A friend recently asked for tips about visiting Disneyland with chronic back pain. This is not the first time I have been asked this question and it won’t be the last. So I figured I would share all of my back pain tips and tricks with you too!
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I have been visiting Disneyland since the early 80’s and with chronic back pain since 2005. My chronic conditions include, but are not limited to fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and degenerative disc disease. Through the years I have learned how to enjoy myself at the park without increasing my back pain. No pixie dust is needed, just some research, precautions, and attention to detail. Read on for tips to help keep your back pain from spiraling out of control.
Research the rides at Disneyland and California Adventure
You know what your body can handle. I can share how my body reacts to each ride, but that doesn’t mean that your body will have the same reaction. What helps me determine whether or not a ride is worthy of trying is a little research.
First I read the official descriptions online. But they don’t always paint a true picture of what to expect. That’s why if I am not sure if a ride will aggravate my back or not, I turn to YouTube videos like the one below.
Videos like this help me see how fast a ride moves, jerky turns are, and if there are any jarring drops.
In addition, I suggest reading my blog posts for accessible information about the attractions. I am currently in the process of adding new information and attractions to this site. Please feel free to ask any questions (see how below) you may have and I will try to address them asap. You may also join my Disneyability Facebook group where members share accessible information and experiences.
Reduce the risk of increasing back pain at Disneyland by using a mobility aid
My fleet of mobility aids is why I have been able to spend the past 20 years making magical memories with family and friends at Disneyland. Minus the brief spell of complete relief I experienced between 2017 and 2018, I have required the use of a mobility aid.
When it was just my knees, I used crutches. When flaring with abdominal, leg, foot, and/or neck pain my husband pushes me around the park in my wheelchair. But for back and hip pain I bring a walker. More specifically, a rollator/transport chair combo.
My Medline combo has been a game-changer. Before purchasing it I had to choose between the comfort of my wheelchair or the independence of my hard seated walker. While my former walker was sufficient for balance, it actually increased my back pain when I sat on it. With my back pain stemming from my sacrum, a hard seat aggravated the pain. Also, not having a soft back to lean into would cause my muscles to stiffen. The best part about the combo is that if my body gives out before my family does, all it takes is a flip of the foot and backrests to become a comfortable transport chair.
The use of a mobility aid allows me to give my back time to rest while waiting in the queue of my favorite attractions. It makes it possible for my muscles to recover between rides. The best part is always having somewhere to sit that won’t contribute to my pain level. I would never be able to watch a parade or fireworks show without it.
I will admit that using a mobility aid in the parks can be confusing at first. Here is some information to help you understand how the system works.
Be prepared to treat back pain while at Disneyland
I recommend bringing medication and pain relief products. Be sure to note that Disneyland does not permit glass containers/bottles (with the exception of baby food) into the parks. CBD and cannabis in any form are also not permitted. Here is a full list of items that are not allowed into the secured areas of the resort.
My portable PEMF pain-relief device goes everywhere with me. In fact, on the opening day of Rise of the Resistance, I had an inflamed nerve in my neck. I ran treatments on my neck during the morning hours. Both the pain and swelling were gone before we finished breakfast.
Other items I bring are a refillable ice-pack, portable heating pad, and an arnica stick for relieving muscle tension and pain. Time flies inside the magic kingdom and it is easy to become dehydrated. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle and make a point to drink out of it every hour.
Lighten your load
Keep back and neck muscles happier by hanging your purse or backpack on your rollator while walking through the park. Another option is rent a locker. Use it to store your heavier items and extra clothing should you visit when the early morning and late night temps are cold and days are warm.
Listen to your body
Pay attention to the signals your body is sending you. Tend to tight muscles before they become a knotted mess. Rest as needed. If you do not choose to use a mobility aid, note that there are many areas to sit throughout the park. Having to take a time-out to rest and people watch while your family goes on a ride is far better than having to cut the day short or risk further injuring yourself.
If you must go on fast rides, set a limit. I have reached the point where I do well if I limit myself to one fast ride per visit. Occasionally I may ride two, but anything more is guaranteed to trigger a pain storm.
Tips to make your Disneyland visit magical
Stress contributes to most back pain. Avoid unnecessary stress with some pre-planning.
- Download the official Disneyland app to your phone
- Make reservations if you want to eat at a table service restaurant, visit the cantina in Galaxy Edge, or make a lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop.
- Have a plan- Make a list of what rides, attractions, shows, etc. that you want to do the most. Decide which part of the day will be spent at which park.
- Purchase Max Pass and connect it to your pass on the app. This will make obtaining Fast Passes easy. It also gives you free digital copies of all photo pass pictures taken throughout the park. This includes the rides that take your picture. Just be sure to have your pass scanned by the photographer and at rides take a picture of the reference number on the viewing screen to download later.
- Go into your day with realistic expectations. Do not expect your body to magically do what it can’t do on a regular basis. And remember, it is impossible to do everything in one day.
- Rise of the Resistance
- Smuggler’s Run
- Alternative Experience Attractions
- Three ways I relieve chronic pain at Disneyland
- 5 Tips For Pushing a Wheelchair Through Disneyland
- Where service dogs are prohibited at Disneyland and Disney World
Do you have a question about visiting Disneyland with a chronic illness/pain or other disability? Would you like more information about a particular ride? Ask your questions in the comments section below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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