoxo

  • Jen

    There is a great unofficial site called “The Dis” that has a massive message board where you can learn absolutely anything you need to know about Disney (land or World) before going. They even have a “DISabilities” board. My tip is that anyone with chronic illness should take advantage of the “allergy” package at the resorts where they avoid use of toxic cleaners, air fresheners, and laundry detergents. They have different levels of service that you can choose from. They were also helpful about giving me a room far from the laundromat, one that hadn’t been recently refurbished, and even letting me try out the room or chemicals left over by previous guests… well beyond the level of cooperation that I get at most places. Of course going during off-season makes switching rooms easier. You may think, “I don’t have allergies or chemical sensitivities, so why does that apply to me?” But detoxing those chemicals depletes our bodies of nutrients and is a root source or at least aggravator of most chronic illnesses. My debilitating fibromyalgia is now more of an infrequent annoyance since detoxing my life. 🙂
    Disabilities message board:

  • Maddy Welch

    These are great tips! thank you!

  • Tracy

    Thanks! After 6 yrs of not being able, we’re finally thinking about trying a vacation and taking our boys to Disney World. This is great information! Maybe I *can* do it!

  • Julie Culp

    Thank you so much for the tips, they’re very helpful!

  • Carissa Glassburn

    awesome cori! dont you just love the internet? just think of ALL the people you are reaching out to with this. well done!