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Parenting in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
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Adrienne Krock, editor
What to do if you're Sick at a Disney park
Our family actually went somewhere other than Disneyland this Thanksgiving weekend. I had a great plan: first thing Monday morning (November 27th) Matthew and I would head to the park to check out the new additions to the Disneyland Holiday attractions and Monday night, I could write up my column. Instead, we ended up in our pediatrician's office with a fever.

Well, that holiday column will have to be postponed one week. You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention? Well, today's topic is: What to do if you're Sick at a Disney park.

Come Prepared

When packing for your trip, don't forget a few medications, just in case. Pack acetaminophen and / or ibuprofen. If it's in liquid form, bring a spoon or syringe to measure and dispense it. You may also want to bring a cough syrup and / or a decongestant or anti-histamine. Products like Benedryl are good for treating rashes or mild allergic reactions. I use a cough syrup which contains pseudoephedrine (the generic drug in Sudafed,) for my son's stuffy nose.

I have heard of people bringing antibiotics to self medicate on vacation. I feel very strongly that this is a dangerous habit. Over prescription and use of antibiotics is creating treatment resistant bacteria and makes it harder to fight legitimate bacterial infections when they do occur.

We've all seen the signs in our doctors' offices that alert us: "Antibiotics cannot treat viruses" Bacterial infections cannot be diagnosed without cultures and persistence of symptoms. This is why antibiotics are classified as prescription drugs; so that they can be administered under the supervision of a doctor. (Adrienne descends from her soapbox...)

Disneyland's first aid sign
Disneyland's first aid sign

First Aid at the Parks

If you find yourself caught unprepared, you may wish to visit Central First Aid (CFA.) At Disneyland, this is located at the north end of Main Street, tucked between the Baby Care Center and the Plaza Inn restaurant. At the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, it is on the opposite side of Main Street, between Casey's Corner and the Crystal Place Buffet. In the sidebar, I've listed the locations of Central First Aid centers at other Walt Disney World parks. These CFA facilities are staffed by registered nurses.

CFA at Disneyland has many drugs available, one dose at a time, to immediately address ailments. Liquid acetaminophen is available for infants and children. They even have syringes in case your child cannot sip well from a cup. Emetrol, an anti-nausea medication, is available for children over 2. For diahhrea, Kaopectate will be dispensed to children over three. CFA also has Benedryl and cough syrup for children six and older. You can receive one complimentary dose at a time from CFA. They will record your name and advise you that you can receive another dose, according to package directions (for example, in the case of acetaminophen, four hours later.)

CFA is able to treat a variety of minor injuries as well. At Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World, Michelle Smith had an unfortunate incident with the then Fabulous Disney Baby (now the Fabulous Disney Kid,) Alice. Another guest flicked a cigarette ember into Alice's eye. This story has a genuine Disney ending: a Green Army Man grabbed Alice and RAN with her to CFA. There she had her eye cleaned out. Michelle later said, "I was instilled forever with a deep and abiding love of Green Army Men."

When it gets more serious: local hospitals with Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care clinics

In case of a more serious problem, you may need to see a doctor. Central First Aid centers at the parks can direct you to the local hospitals and urgent care clinics to get treatment.

In 1996, while visiting Walt Disney World, fellow MousePlaneteer Brian Bennett and his wife had to seek medical attention for their infant son. Walt Disney World provided a list of local urgent care centers and hospitals. Brian reported that the treatment they received in the emergency room at Sandlake Hospital was excellent. (Follow this link for a full account of their experience, scroll down to Day 12.)

As a Disneyland local, I can give specific information about the hospitals in the area. The nearest hospital to Disneyland is the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Medical Center. It is located approximately 2 miles from the park at The City Drive and Chapman Ave.

University of California Irvine Medial Center web site
University of California Irvine Medial Center web site

Slightly further south of Disneyland, (and I do mean slightly, these two hospitals are very close to each other,) is CHOC, or Children's Hospital of Orange County. CHOC is part of St. Joseph's Medical Center. (Also note on their home page information about a special benefit preview of Disney's new California Adventure park.)

Children's Hospital of Orange County web site
Children's Hospital of Orange County web site

My sister, (a fourth year medical student) has recent experience working with both of these hospitals. Now, I earned my BA from UCI, so it feels blasphemous for me to say this, but if it were me and I had to choose, I'd take my child to CHOC / St. Joseph's Medical Center for a non-trauma emergency. In case of a very serious trauma injury, then I would choose UCI.

Our medical insurance provider is Kaiser Permanente. When our son experienced a minor medical emergency last summer, we went to the Kaiser facility in Anaheim. It is located at the corner of Lakeview and Tustin, near the 91 freeway. This is approximately a 20 minute drive from Disneyland, depending on the time of day.

Anaheim Fire Department web site
Anaheim Fire Department web site

If you or a family member is treated by Anaheim paramedics you will receive a bill from the Anaheim Fire Department, in addition to any ambulance bills. This was true for a friend of mine even when it was Disneyland who summoned the paramedics on his behalf. In the minor emergency I mentioned earlier with Matthew, he was treated by paramedics and transported to the Kaiser facility by a private ambulance company. Our insurance paid in full for both the fire department and ambulance bills.

Hopefully you will not need any of this information during your trip, but it's good to know that there are many options for quality health care when you're in Anaheim or Orlando.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne here.

What if you feel sick?

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Central First Aid Centers at "Other" Walt Disney World Parks

At EPCOT, they are located in the Odyssey Building, way over by the World Showcase Side.

At the Disney / MGM Studios, they are located near the front of the park, next to Guest Relations (and to the left of Sid Cahuenga's One- Of- a- Kind Shop, as you look at it).

At Animal Kingdom, It's located in Safari Village, just before the bridge to Hamarabe, and just beyond the Creature Comforts shop.

HEY MOMS & DADS

I need to hear from you! Where are your favorite spots to slow down and relax at Disneyland Anaheim or Walt Disney World?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adrienne gathered experience taking children to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job: being Matthew and Spencer's mom.

Adrienne, Matthew and Spencer visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy.

Besides Matthew and Spencer, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain the award-winning Happiest Potties on Earth here at MousePlanet.

You can contact Adrienne here.

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