PassPorter’s ‘Special Needs’ Guide to Walt Disney World

PassPorter Special Needs book

Time was when, if you were lucky enough to find a travel guide that addressed the needs of the “disabled,” it was all about wheelchair access. Boy, how times have changed.

The new PassPorter’s Walt Disney World for your Special Needs covers seemingly every possible situation, from ADHD to Vision, with 18 others in between, including some that aren’t really disabilities at all (religion and senior citizenship, for instance), but which can raise very genuine concerns for some vacationers.

Written by Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma, this massive compendium represents an enormous amount of research (they cite nearly three dozen “peer reviewers”) and all the hard work has clearly paid off. Their book is the de facto encyclopedia on special needs at Disney World and it is unlikely that their achievement will ever be duplicated, let alone surpassed. As with any PassPorter publication the exhaustive attention to detail leaves no cleverly themed stone unturned and no question unanswered.

The authors start out with an overview of the special needs they address. Each one is given its own bold-faced symbol — the letter H for Hearing, but a little heart symbol for Heart Health, for example — so that you can easily zero in on your area of special interest as you use the book. There are planning tips (bring your own heating pad if you’re recovering from an accident!) and “PassPorter Picks” and “PassPorter Pans” offer targeted dos and don’ts for each special need.

Then they take you step by step through your Disney vacation, aboard the cruise ships as well as in the parks, the resort hotels, and the many Disney restaurants. What Wills and Koma have done, in effect, is create a “regular” guidebook customized for your special need. Wisely, the section on the parks starts with an encyclopedic look at the issue of getting around for those with mobility concerns or with little ones who will need strollers.

The ride descriptions are keyed to make important information stand out. Parents of an autistic child, for example, can quickly see that the noise level on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin might cause over-stimulation, while “people of size” will note that they might need their own ride vehicle.

And so it goes for nearly 400 tightly packed pages, including an exhaustive index and an appendix listing hundreds of additional resources. I can’t say for sure, but I’d be very surprised if Wills and Koma have missed anything.

In addition to being a superb WDW guide for those with specific needs — autism, dietary restrictions, chronic fatugue, phobias, etc. — PassPorter’s Walt Disney World for your Special Needs will prove to be an invaluable reference tool for travel agents and other industry professionals with an interest in WDW.

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