View Full Version : Epilepsy with Photosensitivity

04-29-2012, 12:33 PM
Hi all! I've done some searches, but haven't found exactly what I'm looking for in regards to going to WDW with epilepsy that is HIGHLY photosensitive (flashing lights, not just strobe). I noticed on my last trip that Disney has put up warnings on some rides and that was helpful, but we went on a ride that triggered a problem for me and had NO warning. I need to avoid that in the future (it was the Nemo ride in Epcot...there's a point where you go through a tunnel with kind of spinning lights. it was no good for me! and we happened to get stuck (the ride went down) there!) if I can. So my specific questions:

1. Which rides do you remember being "flashy" with lights or heavy on light effects? regardless of whether or not there is a posted warning.

2. Do you think Fantasmic would be OK for me to see? We didn't try when we were there last time, but I'd really like to.

3. we are travelling with our two kids. If a ride isn't doable for me, can my Dh do a ride swap and take one kid through and then the other through if the seats are only 2 person? I don't want to have to wait in line twice because I can't go through something. That seems really sucky.


04-29-2012, 01:29 PM
It's not a ride, but I have a friend with photo-sensitive epilepsy who very nearly had a problem with the Little Mermaid Show during the thunderstorm. While none of the lighting was perfectly rhythmic, it was just close enough that she had to shut her eyes (this is someone sensitive enough that she once had a seizure as a passanger in a car on a bright sunny day where there kept being shadows from trees so that going at 65mph it was enough of a flashing effect to be a problem). She personally won't even try Space Mountain (she might have been okay with it, but there are other reasons it probably wouldn't be a good idea for her, anyway). I told her I didn't think she should try Rock'n'Rollercoaster because it starts out with you going through a chute with flashing lights (or some sort of effect that looks like flashing lights).

As far as I know, your DH should be able to do rider swap with your kids if needed.

04-29-2012, 02:28 PM
My oldest daughter closes her eyes at the beginning of buzz, when it goes into the tunnel and when the picture is taken. She also has to close her eyes at the beginning of pirates. She pulls her hat over her eyes and closes them in the American Idol show in Hollywood Studios when the strobe lights are on and I tell her when it's ok to look.

SueM in MN
04-29-2012, 02:56 PM
The information you are looking for is in post 24 on page 2 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread.
That thread is near the top of this board or you can follow the link in my signature.
The Epilepsy Foundation recommends shutting or covering ONE eye and looking in the other direction. Covering one eye ensures that both eyes are giving different messages to the brain, which decreases the chance of a seizure. Covering or closing both means both eyes are sending the same information to the brain.

For Rider Swap, most attractions would seat 2 fairly young children and an adult. You can ask the CM at the entrance and also check out online webpages with attraction ride car pictures - you can find more information in post 3 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread.

I Love Pluto
04-30-2012, 10:32 AM
I have epilepsy with photosensitivity. Here's my solution - this has worked for me so far.

I take a light jacket - then put it over my head at certain places of some attractions. My daughter tells me when to remove the jacket. I might look silly, but I don't seizure.

Some of these "jacket-head" places are -- Buzz Lightyear at MK - The Seas, Universe of Energy at Epcot - The Great Movie Ride at HS. We don't go to AK any more because I can't do any of the shows there - Finding Nemo & The Lion King are both indoors with horrific lighting (for photosensitivity). I avoid ALL 3D - except Muppet Vision & Toy Story Mania. (I have no idea why these 2 places are the ONLY places on Disney property that I can do 3D at all.) Stay away from Mickey's Philharmagic at MK - instant seizure!

Surprisingly, I CAN watch Fantasmic. (I think there's a difference when the lights are outside rather than in a contained building). I also surprised my family & myself when I realized that I could be at the dance parties at HS with the flashing & spinning lights. I could NEVER do those lights indoors. Maybe our brain sends different signals when we're outside???? :confused3

Avoid things with movement like Soarin' & all rides with the word "mountain" in the title. They are not epilepsy-friendly at all. The countries in Epcot have movies - most are flashy on the screens. I CAN go to the American Adventure, but there are several "jacket" moments.

Good luck to you. Rule to live by - - If you're not sure about an attraction, have a member(s) of your party ride it first, then judge if they think you can try it. All CMs at each ride are great at explaining WHAT is inside. Some may be over-cautious in their descriptions, but I found most to know what they are talking about. :thumbsup2

Enjoy your trip! :goodvibes

05-02-2012, 01:34 PM
My son has had trouble with the red "hot" lights on TT, the tunnel at Universe of Energy, he gets really dizzy from the movies and needs to sit. China and Canada don't allow sitting, so we use his medical stroller for those.

Night time is the worse for him. The items they sell on the glow light cards are a problem. Those blinking necklaces, spinning light characters, etc. The Main Street Electrical parade and all the firework shows are a problem. Then riding home at night afterwards with all the cars and their headlights have been a problem in the past. Also the blinking lights in the day time from passing by trees where you have light, shadow, light, shadow has been a problem too.

Reading about the jacket above, my son does use a baseball hat over his face to "hide" if he needs to. He has also been ok with TSM and Muppets. He's also been ok recently with Philharmagic, but in the past he had trouble with philharmagic and the Little Mermaid at dhs. His photosensitivity seems to be getting better. He went through a growth spurt recently and after a med adjustment and higher levels he seems to be doing much much better!

A Mickeyfan
05-04-2012, 10:16 PM
space mountain.. is another to add to that list... I had petite mal seizures when I was younger and out grew it by the time I reached my early 20's :goodvibes I now have vertigo. Certain lights and movements trigger a spell.. sometimes just a short lived "dizzy spell" and other times a full fledged Vertigo episode with me.
What gets me is the tunnel in Space Mt., not the lights when on the ride. The necklaces and any flashing lights (even picture flashes) at night sometimes get me. The large 360 movie screens in the Countries @ Epcot. In Sorin I have to look straight ahead. Buzz & Nemo when going through what looks like a "tunnel area" and the three D movies...especially Mickey's Phillharmagic where Aladdin/Donald magic carpet flies through the bldgs. I cannot look at that at all! I spin so fast to the point of getting motion sickness if I watch that. And forget Mission Space.. that is a flat out no no... I cannot even do the mild side anymore.. I have tried and cannot do it.

05-04-2012, 10:20 PM
I have a seizure condition where I am also sensitive to flashing/strobing light.
I had issues where I had to close my eyes/cover my face with a jacket in the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean, the end of buzz lightyear right where you are in the hyperspace tunnel, and also during that part of nemo. I also wouldnt suggest the Dinosaur ride, parts of it bothered me. I never rode the Stitch ride bc I've seen videos and was concerned it might bother me. I can't think of anything else right now.

I wish you a magical trip! :goodvibes

05-04-2012, 11:16 PM
My 13 yr old daughter has seizures triggered from the toys selling at night with the glowing things. We found out the hard way at the Fantasmic show and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Cast members can us a alternative which worked. We arrived early to wait like normal, but explained the situation to the cast member, and at the last minute they escorted us in the stadium right before show started and my daughter was able to watch the show seizure free.
This way you dont have the 30 min of light up toys to trigger seizures.

SueM in MN
05-04-2012, 11:41 PM
I agree about the flashing light up toys. They are very common and because they are a toy, not an attraction, it is difficult to avoid them. Most people don’t realize they can be a problem for others.

This is the information from post 25 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread, which lists the attractions with flashing lights.

There are not actually any attractions at WDW that use lights that are technically strobe lights (i.e, fast, regular flashes of light) and they do not have any warnings for seizures and/or strobe lights on any attractions. Where they do have flashing lights, they are always irregularly flashing, which is a different situation.
Most true strobe lights flash many times per second, but slowing to 5 flashes per second or less means that the majority of even photosensitive epileptics are not going to have a problem. Only about 3-7% of people with epilepsy are photosensitive and have problems with lights; of those, only about 5% would have a problem with a light flashing 5 times per second or less.

If you do encounter flashing lights and are concerned, the Epilepsy Foundation recommends covering one eye and turning/looking away from the direct source of light. The reason for covering only one eye and looking away from the direct light is to prevent both eyes from sending exactly the same information to the brain.
This should work whether someone has a problem with epilepsy or has problems with lights for another reason.

This is a list of attractions I know of with light effects of some type. Many attractions have a single light or 2, so it is difficult to list all. But, I am sure that we have included most of them.

Enchanted Tiki Room - periods of darkness with simulated lightning. The lightning is random and short.
Pirates - some lightning flashes in the first dark part of the ride. Some random flickering from simulated flames in the last half.
Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road - there are no light effects in this attraction, but if you are riding on a sunny day, you will go in and out of dark tunnels repeatedly at high speed.
Splash Mountain - on a sunny day, there are several places where you will go from dimly lit indoor areas to outdoor. The ride moves slowly, so the change is slow. There is a single bright flash when your picture is taken during the big drop.
Haunted Mansion - almost at the end of the preshow, there is a flash of lightning at the top of the ceiling. Boarding area includes flickering wall sconces.
Small World - the end scene includes numerous ropes of white lights that blink on and off in a regular pattern. I would describe it as a traveling pattern - as one light goes off, the next light in line goes on. So, the light travels down the strand of lights.
Buzz Lightyear - just before the last room of the ride, there is a long narrow tunnel room with swirling red lights and flashing white lights. The swirling and flashing are not rhythmic.
Stitch's Great Escape - Most of this attraction takes place in the dark, but there are some random light flashes at times (while looking for Stitch)
Space Mountain - multiple flashing lights


Spaceship Earth - the first part of the ride and the last part of the ride are dark, long and narrow.
The entrance 'tunnel' has screens high on the wall, warning that your 'time capsule' will turn and descend at some point during the ride. The screens are bright compared to the walls.
The exit tunnel has some lighting effects, but not flashes.
Ellen's Energy adventure - includes a movie where parts are dark and then light suddenly appears (the 'Big Bang' theory of earth's creation). Also includes a section with ‘confetti’ lights in different colors ‘falling’ from a point in the ceiling to the floor across guests.
Mission Space - Includes a flash of light for a picture and flashing instrument lights to alert ‘astronauts’ to push particular buttons. There are also small amber colored flashing alarm beacons at the end of the ‘runway’ when you are landing on Mars.
Test Track -(currently closed for renovation - not sure what it will include after renovation is completed) includes a light flash for a picture. Also, during ‘evasive maneuvers test’, your ride car will be in a dark area with bright truck lights suddenly appearing in front of you. There is a ‘heat test’ which involves bright yellow/amber lights. They do not pulsate, but are turned on and then off suddenly.
Living with the Land - simulated thunderstorm in the first few scenes. The first part of the attraction is dim; the second part is in a greenhouse, where the light can be a bit of a shock when you first enter. The ride boat moves slowly though.
Soarin' - One of the last scenes includes soaring over a city at night, over a highway. The headlights of cars are either white (headlights) or red (taillights) and are moving quickly. The end scene includes fireworks
Journey into Your Imagination - Some flashes of light. One bright flash near the end where a picture used to be taken.
El Rio del Tiempo (Mexico) - fiber optic fireworks in the ceiling and wall in the last scene
Maelstrom (Norway) - near the beginning there is a spinning, pulsating light. It is irregularly pulsating
American Adventure - the Chief Joseph sequence has a few stokes of lightning. The World War 2 sequence on a ship includes arcs of welding light.


Star Tours - flashes of light during the attraction (you are in a space ship and end up in a spaceship fight)
Voyage of the Little Mermaid - some flashing light, some twinkling lights and some pulsating blue/green laser lights above your head to simulate the top of the water. All are random
Rock N Roller Coaster - one bright flash of light during picture taking
Tower of Terror - one bright flash of light during picture taking. Elevator door opens suddenly to give a view of outdoors (so bright light on a sunny day). Some twinkling lights during the early part of the ride and I was too busy being scared and holding DD down to notice any more.


Festival of the Lion King - one act includes twirling flaming sticks
Dinosaur - dark ride with sudden appearance of dinosaurs in front of you. Random flashes of light. One big flash as a picture is taken.
Expedition Everest - includes some bright light effects

My mother has migraines and finds that reflections off water (especially the World Showcase Lagoon) bother her on a very bright day. She also has problems sometimes with the 360 movies in China and Canada because they are all around.

A Mickeyfan
05-05-2012, 03:15 AM
SueM in MN.. on very sunny days, there are times I get dizzy when walking around the countries from the reflection off that water.. between the water and the sun, it does a number on me ( too suffer from Migraines and have since I was 11-12 years old). It is the Vertigo that gets me on those days. There are times just looking up at a blue sky and a bright sun will do it to me. thanks for the tip of the one eye.. I will try to remember that, I normally just shut both and miss out on seeing things

SueM in MN
05-05-2012, 07:22 AM
SueM in MN.. on very sunny days, there are times I get dizzy when walking around the countries from the reflection off that water.. between the water and the sun, it does a number on me ( too suffer from Migraines and have since I was 11-12 years old). It is the Vertigo that gets me on those days. There are times just looking up at a blue sky and a bright sun will do it to me. thanks for the tip of the one eye.. I will try to remember that, I normally just shut both and miss out on seeing things
That is one of my mother’s issues. She finds the bright sun or glare seems to trigger migraines for her.

05-05-2012, 02:14 PM
There is a cobalt blue tint for glasses that's extremely effective for reducing or eliminating the risk of photosensitive seizures in more than 90 percent of people. Until recently you had to order special lenses that aren't easily available. My daughter uses them and they help tremendously. Also helpful for things like emergency lights on police cars, etc.

I can't post the link to it but you can read more about this on a blog at videogameseizures dot wordpress dot com where there are several posts about these lenses and the tint.