The Time of Our Lives at Disney World
How to enjoy a trip to a theme park with migraine can seem like a question that leaves no good answer. Wait, I am here to tell you that with planning and strategy, you can have a great time and make some sweet memories! There are some steps I took to make our family trip to Disney World fun for the whole family and my planning kept me from missing out. These same steps transfer over to many other parks as well. They may also be helpful with situations beyond migraine. Migraine can steal so much, but we have to stop it from stealing our memories and our dreams. We have to find ways to live our lives. I will share some strategies that I feel made a huge difference for me and helped me have a successful trip.
Pack Your Migraine Kit
You can take a backpack or whatever bag you choose. So be prepared! I took in all the meds I thought I might need and as I will explain made sure I had access to plenty of water throughout the day. I also had a snack to take medicine with in case a migraine attack suddenly started. I included my earplugs, migraine stick, and health card as well.
There are medical stations available if you need assistance or to lay down with medication and are not able to leave right away. Fortunately, I did not get to that point, but was glad to know there was help available. Another small, but helpful detail is there are plenty of restrooms around. They are also clean and air-conditioned.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
You are not hearing me say if you drink enough water you will cure migraine. I have been told that before. Nope. What I am saying is especially if you go in warm weather keep yourself stocked up on water at all times. You are allowed to take your own water bottle and a backpack in. So my family each had a water bottle and my husband carried extra water to refill. He had also frozen this so it was nice and cold! We did purchase some water as well. This is one you just can’t afford not to stay on top of. It isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. Hydration can help ward off several types of headaches and help you in your migraine well-being at the theme park. It is also important for every person to be hydrated.
Plan and Don’t Skip Meals
It is easy to get excited about all the rides and things to do. However, skipping meals can be a big trigger for an attack and really can cause anyone in your party to be less than their best. Nothing like “hangry” children in the bunch. At DisneyWorld you can order food on the My Disney App which I will talk more about. There are vendors all over the park with quick snacks and drinks. You can also plan to each lunch inside to get out of the heat. We were not overwhelmed with long wait times for food and we went in July. So try to eat at a decent time, get out of the heat, and keep meals as a priority. Also, allow yourself some snacks. You can bring some in, but no one will fault you for enjoying or splurging on a few theme park favorites. Just be sure they aren’t triggers for you and enjoy!
You Don’t Have to Shut the Park Down
Know your limits and listen to your body. Make a list of the things you and your family really want to do and be ok with not doing everything. There are so many different things to see and do! It isn’t possible to do every single thing. We made the decision with two small children to get to the park early, enjoy our time, and leave when we felt we were ready. We didn’t make it back for the evening fireworks each time, but we did get rest and I did not get an attack from pure exhaustion. We have gone on vacations before where I tried to keep up and didn’t listen to symptoms creeping up on me. Then it was too late and I was forced to sit a day out. It is much better to do things by your own choice and on your own terms.
Plan a Rest Day
Speaking of your own terms plan your days to work for you and your family. We went to all four parks but we planned a day at the beach in between and it was a perfect idea! We needed a break, some rest, and believe it or not a change of scenery helped us appreciate each part of our trip even better. I can’t speak highly of this enough.
I would be dishonest if I did not disclose my deep love of the ocean and beach, but even still I will say plan your rest day how you wish. Just make it happen. We went to Sand Key which is close to Clearwater, but many love Clearwater Beach as well. It is slightly further and has more people. Cocoa Beach is closer, but we were looking for a certain beach experience with the water and the number of people. Just go where you wish if you choose the beach and have a great time! Even if it is the pool for you it will be something you are glad you carved out time for.
Accept Some Things Won’t Go As Planned
While we had our list of favorite rides to get to, some just didn’t happen. We realize now we still had some learning to do on the Lightening Lane procedure. We used Genie + and I will share more about that! However, whether you get those extras or not some things may just be different. Maybe you won’t do a ride or a popup shower will occur. However, the magic will still be there and you will make amazing memories. We did not feel slighted in the least and just have ideas for our next trip.
Genie + and Lightening Lane
This was worth every penny in my opinion. So, if you are able and considering this purchase I highly recommend going for it! We used Genie + on all parks and it saved us from waiting in line for long periods of time! This was very important when considering the heat factor. Bonus for small children! Heads up this does require some planning and there are some guidelines for utilizing these items. So do your homework and know what rides you want to and can use this for!
Having a plan helped us maximize our time. Even still, we knew we were newbies. For example, we used Genie+ for Smuggler’s Run at Hollywood Studios but were unable to use it for Pandora at Animal Kingdom. This is the learning curve. We didn’t understand the individual lightning lane feature. So again, Genie + all the way! Then if there are additional rides you want to go on that Genie + doesn’t include you can consider adding Lightening Lane.
Be Aware of Flashing Lights and Motion Sickness
There are some rides that include flashing lights and may be more difficult for you if you are prone to motion sickness. I did survive Smuggler’s Run, but I did have my eyes closed for part of it. If you are extremely sensitive to flashing lights this one includes shooting lasers so you may choose to sit this one out. Also in the Star Wars section is the popular ride Star Tours. My whole family avoided this due to the warning of motion sickness.
Soar was another ride that warns of motion sickness, but I enjoyed this ride. You are seated and it is a simulation as if you are flying. My tips were given to me by the staff. Sit in the middle and the sign is the scariest part of the ride. I was glad I didn’t miss it, but my mother-in-law said she didn’t enjoy it as much. Ratatouille was my my youngest child’s favorite ride of all parks! I closed my eyes a few times and loved it myself. So just know it is an experience and be prepared for what you want to ride/take part in.
For a more complete guide of motion sickness check out this article Top Tips to Avoid Motion Sickness at Disney. This is also part of a blog dedicated to all things Disney! I highly recommend spending some time checking out the information here. There is a wide variety of helpful tips!
Cooling Towels These are great on those sweltering days for anyone in your party. These are also something from our baseball and soccer stash.
Sunglasses Get yourself a pair you love if you don’t have one. Sun brightness and glare are not for the person with migraine and this coming from a sun lover here.
Health Card This is important in case you do have an attack. It is especially helpful since you are most likely away from your regular healthcare providers.
Personal Cooling Fan This handy tool not only cools you, but is also a backup charger for your phone! It is just the right size too!
Ear Plugs These can be helpful if the noise from rides is too much or you feel an attack coming on.
Migraine Stick This can relieve some pain by putting it on your temples and back of your neck. It can also aid in warding off some strong smells that are triggers. That can include foods and let’s just be honest…BO you may encounter.
Backpack There are so many great options! The important thing is to get one that holds what you want and is comfortable to carry.
Another bag option. It is always good to have options. I carried something smaller and my husband carried one as well. Most people had at least one backpack in their party.
Mission Cooling Caps These are great for heat, sun, and even avoiding doing your hair on a busy morning! Mission has many wonderful products to keep you cool at the theme parks or on any hot day!
Check These Out!
Val’s Magical Life This is a Disney expert who provided us with a wealth of information. She really understands traveling with a chronic illness and is great at answering questions. She covers all the details that matter.
Disney Genie + and Lightening Lane This has some helpful information about these features. You will want to download the My Disney App on your phone to fully utilize these.
Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the medical and health area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any medical or health-related decisions. For your health-related questions, please seek the advice of a licensed physician or any other qualified healthcare provider immediately.