Disney World

Our family's first visit to Disney World last week was, to use Disney's favorite word, magical.  We loved our safari ride, Soarin', the fantasyland rides at Magic Kingdom, our resort's dragon water slide, and so much more.  Our lunch with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet was my daughter's highlight and will most certainly be featured on next year's Christmas card.

The Disney World experience, however, is a diabetes nightmare.  In order to beat the crowds, we rose at the crack of dawn and headed to our resort's bus stop, bags of dry cereal and fruit in hand.  We then zipped from attraction to attraction at break-neck speed until my craving for coffee necessitated a mid-morning snack break.  Blood sugars could be high or low at this point depending on the amount of speed-walking versus the fright-factor of the most recent ride.

Late morning involved retracing our steps to revisit favorites, and to see less popular attractions, which were often on very different ends of the park.  By 11:30, there was usually a low or nearly low blood sugar. We found lunch, which was usually high in fat and non-complex carbohydrates.  An unhealthy afternoon snack would follow, such as the crepe at the French pavilion or the (very yummy) pineapple dole whip in adventureland.  By late afternoon, the adrenaline would kick in.  Exhaustion and high blood sugar led to brief periods of family grumpiness, but was always counteracted by the next fun adventure. Eventually, we'd proceed to late dinner reservations at the German Biergarten or a Mexican restaurant where we'd attempt to guess how many carbs were in speatzle or a churro before viewing the fireworks show and collapsing into bed.  When we were smart enough to relax at our resort, the pool beckoned and the pump was unplugged for multiple round-trips on the water slide. 

A good first experience at Disney requires preparation. I spent a lot of time and energy planning our vacation to get the most out of our days in the parks.  I therefore felt compelled to also spend time planning how to keep diabetes from sabotaging my plans.  We looked decidedly frumpy with our fanny packs, but we had enough juice boxes, granola bars, water and diabetes supplies to keep us going through each day and to face any emergency with relative ease.  We scouted out a few relatively healthy dining options to intersperse with fun amusement park food.  We left a trail of test strips through the many lands of Disney World. 

Once prepared and organized though, a certain amount of flexibility took our experience from fun to magical.  On a regular parent level this included permitting several short nights of sleep in a row, being willing to stand in line for half an hour to meet Minnie Mouse, and several sails through It's a Small World.  On a diabetes parent level this meant getting the dole whip even though we'd just finished a 2 dessert buffet lunch, postponing a snack because we encountered amazing Chinese acrobats at Epcot, and troubleshooting  a pump alarm on the fly so we wouldn't miss the next Safari trip at Animal Kingdom.

It wasn't easy. I don't think there's anything easy about a Disney vacation even without diabetes.  A combination of careful preparation ahead of time, and enjoying every opportunity while we were there, though, made it a magical vacation.


  1. So glad ye got to go to Disney and enjoyed it so much - we've been to Eurodisney a couple of times now, and its a toss up as to whether the parents or kids enjoy it more!! Both our visits were pre-D (one by only 2 months) so we haven't had to face into the prep side of things. I have heard that if you arrange it beforehand they'll let you skip the queues - something we'll hopefully get to try out someday......

  2. We've been to Disney 5 times. All 3 of our children are type 1 diabetics. It is definitely not easy! The first couple of times we went the Disney cast members were helpful, this last time (2012) they were not so helpful. They said that they met with the ADA and were told that diabetes was not any type of disability. We spent a lot of our time treating low blood sugars.


Thanks for commenting. I review all comments before they are posted, so please be patient!