A Sensory Friendly Guide to Sea World

seaworldSea World (Orlando) has been awesome for our family!  Sea World gives out teacher passes to all state educators and we take advantage of going at least once a year.  The other great deal is that from year to year Busch Gardens and Sea World offer a preschool pass, the pass gives children five and under free admission to both parks!

When we were there last week, we were walking around the park looking at the animals and playing, it got me thinking about how to make your trip more sensory friendly.  I cam up with some tips and suggestions that help our son (5) with autism have a meltdown free day at the park.

  1.  Tickets-  If you think you are going to have to go up to the window to receive customer service before entering the park, have another person with you to walk your child around.  At Sea World Orlando, they have water and fake animals in the water outside the entrance.  There is also a gift shop and bathroom.  If you can have your tickets ahead of time that’s best or being able to use the automatic machines to get your ticket.
  2. Bag check/security- Two options.  Option 1:  have one adult go through the no bags check line with the special needs child.  Give all the bags to one adult to go through the check bags line.  Option 2:  pack what the child needs in a backpack for them and bring only a small bag for yourself.  Leave everything else, like jackets or reusable cups out of bags.  We bring a double stroller and go directly to the lane for double strollers or wheelchairs to speed up the process.
  3. Crowds- NO SHOWS!  There are a lot of shows and rides at Sea World.  Do NOT go to any shows and try to stay away from ride lines.  When shows end that is when the crowd will emerge.  You can look at the map and show times to help plan your movements in the park as well.
  4. Rides- the kiddy rides are great!  At Sea World the kids park is right behind the Shamu stadium, you want to go there when a show is about 30- 45 minutes from starting.  This will give your children plenty of time to play without having to wait in line or bump into lots of other children.   As soon as the show ends all the kids will come immediately to the play area and lines become long.  I don’t know about your kids but mine do not understand this waiting in line concept.
  5. Plan your escape- talk with your spouse or traveling adults about how long you want to stay, what you want to see and a plan to exit the park.  In Florida, you can pretty much count on rain in the afternoon. Rain and dark clouds are how we get our kids out of the park!  We also make both kids sit in the double stroller and we try to walk at a faster pace out of the park.
  6. Breaks- if the day become too much, there are now break spots in the park.  They have installed charging stations with power cords for people to sit and charge devices.  This would be an area for a kid that may have headphones or a device to sit and try to decompress.  Most are close enough to a food area but far enough away to offer a break.
  7. Food- pack your child their favorite snacks in a lunch bag and bring it to the park.  No one has ever said anything about the food when I bring it.  If someone does ask, you respond with special diet needs for my child with _____________.   Sometimes we have gone into a restaurant to sit and eat, mostly because it was so hot outside, but we try to keep the kids moving.
  8. Key phrase- “come back” became the key phrase for our most recent visit. At each animal exhibit my son was somewhat reluctant to leave.  He started saying , come back? So, we would talk about what we were going to find next and then later we could come back to _______ .  As we moved from one thing to the next he continued to forget about the previous.  Then we could use that phrase later about visiting the entire park.

Enjoy your next visit to the amusement park and comment below with any suggestions or tips you have found successful.

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