Robyn Adams, the owner of Take My Hand Travel, is well-acquainted with traveling to Walt Disney World with Type 1 Diabetes. Her husband and her son both have T1D. She understands the uncertainty that surrounds your first trip to Disney with diabetes. Blood sugars can be unpredictable and difficult to control under normal circumstances. How will you manage them in abnormal situations, like a Disney World trip? Robyn never let that uncertainty stop her from bringing her family with her on twice-yearly Disney vacations. Instead, she learned all the tips and tricks to make their vacations enjoyable and worry-free. Now she’s made it her mission to show everyone with a disability that they, too, can have an unforgettable Disney vacation. Below, you’ll find a list of Robyn’s top tips for having a stress-free trip to Disney with Diabetes.
Make sure that all of your medical supplies are packed in your carry on. You want to have everything with you in case there is a delay or your flight is canceled. Luggage can also get hot or cold in the belly of a plane. Make sure that any prescription has the proper label, and that the name matches the name on the ticket.
At the Resort
If you’re staying on Walt Disney World property, all rooms have a full or mini-fridge. Unfortunately, the mini-fridges don’t have a freezer. The temperature of the mini-fridges can be unpredictable. Bring a thermometer to make sure the temperature isn’t too cold. If needed, you can purchase ice packs and ask the front desk if they will freeze them for you for medical reasons. Make sure your name is on them. If you’re staying off property, you will want to check when you book if there will be a refrigerator with a freezer in your room. If there isn’t, ask what the procedure is for keeping medical supplies cool.
At the Parks
Wear a medical alert bracelet or other identifying item. Make sure that you have everything that you need, plus a little bit extra. Many people will pack a small cooler with an ice pack or two for insulin. Do not underestimate the Florida heat and the sun. Pack sunscreen and a hat as well. Wear shoes that are broken in, you don’t want to risk blisters. Read more heat tips on Surviving the Heat at Walt Disney World.
The First Aid Centers at WDW offer a number of services that a diabetic family may need:
- They will store your insulin and keep it safe and cool. That is a big plus on those hot summer days when it may overheat in the sun and go bad. Remember, the parks are very large and you may find yourself far from First Aid when you need your insulin. It is our opinion that keeping your insulin with you is the best option if possible.
- They will hold on to your pump if you need to disconnect it for a ride.
- They take and properly dispose of any used sharps.
- They have blood glucose testing equipment.
Pace yourself. Stay hydrated. Take a break from time to time. Test when you need to. Remember that the heat and your activity could change your insulin needs. If you start to feel faint and can’t make it to First Aid, tell the nearest Cast Member. He or she will either be able to help, or will get someone else immediately.
Each theme park and water park has a First Aid facility. Obviously the theme parks have larger facilities.
Check out our guide to the First Aid and Baby Care Centers.
Disabilities Access Service (DAS) Card
Guests with Diabetes do qualify for the DAS card. Please see our DAS FAQs for information about how to get this pass.
Advanced Dining Reservations
When making restaurant reservations, there is a place for “special dietary requests”. Pick “other”. At Table Service Restaurants, if you marked “other” on your reservation, you’ll be asked what your dining need is when you check in. If you have any questions, ask to speak to the chef. Most chefs are very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions.
Quick Service Restaurants
At many Quick Service Restaurants a no sugar added option will be on the menu. If there isn’t one listed, ask when you order, there could be something off menu. If you are worried about ingredients or have questions about a food item, ask to see the manager. They may be able to answer your questions. Give yourself extra time, because special dining requests usually take longer.
If you’re still worried, you can email special diets at Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com.
Disney does not provide nutritional information for their restaurants. Many people use Calorie King or My Fitness Pal to do carb counts. Be cautious of any carb counts published online. None are verified by Disney.
Plan your meals ahead of time. You will find menus for all the restaurants at Disney World on the My Disney Experience app. Choose the types of meals that are likely to meet your needs ahead of time. Become familiar with the restaurants that serve those meals and their locations using the map feature on the app.
Talk to the chef. At Table Service Restaurants, you can talk to a chef to find out how the food is prepared and its ingredients. This may help you determine carb counts more accurately. At Quick Service Restaurants, as to speak to a manager who will be able to help you with those same questions.
A note about carb counts: Many factors affect blood sugar levels beyond just carb counts. Other factors such as walking, excitement, anxiety, heat, adrenaline, and sleep affect blood sugars more than being off on your carb counts. Without nutritional information from Disney, it is extremely difficult to get accurate carb counts. So, do your best, but don’t go overboard trying to count every carb.
Sugar Free Treats
Sugar Free Snacks at Walt Disney World
Minnie’s Bake Shop Sugar Free Cookies
Main Street Ice Cream Parlor in the Magic Kingdom – Edy’s No Sugar-Added Butter Pecan, Sugar-Free/Fat-Free Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl
For sugar free cookies try Writer’s Stop in Hollywood Studios or Goofy’s Candy Company
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Epcot serves sugar-free chocolate mousse
Try some no sugar-added brownies at Restaurantosarus in the Animal Kingdom
Boardwalk Bakery has no sugar-added cheesecake
Adrenaline can be released on thrill rides, which is a hormone that can make the body more resistant to insulin, so be sure to check your blood sugar after riding the more exciting attractions.
Certain rides can tamper with pump and CGM function, although not all T1Ds have had this experience. To be on the safe side, however, many people with Type 1 completely disconnect from their pumps while on thrill rides, or opt to use insulin pens for the day.
Here are the thrill rides at Walt Disney World that can induce adrenaline and/or could warrant disconnecting from your pump!
- Tower of Terror
- Rockin’ Roller Coaster
- Test Track
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Kali River Rapids (if the pump is not waterproof)
- Pandora: Flight of Passage
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Smuggler’s Run
- Star Tours
- Rise of the Resistance
- Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Cosmic Rewing