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Autism-friendly Parks in Florida

  • By Stephen Mitchell
  • Published 18 May 2022
  • Revised 12 March 2024
Autism-friendly Parks in Florida
  • By Stephen Mitchell
  • Published 18 May 2022
  • Revised 12 March 2024
Autism-friendly Parks in Florida
  • By Stephen Mitchell
  • Published 18 May 2022
  • Revised 12 March 2024
With their bright lights and loud attractions, you might think Florida’s theme parks are off limits for children with autism – but think again. Many of the parks have dedicated passes, areas, and guides, created specifically for autistic guests. With that in mind, check out our guide to Florida’s best autism-friendly resorts and parks to start planning your ideal accessible escape. 

Walt Disney World

If you’re visiting Disney with a child with autism, preparation is key. Disney makes this easy, thanks to their Disability Access Service Card, which you can pre-register for ahead of your trip. It offers visitors with disabilities special, shaded queueing areas and reduces the amount of time you have to wait in line.

We’d also recommend their Disney Genie+ scheme – previously called FastPass – which gives you access to Lightning Lane entries for queue-jumping. It also lets you place mobile dining orders for some of the eateries and join virtual queues for attractions. 
There are lots of areas that are ideal for families with a child with autism...

At Magic Kingdom, you’ve got climbing areas, playgrounds and sprinkler zones, on top of the rides. Plus, the AMC Theater in Disney Springs puts on monthly sensory-friendly movies, which are definitely worth the trip if you can time your visit right. You’ll also find the usual break areas and companion toilets throughout Disney’s parks. 
As well as a sensory guide, they’ve also got a general guide for planning a trip for guests with cognitive disabilities – it’s got helpful tips about getting around, accessing attractions and Disney characters.

Universal Orlando Resort 

Both Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ and Universal Studios theme parks provide an Attraction Assistance Pass. You’ll first need to secure an IBCCES Individual Accessibility Card (IAC) before your park visit by registering at www.accessibilitycard.org and uploading the necessary documentation. Once approved, a Universal Orlando Team Member will contact you to discuss attraction queue accommodations. Your IAC card is valid for one year with unlimited updates and renewals. 

Universal also offers a handy planning guide tailored to guests with autism. It’s packed with detailed breakdowns of each ride, as well as tips on what to bring and a map of the quiet areas and companion – or family – toilets. 

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld has now joined the likes of Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove to become a Certified Autism Center. The accreditation means staff are trained to look after children with autism. This training has to take place every two years for them to keep their certification, too. Like some of the other parks, there are resources for pre-visit planning, including a sensory guide

Plus, when you get there, you can visit Sesame Street – a six-acre spot themed around the iconic children’s show. In 2021, the park celebrated Autism Acceptance Month by introducing a new character with autism. For the month of April, Julia was available for meet and greets, showing kids that there’s nothing wrong with being a little different. Sesame Street land is also home to one of SeaWorld’s quiet spaces.

LEGOLAND® Florida 

Lots of the hands-on attractions at LEGOLAND® Florida can help engage and soothe children with autism – including Imagination Zone, Tot Spots and lots of the LEGO® play areas. And they’ve even got a dedicated area in their Annual Pass Processing Center with sensory activities for children on the autism spectrum. 

On top of this, the park offers a HERO Pass for guests with disabilities and their families, along with a special Blue HERO Pass for guests with autism. With this, you’ll get immediate access to every ride, apart from those in Imagination Zone or the waterpark. Before you go, it’s worth checking out their thorough guide to visiting for guests with disabilities

Peppa Pig Theme Park 

Peppa Pig Theme Park only opened in February 2022, but it’s already a certified Autism Center and boasts a wheelchair-friendly ride. The world’s first Peppa Pig theme park is leading the way with its accessible attractions. Its splash pad and playgrounds have been designed for wheelchair use, plus all its staff are trained on how to interact with children with autism and their families.

You’ll find the theme park on the same site as the LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, in Winter Haven, but you need separate tickets to access both parks. You can download an accessibility guide with plenty of sensory information before you go, or pick up a hard copy at the entrance. 

Aquatica Orlando

This place was the first water park in the world to be designated a Certified Autism Center, so you’re in good hands. But what does this actually mean? Well, all staff get specialist training so they can cater for all children. There are low sensory areas for guests with autism – including a dedicated quiet room with adjustable lighting and comfy seating. And they run a Ride Accessibility Program, which matches the needs and abilities of guests to the rider requirements of each attraction.

Plus, you’ll get a special access wristband, with a Quick Queue entrance at lots of rides. 
They’ve made planning for an autism-friendly trip easy, too, with a super-detailed sensory guide to the park. Every single one of Aquatica’s rides and attractions are rated on different sensory elements, like touch, taste, sound, smell and sight, so you know exactly what to expect. 

Florida Aquarium, Tampa 

It might not be a theme park, but Florida Aquarium, in Tampa, is really in-tune with the needs of children with autism. Not only are aquariums generally considered a calming experience for people with sensory challenges. But Florida Aquarium has also worked closely with the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida. 

Before you go, you can make use of the online storyboards to prepare your child for the trip – they show the types of things they might see and experience. And, when you arrive, there are break areas for when things get too much – you’ll find them on the second-floor lobby and on the balconies. They also offer ear plugs to help with noise management. Plus, the hands-on experiences are great for autistic children.

Book your autism-friendly Florida holiday with us for villas, hotels, flights and theme park tickets all in one place.   

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