Autism Positive Parenting Travel

Great Tips for Autism and Amusement Parks

Taking a child with autism to an amusement park can be a very scary thought, but it could also be a lot of fun! Yes, there is a lot of potential for sensory overload, but there is also a lot of potential for sensory output which can be very good.

Taking a child with autism to an amusement park can be a very scary thought, but it could also be a lot of fun! Yes, there is a lot of potential for sensory overload, but there is also a lot of potential for sensory output which can be very good. We recently took our 10 year old to a big, outdoor amusement park for the first time and had no issues. I think, it's because we were properly prepared.

Taking a child with autism to an amusement park can be a very scary thought, but it could also be a lot of fun! Yes, there is a lot of potential for sensory overload, but there is also a lot of potential for sensory output which can be very good.

Here are some great tips on how to prepare for autism and amusement parks.

1. Check with the amusement park that you plan on visiting and see if they have any special guidelines or practices in place for people with special needs or ASD. Our local amusement park, Valleyfair in Shakopee, MN, has made a lot of efforts to make their ASD guests feel very comfortable.

2. Prepare your child, as well as you can, for the noise, excitement and amount of people who will be there. If possible, print out a park map beforehand and mark out safe-meeting places and places to find help if you get separated. Let your child get to know the layout of the park on paper.

3. When you arrive at the amusement park, take a picture of your child/children with your cellphone, so you will have a current and accurate photo of exactly how they look and what they are wearing that day. (For non-verbal children: make sure they have a card with a name or contact info on it, so someone can help them, if need be.)

4. Point out various staff members and/or safe people who your child, if able, can go to for help. Perhaps, if they know before hand, it will help them in a scary moment.

5. Have plenty of snacks, liquids and comfort items on-hand. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for quiet, calm spots. You never know when those will come in handy.

6. Have fun, but don't force. Start off with movements that your child is comfortable with and let them decide when they are ready to try something else.

7. Move slow and relax. If you get frazzled, they get frazzled, we all get frazzled and then, we have meltdowns.

8. For kids with sensory issues, always pack ear plugs, goggles, a towel and a change of clothes. Most amusement parks say no headphones, but the squishy ear plugs seem to be fine.

9. Take breaks. Eat. Find a room with AC. Find a grassy area. Take breaks.

10. All trips have their good moments and their not so good moments. Take more of the good moments home with you and leave the not so good moments behind.

Do you have any tips for autism and amusement parks?

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22 Comments

  1. Such great tips! Our 11-year-old is on the spectrum and has now done Disneyland and Disneyworld several times without any issues. I think being prepared is the best tip. We also fly often with him, too, which is kind of one of his anxious situations. Calling the airline ahead and getting an “early boarding” pass is wonderful. We board early before the hustle and bustle so he is seated while it is still calm. Then we headphone up while everyone else boards so he doesn’t get anxious. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Love the one about taking a pic first thing.

  2. Elizabeth O. says:

    Some of the guidelines that you have here are useful for all kids, especially since you can’t really tell what can happen in amusement parks. It’s good to take the necessary precautions. Thank you for your tips!

  3. This post is so great!! I will share this with some friends, they will love it.

  4. It is so essential to be completely prepared!! Such wonderful, helpful tips!

  5. What wonderful tips! Many of these tips can apply to all kids and families. I especially like your idea to snap a picture of your child(ren) upon arrival to the park so you have an up to date picture with their clothing. Remembering to take it slow and enjoy your time is essential!

  6. You guys have a wonderful day, It looks a fun place to visit with my kids

  7. Great tips, especially the “safe people” tip as it is important for kids to know who they can go to incase they get split apart.

  8. That’s so smart to take a photo of them in case they would wander off. I like the idea of pointing out people who could assist them too.

  9. Great tips, Echo! I think they work well for all families. I think it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for sensory overload. There really is too much of a good thing and that can ruin the whole trip if you are careful!

  10. Kathy Kenny Ngo says:

    My friend has a daughter who suffers autism, and I am sure this post will help her. Nice advice! I will share this to her.

  11. These are incredible tips. Knowing very little about autism, and being a big wuss for rides, I appreciate the detail here. I think it can help anyone!
    I do have some sensory anxiety in crowds, and getting a cold glass of water in a shady spot in Disney World was clutch.

  12. These are some great tips for taking any child to the amusement park. Heck, even I can get a little overloaded with everything going on and all the people. I really love the tip about pointing out the people that can help – that’s so important for them to know!

  13. This is great for parents with autism. I have a friend who has an autistic child and I’m going to share your URL with her. She likes taking him places although sometimes it’s been a bad idea. I think better planning and your tips may help.

  14. Christina Aliperti says:

    I love the idea of the map. I think letting your child get familiar with the layout of the park is a great way to be prepared.

  15. Karlyn Cruz says:

    I like these tips. It is hard to deal with autism and this is really helpful.

  16. Nicole Escat says:

    I will share this with my friend who has a kid in this condition. I hope she will find this helpful.

  17. This is a very helpful post that you’ve put up! I have cousins who have autism and this is something that will surely be of benefit to them. Thank you for writing this up!

  18. It would be really great to hear about more places adding a more autism friendly approach for visitors.. Also being more prepared prior to heading out on any trip can at least help ease children and parents.

  19. I love this post! Tommy generally does well at amusement parks. If I see he’s on the brink of a meltdown I find a quiet place for him to take deep breaths.

    And yes, breaks are important! Mommy gets tired, ha.

  20. I agree with ear plugs, goggles, etc. they are indeed useful. Children with autism may find amusement parks too overwhelming but with proper orientation, perhaps everything will be ok.

  21. This is some good info. My sister worked as a nanny with an autistic child for about a year. I think she would agree with this article. =)

  22. Awesome tips, Echo! I love the picture idea. What a great way to ensure there’s an updated picture of them from the actual day that you were there! It’s such a great safety precaution, and though we hope to not use it while we are there, it’s a great tool to have just in case. Thank you for sharing this on #shinebloghop last week. Hoping we see you again today for another round 🙂

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