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Autism and the AquaDuck on the Disney Dream/Disney Fantasy

 Travelling involves a lot of planning and preparation at best, then factor in the pre-planning when a special needs child is involved, and you've got to think about a lot more. Our son is a teenaged autistic, energetic and very happy guy. He's always on the move,......always, and he's very strong.

I have to think about where I'll be with him, what might arise and how he might react, be it positively or adversely. I have to check to see if there are family restrooms, because he needs supervision in those areas and I have to always make sure that I'll have a back up exit plan that's ready to be implemented at a moments notice.

When planning for our seventh cruise with Disney back in 2011 on their newest ship at the time, the Disney Dream, I streamed videos of anything I could find about the ship. Contacting Disney Cruise Line, they were wonderful in sending me their planning video, which was a useful and informative aid.

Disney Dream (photo: Disney Cruise Line)

It was when I saw the video of the water coaster, the AquaDuck that my mind began to channel in many directions all at once. I saw a picture of the waiting area and I began to worry. The waiting area was a staircase. Andrew would be thrilled to be waiting up there, not only because of the height but because in his mind he could bounce on and off the staircase. That did not please me at all, so I began to think about how we could handle this. I couldn't have him waiting there for too long or the other guests would not appreciate the wait.....with Andrew.
Waiting area for AquaDuck (photo: jackiepsarianos)

Luckily, Disney Imagineers do what they do best, and all around the AquaDuck one can find a multitude of distraction and entertainment. For my plan to work, however, two adults were needed at all times. This is what we did. One person supervised Andrew in the family pool while the second adult waited in line for the AquaDuck. Armed with the portable Wave Phones that are provided for every guest in your stateroom, we communicated with each other. When my husband was near the top of the staircase, just before you enter the short waiting area in the stack, he called down to me at the pool to bring Andrew up. Using my 'first and then' routine I was able to get Andrew out of the pool and up the staircase (with many explanations on the way up as to why we were cutting in). This way, there would be no bouncing or jumping on the steps and everyone would be happy. Once I met up with my husband, I passed Andrew off and happily went down the staircase to grab a cool drink and wait on the pool deck to snap a picture of my adventurers.

Wavephones available in every stateroom. These are complimentary and if you need more then you can rent them down at Guest Services.

AquaDuck water coaster. (photo: Disney Cruise Line)
AquaDuck at the beginning. (photo: jackiepsarianos)
AquaDuck along the perimeter and pools. (photo: jackiepsarianos)
There they are. Andrew is in motion and up high!


  1. Well -- did he absolutely love it?

  2. Hi Kathy!

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I appreciate it. Andrew really loved the AquaDuck and rode it many, many times.

  3. Jackie, it is wonderful how attuned you are to your son's needs; you and your hubby. I am sure the memories Andrew made that day will be among his most loved. :-) I can't wait to hear and see all about your big adventure in August!!


    1. Hi Suzanne!

      Thank you so much for writing back and reading my post! What keeps us going are the developmental gains my son makes on each and every Disney trip, it's incredible.



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