I have written extensively about special diets and Walt Disney World. As a longtime vegetarian and a mother whose daughter has an allergy, I know that Disney is great at accommodating different types of eating. Recently I met a mother whose daughter had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and I have to admit that that is one subject that I have never written on. I’m glad to finally be able to change that.
I am by no means an expert on diabetes, so do not consider this medical information. The words here are meant as a guide, a place for you to start. I’m assuming that some of it is common sense, but I’ll mention it anyway. I’m writing this from the aspect of speaking to the diabetic, but it should be easy enough to make the shift in your brain if you’re traveling with a diabetic child or other loved one.
Before You Leave Home
It isn’t a bad idea to talk to your doctor before you leave home. Each patient is different, and he or she should be able to give you tips on how much you can do, and when you might need to take a break. Ask for a note from him or her. You won’t need it at Disney, but it’s still not a bad thing to have. You will also want to make sure that your prescriptions are all up to date. If you use a pump, you might want an extra, or have backup syringes, just in case.
When making restaurant reservations, there is a place for “special dietary requests”. Pick “other”. If you’re still worried, you can email special diets at Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com.
Make sure that all of your medical supplies are packed in your carry on. You want to have everything with you in case there is a delay or your flight is canceled. Luggage can also get hot or cold in the belly of a plane. Don’t take a chance. Make sure that any prescription has the proper label, and that the name matches the name on the ticket.
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If you’re staying on Walt Disney World property, all rooms have a full or mini-fridge. Unfortunately, the mini-fridges don’t have a freezer. You can purchase ice packs and ask at the front desk if they will freeze them for you for medical reasons. That shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure your name is on them. If you’re staying off property, you will want to check when you book if there will be a refrigerator with a freezer in your room. If there isn’t, ask what the procedure is for keeping medical supplies cool.
Leaving for the Parks
Wear a medical alert bracelet or other identifying item. Make sure that you have everything that you need, plus a little bit extra. Many people will pack a small cooler with an ice pack or two for insulin. Do not underestimate the Florida heat and the sun. (When you arrive tell the Security Cast Member that it’s medical supplies and you will not have a problem.) Pack sunscreen and a hat as well. Wear shoes that are broken in, you don’t want to risk blisters.
In the Parks
Learn the location of First Aid as soon as you enter the park. You can store extra insulin at First Aid if you want. Pace yourself. Stay hydrated. Take a break from time to time. Test when you need to. Remember that the heat and your activity could change your insulin needs. There is no reason why you can’t enjoy everything, as long as your doctor gave you clearance. If you start to feel faint and can’t make it to First Aid, tell the nearest Cast Member. He or she will either be able to help, or will get someone else immediately.
Full Service Restaurants
If you marked “other” on your reservation, you’ll be asked what your dining need is when you check in. If you have any questions, ask to speak to the chef. Most chefs are fantastic when it comes to dietary restrictions. You can also talk to a chef about carb counts.
Counter Service Restaurants
Many of the counter service restaurants have a no sugar added option on the menu. If there isn’t one listed, go ahead and ask when you order, there could be something off menu. If you are worried about ingredients or have questions about a food item, ask to see the ingredients binder. Give yourself extra time, because special dining requests usually take longer.
If you use an insulin pump and are worried about the RDIF technology that MagicBands use, you can request a Key to the World ticket instead. Also know that Disney uses metal detectors at the theme parks. Not everyone is chosen to go through, but if you are and you’re worried about your pump, you can request the use of a wand instead. According to Disney the metal detectors won’t interfere with a pump, so the choice is yours. Sharps can be disposed of in most restrooms, or you can take them to First Aid. If you’re staying on property ask for a sharps jar. The most important tip of all is to have fun at the Most Magical Place on Earth!