This past May, my husband and I took our first ever family vacation, and we went to Universal Orlando. We have two kids with special needs — one has a form of Autism, and one has CP and other brain issues — so naturally I was worried about how this trip would go. In the end I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way Universal Orlando has things set up for people with special needs!
My daughter, Sarah, is 8 and is in a wheelchair. I was so worried at first about getting through the crowds and through lines at the rides, but it was so easy. I could push her chair all the way through the line, lift her onto the rides myself, and the staff would take her chair aside and bring it back when we were getting off. It felt so great not to feel like we were in the way or holding anyone else up!!
Everywhere we went it was fast and smooth, getting on and off, which made it easy for my husband with the other kids as well. The restrooms were nice, clean, and spacious as well — plenty room in the handicapped stalls! As for Hunter, who just turned 12 and has a form of Autism, there were times it would get to overwhelming for him, but Island of Adventure is so well themed that there were plenty of out coves to take a quieter moment to collect ourselves and have a snack. His favorite one was right next to the building where we had our picture taken with Spider-Man in Marvel Super Hero Island. It faces the Mythos Restaurant across the lake.
We sat under tree, and it was just so beautiful to rest and take in the sights that Hunter said he thought he found a little slice of heaven on earth — he really enjoyed himself. I agree with him it was awesome and I will remember he rest of my life.
We took team grandma with us, and I have to say there was something there for everyone. We all enjoyed the rides, restaurants, shows and shops. And our hotel was just as wonderful. We decided to stay on-site so we could run back to the hotel for a break if need be. We chose Hard Rock and loved it!!! The staff was exceptional, and the rooms were a great size and accommodating for Sarah. The pool rocked, too. There was great music, the staff would come out and do games with the kids, so we ended up spending each evening winding down with a family swim. I would highly recommend Universal for a family with special needs looking for a theme park to visit. It really had something for everyone of all ages and abilities, and for having a large family it was budget friendly — can’t wait to take us all back in 2014!!!
Editor’s note: To learn more about guests with special needs visiting Universal Orlando, please visit our Attraction Assistance & Guest Assistance Passes page in the OI Universal Center.
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