Lone parent trip

JustAmom1990

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 17, 2023
Going the first week of December with 5yo (autistic). I have several questions/concerns about this trip and I honestly feel like reddit is the only people that will be at least half honest.

  1. I'm worried I need to switch resorts to a monorail resort if for nothing other than to make my life easier with the monorail/walking to MK. As well as concerns for my child wandering when she gets distracted by something... currently booked at FQ
  2. Since I will now be alone as this was supposed to be a family trip I'm worried about not having an extra pair of hands in the event of a meltdown (also another reason I'd like a closer resort)
  3. We will have a stroller but I'm wondering how the process works for having it tagged as a wheelchair as when we are out and she gets overwhelmed she uses it as a safe space.
Any help is greatly appreciated since I have not been since I was about 10 and I'm in my 30s now.
 
Note - I've not taken an autistic child, but I'm an adult with some "autistic-like" traits (probably should have been tested as a kid, but wasn't) and I noticed nobody way more qualified had replied yet... so I'll share my thoughts, and you can take them as seriously (or not) as you're comfortable with. -

I'm worried I need to switch resorts to a monorail resort if for nothing other than to make my life easier with the monorail/walking to MK. As well as concerns for my child wandering when she gets distracted by something... currently booked at FQ
I really liked staying at POFQ - the resort is smaller and less busy. (With the monorail resorts, the lobbies are often full of people who aren't even staying there.) And I used the downtime of the bus ride to decompress after the park. You've also got the boat right there if you need a quieter activity, and more green space around if nature calms your little one.

Since I will now be alone as this was supposed to be a family trip I'm worried about not having an extra pair of hands in the event of a meltdown (also another reason I'd like a closer resort)
First, I'm sorry your hopes for this trip changed, for whatever reason. :hug: As it's just the two of you, I think you'll be OK on the meltdown front. -
1) There's nobody else's feelings or expectations to consider, so you can truly go at your child's pace, which will hopefully head off some of the meltdown's in the first place, and
2) it will at least give you the flexibility to just stop and deal with it, rather than trying to keep another child (or adult) happy at the same time. Plus,
3) lots of typical kids have meltdowns at Disney too, so you probably won't feel as "in the spotlight" as you might at home.

I do see your point about about less time to get back to the room if you need to, though. So I guess it depends on the difference in price, and whether you can budget a lot more for convenience.

We will have a stroller but I'm wondering how the process works for having it tagged as a wheelchair as when we are out and she gets overwhelmed she uses it as a safe space.
No experience with this one, but hopefully someone else will jump in.

Any help is greatly appreciated since I have not been since I was about 10 and I'm in my 30s now.
My best advice is don't try to do everything!! WDW is huge, and it's better to fully immerse yourself in a few parts of it than push yourself so too much. "Memories are made in the unexpected moments."

I hope you have a wonderful trip!
 
First, I'm sorry your hopes for this trip changed, for whatever reason. :hug: As it's just the two of you, I think you'll be OK on the meltdown front. -
1) There's nobody else's feelings or expectations to consider, so you can truly go at your child's pace, which will hopefully head off some of the meltdown's in the first place, and
2) it will at least give you the flexibility to just stop and deal with it, rather than trying to keep another child (or adult) happy at the same time. Plus,
3) lots of typical kids have meltdowns at Disney too, so you probably won't feel as "in the spotlight" as you might at home.
:love:
 
I would switch to a monorail resort if you can. Fq is lovely,but the convenience of a monorail resort at the end of a long and overstimulating day just can't be beat. Getting the stroller as wheelchair tag is really easy,you just go to guest services and explain why you need it, it's really easy. Of note if you're going to be taking buses,the tag does not allow the child to stay in the stroller on the bus, so that's something to consider. Other than that you just want to take the parks nice and easy. When traveling with specialneeds kids you can't go in set on getting everything done, if you try to do it all you will just end up miserable. Better to enjoy a few attractions at a leisurely pace than trying to stress everyone out trying to do a lot. I find making sit down dining reservations helps the whole family to recharge when we're in the park. Alternating shows with rides also helps us. Also, your child may qualify for Disney's disability access pass, so that's something to possibly look into.
 


The best hotel depends somewhat on your plans. If you're going to spend most of your time at MK and Epcot then yes a MK resort would be ideal, but also extremely expensive. Contemporary garden wing is probably the most affordable of the options. If your time is going to be split more equally, you could look at one of the skyliner resorts. It definitely is helpful in the midst of a meltdown to be able to put the child in the stroller and get back to the resort. The most important thing is to take it slow. Don't try to do park open to close, and if you start to see some early signs of a meltdown, just stop and take a break instead of trying to push it to the limit because you have a reservation or a return time.
 
If you are only going to MK then a monorail resort would be perfect. If you are planning on visiting any other parks, I would stay at your original resort and perhaps budget for Minnie Vans to get back to your resort if need be.

The monorail will get you from MK to the 3 monorail resorts fairly quickly. You will need to take 2 monorails to get from EPCOT to your monorail resort (one from EPCOT to the TTC, then the TTC to the monorail resorts) or if you stay at the Poly you can skip the second monorail and walk there from the TTC. You can only take busses from monorail resorts to DHS and AKL.

If you haven't thought about it already, you should look to see if your daughter would benefit from a DAS pass. You can do that ahead of time online or at guest services at the park.

I haven't had to request a stroller as a wheelchair tag but I believe that can also be requested at guest services. You would wait in regular ride lines for most rides if you have the stroller as a wheelchair tag (without a DAS).
 
The best hotel depends somewhat on your plans. If you're going to spend most of your time at MK and Epcot then yes a MK resort would be ideal, but also extremely expensive. Contemporary garden wing is probably the most affordable of the options. If your time is going to be split more equally, you could look at one of the skyliner resorts. It definitely is helpful in the midst of a meltdown to be able to put the child in the stroller and get back to the resort. The most important thing is to take it slow. Don't try to do park open to close, and if you start to see some early signs of a meltdown, just stop and take a break instead of trying to push it to the limit because you have a reservation or a return time.
We plan on doing MK Epcot and Animal Kingdom. So the only day realistically I’ll have to deal with buses is AK. We’re staying 5 nights because I also wanted to be sure I had breaks built in to our trip.

DAS is a priority at this point for her sake. And as you said since it will be the two of us we can just take it slow through the park and take it on a ride by ride basis essentially.

Also yes I am currently looking at garden wing to be the most cost effective for us. The way I’ve priced it out it is technically more money but I’ve already fully paid for this trip and by taking the oldest off of the trip it’s equaling almost the same amount to switch resorts.

My 17year old step daughter was supposed to come on this trip with us, her mother has decided she doesn’t want her to take the trip with only me if her father doesn’t come. I am not an evil stepmother her father and I have been together 10 years and the child has been to Disney several times with just her stepdad. I also had full permission to take her when I booked this trip last summer. So this has thrown a wrench but everything happens for a reason. Thank you so much for your help.
 


Note - I've not taken an autistic child, but I'm an adult with some "autistic-like" traits (probably should have been tested as a kid, but wasn't) and I noticed nobody way more qualified had replied yet... so I'll share my thoughts, and you can take them as seriously (or not) as you're comfortable with. -


I really liked staying at POFQ - the resort is smaller and less busy. (With the monorail resorts, the lobbies are often full of people who aren't even staying there.) And I used the downtime of the bus ride to decompress after the park. You've also got the boat right there if you need a quieter activity, and more green space around if nature calms your little one.


First, I'm sorry your hopes for this trip changed, for whatever reason. :hug: As it's just the two of you, I think you'll be OK on the meltdown front. -
1) There's nobody else's feelings or expectations to consider, so you can truly go at your child's pace, which will hopefully head off some of the meltdown's in the first place, and
2) it will at least give you the flexibility to just stop and deal with it, rather than trying to keep another child (or adult) happy at the same time. Plus,
3) lots of typical kids have meltdowns at Disney too, so you probably won't feel as "in the spotlight" as you might at home.

I do see your point about about less time to get back to the room if you need to, though. So I guess it depends on the difference in price, and whether you can budget a lot more for convenience.


No experience with this one, but hopefully someone else will jump in.


My best advice is don't try to do everything!! WDW is huge, and it's better to fully immerse yourself in a few parts of it than push yourself so too much. "Memories are made in the unexpected moments."

I hope you have a wonderful trip!
I am also most likely autistic, maybe that’s why I’m having so much anxiety trying to plan this out lol. But I am very excited to go, my daughter asks at least once a week if we can “go to the castle” your advice is great thank you so much for that.

I’m also trying to prepare the little one for a flight and luckily the flight from where we are is only 2 hours and it will be direct and I’m trying to make sure it’s a plane with WiFi so she can have her iPad while in flight.
 
I’m also trying to prepare the little one for a flight

Reading a picture book or two about what to expect might be a good idea.

Also, some kids' ears feel funny during takeoff and landing, so pack gum or lollipops or something like that in your under-the-seat bag. (Chewing/sucking relieves the pressure.)
 
Also yes I am currently looking at garden wing to be the most cost effective for us.
The Contemporary is my favorite resort so I'm biased - but with a young child I think you'd spend most of your time there and it's just wonderful to be able to walk over and back when you feel like it. Your child may enjoy riding the monorail too and it could be fun to visit other resorts on your rest days. Many, many years ago we temporarily needed to tag the stroller as a WC and it was an easy process at guest relations. You may want to ask about the DAS but I think you've mentioned you know about that.

The garden wing rooms at the CR are some of the largest regular rooms on property and also my favorite - only thing better is that MK view. You can see the electric water pageant from the CR and sometimes from the room. My last garden wing room overlooked the lake behind the resort so I saw the boats all day coming from WL and the water pageant at night.

Sounds like a fun trip with your little one! :)
 
We plan on doing MK Epcot and Animal Kingdom. So the only day realistically I’ll have to deal with buses is AK. We’re staying 5 nights because I also wanted to be sure I had breaks built in to our trip.

DAS is a priority at this point for her sake. And as you said since it will be the two of us we can just take it slow through the park and take it on a ride by ride basis essentially.

Also yes I am currently looking at garden wing to be the most cost effective for us. The way I’ve priced it out it is technically more money but I’ve already fully paid for this trip and by taking the oldest off of the trip it’s equaling almost the same amount to switch resorts.

My 17year old step daughter was supposed to come on this trip with us, her mother has decided she doesn’t want her to take the trip with only me if her father doesn’t come. I am not an evil stepmother her father and I have been together 10 years and the child has been to Disney several times with just her stepdad. I also had full permission to take her when I booked this trip last summer. So this has thrown a wrench but everything happens for a reason. Thank you so much for your help.
especially at EPCOT no strollers in buildings without wheelchair tag. Plus no strollers without same tag in lines for rides
 
We will have a stroller but I'm wondering how the process works for having it tagged as a wheelchair as when we are out and she gets overwhelmed she uses it as a safe space.

Just a note: The "stroller as a wheelchair" tag will help you at rides, attractions and shows within the 4 theme parks - it will *not* give any help or advantage when using Disney Transportation, or food service locations, shops, Disney Springs, etc.

Remember that there are First Aid locations in all 4 of the theme parks in case you need one. They aren't just for dispensing bandages and Tylenol; you can find accessible restrooms, ice packs and more. Speaking of ice, all Quick Service food service locations will give you a cup of free ice; just ask.

You may feel overwhelmed, but I promise - if we miss anything here, just ask any Cast Member and if they don't have the answer for you, they will help direct you to the person(s) who might.
 
I will say that I also had that sort of - I'm going to be the only adult here in case something arises - moment (though I had gone more and felt like I had a decent handle on things because of that ... except that going as a solo adult and even as a parent with another parent are VERY different than going as a solo parent). If it helps, the thing that I kept in mind was: this is a trip for my family that takes place in WDW. We're going to do our normal family stuff and it doesn't have to be anything specific or different because we're "at Disney" [world, I am not one of those folks who likes calling it "Disney" but you get my point]. So, we checked in with each other - we took breaks - and at times, I just wanted an extra set of hands or someone to lean on. I did look into hiring someone to help - given the overwhelming nature of WDW generally (and then adding some disabilities). I ended up not doing it - I could see pros and cons if it's an option. For what it's worth, one of my trips to WDW was as a teen who went to help my aunt (single) who wanted to take her kids and she wanted an extra set of hands. I definitely considered whether or not I could afford to take a friend (not a ton of family) to help with something like this - and that wasn't an option, so I looked into hiring local help (when my former spouse and I took our then only child, we hired a babysitter for an evening - so it didn't feel completely foreign to me).

I don't know if that was helpful. I guess my point is - there are parts that will be hard/harder than normal and you totally have this (and in the moments you feel like you don't, it's okay to seek help). For instance (and now I don't even really remember the precipitating circumstance!) - my kids and I were looking forward to Beaches and Cream and the kitchen sink. I don't completely remember now what led to the issue - so, B&C fans, please don't crucify me if I'm wrong - but I think maybe their bathroom was outside of the restaurant or something? Whatever it was - I think it was an issue where my youngest needed to go to the bathroom and needed assistance. But my oldest didn't want to go and need to be in the bathroom for a while - but also wasn't at an age where I felt comfortable leaving them at the table (especially at WDW). Anyway ... somehow as we stumbled through it ... our server offered to sit with our oldest while I took my youngest and dealt with their needs. And god bless this woman, who did (I think my kid said she stayed the whole time - I would've been fine with her more or less hovering but not necessarily literally being at the table). I literally cried at how helpful she was at a stressful moment (and she got the positive feedback in the app, in person, and a generous tip - and I recall apologizing to tables around us, though I'm sure she had other servers help them). But in that moment where I really needed some help, it came.
 
I will say that I also had that sort of - I'm going to be the only adult here in case something arises - moment (though I had gone more and felt like I had a decent handle on things because of that ... except that going as a solo adult and even as a parent with another parent are VERY different than going as a solo parent). If it helps, the thing that I kept in mind was: this is a trip for my family that takes place in WDW. We're going to do our normal family stuff and it doesn't have to be anything specific or different because we're "at Disney" [world, I am not one of those folks who likes calling it "Disney" but you get my point]. So, we checked in with each other - we took breaks - and at times, I just wanted an extra set of hands or someone to lean on. I did look into hiring someone to help - given the overwhelming nature of WDW generally (and then adding some disabilities). I ended up not doing it - I could see pros and cons if it's an option. For what it's worth, one of my trips to WDW was as a teen who went to help my aunt (single) who wanted to take her kids and she wanted an extra set of hands. I definitely considered whether or not I could afford to take a friend (not a ton of family) to help with something like this - and that wasn't an option, so I looked into hiring local help (when my former spouse and I took our then only child, we hired a babysitter for an evening - so it didn't feel completely foreign to me).

I don't know if that was helpful. I guess my point is - there are parts that will be hard/harder than normal and you totally have this (and in the moments you feel like you don't, it's okay to seek help). For instance (and now I don't even really remember the precipitating circumstance!) - my kids and I were looking forward to Beaches and Cream and the kitchen sink. I don't completely remember now what led to the issue - so, B&C fans, please don't crucify me if I'm wrong - but I think maybe their bathroom was outside of the restaurant or something? Whatever it was - I think it was an issue where my youngest needed to go to the bathroom and needed assistance. But my oldest didn't want to go and need to be in the bathroom for a while - but also wasn't at an age where I felt comfortable leaving them at the table (especially at WDW). Anyway ... somehow as we stumbled through it ... our server offered to sit with our oldest while I took my youngest and dealt with their needs. And god bless this woman, who did (I think my kid said she stayed the whole time - I would've been fine with her more or less hovering but not necessarily literally being at the table). I literally cried at how helpful she was at a stressful moment (and she got the positive feedback in the app, in person, and a generous tip - and I recall apologizing to tables around us, though I'm sure she had other servers help them). But in that moment where I really needed some help, it came.
And, it can be done :P
 

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Going the first week of December with 5yo (autistic). I have several questions/concerns about this trip and I honestly feel like reddit is the only people that will be at least half honest.

  1. I'm worried I need to switch resorts to a monorail resort if for nothing other than to make my life easier with the monorail/walking to MK. As well as concerns for my child wandering when she gets distracted by something... currently booked at FQ
  2. Since I will now be alone as this was supposed to be a family trip I'm worried about not having an extra pair of hands in the event of a meltdown (also another reason I'd like a closer resort)
  3. We will have a stroller but I'm wondering how the process works for having it tagged as a wheelchair as when we are out and she gets overwhelmed she uses it as a safe space.
Any help is greatly appreciated since I have not been since I was about 10 and I'm in my 30s now.
Hi, I just took my autistic DD7 on a solo Disney trip. She's been to WDW several times, though, so it's a bit different. A lot of it depends on your child's needs and what they find especially challenging. Here's my take on it, though:

1. If you can do a Contemporary garden room in your budget, I'd strongly consider it. Buses are crowded, and waits for them can be long. The bus was the single most challenging part of the trip for my DD7. For our trip, we stayed at the Dolphin so we could walk to Epcot and HS (DD7's favorite parks). We took the bus to MK, then came back by taking the monorail to Epcot and walking through Epcot. This took FOREVER and required parkhoppers (which we got anyway) but DD7 got to stay in her stroller and was happy. For AK, we took Lyft/Uber. I brought a travel booster seat for the car rides that I put in the bottom of the stroller in the park. Regular Lyft/Uber is much cheaper than Minnie vans, and they drop off near the entrance at AK.

2. Oddly, I don't worry too much about meltdowns at WDW. Kids have meltdowns all the time there, so my kid was just another kid having a meltdown, lol. I think this depends on your comfort handling meltdowns on your own in general, because it depends on how the meltdowns are.

3. We didn't get her stroller tagged as a wheelchair, so I'm not experienced with that.

4. One thing that surprised me with taking her alone to WDW - food was tricky sometimes. We did a lot of QS that I ordered ahead on my phone, because planning to be at a certain restaurant at a certain time, then wait for our food, was often too much for DD7. If you're alone, this means you have to maneuver food, tray, child, and possibly stroller on your own. This was ok for me because DD7 has gotten much better about staying with me, but it would have been tough when she was 5. I think it depends on the child. You might find that sit-down places work better because of the juggling involved. I liked the quick serve at Riviera (Primo Piatto, I think?) because you ordered, then they brought the food to your table.

All that said - I really liked going to WDW solo with her. We got to do what she wanted, which included watching the stoplight at HS for half an hour, and riding Mission Space over and over again (ok, that wasn't my preference!). The cast members were all great at helping and recognizing difficulties, and honestly so were the other parents I encountered there.
 
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I will second (third, fourth) the contemporary garden wing. The monorail is great but the walking option is even better as the line for the monorail sometimes gets long. The garden wing is also quieter than the main tower, not sure if noise is an issue for your DD. My DD is a bit of an elopement risk (very intentional on her part) so having a room not on the first floor was clutch for us so I would recommend putting in a request if her wandering is a concern. Switching to a deluxe (or grand Destino tower) will also allow for room doors that open into a hallway rather than the outdoors which may also be helpful.
Being on the monorail loops also allows for easy fireworks viewing that was quieter and less crowded than being in the parks. This was huge for my DS who doesn't like crowds.
Meltdowns...I feel like those are common asd or not in wdw. From what I witnessed people are very good about giving you space when that occurs...more so than like at your local super market.
Depending on how comfortable DD is with public restrooms I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the locations of the companion rooms in each park. The regular restrooms can get loud the companion ones may require some waiting but may make that experience more comfortable as well.
 
I've been the solo parent going with 2 neurodivergent children. It was daunting at first. Now, I wouldn't do it any other way.
My #1 tip: DON'T OVER DO IT. If you need the nap, take the nap. This isn't a race from ropedrop to fireworks. And you will have a much better experience if you lower your expectations and adjust your daily plans to how everyone is feeling.

Hotels: Pick the one YOU want, with the sleeping arrangements/floor plan/transportation options/theme that works for the PARENT. A 5-year-old will not care. I place a high priority on a calm location. I found the Skyliner to actually be the best transportation option. Some resorts closer to MK (if that is your only park) will not necessarily get you to MK faster. We consistently got to MK faster from the Caribbean Beach resort than from our room at Wilderness Lodge, for example. That said...the deluxe rooms with the wheelchair button for the room door are a really nice thing to have. If you have a kid with food sensory issues, I cannot overstate the value of renting a DVC villa, with the food prep areas in-room.

Food. Mobile order is my best friend. Picking a meal in a crowded place with hundreds of people behind me trying to get an answer from my kids=no. Ordering and customizing in the app in a quiet corner, then strolling up in my window and waiting ~5 minutes on average=big win. Eating outside in a space where I can sit for 10 seconds if we need to or 30 minutes while I eat like a normal human and my child chills in their stroller is part of the Disney magic for me. BUT ALWAYS KEEP EMERGENCY SNACKS ON HAND

We used the stroller as a wheelchair tag. It works no different than a wheelchair and is not treated differently. I know that others say that there is no difference on transportation or anything other than rides or attractions. That has consistently not been our experience. We were given the option on a few buses (though not consistently) to roll on via the rear entrance, transfer to seats and fold the stroller inside. On the Skyliner, we were almost always diverted to the wheelchair line when a CM spotted the tag on the stroller (the line where the cars stop completely). With the very few sit-down restaurants we went to, we were able to bring the stroller inside if we needed to.

Cast members were always very helpful when we had a few meltdown situations that I didn't get a handle on immediately. I never ran into one that wouldn't help me find a quiet corner. They know those parks VERY WELL.
 

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