When You Get Sick at Walt Disney World

We visit often enough that it’s not surprising that we’ve all been sick at Walt Disney World Resort from time to time.  We’ve also dealt with minor injuries while in the theme parks.  Right now it seems like everyone is either sick or recovering from a nasty virus or the flu, so I thought it would be a timely topic to discuss what you can do if you or your family member gets sick while enjoying the magic.

FirstAidMKThe first tip is to always pack basic medications.  Especially when you’re traveling with children because (in my experience) their ailments tend to hit them in the middle of the night when the shops are closed.

Here’s my list of what I always bring:

  • Thermometer – when your child is burning up at 2am, you don’t want to have to guess what his temperature is.
  • Advil/Motrin/Ibuprofen & Tylenol/Acetaminophen (children’s and adult’s) – The adult version is useful for back or leg aches after hiking 10 miles in the parks!  The children’s was wonderful to have on hand when Eli woke up at the Dolphin last month with a 102 degree fever.
  • Antacids (children’s and adult’s) – The rich food and extra sweet treats that most of us indulge in while at Walt Disney World Resort can cause some discomfort, especially around bedtime.
  • Pepto/Immodium – Just in case!  A mild tummy problem can be improved considerably with a dose or two.  Of course these are for adults only, although I think they do now have a children’s version of Pepto.
  • Benadryl (children’s and adult’s) – I’ve never needed to use it, but I’m a paranoid momma and want to be prepared in case of a mild allergic reaction to food, hotel sheets or a bug bite.
  • Dayquil & Nyquil – Just in case one of the grown-ups catches a virus!  This let my husband keep going a few years ago when he had an icky sinus infection while we were there for a week.
  • Band-aids and Polysporin – Disney themed band-aids of course.  The one time we left these at home, we ended up needing them (read more about that below)!

I use a large ziplock bag to carry it all in one spot in my suitcase and then I use a small tube container (I bought it in the checkout lane of Publix with about 10 Tylenols in it) to carry 4 Advils, 2 Pepto caplets and 2 Tylenol caplets while we’re in the theme parks.  I like using that setup because the cap is child-resistant, it’s water-resistant, very small and can fit in a pocket (although we put it in a small backpack that we carry on most of our visits).

Next up, know where to go to get whatever you forgot!

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  • All of the Walt Disney World Resort gift shops (the ones in the hotels) have a nice selection of sundries, including most medicines.  I’ve found ear plugs, Pepto, Tylenol, Gold Bond powder (for unfortunate chafing incidents), eye drops, Q-Tips and more.  The Disney Parks Moms Panel has a great list of available products here!
  • In each theme park, there is at least one gift shop that sells medicine and remedies.  When I came down with the flu at the very end of our last trip, I had to go to three places to find cough drops and tissues.  I started at the First Aid center, where the nurse told me they didn’t sell tissue and cough drops and sent me to a different gift shop.  That shop sold baby supplies and sunscreen, but not cold medicine and they directed me to the Crossroads of the World and thankfully they opened the magical drawer under the counter and pulled out a packet of Halls and a packet of tissues!  I was so happy to finally have some remedies to make it through the last couple of hours before we headed home.  Make sure to ask because the medicines are not kept on display.
  • If you have a car, there are several grocery and drug stores just off of Disney property.  You can also get a few items at the Hess gas station on property.
  • A friend of mine recommends Turner Pharmacy, which charges a $5 delivery fee to the resorts. You can get over the counter items (and even order online) or your doctor can call in a prescription.  If you don’t have a car, this is an affordable and convenient option!

What if you (or your family) gets hurt or needs medical assistance while in the theme parks?

First Aid Centers at WDW

  • Each theme park has a dedicated First Aid center.  It’s smart to locate them on the map before you go so that you’re not stressing out about finding it if it becomes necessary.  On one trip to the Magic Kingdom, Eli grabbed a Christmas garland by Gaston’s Tavern and something in it sliced his hand.  It wasn’t really a bad injury but he freaked out at the sight of blood and was crying (loudly screeching “I Need A Band-Aid!!! repeatedly) the ENTIRE way to the First Aid center.  If we hadn’t known where to go, it would have been even more stressful!
  • The First Aid centers are a great resource for minor injuries.  We signed Eli in, talked to a really wonderful nurse who quickly got his hand cleaned up and applied the magical band-aid.  They are great at answering questions and can help you get further assistance (including transportation to a local urgent care center ) if your injury or illness is beyond their scope.
  • They also can provide generic basic medicine (like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and antacids) for free.
  • The First Aid centers can also provide private rooms for medical treatments that you may need to bring along with you (like nebulizer treatments, blood sugar checks or insulin injections) and can provide storage and/or refrigeration for any medications that you need to have with you while you are enjoying the theme parks.  Make sure to clearly mark your supplies with your name and other identifying information (a cell phone number would be a good idea).
  • If you are traveling with an older child or adult with special needs who needs a private area with larger tables than offered by the Baby Centers for diaper changes, the First Aid centers will provide a private room with a large table to allow you take care of your loved one.
  • Do not just use the toilet paper from the Walt Disney World Resort restrooms if you have a head cold.  Track down and purchase the Kleenex.  Trust me and my poor chapped and peeling nose!  I almost cried in relief when I used a name brand tissue on my nose after a full day of using that sandpaper, I mean toilet paper as tissue.

What if you or your family member needs to see a doctor while at Walt Disney World Resort?

  • While it would be wonderful no one every got sick while on vacation, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes guests get the flu, strep throat, a stomach virus or even worse.  While Walt Disney World does not have its own doctor’s office or hospital, there are several urgent care clinics in the area.  We live close enough (2 hours by car) that if it is serious enough for that, we tend to just drive home to see our own pediatrician, but I know that for most guests that just isn’t an option.
  • From the Disney World website: “Florida Hospital Centra Care Walk-In Urgent Care Centers are open from 8:00 AM to midnight, Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday. Complimentary transportation is available and many insurance plans are accepted. Call (407) 934-2273 for more info.”  It even looks like you can set up an appointment online in advance to reduce your wait time.
  • If you are in a theme park when your situation arises, head to the First Aid center to let them help you contact the urgent care center and arrange for transportation.  If you are in a Walt Disney World Resort, just touch the Front Desk button on your phone and explain your need for medical care.
  • Rachel Horsley (who has contributed for Magical DIStractions, The Adult Side of Disney, Magical Memories with the Mouse, and been published in Parents and Kids Magazine of Rochester) got first hand experience with this, not just once, but twice and was generous enough to share her story:

Far from thinking he “could’a had a V8,” my toddler was probably thinking he could’a had breakfast with Stitch as we sped off in the ambulance to Florida Hospital Celebration Health’s Emergency Department.

sickatWDW

Photo Credit: Rachel Horsley

Waking in the wee-hours that morning with a barking cough and fever, we knew he was in trouble. I called the concierge desk in a panic, asking for options? Was there a doctor in the building on call? Did we need to go to a local Urgent Care facility? Help!

The cast member told us our best option was to see their EMTs, and they’d be right up. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but moments later I was surprised to see (from our room high above at Bay Lake Tower) an ambulance enter the parking lot. I was thinking, “that can’t be for us…can it?”

It sure was. Within 5 minutes of the call to concierge there was a knock on our door. Just ahead of the paramedics was the on-duty resort manager. As they entered the room, the manager caringly asked if there was anything he could do to assist. Not being able to think of anything then, I advised not and thanked him.

The paramedics went to work checking on my son and cautioned that he appeared to have the croup. Andrew is usually very healthy and this was a first for all of us. Asked how to proceed, they advised we could wait 4 hours for the pediatric urgent care facility to open, or go with them to the ER.

Usually I don’t advocate going to hospitals for things like the croup, but away from home, and our doctors, and with an expensive vacation in jeopardy…we all left the room for the ambulance. I was, again, surprised to find the same manager waiting outside our door. I learned during a later paramedic visit that week, this is not uncommon. He waited both times, the entire time, the paramedics were with us. He apologized for our inconvenience (like a toddler getting the croup is their fault) and gave us a voucher (to include the tip) for our cab ride back from the hospital.

Before we knew it, we were arriving at the hospital and they had us in an emergency room bay. Beautiful new furnishings and gleaming hardwood floors are really all I remember of the facility…that, and they were fast. Within minutes he was on a nebulizer (another first) and within two hours of our arrival we were hailing a cab back to our resort.

Photo Credit: Rachel Horsley

Photo Credit: Rachel Horsley

After promising improvement the following day, there was a relapse and we found ourselves taking another taxi to the Pediatric Urgent Care facility. They were lovely people, but we were there for nearly 4 hours! We did leave with our very own nebulizer and some prednisone though. The resort paid for the taxi each way (plus tip!), reimbursed us for the Christmas Party we missed, and credited the room a $50 inconvenience fee (again, like it was their fault?)

Sans a $50 deductible, anything the resort or our health insurance didn’t cover was reimbursed by the travel insurance. Between delivery of prescriptions from Turner Drugs, co-pays, and the nebulizer, it was about $275. Well worth the $89 paid for the policy.

While Rachel’s story is not something any of us want to experience, I really appreciate her sharing it because it is very reassuring to me to know that Disney is ready and able to quickly handle any medical situations that may arise.  You can follow Rachel’s Disney adventures (hopefully they’ll be a little less eventful!) via @RachelHorsley on Twitter and horsler76 on Pinterest.

And of course, if it is an emergency you should dial 911 immediately!

Learn more from the Walt Disney World website here and best wishes that your vacation is injury and illness free!

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Comments

When You Get Sick at Walt Disney World — 10 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. Important information to have. I actually know where many of the locations are because I learned where all the baby care stations are from going there with my daughter when she was younger. They are located next door to the first aid. They all have a large number of changing tables, supplies for sale such as pacifiers, bottles, food, formula as well as a great place for moms to breast feed or in the summer time get your very little one out of the heat.

    • We love the Baby Care stations! I nursed both my boys until they were two and I have very fond memories of sitting in those rocking chairs and just having a peaceful (air conditioned!) break. Disney’s been doing that great for decades!

  2. This is wonderful information. Disney staff is great. Just ask if you need help. Of all the times I’ve stressed over my kids becoming sick at Disney, I was the one who once got food poisoning. It was not fun but thankfully came and went quickly. Stuff happens.
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    • I hate getting stomach viruses or food poisoning, I’d hate it twice as much at Disney! Glad it passed quickly!

  3. Very informative article. I was chaperoning a school group one time and had to go to the Epcot First Aid because one of the CHAPERONES fainted after going on the hard Mission to Mars!
    Everyone was great and helpful

    • Oh my, I’ve never been brave enough to try that ride! Glad that the First Aid was able to help!

  4. April this is a wonderful post! It’s something a lot of us don’t think about until something happens. I also know there is a place in fantasyland (near Mickey’s philharmagic) that sells medicines. My husband bought advil there once and this sticks out in my mind cus he threw the wrapper in the bin that is used to collect the 3D glasses. He thought it was a trash can. I made him dig it back out!
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