Is Disney World Sensory-Friendly?

Are you considering a trip to Disney World with kids who are autistic, ADHD, OCD, SPD, have anxiety, or generally highly sensitive, and you’re wondering if Disney World is sensory-friendly?

Well, you’re in the right place.

Let’s consider all the things Disney World has in place to be be more sensory-friendly. And let’s talk about some ways Disney World could become more sensory-friendly—aka some growth areas.

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Disney World Basics

To start, if this is your first trip to Disney World, I know it can feel like a lot! Navigating the details of a Disney World trip on top of your child’s extra needs can be really challenging.

So let’s start with some basics. When someone is talking “Disney World”, they are referring to the massive area in Orlando, Florida, which is twice the size of Manhattan. 

It is comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, more than 25 resorts (which does not include non-Disney hotels in the area!), a shopping area, its own transportation system, and hundreds of dining options.

There is a lot to do, to take in, to explore, and to plan. 

The four theme parks are: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. And generally speaking, the theme parks have the most potential for sensory overload. This is due to all the noise, the attractions, and the crowds. 

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing mostly on the theme parks.

What does “sensory friendly” even mean?

If you’ve found your way to this blog or simply this article, you probably have highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids. And you may have noticed that they can become overwhelmed and overloaded by their senses at times.

Whether your child is autistic, has ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, sensory processing disorder, or perhaps without any specific diagnosis, you are likely going the extra mile to make sure your kids have the right supports and accommodations on your Disney trip.

But what does “sensory-friendly” really mean?

It means it’s a way to be more inclusive of those with different sensory needs. Usually this involves creating an atmosphere that is welcoming and supportive of those who are neurodivergent. A sensory-friendly event or location will be designed in a way to account for various sensitivities. And it will allow for making modifications to support those with sensory challenges. 

An example of this is when a movie theatre might have a sensory-friendly movie screening. This would involve turning up the lights a little so it’s not so dark and turning down the volume of the movie so it’s not so loud. Making all these sensory inputs a little less jarring or intense at the movies is what makes it more sensory-friendly.

Now that we have an understanding of what sensory-friendly means, let’s consider how sensory-friendly Disney World actually IS.

All the Ways that Disney World is Sensory-Friendly

It’s clear to me that Disney World definitely understands that a good portion of their guests may struggle with sensory overload during their time in the theme parks. Disney has taken significant strides to make the magic accessible, offering a host of sensory-friendly amenities and services.

Online Resources

One of the ways they do this is by providing online resources for cognitive disabilities. Disney understands that preparation is key to a successful visit, especially with sensory sensitive kids. It’s a little difficult to find on their website, but they actually have an official WDW Guide for Cognitive Disabilities. Here, they provide a good starting point for prepping for your visit. It includes detailed park maps, a list of quiet spaces, and very general and high-level social stories.


In addition to this general guide, Disney World has created an attraction details chart. This resource includes a detailed sensory breakdown of EVERY attraction across all four theme parks. It includes things like smells, lighting, loud noises, surprise elements, and type of restraint used. The sensory ratings & reviews on Moms Make it Magical actually uses this sensory attraction chart as a framework, but the reviews are fleshed out with more details. 


These online resources created by Disney not only empower guests to make informed decisions but also help alleviate any potential anxieties before even setting foot in the parks.

Rider Switch Service

For families with members who may not be able to ride certain attractions due to height requirements, sensory issues, or other limitations, Disney offers the Rider Switch Service. This convenient feature allows one (or more!) adults to wait with the non-riding guests while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. Once they return, the waiting adults can then board the ride without having to wait in the standby line. This ensures that everyone can experience the magic without feeling left out or overwhelmed.

You could also use rider switch strategically so that your sensory sensitive child does not have to be in an overstimulating queue environment for a long time. They could be part of that waiting group with the other adult while the first group rides, and then they could enter the ride via Lightning Lane when it’s their turn.

Disability Access Service (DAS) Pass

The Disability Access Service (DAS) Pass is another invaluable tool for guests with disabilities or sensory sensitivities. This service was created for those who struggle in a traditional queue environment. It is NOT used for mobility-related disabilities or challenges.

Many mistakenly think this is a “skip the line” service. Instead, having DAS pass allows guests to schedule return times for attractions, based on the current standby wait times. So you’re still waiting for your turn on the ride, but just not physically in the queue. By reducing your time in an overstimulating queue and providing a more predictable experience, the DAS Pass enables guests to enjoy the parks at their own pace.

Quieter Areas

Another way Disney World is sensory-friendly is by having quieter areas throughout the parks. It might be hard to believe it in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the attractions and entertainment. But there are actually quiet and serene areas scattered throughout the theme parks. The WDW Guide for Cognitive Disabilities lists some, but there are more beyond those.

Companion Restrooms

If you’ve ever had a child refusing to use the potty or screaming with their hands over their ears, you know exactly how overstimulating using a public restroom can be. Disney World’s regular restrooms all have automatic flushing toilets, which can be a trigger for some sensory sensitive kids.

Thankfully, there are companion restrooms made available throughout the parks. These facilities can be a more comfortable and accommodating environment for guests who have sensory overload in the main restrooms and prefer additional privacy.

Understanding Cast Members

Perhaps one of the most invaluable assets of Disney World is its team of dedicated cast members. They are trained to handle varying abilities and challenges with compassion and understanding. I feel like they truly are the game-changer especially when compared to doing other theme park vacations. These cast members play a crucial role in ensuring that every guest’s experience is magical and memorable.

Variety of Disney Resorts to Meet Your Needs

Outside of the theme parks, you’ll be spending a good chunk of your time at your hotel or resort. If you choose to stay on-property, there is such a wide variety of Disney resorts that could meet your sensory needs. 

Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Further from the Parks

You could choose a resort a little bit further from the theme parks so you can be in a more peaceful, quieter environment to unwind. Some of my personal favorites are Animal Kingdom Lodge, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West. Port Orleans—French Quarter could be another good option on a moderate level.

Closer to the Parks

Alternatively, a resort closer to some of theme parks with easy transportation options might make it easier to take a midday break if needed. The Contemporary Resort off the monorail is just steps away from Magic Kingdom. Any of those monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian) would make it easy to go back to your room to rest on your Magic Kingdom day. 

Beach Club is right outside the International Gateway entrance at EPCOT. Any of those Crescent Lake hotels make it easy to take a break from EPCOT or Hollywood Studios. This includes: Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve. The latter three are Marriott properties but you are still eligible for Deluxe level benefits like Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours. 

If you are on a budget, Art of Animation or Pop Century could also be good options as value level resorts. They are on the Skyliner route, which is Disney’s gondola transportation. This is a fairly calming form of transportation, as long as you don’t have a fear of heights. And it gives you easy access to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

Disney Vacation Club

Another option is to stay in Disney Vacation Club villas. DVC is Disney’s timeshare program, but there are various ways for non-owners to rent DVC rooms at a cheaper rate compared to booking direct through Disney. We are DVC members and have LOVED the villas as it provides a more home-like setting. If you book a 1-bedroom or larger, you have a full kitchen and in-unit laundry, which is a huge benefit.

In many ways, Disney World seeks to be a sensory-friendly destination. There are resources, thoughtful services, and a clear commitment to inclusivity. But, is there more that could be done? 

All the Ways Disney World Could be MORE Sensory-Friendly

Despite Disney World making efforts to be sensory-friendly and accommodate those with sensitivities, there are still some gaps and areas for improvement. 

Dedicated Sensory Room

One way Disney World could become more sensory-friendly is by having a dedicated sensory room in each park. This would be a calm and safe space available to anyone who feels overwhelmed in the theme park. 

It is often suggested to use the baby care center or the first aid center to take a break if needed. However, it may start to feel awkward or uncomfortable for older children and even adults with sensory needs. A dedicated sensory room with dim lighting, no background noise, and soft furniture would really fill a much-needed gap at the Disney Parks. Additionally, ensuring that these rooms are easily accessible and well-marked on park maps can help guests locate them more efficiently.

Sensory Bags Available

Some families don’t even realize their kids are sensory sensitive until they are AT the parks. And if that’s the case, it probably means you haven’t brought or prepared the necessary items to help support your kid when they are in the middle of sensory overload. 

Disney World could be MORE sensory-friendly by offering sensory bags at Guest Services or other locations through the theme parks. Whether it’s a borrowing system, a rental system, or a purchasing system, just making sensory bags available for families inside the Disney Parks would be SO helpful. Sensory bags could contain items like: noise canceling headphones, various fidgets, a light-up sensory toy, etc. 

Sensory Friendly Show Hours

Disney’s live shows and performances are a highlight for many guests. But they can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities. This can be due to loud music, flashing lights, other visual effects, and crowded seating. 

Offering sensory-friendly showings with adjusted audio and visual elements could make these experiences more inclusive. It would also help to have designated seating areas for those who need a little more space. While it may be unrealistic to make every show sensory-friendly, perhaps making the first (or last?) showing of the day sensory-friendly could be a great way to accommodate those who are sensory sensitive.

Photo from Cox Science Center in West Palm Beach, FL
Sensory Friendly Days or Hours

The Disney World theme parks offer such a wide variety of experiences. There really is something for everyone. However, the sensory overload can be a very real thing. 

A designated sensory-friendly day, or even a sensory-friendly hour, would be a huge help for sensory sensitive individuals. 

There are movie theaters and museums that have implemented something like this, and Disney World could step up and do the same. This could mean refraining from the use of fireworks for that time period, lower volume on sound effects and announcements, turning down the background music, and making indoor rides more brightly lit.

Sensory Ratings Posted Outside of Each Attraction

While Disney World is working towards creating a welcoming environment for guests with sensory sensitivities, one area where it falls short is providing sensory ratings for each attraction. 

Currently, Disney World has general information and some warnings for every ride & attraction posted at the entrance of the queue. It includes a brief sentence about what to expect on the ride. And it has warnings about what kind of physical condition you should be in to ride. It will note whether expectant mothers can ride, and mentions that children need to be supervised. It also includes details about whether mobility device users need to transfer or not. 

However, what it doesn’t include are detailed sensory ratings or guides for their attractions. Sensory ratings typically include the intensity of different factors like noise level, brightness of lights, and type of motion. This is the bread and butter of Moms Make it Magical.

From Magical Storybook Travels of Sensory Guides at Discovery Cove in Orlando, FL

A little icon of each sensory factor with a number to indicate the intensity level would help guests better anticipate and prepare for potential sensory triggers. Posting sensory ratings in front of each attraction could greatly improve the accessibility and inclusivity of Disney World. It would allow parents with sensory sensitive kids to make informed decisions and fully enjoy their experience in the parks. 

So… is Disney World Sensory Friendly?

It’s clear that efforts have been made to ensure that all guests can enjoy the magic. Things like online resources, DAS pass, quiet areas, and trained cast members demonstrate this commitment to inclusivity. However, opportunities for improvement still exist. By introducing sensory bags, a sensory room, sensory-friendly showtimes or hours, and providing more detailed information about attractions, Disney can enhance accessibility further. Guest feedback and ongoing initiatives will be key in achieving this goal. With a dedication to improvement, Disney World can continue to make the magic a reality for all guests. 

In the meantime, my hope is that the information and resources found on Moms Make it Magical will help fill in some of that gap for families with varying sensory needs.

Share your thoughts on how Disney could improve its sensory-friendly features. What is working and what isn’t? Let’s start the conversation and work towards a more inclusive and welcoming experience for all! 


If you need extra support and want to find community with other parents of highly sensitive or anxious kids going to Disney, I encourage you to join my Facebook group!

You can ask all your questions and get feedback from a wonderful group of Disney-loving parents who are also looking to better manage the meltdowns and maximize the magic during their Disney World vacation.

And follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see my latest tips and advice when it comes to doing Disney World and travel in general with highly sensitive children.

Lastly, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of my must-have Disney ride planner tool! Use it so you can easily 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!

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