When someone mentions ADHD, a health condition commonly diagnosed in children, the first association people typically make a kid run around uncontrollably. ADHD can be a difficult diagnosis to understand, yet proper management is imperative. This assumption makes it unimaginable for a few individuals to plan a vacation like a theme park. Yet, family vacations can be a breeze with proper planning, forethought, and these simple tips.

Tip 1: Pick the best location for your family.
When vacationing, especially with children who have been diagnosed with a medical condition like ADHD, it is wise to select a place that will be enjoyable for all. The United States has several theme parks, yet two of the top theme park locations are Disney World/Land and Universal in California and Florida. These parks also have international locations available. Both Disney and Universal offer plenty of fun for a family. Yet, it is wise to know your family’s goal.

Consider allowing for your child’s input. Providing them with a voice can enable them to feel as though they have some control over the outcome of the vacation. Parents can take this opportunity to remind their children how their behavior will play a significant role in the trip. When considering the theme parks, remember that a park-like Disney is typically known for its Character Meet and Greets; however, if your children prefer high thrill rides or specific characters like the Minions, Universal is the park for you.

Disney Parade in Orlando. Photograph by Courtney Hickling

Once you’ve selected your park, purchase your tickets and book your room. If you are military-affiliated, take the time to check out your base’s Information Ticket and Travel Office. Typically, the military can receive discounted tickets and hotels thanks to the service you provide the country.

Tip 2: Research, Research, Research
Have you selected the best theme park? Great! Are your tickets and hotels booked? Awesome! That doesn’t end your research. You want to check out two crucial things about the park before going.

Since COVID has dramatically affected our world today, the first is to start by checking the latest COVID policy. This policy must update as the status of the pandemic is constantly changing, and this is not something we want to ruin the vacation. Typical changes are the policy on wearing masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. Knowing your child struggles with wearing masks in advance can allow them to practice at home before arriving at the park. The COVID policy will also address character meet and greet changes. All of this information is available on the park’s official website (visit here for Disney or here for Universal).

Nothing ruins a theme park trip like discovering that your child cannot enjoy the rides. Knowing this information in advance allows you to plan with necessary supplies like masks and lets you know the rides that will be available and accessible for your family. Also, on this website, you can locate the second important thing to check out, the park’s closures and ride height restrictions.

Tip 3: Prep for the worst-case scenario
Unfortunately, it is impossible to plan for everything. Rides break down, maintenance occurs longer than expected, or special events alter park times and crowds. For this reason, talk to your ADHD child about the possibility of ride closures, extreme crowds, and even loud noises. This preparation can prevent unnecessary meltdowns and allow you to consider alternative entertainment options in advance.

Visiting theme parks are commonly seen as going to “the happiest place on earth.” Yet, it can be difficult for families of those with ADHD to imagine taking on this endeavor. This does not need to be the case. Take the time to plan, research, and prep with these tips to allow your family to enjoy a uniquely themed vacation successfully.

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