Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Disney Tips for PTSD (And military) Families

All the info I have is for the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando FL I have been there about 22 times and am kinda obsessed :D I've never been to the Disney Land resort so I don't feel I can give any info on it

The 2012-2013 Military Disney Deals for 2012-2013 came out the other day and its a 4 day hopper pass for $158 per person or a 4 day hopper+Water parks for $183 These prices are up from their last year discounts but are still about 50% off and now with the added discounts at their on property hotels most deff can't be beat!

Real quick before I forget! There are black out dates of the Military tickets here they are:
23 December 2012 - 2 January 2013 (No theme Park Use)
15 – 17 February 2013 (No theme Park Use)
25 March – 5 April 2013 (No theme Park Use)
4 July 2013 (No theme Park Use)
Ok next is Hotels... you have 3 options on this 1. is to stay on Disney Property, 2. is a hotel off property and 3. is a condo off property... Because of the size of your family I'm gonna recommend option #3 it gives you guys the most space but honestly option #2 is without a doubt the cheapest... I'll give you the figures on all 3 and you guys can pick what is best for your family grin
Option #1, On Property:
Up until about 2 weeks ago I would say don't even think about it but when Disney released their 2012-2013 deals, they changed up 1 thing, they are now giving discounts at resorts other then Shades of Green...
40% off Deluxe Resorts
35% off Moderates and Fort Wilderness Cabins
30% off Value Resorts including Art of Animation
Disney World Room Blockout dates:
22 – 24 November 2012
23-31 December 2012
25 March - 4 April 2013
The Deluxe resorts start at $265 a night going up to $3730 a night (I would LOVE to know what could possibly make a hotel worth that much ahahh) At the discount they start at $159
The Moderate/Fort Wilderness start at $159 ($104 Discounted), the cabins (Which is what I would recommend for your family if your going to pick on property due to how many they sleep) start at $285 a night ( $186 a night at the discount)
The value resorts start at $84 a night ($59 a night discounted) which really isn't that bad the Value resorts are VERY family friendly
I have personally stayed in all of these resorts and Fort Wilderness was my fave it gives you the feeling of camping but your in a hotel room and maid service comes daily (My kinda camping!)
The up sides to staying on property: You don't have to drive anywhere, just park your car and use the Disney transportation system, you save $14 a day in parking
The down side: Your stuck on Disney property and stuck eating at their restaurants which while amazing are VERY expensive! When we were there, just a normal lunch cost $20 a person... Dinner was $26 a person for no joke a plate of pasta...
Option #2 is an off property hotel:
This is a good option if you guys are ok all squeezing together like my family was when I was growing up grin $29.99 a night in that area will get you a decent hotel room (Red roof inn, Howard Johnson, Econo Lodge, Travel lodge kinda thing... nothing spectacular but its a room, its cheap and its clean)
Upside: you can get away from the Disney craziness, Food is affordable, you can go to other parks (Seaworld, Universal Studios)
Downside: $14 a day to park which honestly with the new discounts at the Value Resorts puts you at almost the same cost nightly
Option #3: a Condo
This is my personal fave! offers hundreds of condos to military families at HUGE discounts Thats a link to the Disney area condos grin
$369 for a week ($50 off that if you book online! it breaks down to about $52 a night before the discount) gets you a condo that can sleep 6, with a full kitchen, dining room, living room, and multi bedrooms! There are many to look at, and pick which is best for you!
I've stayed with them before and the rooms are beautiful, the service is great and they have a wonderful cancel policy if things change
Upside: You can cook in your room saving TONS of money on food... We ate breakfast in the room and then would start the crock pot before we left in the morning and go back to the condo at Dinner time to eat! Even if you only ate breakfast in the room and did the crock pot once your looking at hundreds in savings, then all the same perks as the off property hotel grin
Downside: same as above, and there is no room service at condos
Honestly, due to the new discounts at on property resorts I'd really take a look at them grin

Now for the PTSD part of this...

 Josh and I have gone three together since he was diagnosed with PTSD... Once as just a couple in June of 2011, and more recently in July of 2012 with my parents and brothers and once in December of 2012 for the Christmas events... Josh did SHOCKINGLY well on all trips (I was dumbfounded... I'm not gonna lie I was expecting quite a few breakdowns and only had one!)

All times we went we went for more then 7 days... That time line worked well for us because it gave him MAJOR down time and we were able to take our time and see everything rather then feeling rushed to go to the park everyday and stay from 9am-midnight which is stressful for a healthy family let alone one with the added stresses caused by PTSD.

Disney is VERY accommodating to their guest so as soon as you get to the park go to Customer Service (I recommend the one at the Magic Kingdom its right inside the park gates on mainstreet USA at Town Hall) and explain to them your situation they gave our family a pass to skip lines by going in though the exit, this really helped in the sense that he wasn't standing in line for hours surrounded by tons of people feeling like he can't get out... it also helped that he was able to walk away quickly if the stress got to be too much (We only had to walk out of 2 rides thankfully but knowing we could at any time was a huge help for him!) They will ask you how long your planning to stay in the area (Up to 14 days) and how many people are in your party (Up to 6) and give you a pass for that long... This goes without saying but don't take advantage of their kindness If the line is less then 15 minutes long, wait in it like everyone else... We mainly used our pass for major attractions that had fast pass access and could stress him out quickly.

**** update: Disney has recently changed their policies on guest assistance passes due to the overwhelming amount of abuse to their system which breaks my heart. I haven't been down there since the change to know personally how they will handle a situation like ours with such a cut and dry veteran disability with documents and what not but I know according to their website, it's now only for wheelchairs or those with service dogs.

Another big thing a lot of people don't know is they are currently doing parades more then once on Main Street USA at night... Josh DID NOT like these parades at all (Honestly neither did I people are rude and only care about "THEIR CHILD" and don't care how they effect anyone else as long as their kid has the best view) The street is crowded and its the only way in or out of the Magic Kingdom... Unless you know the secret :D

All the stores on Main Street USA are connected on the inside so you can walk from the gates of the Magic Kingdom all the way to the entry of Tomorrowland though stores... These stores are also pretty sound proof so if your soldier has a hard time with fireworks or crowds its a great place to run and hide... I had to pull Josh into the stores on more then one occasion and it worked great for us!
We also found that if after each ride he took time to sit down, have a soda or a snack and smoke he was able to better handle it.

We also found that taking the trip "Slow" helped. We were careful not to spend too much time in the parks and didn't rush from attraction to attraction. 

Below is an example of our most recent trip:

June 30- Drove to FL leaving VA at Midnight and arriving at about 1pm... We checked into a hotel and went to sleep
July 1- Woke up early and was at MGM when the park opened, we went on 4 rides and then left the park completely going to Chili's for a quiet lunch. We then returned to Animal Kingdom where we stayed for about 4 hours and then went back to our condo. We went out to Dinner with my family before returning to the Magic Kingdom for about 2 hours... We found this was a little much for Josh and it ended in quite a fight so we agreed we would not be returning to the Magic Kingdom at night (The Parades and people were just too much for him)

July 2- We slept in til about 10am and then went to Typhoon Lagoon from about 5pm, We went back to the condo, showered, changed and went to Downtown Disney for a very short amount of time just to walk around... Nice, quiet day :D

July 3- We went to EPCOT in the morning (Josh had quite an episode and we had to leave quickly... we spent about 3 hours driving in circles around the Disney property while he calmed down) we then went back to EPCOT for a short time (Like I think we went on one ride) before leaving and going over to MGM to meet up with my family... They went to see Fantasmic! (My fave Disney show we'll talk about about that in a bit!) and Josh and I walked around, I went on a few rides... He didn't feel right the rest of the night so we just walked around quietly and wanted to get home before the rush (which we did) I got very lucky this was the only meltdown of this trip and he woke up the next morning totally ok!

July 4- We went to Universal Studios (My mom had tickets left over from a prior trip) We didn't stay long at all the weather was REALLY crappy and personally I just don't like Universal LOL We went back to the room and relaxed for the night and avoided fireworks at all costs

July 5- Another calm day... woke up late, relaxed, went to Downtown Disney to "Disney Quest" and then to a concert (I surprised Josh with tickets to see one of his favorite bands) I was SHOCKED by how well he handled the concert being how loud and crowded it was

July 6- This was BY FAR the most go-go-go day we had... I have a think for pictures and on this day my goal was to get ALL my pictures done! We started at the Magic Kingdom and I believe the only ride we went on there was Splash Mountain (Like I said, I like pictures haha I wanted one picture of the whole family and I got it!) we then went over to Epcot and walked around all the countries in the World Showcase stopping to take pictures at each one and eat in Morocco (Highly recommend it! The food was amazing!!!!) We then walked to the almost exit of the park, down by the Spaceship Earth Ball and watched the fireworks... Far enough away they were quieter but close enough we could see them it worked really well

July 7- Another quiet day... Just at Typhoon Lagoon a little while then home and relaxing... We laughed and drank in the hot tub... He seemed calm and happy

July 8- Our last day at Disney (Boo!!) We went to the Magic Kingdom at around 1pm and then over to MGM to finish off our trip We had a wonderful dinner at the 50s Cafe... a wonderful end to a wonderful trip!

Notice how we took days off between big park days...  We found the days off helped him and leaving the park completely to eat helped as well 

Next thing we'll talk about is the shows:

I *HIGHLY* recommend the Fantasmic! Firework show at MGM its amazing!! When we went, we made sure to sit in the last row of seating at the top of the arena where we coulda gotten out quickly if we needed to, we also made sure to leave right before the end of the show to beat the rush of people (That arena seats THOUSANDS and its like a stampede when it lets out)

Magic Kingdom has the Electric Parade which if you have kids is a must see but you have to do it carefully the crowds are overwhelming I recommend watching from the steps of Town Hall very close to the exit to the park and Town Hall is sound Proof and normally rather empty so its somewhere to hide out if needed... Right after the Electric Parade is the Wishes firework show right over the Castle, you can see it from same spot on the steps and again be able to go inside if needed

Epcot has Illuminations: Reflections of Earth  The best place to watch this show from is "France" in the world showcase but the crowds there are massive so I recommend watching from right outside of "The Land" or down by the Space Ship Earth ball... yes your view will be impaired but there are FAR less people and you can get out quick if needed 

I don't believe Animal Kingdom has fireworks (Correct me if I'm wrong)

Please leave any questions for me (or Josh) in the comments section and we'll be quick to answer! 

1 comment:

  1. My husband had a major break on our last day. For our future trips is there any "help" the parks or resorts offer.....We had to call the PTSD was that bad. It made it worse also because he couldn't do anything with me or the kids the last day so he also felt guilty. We didn't know about any assistance if any at Disney World. We kinda were lost being our first trip.

    We are planning another trip in 3 years so wanna get everything ironed out. I can be emailed....