The last time we traveled to Disney World, the kids were 7 and 4. Some fond memories and some stressful ones! But lessons were learned that helped prepare us for this trip. Back then we were only dealing with a food allergy and soon discovered that Disney is the “happiest place on earth” for food allergic children! And I can report that the parks are even better prepared for food allergies today! I remembered the chaos of trying to get on the rides we wanted and the headache of dodging strollers and scooters (sorry to those of you who must use both…but not all stroller/scooter patrons appear aware of the roadblocks they create for those of us hoofing it!).
7 years later, we had the additional challenge of dealing with KC’s Type 1 diabetes…our first trip since her diagnosis. I was determined to make this as easy and stress-free as I possibly could.
First step: Be Prepared.
I researched the DOC (diabetic on-line community) and found many wonderful resources including Robyn Sturtevant Adams, an authorized Disney travel planner with Travel with the Magic. http://www.travelwiththemagic.com/ She is married to a Type 1 and also the proud mother of a Type 1 son….and she’s a wealth of information!
So here are some of the things I learned:
Things to Take to Disney
Spibelt–an expandable pump pouch that keeps the pump from jiggling around. (www.spibelt.com) KC wore her pump on every ride (Okay, she didn’t do Space Mountain or any of the high thrill rides–but she did ride on the Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios and the Test Track at Epcot)
insulated back-pack loaded with Epi-pen for #1 son, Novolog and Lantus flex pens, BG meter and testing supplies, extra batteries for pump, juice boxes, glucose tabs, 15 carb snack, string cheese and nuts, water bottles, antiseptic wipes, sharps container, calculator, sunblock, two drawstring backpacks to carry souvenirs, and a first aid kit.
That’s it…one back-pack for 4 people.
How to Manage Our Time at the Parks
Orlando in July is going to be…HOT! And it was..so in anticipation of the heat and how it could affect KC, we made a game plan in advance of hitting the parks.
1. Arrive at park opening every morning and leave around 12:30 p.m.
2. Go back to hotel and swim, or get rest in the air conditioning.
3. Hit the parks again in the evening until close.
In addition, each family member selected one ride at each park that was a “must do.” We then used the customized map service on the Disney World website and printed maps. We were able to look at where we wanted to be and decide what to hit first, second etc. Using this strategy, we were able to get on most rides with absolutely no waiting in the mornings. Our only morning wait was 20 minutes for the Jungle Cruise (in the shade the entire time) but we all agree that this was worth it..thanks to our guide Joshua from Lousiana! He was terrific!
When we came back in the evening, we snagged a Fast Pass then hit other attractions. All in all, in three days we only used Fast Passes 4 times.
Many people traveling with CWD will try to get a guest assistance pass to help beat the lines. We decided not to bother the first day and were so successful that we didn’t try to get one at all.
Eating at the Parks
We chose to eat breakfast and most lunches back at the hotel for both economical and health reasons. But we did have dinner at the Plaza in the Magic Kingdom and lunch at Via Napoli in Epcot. I made reservations on-line, and brought the printed confirmations with me. Needn’t have worried, both restaurants were wonderful to us. The chef at the Plaza came out and asked #1 son what he would like for her to make for him and told him that they had Tofutti available for dessert if he wanted it (he decided to wait until later and get it at the Plaza ice cream parlor). KC was able to get a kid’s meal portion (easier to count the carbs), plus steamed broccoli and had no-sugar added ice cream for dessert. Our waitress brought out an entire binder filled with nutrition information for us.
Our lunch at Via Napoli went just as smoothly. #1 son got his wood-fired, no-cheese pizza and KC was able to have sugar-free strawberry mousse for dessert. Two happy campers! Thanks to Davide, the manager, and Michel our waiter!