Autism Friendly Theme Parks

As a parent of a child with autism, I’m sure you want your child to be able to experience all of the fun that you once did and have the same opportunities as other children.  Outings alone can be difficult, so theme parks are often daunting.  With so much noise, stimulation, and waiting, they’re primed for a struggle with a child with autism.  Fortunately, many theme parks have stepped up and made some great changes.  I have included a list below of various parks around the U.S. that are autism or other special needs friendly.

Sesame Place- Langhorne, PA

  • Certified Autism Center
  • Staff specially trained in potential needs of individuals with autism and how to best support them
  • Special Access Pass: quick access to 6 dry and 3 wet rides, along with 3 family members
  • Special areas with more space and low sensory stimulation
  • 2 quiet rooms
  • Stroller and wheelchair passes
  • Sensory Guide for information on attractions that may pose challenges to individuals with special needs
  • Website: https://sesameplace.com/philadelphia/

Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Island in San Antonio, TX

  • Inclusive environment for all ages and abilities
  • “The World’s First Ultra-Accessible Theme Park”
  • Created by parents of child with special needs
  • All individuals with special needs are admitted free of charge
  • Sensory Village
  • Wheelchair swings
  • Waterproof wheelchairs for water attractions
  • Website: https://www.morganswonderland.com/

Aquatica- Orlando, FL

  • Waterpark
  • Certified Autism Center
  • Staff specially trained in potential needs of individuals with autism and how to best support them
  • Quiet room
  • Low-sensory areas
  • Sensory Guide for information on attractions that may pose challenges to individuals with special needs
  • Ride Accessibility map
  • Website: https://aquatica.com/

Discovery Cove- Orlando, FL

  • Certified Autism Center
  • Staff specially trained in potential needs of individuals with autism and how to best support them
  • Sensory Guide with rankings of how attractions may rate in terms of sensory stimulation
  • Limited attendance
  • Quiet areas
  • Allergen specific meals available
  • Website: https://discoverycove.com/orlando/

Disney World- Orlando, FL

  • Disability Access Service Pass- allows for no waiting in line
  • Strollers and wheelchair program
  • Quiet areas
  • Rider switch- allows for supervising adult to wait with a child who cannot or does not want to go on a ride and then switch without another wait in line to ride when done
  • Downloadable visual guide designed for those with special needs
  • Website: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

Disneyland Resort- Anaheim, CA

Legoland Florida Resort- Winter Park, FL

  • “Blue Hero Pass”- decreased waiting in lines
  • Quiet rooms
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Weighted blankets
  • Fidget toys
  • Social Stories
  • Website:https://www.legoland.com/florida/

Legoland San Diego, CA

  • Assisted Access Pass- for guests with cognitive or physical needs
  • Quiet rooms
  • Companion Restrooms
  • Strollers as wheelchairs program
  • Stroller and wheelchairs available
  • Special dietary accommodations
  • Website: https://www.legoland.com/california/

Cedar Point- Sandusky, OH

  • Cedar Point’s Ride Boarding Pass Program- bypass standard lines and board through special entrance
  • 3 additional guests can accompany those with Ride Boarding Pass
  • Parent swap ride program
  • Additional safety services
  • Website: https://www.cedarpoint.com/

Nickelodean Universe- Bloomington, MN

  • Certified Autism Center
  • Staff specially trained in potential needs of individuals with autism and how to best support them
  • Sensory Guide
  • Quiet spaces
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Website: https://nickelodeonuniverse.com/

Thomas Land at Edaville Family Theme Park- Carver Massachusetts

Dollywood- Pigeon Forge, TN

I am blown away by the changes in the theme park scene over the past 10 years.  There’s still room to grow, but the way many theme parks have taken notice of the needs of many of their guests and made attempts to address them is impressive.  Families with members with special needs have so many more opportunities now.  Be sure to check out the websites and/or call ahead for the most up-to-date information on all of the parks.  I hope this provides you with some summer travel inspiration to create fun memories for your entire family.