Meet Addy, my son’s autism service dog. She is truly a princess in disguise; hard working, humble and very kind. (And, she loves all things soft and fluffy.) A service dog is much more than just a companion. He or she is an extension of the individual in need. Without them, their owner could not do daily life or even enjoy something as simple as a vacation.
WDW has done a fantastic job at accommodating service animals by offering designated relief areas, the option of crating or doing a rider swap at thrilling attractions, and training their Cast Members not to talk to or pet a working animal. (Thank you, Disney!) If you choose to crate the animal while enjoying an attraction, just let the Cast Member at the front entrance know. They will call for a crate to be set up behind the scenes, and you will be escorted backstage to put the animal in the crate. A Cast Member will then stand guard with the animal to make sure no one bothers him/her while waiting.
Having been to Walt Disney World 5 times to date, Addy has become quite the pro. She does many of the rides, watches the shows, and waits patiently in a crate while her boy rides the roller coasters. I don’t think she is a big fan of Toy Story Mania as she tends to slide with every turn, but she lays there patiently, looking around. Her favorite attractions are the shows and boat rides. She loves listening to the dog “speak” at the Carousel of Progress and watching the many animatronics sing in “It’s a Small World”.
A few years ago she ran the 1 mile race with her boy at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. They were quite the adorable pair. Her boy does not like meeting characters, but he really wanted her picture taken with the princesses that were posed at the race. Addy relished the attention from Princess Minnie and Belle. I wish I had videoed her interaction with Belle who remained in character the entire time.
Avoid going during the warm weather months. There is a lot of black asphalt and the pads of their feet can get burned.
Request a room on the ground floor of your resort so you can easily walk out for that first & last potty break of the day.
Pick up a map at the front gate of each park that is specifically marked with the designated relief areas.
The relief area at Magic Kingdom between Goofy’s Barnstormer and Space Mountain is the best location. It is a small fenced in yard where they can be off-leash and play. We usually go here when her boy is going on a ride she cannot join him on. Most of the other relief locations are a small patch of mulch. Service animals that are on alert, working hard need a short break like we do at work.
Bring poop bags, and please clean up after your animal.
Pack a collapsible water bowl to keep them hydrated. There are water fountains by the restrooms.
Be aware that at the time of this article, there are a select few Disney Resorts allowing pet dogs.
LEARN MORE about service animals at WDW and which rides they can go on.