For whirlwind days and bright light nights, Orlando tops every list for families. Increasingly, even autistic family members can navigate their way through this highly sensory environment. With guidance from our Travel Experts and an accessible holiday package, we can help you discover autism-certified resorts and attractions, offering tailored experiences, dedicated passes and trained staff.
But first, to help you travel beyond the expected, here's some inspiration for where to find the best autism-friendly Orlando destinations in 2023...
is 28,000 square feet of weird and whacky fun for all ages. As well as having a ropes course, a 6D motion ride and laser tag, there are over 100 hands-on science exhibits to explore. It’s what the part-science museum, part-arcade attraction calls ‘edu-tainment’. Now, this might sound like a loud, chaotic kind of place. Yet thankfully, they also host Sensory Days, when the exhibits are adapted with lowered music, providing just the right amount of stimulation.
is a Certified Autism Center, which means its staff are specially trained to care for guests with cognitive differences. This training includes everything from sensory and emotional awareness to motor skills and an overview of autism. To ensure staff retain these skills, they're given re-training every two years.
SeaWorld's online sensory guide
also rates attractions and rides based on taste, sound, smell and sight stimulation. Plus, you can find info on low sensory areas and quiet rooms here too.
The theme parks offer a Ride Accessibility Program, designed for guests who aren’t able to wait in line. Instead, you’ll be placed in a virtual queue, which allows you to return to the attraction at an estimated time. Plus, SeaWorld’s been known to mark special occasions, like Autism Acceptance Month, with dedicated events. In 2021, they held a meet and greet event with Julia, a new character with autism, at the iconic Sesame Street.
Peppa Pig Theme Park
Peppa Pig Theme Park
only opened its doors in February 2022 and is already well underway to become one of Orlando’s top autism-friendly attractions. It’s a Certified Autism Center, so it’s no surprise they’ve got a super-handy guide
on their website, with a sensory-level summary of each attraction and ride.
It’s also paving the way with its accessible attractions. There’s a wheelchair-friendly ride – Peppa’s Balloon Ride – which lets children in wheelchairs roll directly onto the vehicle without any transfers. There’s room for a grown-up companion to ride, too. Its splash pad and playgrounds have also been designed for wheelchair use, making the park accessible to everyone.
Crayola Experience Orlando
You’ll find the Crayola Experience Orlando
at The Florida Mall®. Here, little ones can get stuck into 27 different Crayola-themed activities, ranging from wrapping their own crayon and creating a colouring page to melting crayons into souvenirs. There’s also a two-storey playground to burn off some steam. For children with autism, there are special Sensory Sundays, which are designed with them in mind. There’s no music, dimmed lights and a quiet room for breaks. They’re usually held monthly, but it’s worth checking their calendar
for the latest dates.
’s Blue HERO Pass has been tailored specifically for guests with autism. The pass gives you immediate access to all rides except those in Imagination Zone or the waterpark. There’s also an area in their Annual Pass Processing Center with special sensory activities for children on the autism spectrum.
When it comes to autism-friendly credentials, Aquatica
has a big claim to fame. It was the first water park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center. That means the staff here have years of experience in specialist care, and are completely clued up on how to help all children, including those with special needs.
There’s also a Ride Accessibility Program, which you can sign up for at the park. Once enrolled, you’ll be given a Special Access wristband, granting you access to a ‘Quick Queue’ entrance at certain attractions. There are also low sensory areas for children with autism, including a quiet room with adjustable lighting. You can find more about this and the sensory ratings of each attraction in their sensory guide
Sensory-friendly shows and movie screenings
The AMC cinema at Disney Springs
offers a dine-in service, so you can order and eat without leaving your seat. But that’s not all - they’ve partnered with the Autism Society to put on sensory-friendly screenings of family films. At these special events, you can look forward to extra lighting and a lower volume, so nothing’s too overwhelming. Check their website
for more details on upcoming screenings.
For some live theatrics, you’ve got the Orlando Repertory Theater (REP), in downtown Orlando. The theatre’s been known to stage sensory-friendly versions of its most popular shows in the past. Visit their website
or get in touch with them for the latest dates.
Walt Disney World & Universal Orlando Resort
It wouldn’t be right to talk about Orlando without touching on the two theme park top dogs. Both Disney
offer a special pass for those travelling with a child with autism. Disney’s is called a Disability Access Service Card and you can apply in advance. Meanwhile, Universal Orlando calls theirs an Attraction Assistance Pass and you can get one on entry from the guest services desk.
They both reduce the time you wait in line, giving you an alternative line or the option to return at a set time. Both theme parks also have guides on their website for planning a trip for guests with cognitive disabilities, full of helpful tips about each ride, as well as maps showing quiet areas and companion toilets. Click to read the Disney guide
, or the Universal guide
Our Top tip
• It’s worth checking out Autism Speaks
, which has a whole database of autism-friendly events, like movie screenings and community walks.
Ready to plan your autism-friendly adventure? Visit our Accessibility Hub to learn more about our special assistance programme.