By the co-author of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook ever -- The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.

Now available in PDF format!—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

k. Special Circumstances

By Dave Shute

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Large Families    Tight Budgets    Travel Challenges    Military Families


This page summarizes Walt Disney World recommendations for four types of families with special circumstances:

For each family type, links are provided to additional pages with more detail and specifics.

Families with unique physical, health or other challenges should review PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges.


A large family is more than 5 for those who otherwise would stay at the Polynesian and most other deluxe resorts, or more than 4 for those who would be thinking Pop Century, other value resorts, or most moderates.

(Large Military Families: review the Military Families section.)

The problem with large families at Walt Disney World is that Disney will not guarantee connecting or adjoining, or nearby rooms.

Given that, see Large Families for answers to where large families should stay.


This site has two sets of guidance for families going to Walt Disney World on a tight budget.

  • Guidance for all other families can be found in the links on this page.



Some families will have difficulty arriving early Saturday afternoon, and/or departing Sunday afternoon. The best answer is to take a vacation a day or two longer to allow for the full recommended time on site, following the basic itinerary as is.

If you can’t take a longer vacation, you can skip the first Saturday night in Orlando (losing because of this your much-needed off day on Thursday), the second Saturday night in Orlando (losing your morning off that day, and depending on your travel plans, a few hours in the Magic Kingdom, plus the Gospel Brunch Sunday) or both.

If your plans allow you to skip only one night, skip the second Saturday night if you can arrange to depart Orlando in the late afternoon or evening, as the full off day on Thursday is much more valuable than what you will lose on the second Saturday and Sunday.

See Families with Difficult Transportation Challenges for details and changes to the basic itinerary from shortening your trip.


The general advice for first time visitors to Walt Disney World provided on this site applies equally to military families.

However, military families have access to deals and discounts that other families don’t, and also have access to Shades of Green.

See Military Families at Walt Disney World for links to details and advice about these options.


1 jeanne gannon { 04.03.11 at 2:15 pm }


2 Dave { 04.03.11 at 2:41 pm }

Jeanne–when it’s not busy, scooters and wheelchairs work very well at Walt Disney World. The dates you picked should mean that you will be able to get around quite well.

Take a look at this book: PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges

I highly recommend it for anyone with mobility or other challenges.

3 SueM in MN { 09.04.12 at 8:36 am }

I’d also suggest the disABILITIES Board at

4 Dave { 09.04.12 at 8:59 am }

Thanks, Sue!

5 Anonymous { 05.10.14 at 11:38 am }

My son is handicapped and needs assistance walking but does not use a wheelchair are there large strollers or wagons available for children with special needs ?

6 Dave { 05.11.14 at 4:28 pm }

Disney rents large plastic strollers at the parks, for use in the parks.

7 Jim { 09.02.14 at 9:29 am }

Hi Dave, I’m looking to take wife and 12 year old son to WDW next August. We have stayed at Port OrleanFQ twice and loved it. However, next year we will be taking my wife’s sister who is 39 years old, but has impaired cognitive development. Physically she is able but emotionally and intellectually she has stopped around the 8 or 9 year old mark. The advice I’m seeking is around accommodation. Would we be better with two rooms at Port Orleans (or similar moderate hotel)? Or would we better off, financially, upgrading to a de-luxe resort for the full dining plan offer? Also can you suggest an alternative to two rooms which would not be prohibitively expensive?
Thanks Jim

8 Dave { 09.03.14 at 8:28 am }

Jim, I’m not following the deluxe/dining plan part of your question. But for two separate spaces, the least expensive option is indeed two rooms at either a value or a mod. The next set of least expensive choices is a family suite. See this page for a discussion of these options:

9 Jessica { 03.09.15 at 1:58 pm }

We are going to Disney for the first time (as a family), and I’ll be exactly 6 months pregnant. I noticed you have many recommendations for disabilities, but what are your thoughts/recommendations for Disney while pregnant? At 36inches and just under 3yrs old, our little girl is well under the threshold for the more-intense, height-restricted rides, so those aren’t an issue. I don’t remember It’s a Small World having any major bumps, but I don’t know if the Jungle Cruise, Voyage/Journey of the Little Mermaid, etc. do. hoping for some toddler girl friendly experience insight given my situation. Obviously, I recognize any insight you provide is not intended to be medical advice and that all activity decisions are up to me and my doctor. Many thanks!

10 Dave { 03.10.15 at 8:34 am }

Hi Jessica! See this and this

11 Kuleen @ { 03.10.15 at 10:45 pm }

Hi Jessica! Dave asked me to help you out since I am familiar with traveling to Disney World with preschoolers.

You are correct in assuming that most attractions that work for your daughter will also work for you. However there are two exceptions: Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom and Tomorrowland Speedway in Magic Kingdom. Your daughter is able to ride these attractions, but Disney advises expectant mothers to skip them due to the bumpy and jerky ride.

The good news is that the majority of attractions and rides do not have any height requirements, so there will be plenty of things for your family to enjoy.

The height requirements for all Disney World attractions are pinned in my Disney World Travel Tips Pinterest board.

Also, here is a link to my article on why I think preschool is such a great age for Disney World .

Enjoy your trip!

12 Carolyn { 10.09.15 at 11:55 am }

I am planning a Sept 2016 trip for my daughter and I. I am a single mom, who has never even been on a plane. I’m wondering if you have any tips or advice for me, because I will be doing this completely by myself with no travel experience. I’m especially nervous about Disney transportation, and actually making sure that she gets all the memories she deserves. I’ve actually been considering t a Disney cruise, to obtain some travel experience before I go to the park and ruin her good time. Any advice???

13 Dave { 10.10.15 at 10:02 am }

Carolyn, not sure what you mean by “nervous about Disney transportation.” On planes, see this and the pages that follow it.

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