Diabetes UPS and DOWNS: Taking T1D to the Amusement Park
– by Beth Ruf
Summer is here! It is time to start planning your next fun family outing, that may include an amusement park. Every amusement park has different accommodations for people with disabilities. Many children with type 1 and their parents feel funny about requesting special treatment for their disease because they are not in a wheelchair, but this is a mistake. As you know, heat, excitement, a change in routine – they all impact blood sugar. And a day at the amusement park has all of those! Talk to the Guest Services desk immediately upon arrival and they can let you know what they offer. Every park is different, but you will know where you can find an air conditioned location, food kiosks and restaurants, rest rooms, etc. You never know what is available, just ask. It is not about taking advantage of anyone or exploiting your child’s disease, it is only about having a great day and making sure that your whole family has a fun and safe experience at the park. Great memories can be made, don’t let diabetes get in the way.
Here is some information on the three big parks that our families visit…
Walt Disney World
Luckily, Disney World has many resources to help you manage your child’s type 1 diabetes. Here are some tips to ensure you have a happy and healthy Disney vacation:
- Headed to the Magic Kingdom® or Epcot®? Hollywood Studios® or Animal Kingdom®? No matter: Start your day at the Guest Relations counter located just inside the turnstile of the park’s entrance. Disney cast members are trained to answer any questions you might have.
- Consider requesting Disney’s Guest Assistance Card there on hot days to help you get through lines more comfortably and avoid overheating, suggests Smith.
- Pick up a free map and locate the First Aid center, your refuge should you need a cool resting place or a consultation with a registered nurse. In addition, First Aid can securely store your supplies, refrigerate your medicine and safely dispose of sharps free of charge.
- Plan to check blood sugar levels more frequently.
- Pack a range of snacks to manage blood sugar levels. “Bring glucose tabs and juice boxes to treat low blood sugar, and also some protein snacks like nuts, beef jerky or cheese,” says Chisholm.
- Stay hydrated. “Plain water is the best way to do that,” recommends Chisholm. Carry a refillable bottle to fill at water fountains located throughout each park.
- If your child needs immediate assistance, don’t be afraid to step to the front of the line or use the handicapped entrance in order to reach food or other help quickly.
- In the event of a medical emergency, locate the nearest Disney cast member and call 911.
Cedar Point/Kings Island
When visiting either of these parks, visit Guest Services upon arrival and speak with them about your child’s safety needs while visiting. If approved, you will be give access to the Boarding Pass Program, here is how it works:
- The guest with a mobility impairment or ASD should visit Guest Services upon his/her arrival at the park to express his/her inability to wait in the regular line. Some questions are asked to ensure that the rider has the required physical criteria in order to safely experience rides, and a Boarding Pass is issued for the guest in question and up to 3 riding companions.
- In addition to a Boarding Pass, the guest with a mobility impairment or ASD will receive a “Rider Access Form” that lists the rides that the guest with a disability can safely enjoy.
- The rider (or a member of their party) obtains a boarding time from the ride associate at the Alternate Access Entrance, equivalent to the length of the ride line. The rider can then wait comfortably away from the queue area.
- The guest listed on the Boarding Pass must be present as a rider when a Boarding Pass is being utilized.
- Guests may not accumulate more than one boarding time at a time.