Disney with T1D – Navigating the Parks

Disneyland with Type 1 Diabetes - SeeJenDance

About three years ago, I wrote a very similar post about navigating the Disney Resort with a broken pancreas. However, times have changed, information was left out, and the post was extremely long. To follow up on this original post, I’m creating shorter series-like posts to reference at different points of trip planning.

Why is this relevant to the non-Disney fan? The Friends for Life Conference is held annually in Orlando, usually on or near Disney property. CWD is also planning a conference at the Disneyland Hotel in September 2016 and  May 2017. (And if you are a parent caring for a CWD, definitely check out a Friends for Life conference if you can.) In between sessions and in the evenings would be a fantastic time to check out the Resort.

These posts are Disneyland Resort, California specific, but the tips can apply to visiting the Resort in Orlando as well. (I just live much closer to “Land.”)

Previous Posts: Where to Stay – Ultimate Packing List Part 1 and Part 2Traveling Tips

After all of the planning, suitcase triple checking, and traveling, we’ve made it to the Resort. Hooray!

Disney with T1D - Navigating the Parks - SeeJenDance

There are a few blogs available out on Pinterest which offer road maps to the Parks, with a suggested order of rides, Fast Pass collection, and helpful hints to plan the day. This won’t cover any of that. (That’s why those blogs exist.)

Here are the more pertinent details for a PWD in Disneyland.

For reference, let’s look at the maps of each Park. 

  1. First and foremost, figure out where all of the bathrooms are. Bathrooms, though not the cleanest, are usually where families will test blood sugars, administer insulin, change sites, etc. Also, if it’s a particularly high day, bathrooms will be visited frequently. Locate them early.
  2. Visit Guest Services upon arrival. Here, a guest disability access services card can be obtained if preferred. More on that in a later post. I personally have never used one before, but it could help PWDs enjoy the Parks a bit more.
  3. Locate the First Aid Station and the Baby Care Center. (Usually located next to each other.) The Disneyland First Aid Station and Baby Care facility are located at the end of  Main Street, near the Little Red Wagon corn dog truck. California Adventure’s Baby Care Center is in Pacific Wharf, while the First Aid stand is near the front entrance. I loved having access to the Baby Care station with Bean because it was a nice, quiet air conditioned location to feed or change diapers. These centers can also help with young CWDs who need a quiet place to rest after a bad hypoglycemic reaction. (Pro tip – the nursing rooms in the CA Adventure Baby Care center are private and have rocking chairs.)

Some general tips:

  1. Adjust basal and bolus output as necessary. Sometimes the bright colors and loud music can make me forget I’m walking extremely long distances over a 10 hour period. Especially with long queues. I tend to run a lot lower than normal because of the increased, but steady, activity. While there are many treats available at the ready, a churro every hour to correct dropping blood sugars probably isn’t cost effective. Or efficient.
  2. Take breaks. There are plenty of benches, tables near street shows, and the Enchanted Tiki Room available to sit down and recollect. Or eat something more sustainable. Or rehydrate. Speaking of…
  3. Stay hydrated! While SoCal maintains a fairly consistent whether pattern (always sunny!), there are days, especially now during the summer, where temperatures can hit the upper 90s to low 100s. Sans the obvious heat stroke risk, high blood sugars love dehydration.
  4. Check blood sugars often. I rely a lot on my Dexcom, but I didn’t always have one. On an average Disneyland trip, I can check about 10 times during waking hours. Helps catch hypos I’m not feeling right away.
  5. Bring in food from home. Disney doesn’t have a restriction on bringing in outside food, especially if there are dietary concerns. This option not only saves money, but there isn’t any second guessing (usually) about portion sizes and carb counting. So go ahead, bring a sandwich and grab a table at the counter service locations.
  6. Rent a locker. If space allows, bring a small cooler. Rent a locker at the front gates for the day and pack spare insulin, or spare juice boxes, with ice packs. This is one thing I don’t recommend carrying around the Parks because it either needs to stay on me the entire time, or it becomes a theft risk if I leave it with our stroller. Keep in mind that the lockers aren’t temperature controlled by any means, but this is probably a better place than say, a hot car.

Disney with T1D - Navigating the Parks - SeeJenDance

I’ll speak more about the guest disability access card next. From what I’ve read about the program, it may or may not be useful to PWDs. But since it’s available to us, it’s worth checking out.


3 thoughts on “Disney with T1D – Navigating the Parks

  1. Rick Phillips says:

    The picture of the castle is beautiful and the tips are terrific.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes.org blog page for the week of July 25, 2016.

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