There are two big Ds in our life. Diabetes (obviously) and Disneyland®! As a California native, I've lived a good portion of my life at the park. Whenever I'm there, I see, smell and hear things that bring me right back to my childhood, and now those memories are mingled with new ones I have from bringing my own kids to the happiest place on earth.
Since James' diagnosis, we haven't slowed down our visits to the park at all. I'll never forget that first trip to the park with all of our diabetes supplies: vials of insulin, needles, "fast-acting" carbohydrates, log books, meters, etc. Typical of parents new to type 1 diabetes, we brought a huge bag with every supply under the sun. Everything worked out, and we've since learned a few things about the parks and diabetes.
The biggest thing to know is that diabetes doesn't prevent you from visiting Disneyland and having a great day. That said, there are some things to keep in mind and some preparations to ensure a great visit.
First, even if you have good carb-counting skills, you might want to prepare for unpredictable blood sugar. The extra excitement and the walking and standing in lines can lead to high or low blood sugar. As long as you're prepared with plenty of test strips and supplies for lows, you're good to go. I'll tell you from experience to bring more test strips than you think you might need. I made the mistake of not bringing enough and had to spend about an hour driving outside the park to a drugstore to buy more! The experience ended fine, but now I make sure to have a back-up vial of strips in the car just in case.
Second, cast members are super helpful, and Disneyland has built-in places for guests who have special medical needs. On one trip to the park, James' blood sugar went high. We discovered that his infusion set (that is, the needle and tubing that connect his insulin pump) was dislodged and we needed to make an immediate set change. We were grateful to be near the first-aid office where we were ushered into a private room stocked with basic supplies (like alcohol preps and bandages) that enabled us to quickly change his pump site and get back to our fun day.
Third, if your child is feeling unwell, there are attractions and places to wait it out until he or she feels better. James went low once while playing at the Brother Bear Challenge Trail in Disney's California Adventure®. I could tell he felt AWFUL. With the help of a cast member, we were able to get on Soarin' Over California through the Fastpass line. The ride was long and mild enough to distract him while waiting for the juice box he drank to raise his blood sugar. By the time we exited the ride, he was feeling much more like himself, and we were able to stay several more hours.
Most times that we go to the park, we don't have any incidents. But when we do, it seems like there is always a solution. I can truly say that even with type 1 diabetes, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth!
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I'm thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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