Are you on the hunt for practical gifts for sensitive or anxious kids going to Disney World? Or do you know of Disney World-bound families who have sensitive or anxious kids? Going to Disney World with sensitive or anxious children can be a little challenging, and often requires extra planning. But it’s totally doable to make their trip magical as possible by preparing for those sensory overload meltdowns as best you can!
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Whether it’s for your own family, or a family that you know, here are some practical gift ideas for families headed to Disney World!
Gifts for Sensitive Kids to Use at Home Before Your Disney Trip
There are lots of awesome gift ideas for highly sensitive, anxious, or sensory sensitive kids that they can use BEFORE they ever step foot into a Disney park. It is usually helpful for kids to get a sense of what they’re getting themselves into before their vacation to Disney World.
Birnbaum’s 2022 Walt Disney World for Kids: The Official Guide
Birnbaum has been making Disney World guide books since 1981. And to gift a kids’ version of this guide book is really perfect for sensitive or anxious kids. Yes, it’s true that we can find SO much information on the Internet these days. And with things continuously changing and being updated at Disney, it can be really hard to keep up.
But there’s something special about having a hardcopy of a guide book that the kids can feel like is their own, and they can flip through whenever they want. I’m probably biased because both of my children are total bookworms. But if you also have sensitive or anxious kids who love to read, this would be a GREAT gift for them.
Disney’s Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters
We have an older version of this Disney encyclopedia of animated characters, but it was one of our most read books when we were getting ready for our trips to Disney World. Highly sensitive or anxious children can have a hard time watching Disney movies, especially when it comes to difficult themes like conflict, death, or loss. But having a book like this allows them to learn about different Disney characters, and become familiar with them, before ever stepping foot in a Disney park.
Some families even use this instead of a traditional autograph book: during character meet and greets or character dining, they’ll have characters autograph on the pages in the book. It can become a such a wonderful keepsake!
Color Brain: Disney Edition
Disney-themed games, like Color Brain Disney edition, are great gift ideas for sensitive or anxious kids who want to increase their familiarity with Disney characters! In Color Brain, each player has a set of colored cards. A question card is placed in the middle, such as “What are the two colors of Dory from Finding Nemo?” Players make their guesses with their colored cards.
My son has been able to play with rest of the family since he was 3.5 years old, and you can also play in teams. If your sensitive or anxious ones are not a fan of intense competition, you can still have fun playing this without keeping score 😉
Disney Eye Found It: Hidden Picture Game
Another fun board game to gift to sensitive or anxious kids headed to Disney World is the Disney Eye Found It game. My highly sensitive daughter has a keen eye for details. So, this hidden picture game is totally up her alley. It’s also a team effort to find as many hidden pictures as possible to get everyone to the end of the board before the “clock” strikes midnight. So if your kiddos have an aversion to extra competitive games, this is a good one to add to your game collection at home.
Sensory TheraPLAY Subscription Box
Work on improving your sensitive or anxious kids self-regulation BEFORE you ever go to a Disney Park! I’ve always found that my kids have gravitated towards various sensory toys to decompress. Some examples include kinetic sand, Pop-its, or other fidget gadgets. You can gift your sensory kids this awesome subscription box, Sensory TheraPLAY, curated by a pediatric occupational therapist! Your kids will receive a box of fun sensory toys each month which will improve their motor skills as well as promote better emotional regulation.
Gifts for Sensitive Kids to Use at the Disney Parks or Travel
Get those Disney-bound kiddos ready for the theme parks with these awesome gift ideas that are actually useful for your travel to and from Disney World or while at the theme parks.
Noise Canceling Headphones
If you have a highly sensitive or anxious child who doesn’t do well with loud noises, a practical gift is a pair noise canceling headphones. The auditory stimulation at Disney World is really next level, so having these in your park bag is ESSENTIAL. It’s not only the rides, but parades, shows, background music, and general noise from the crowds. We don’t have this exact brand, but it’s pretty similar. These would fit from preschool age to older kids, or even adults with smaller heads.
If you have a baby or toddler, I highly recommend the Baby Banz brand as they are sized perfectly for the littlest ones.
Related: 18 Essential Items to Pack for Disney World with Highly Sensitive Kids
Some sensitive or anxious children find familiar music very soothing when they feel overwhelmed. A pair of bluetooth (or wireless) headphones could be a great gift option for a family going to Disney World with sensitive or anxious kids. Even if music is not their thing, maybe a podcast or other ambient noise they enjoy would be something they would like to listen to when all the Disney theme park noise feels like too much for them.
Weighted Plush – Mickey or Winnie the Pooh
Many highly sensitive, anxious, or sensory sensitive children find proprioceptive sensory input very soothing. What on earth does that even mean?! You might be familiar with this term if your kids have worked with pediatric occupational therapists.
Basically, proprioception is the sense that tells the body where it is in space. You can get proprioceptive input through the muscles and joints of the body. Usually, OTs recommend activities that involve heavy work (like carrying boxes) or deep pressure (like bear hugs).
This is where giving a gift of a weighted Disney plush animal would be super useful. These plushes come with a removable 3lb pouch, and can provide deep, calming pressure and help reduce anxiety. I can totally imagine my daughter holding one in her lap during travel or while at a Disney World theme park.
Pop Its Fidget Toys
A variety of fidget toys have been all the rage these days! If you’ve ever found popping bubble wrap strangely addictive, you’ll see the appeal of pop it fidget toys. This is a great gift for sensitive or anxious kids for their days at Disney World because it can help reduce stress and anxiety that comes from being in an overwhelming environment.
It is also lightweight and takes up very little space in your park bag! These Mickey-shaped ones are adorable, and oh-so-perfect for families headed to Disney World with sensitive or anxious kids.
If you’ve got an oral sensory seeker, a chew necklace is a great gift option! Some sensitive or anxious kids have a tendency to chew when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I love that this is on a necklace, it’s easy to wash, and the design is subtle. It would be an easy thing to wear during a day at the Disney parks, or while traveling to Disney World via plane or car.
Liquid Motion Bubbler
We don’t have one of these but I can totally see the kids loving something like this. Most theme parks, and especially Disney World, are extremely visually stimulating places. From the crowds, parades, rides, and all the detailed theming Disney is so famous for… it’s a LOT to take in.
A liquid motion bubbler like this would have a soothing effect for a sensitive or anxious child who needs a break from taking in the overwhelming visual stimulation around them. Watching the slow and rhythmic drops can help reduce anxiety, stress, and boredom for your kids while at Disney World or traveling to the parks.
Doodle Boards or Boogie Boards
Doodle boards, or Boogie boards, are such an easy thing to keep in your Disney park bag or bring along with you for travel. For those sensitive or anxious children who enjoy drawing, writing, or doodling, this is truly the perfect gift. These are so lightweight and I love that it comes with a little string to attach the pen to the board.
We are mostly a screen-free family (no judgement if you’re not!), so this is a great way to keep them occupied. Too much screen time has always resulted in more behavioral issues for us, so our doodle boards have been our go-to for when they feel bored in the lines or waiting for food at restaurants.
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll freak out when their clothes get wet in the rain or on water rides. Florida, especially the Orlando area, is notorious for sudden rain storms especially during the summer and early fall months. A lightweight poncho is a practical gift for any child headed to Disney World—even more so for children who have sensory issues with wetness. These colorful kid-sized ones are too cute, and you can even find fun Mickey-themed ones on Amazon for your Disney World trip!
Just like getting clothes wet is no fun for sensory sensitive kids at Disney World, the same holds true for shoes. No one wants to walk around in sopping wet shoes and socks. Comfortable and waterproof shoes are a great gift for sensitive and anxious kids going to Disney!
We are huge fans of Crocs for the kids, and it’s fun for them to add personalized buttons and decorations on them. If Crocs don’t match your (or your kids’) style, other great alternatives are Natives or Keens. I think these glittery Natives would look so cute with a princess dress too!
Disney Loungefly Backpack
This is definitely more of a splurge gift, and something I’d actually want for myself too 😉 but these Loungefly backpacks are an adorable addition to any Disney theme park outfit. It would be a great gift for a slightly older child who might want their own bag to carry their things (like their noise canceling headphones, a favorite book, or their fidget toys). Loungefly backpacks are smaller than a standard size backpack, so it would be a great fit for even elementary age kids.
Disney Water Bottle
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for highly sensitive, sensory sensitive, and anxious children to have their basic needs met, especially while on vacation. This includes making sure they’re staying hydrated during their visit to Disney World! Make it easy for them by gifting a new Disney-themed water bottle that’ll keep their drinks cold. If they have a meltdown, at least you’ll know that it’s NOT because they’re thirsty!
Reusable Snack Bags
Just like it’s important to stay well-hydrated at Disney World, let’s make sure our extra sensitive and anxious kids don’t end up hangry. Hungry + angry = hangry. Some sensory sensitive children have a hard time with unfamiliar foods, so make sure you bring some of your child’s favorites into the parks with some reusable snack bags. Grocery delivery is SO easy to do, and helps save a little bit of money during park days too.
Silicone Straw Set
All the Disney parks have moved away from using plastic straws to be more “green”. This means you get to use their paper straws. If you haven’t ever used a paper straw before, it’s not exactly the most pleasant experience. It often starts to disintegrate and become mushy before you even finish your drink. Avoid this problem by giving the gift of a silicone straw set for your sensitive or anxious kids! I love that this one has a little travel case that you can clip onto a belt loops or a backpack.
Gifts for Sensitive Kids to Use at the Hotel Room While at Disney
Make sure your sensitive and anxious kids are able to settle in well at your hotel, Airbnb or Disney resort with these practical gift ideas.
Is it hard for your sensitive or anxious kids to fall asleep in new places? Just like the weighted plush toys, a weighted blanket provides deep pressure to your bones and muscles aka “proprioceptive input”. This kind of sensory input can be very calming and regulating after a busy day at Disney World. It can be a little hard to travel with, especially if you’re flying and have weight limits on your luggage. But it’s really such a great gift for sensitive or anxious kids who struggle with sleep. It has made such a difference for my daughter who has had a lot of sleep challenges both at home and while on vacation.
The one I’ve linked is a 7lb blanket. It is recommended that the weight of the blanket be about 10% of your child’s body weight.
If you don’t already have a sound machine for your noise-sensitive child, this is absolutely a must-have gift! Sound machines help drown out any excess noise and provide soothing ambient background noise so that your sensitive or anxious child can sleep better. We have one in each bedroom of our kids, and we always travel with them too.
Disney resorts can be loud. When we stayed at Art of Animation, we could hear our neighbors above us running around. Some Disney resorts are located very close to the theme parks, which means you might hear nighttime fireworks shows from your hotel room. With a sound machine, it ensures better uninterrupted sleep for your kiddos, which hopefully means they’ll be well-rested for another fun vacation day at Disney World. The Dohm is our favorite since it has an actual fan whirring inside, instead of a manufactured sound recording. If your child benefits from having a nightlight too, the Hatch is a great choice.
Another great gift idea for a sensitive or anxious child headed to Disney World is a sensory body sock! It is a stretchy full body sock, which provides resistance when you move in them. It’s a tool that some occupational therapists use with kids who have sensory processing challenges. I love that this is SO easy to travel with, doesn’t weigh a ton, and can still provide soothing deep pressure and heavy work. I can imagine this being a great way to wind down in the hotel room after a busy and stimulating day at the Disney parks, to help improve their sensory regulation.
For whatever reason, my kids can’t get enough of soft cuddly fuzzy stuffed animals. Get your sensitive or anxious child a pillow pet for their next gift! You can find them in so many different characters or your child’s favorite animal, and you can unfasten its belly to make it pillow. This would be great for a travel day or for something cozy your child can sleep with in their hotel bed. I love that it’s also machine-washable (a MUST in my opinion, when it comes to kids’ things).
And there you have it – my list of practical and awesome gifts for sensitive and anxious kids headed to Disney World!
Do your kids already have any of these items? What is on your gift list for highly sensitive, sensory sensitive, or anxious children going to Disney World?
If you need extra support and community from other parents of highly sensitive kids going to Disney World, I encourage you to join my Facebook group—“Planning Disney for Highly Sensitive Kids (and Adults too!)! You can ask all your questions and get feedback from a wonderful group of Disney-loving parents who are also looking to minimize meltdowns and maximize the magic during their Disney World vacation.
Get Your FREE Disney Ride Planning Tool!
Also, I wanted to remind you to download your FREE copy of my must-have Disney ride planner tool!
With my Disney Ride Planner tool, it will be such a breeze to keep track of which rides you want to avoid and which you want to try with your highly sensitive kids. It will make planning your park days SO much easier!
It is an editable and fillable PDF file, but there is an option to print a blank copy so you can fill it out by hand.
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11 thoughts on “Gift Guide for Sensitive or Anxious Kids Going to Disney World”
Love that this post is targeted to and inclusive of sensitive and/or anxious kids! I teach special needs students and believe this would be very useful for some of their families. Thanks for sharing!
So glad that you think this would be helpful information for some of the families of your students!
Great information! thank you
This is very inclusive for highly sensitive kids. I found ponchos and earphones helpful. I can use this list as a guide.
Ponchos and headphones are SO essential for us for our Disney trips. Hoping I can make others’ Disney’s trips a little easier with some of these products!
I love the idea of giving your kiddo a guide or two so he can recognize characters when he’s there. The art of distraction and recognition are great ideas! And those weighted plushies are TOO cute!
The character encyclopedia is still SO well-loved in our family. And I have to admit- I kind of want a weighted plush for myself 😉
Awesome tips. We have often had to find ways to protect our kids who have sensitive ears when we go places too.
Thank you! It can be tough sometimes to have to accommodate for those sensory sensitivities, but it’s always helpful to know that there are others that go through it too. 🙂
Great suggestions. Especially love the fidgets and noise canceling headphones.