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Old 03-15-2013, 10:19 AM   #1
rebeccaariel
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Anxiety at Disney?

I have a couple of anxiety disorders that make certain situations very difficult to me. I've planned around most of them, but I could use your help! Last time I was at Disney I didn't have this wonderful board as a resource, so I ended up avoiding some of the activities I wanted to do instead of trying to figure out a way to do them.

One of these is fireworks. My mom adores fireworks, and I know she wants to see them. One of my triggers is being in tight crowds, and another is being unexpectedly touched by strangers, which kind of goes along with the tight crowds thing. We strategically planned to vacation during a low crowd period to avoid huge crowds that would suffocate me, but I know that no matter what time of year, there are large crowds for fireworks and parades that sometimes get pushy. For Wishes, I plan to book the dessert party so that we can have a nice view without having to fight crowds, so that will be taken care of. Does anyone have a good location for viewing Illuminations that's a little lighter on crowds? It can be a bit out of the way, I just want to be able to see the fireworks.

Any general tips for avoiding being jostled? I don't have a problem being in open spaces with lots of people, it's just when they get into my personal bubble that my anxiety shoots through the roof and I panic. My last trip had even lighter crowds than what's predicted for this trip, so I'm not as prepared as I was last time. Any suggestions would be great!
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:30 PM   #2
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I would view the fireworks from the beach at the Poly. It not crowded!

You can view Illuminations from the Boardwalk.
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:16 PM   #3
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Is cost a factor? An Illumination cruise would give you lots of breathing room and an amazing view, but it's by no means cheap. Watching from the Boardwalk or even the International Gateway will mean you miss a significant amount of the fireworks since most of it is down low.

For Wishes, I second the Poly beach. From everything I've read about the dessert party, in order to see the fireworks you have to crowd together with everybody else around the railing in order to see. If you watch Wishes from the beach then you've got more money you can put towards an Illuminations cruise.

For general crowd avoidance, what works for us it touring plans, touring plans and touring plans. Have I mentioned touring plans? Seriously, by researching which parks will be least busy on a day by day basis and the best time of day to get to each attraction/part of the park in order to encounter the lowest crowds, you can cut crowds significantly. One caviate is that there are certain areas of the parks that no matter how low the crowds, they will always feel packed because of construction. In MK I couldn't believe just how crowded the new Fantasyland area was as well as the area in front of Pooh. Right now the walkways are significantly narrower than they will be once the Snow White roller coaster is open so everybody has to sqeeze closer together to get by.
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebeccaariel View Post
Any general tips for avoiding being jostled? I don't have a problem being in open spaces with lots of people, it's just when they get into my personal bubble that my anxiety shoots through the roof and I panic. My last trip had even lighter crowds than what's predicted for this trip, so I'm not as prepared as I was last time. Any suggestions would be great!
Are you going with other people? If there are several other people with you, you can try to get them to arrange themselves around you as a slight buffer. If there's only one other, there's less you can do in general crowds, but for things like queues you could put them on your outside (so railing, you, other person) and at least get a little extra space.

You'd probably also benefit from looking at one of the touring plans and/or smartphone apps that can give you a sense of where things are busiest or lightest on a given day. If you're willing to skip the parades, the areas of the park without a parade are much less crowded while the parade is happening. I'm not sure if I've ever watched a full WDW parade in-person, but I also don't feel like I have to see them to soak up the magic. Avoiding things like rope drop are also important, and I think it would be very difficult to do "commando" touring with anxiety. If you want to stay for Wishes or late parades or just late in the park, lag behind the crowds. You can sit on a bench and let them get through. If you're using WDW transportation, then waiting out the crowds will also probably get you on a much less crowded bus/monorail/boat. You may want to consider renting a car, if you can, to avoid more of the crowds on the buses.

If you need to take a break while in a park, you can lie down in the First Aid center if needed. There are also spots that tend to be quieter in each park where you can get a break from the crowd.

The other things that I'd really suggest you stay on top of are hydration, rest, heat, and food. If you're tired, thirsty, hot, and hungry (or any combination thereof) it can raise your anxiety level. I tend to find this extra true for me when it comes to food and water. As much as it's nice to have treats on vacation, pretty much anything you drink other than water will give you liquid, but also not hydrate as well (and plenty of things will make you more thirsty including sports drinks, sodas, etc.). I was once taught that at the point that you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated and an adult should drink something like a pint of water (can't remember specifics). It's worked for me when it comes to keeping myself hydrated. I can't chug the water without it all rushing through, but if I drink it over 15-20 minutes (I tend to go for about a liter), it tends to help.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:35 PM   #5
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If you want to stay inside MK I would suggest this area. As you walk towards the castle and get near the hub look way off to the right. You will see a covered area with tables and chairs. it is by the water. This area is never crowded with people.

My DH and I go down there with my scooter about 45 minutes before fireworks. We sit up along the railling so no one stands in front of me. You may not see the front of the castle but it is very quiet and like I said hardly anyone goes there.

After the fireworks are done, DH and I wait a little while for the crowds to thin so i am not trying to fight crowds in my scooter.

Another suggestion would be to go above the train station but in order to get a good seat you will need to get there a few hours before hand. This area will provide less crowding for you as well.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:15 PM   #6
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Thank you all so much for your tips!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelly F - Ohio View Post
I would view the fireworks from the beach at the Poly. It not crowded!

You can view Illuminations from the Boardwalk.
I didn't know that, thank you! I'll look into that for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clanmcculloch View Post
Is cost a factor? An Illumination cruise would give you lots of breathing room and an amazing view, but it's by no means cheap. Watching from the Boardwalk or even the International Gateway will mean you miss a significant amount of the fireworks since most of it is down low.

For Wishes, I second the Poly beach. From everything I've read about the dessert party, in order to see the fireworks you have to crowd together with everybody else around the railing in order to see. If you watch Wishes from the beach then you've got more money you can put towards an Illuminations cruise.

For general crowd avoidance, what works for us it touring plans, touring plans and touring plans. Have I mentioned touring plans? Seriously, by researching which parks will be least busy on a day by day basis and the best time of day to get to each attraction/part of the park in order to encounter the lowest crowds, you can cut crowds significantly. One caviate is that there are certain areas of the parks that no matter how low the crowds, they will always feel packed because of construction. In MK I couldn't believe just how crowded the new Fantasyland area was as well as the area in front of Pooh. Right now the walkways are significantly narrower than they will be once the Snow White roller coaster is open so everybody has to sqeeze closer together to get by.
The cruise is a bit out of my price range, unfortunately, but I'll look into both the Boardwalk and the International Gateway! I'll ask my mom what she'd prefer.

I followed the dessert party thread and people seemed to indicate that if you book really early and get a front row seat, you may be able to watch seated. Also it seemed from reviews that dessert party-goers are more courteous and less pushy. That said, I don't want to shell out money and then have that not be the case. My biggest fear is panicking and ruining my mom's time.

I've been looking at a lot of touring plans! I've read how hopeful they can be. I know there will be times when I will be jostled and crowded - it's unavoidable. I just want to minimize how often they occur and keep those that do occur as brief as possible. I think touring plans will definitely help with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WheeledTraveler View Post
Are you going with other people? If there are several other people with you, you can try to get them to arrange themselves around you as a slight buffer. If there's only one other, there's less you can do in general crowds, but for things like queues you could put them on your outside (so railing, you, other person) and at least get a little extra space.

You'd probably also benefit from looking at one of the touring plans and/or smartphone apps that can give you a sense of where things are busiest or lightest on a given day. If you're willing to skip the parades, the areas of the park without a parade are much less crowded while the parade is happening. I'm not sure if I've ever watched a full WDW parade in-person, but I also don't feel like I have to see them to soak up the magic. Avoiding things like rope drop are also important, and I think it would be very difficult to do "commando" touring with anxiety. If you want to stay for Wishes or late parades or just late in the park, lag behind the crowds. You can sit on a bench and let them get through. If you're using WDW transportation, then waiting out the crowds will also probably get you on a much less crowded bus/monorail/boat. You may want to consider renting a car, if you can, to avoid more of the crowds on the buses.

If you need to take a break while in a park, you can lie down in the First Aid center if needed. There are also spots that tend to be quieter in each park where you can get a break from the crowd.

The other things that I'd really suggest you stay on top of are hydration, rest, heat, and food. If you're tired, thirsty, hot, and hungry (or any combination thereof) it can raise your anxiety level. I tend to find this extra true for me when it comes to food and water. As much as it's nice to have treats on vacation, pretty much anything you drink other than water will give you liquid, but also not hydrate as well (and plenty of things will make you more thirsty including sports drinks, sodas, etc.). I was once taught that at the point that you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated and an adult should drink something like a pint of water (can't remember specifics). It's worked for me when it comes to keeping myself hydrated. I can't chug the water without it all rushing through, but if I drink it over 15-20 minutes (I tend to go for about a liter), it tends to help.
I'm just going with my mom, and she's quite tiny. That being said, she tends to try and shove herself between me and strangers whenever possible in crowds just out of habit I'm sure it was a lot more effective when I was a kid and didn't tower over her. I appreciate the effort though

I'm not all that into parades, and neither is my mom, so we'll likely just skip those. It's only really the fireworks we're interested in. Lagging behind crowds is a good idea! I'd never really thought of doing that, believe it or not. With my anxiety I tend to try and rush ahead of the crowd to avoid it, and usually end up caught right in the middle of it, defeating the purpose. Waiting until people have left is definitely the way to go.

I don't really drink anything except water anymore, so not much of a concern for me. I had to cut highly caffeinated beverages out of my diet because they were increasing my anxiety tenfold (plus pop makes me bloated anyway, and nobody wants that! ). You're 100% right about staying hydrated. Not only do I tend to get dizzy when I don't have enough to drink, but it doesn't help my anxiety either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wisbucky View Post
If you want to stay inside MK I would suggest this area. As you walk towards the castle and get near the hub look way off to the right. You will see a covered area with tables and chairs. it is by the water. This area is never crowded with people.

My DH and I go down there with my scooter about 45 minutes before fireworks. We sit up along the railling so no one stands in front of me. You may not see the front of the castle but it is very quiet and like I said hardly anyone goes there.
Another great idea! I'll consider that as well.

Thank you all so much. It can be stressful to plan trips with my anxiety, not only because I have to figure out ways to avoid getting suffocated by crowds, but because the act of worrying about whether or not I'll get stuck in a crowd can make me anxious. All your advice has really calmed me down
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:35 PM   #7
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we have watched the fireworks at mk on the poly beach. very relaxing (sitting on a beach chair) however you don't see everything. We also viewed the fireworks over by the carousel. It wasn't as crowded as if you are on main street. I was able to move around.

don't know of any quiet place for illuminations. What I have found is that when illuminations starts, people tend to push and shove towards the fence (of the lake). So maybe once it starts you can stand behind all of those people.
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:23 PM   #8
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We watched Wishes from the bridge heading into Belle's village. This was just last week, prime time at WDW, and the area was empty.
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Old 03-20-2013, 04:59 PM   #9
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For illuminations we once watched from the bridge near the Odyssey. Not the greatest spot since you miss the stuff on the water but if I recall it was not crowded, and this was during Christmas. Here are some pictures from that spot






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Old 03-20-2013, 06:22 PM   #10
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May I also recommend using EMH and getting there early leaving during peak times, and going back for a few hours at night?
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:43 PM   #11
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we've done the desert party, and booked as early as it was open and "had" a nice up front seat. But by the time we actually were seated (because silly us, we showed up about 15 min prior to our seating time, only to wait in line for 30 min past our seating time) a good 50% of the restaurant had already been seated and were done eating and proceed to crowd around the railing and hang near our table.

We booked it so my son ,who hates fireworks and crowds, but loves deserts, could sit in comfort while the rest of us enjoyed the show. As it was, my daughter had to stand the whole time to get pictures.

The people I felt bad for were the family next to us with their daughter in a wheelchair. I'm sure they were expecting to be able to see as well, Nope, people just plowed right in front of her too.
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:10 PM   #12
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Found this thread because I'm starting to worry that my anxiety will ruin our trip this fall. Thanks for the tips everyone. I also have big issues with being touched and will remember to have one child go in front and spouse behind me in lines. I appreciate that tip.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Found this thread because I'm starting to worry that my anxiety will ruin our trip this fall. Thanks for the tips everyone. I also have big issues with being touched and will remember to have one child go in front and spouse behind me in lines. I appreciate that tip.
I also like the new tips.

No matter how many times I have been to Disney I question why I love going when I have the memories of panic attacks, fear when I get separated from the family (lost). I don't know why they forget my fear of separation to try and locate them....yes, my phone has died. It was trying to connect to every blue tooth device walking by.

I am okay with crowds, if I have space. I do need to distress during the day...getting my butt to the carousel of progress, soar in, Safari, the one park I always have trouble with is studio. I don't do the big rides, The Great Movie Ride and Back Lot are okay.

I have been known to just sit and cry, I hate that. Walking through the lands at Epcot is rough, but I do focus on my favorites. Mexico, Norway, eating at England for fish and chips.

So I plan my day knowing my limits, I will only do HS when it's not busy and we stay together. Let me sit on a bench with my hidden Mickey book while the big kids ride big kid rides.
Then I ask for my DTD store trip and Earl os Sandwhich.

Oh, and my Ativan......
Have fun, find a place during the day to relax,
Good sleep and hydration. Don't get overheated.
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:04 PM   #14
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No advice for fireworks as last time I just tried to deal with it and happened to be in a wheelchair both nights of the fireworks so the chance of actually being touched was lowered, but for standing in lines have your mom stand behind you. I would need about a dozen more hands to count the number of times that the same person would bump into me while waiting for a ride and it was sending me over the edge until I finally placed my mom between us as a buffer. Not that she enjoyed being bumped into, but it was better than me freaking out.
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:46 PM   #15
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@rebeccaariel what about noise reduction headphones (like they use on shooting ranges) for the fireworks? Would that help?

@ladygoldenhair :hugs: I totally understand. I've been out having a great time shopping with friends and had to just sit down and cry. Sometimes my emotions just overwhelm me without notice. I'll be taking a full prescription of Clonzapam (sp?) for sure. Also buying battery chargers for the phones because getting lost or separated is another big issue for me. Might have to make a rule about meeting at a specific place in case of that. I want my girls to have the time of their lives but part of that is not seeing mommy cry or have a melt down.
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