Disney World, the land where dreams come true and everyone’s inner child comes alive. Disney theme parks often carry some of our greatest memories from both childhood and adulthood due to their magical rides, unique landscapes, and one-of-a-kind experiences.
For a highly sensitive person (HSP), the thought of spending hours on end at a Disney park might seem daunting or down right exhausting just thinking about it! The crowds, noise, rides and sensations can definitely be highly stimulating and a good reason to want to crawl in a cave as a HSP.
But fear not! Highly sensitive people can enjoy all the magic that Disney has to offer just like anyone else can.
My Day in Disney
I recently spent a weekend in Orlando, Florida, home to Disney World. I had been there as a child and young adult, but this was going to be my first experience in the theme park as a parent to a toddler! Naturally, I wanted my son to have the most magical time there, but I was worried that my HSP trait might get in the way.
Would I be overwhelmed with all of the stimulation?
I was grateful that we decided to do a full day at the Magic Kingdom and then use our other days to poke around different parts of the Orlando area. This allowed me to do a test-run for how it might go if we were to do a more extensive, longer Disney trip in the coming years (which we will).
I learned that highly sensitive people can absolutely have fun at Disney IF they honor their personality trait and make choices that fit it accordingly. Here is what I learned from my day at Disney.
Tips for HSPs at the Magic Kingdom
Take earplugs. Throughout the day, Disney holds many street parades and various other shows throughout the park. The shows are really fun to watch, but I found the music too loud. The next time I go, I will definitely bring ear plugs to quiet the noise.
Also, pretty much every ride and restaurant has nonstop music playing, so earplugs would definitely help reduce the auditory stimulation throughout the day.
Schedule Your Day With Breaks. My family decided to get to the park right as it opened and we stayed until after the fireworks display late in the evening. That winds up being 8am-9pm. Yep, a LONG day.
What I found helped was that my son napped in his stroller after lunch, so my husband and I used that time to decompress. We visited a few stores and poked around, but we also took time to simply sit down and shift our attention away from the park.
Whether reading on our phones or closing our eyes, it helped me recharge for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Definitely plan breaks in your day! If you have the luxury of a nearby hotel, you can even plan to return to your room for a nap or quiet time before heading back to the park.
Close Your Eyes While Waiting in Line. The lines can be really long while waiting to get on a ride, so I used this time to close my eyes and focus on my breathing a few times. It was a great way for me to shut out the visual stimulation around me.
Choose Relaxing Rides. I am a thrill seeker when it comes to rides, so I like the fast and the furious, but I really appreciated having some of the slower, sleepier rides (aka the People Mover) to recharge and let my body relax. Be mindful to include several slower rides throughout your day.
Sit One Out. It’s okay to choose to stay behind while your family goes on a ride or into a certain park. Honor yourself. I let my husband take my son on a ride while I waited in a longer line for another ride. It ended up being perfect because the line was quiet and didn’t overtax my system.
Research Your Dining Options Ahead of Time. If you’re like me and have some dietary restrictions or if your body is fueled best by certain foods, it’s worth your while to research the food vendors in the park before going. This allows you to fuel your body with food that will help you feel good throughout the day.
While most of the restaurants were crowded and noisy, it helped knowing that I was at least eating foods that wouldn’t stimulate my body in negative ways. (You can always bring snacks and water along too)
Wear Comfortable Clothes. This is important for HSPs because if you are preoccupied with the discomfort of your clothes or shoes, your whole day could be miserable. You know your body best, but for me, wearing sneakers and various layers was optimal. You spend a lot of time on your feet, so cushioning is helpful. Unless you’re going in the dead heat of summer, having layers is a good idea because the temperatures will vary.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep. This applies to the night before you enter the park as well as recovering from your day at the park. Pack essentials that allow you to have a good night sleep. You might pack: lavender essential oil, sleep mask, your own pillow, a meditation app, earplugs, and cozy pajamas.
I told my husband that upon returning to the hotel, I would need to take a warm shower and put on the television as we fell asleep to help my body calm down from all of the stimulation. Believe it or not, having a tv on in the background can be soothing for me, so I voiced my need before we even entered the hotel.
Embrace Your Sensitivity and Experience the Magic
So there you have it! Highly sensitive people can absolutely have a wonderful experience at Disney with all the right planning and considerations.
Don’t let being highly sensitive deter you from having wonderful experiences. Simply know what is best for you and speak up about what your needs are.
If you think you might have the highly sensitive person trait, be sure to check out Elaine Aron’s Highly Sensitive Person book. It’s a great place to start learning about this personality trait!
I hope you have a magical time in Disney!
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