When planning a vacation to the Orlando theme parks, you’re probably focusing a lot more on which rides to go on, which restaurants to eat at and where to stay. With so much fun ahead, it’s easy to skip over the “serious stuff,” such as taking preventive measures for getting lost, falling ill or getting injured during your trip, but trust us frogs, this is very important! In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about common ailments and first aid at Orlando theme parks.
One time when we were hopping around Disney World, Tad nearly passed out from the heat. We stopped at a nearby first-aid station, where he got checked out by the nurse on duty and we took some time to recover before heading back out. I myself have slipped and fallen on some rain-slick stairs near a bathroom that resulted in this green gal becoming black and blue. Both tadpoles have had headaches, scrapes and upset tummies while out and about, too. The truth of the matter is, unexpected sickness and minor accidents can happen, so it’s important to be prepared when visiting Orlando's theme parks. That way, you can quickly deal with the situation and go back to having fun!
Most Common Theme Park Ailments
First, you should be aware of what could possibly go wrong. These are the most common incidents and injuries that lead to guests seeking out first aid at Orlando theme parks.
Heat-Related Illnesses, Including Dehydration and Sunburn
In Florida, the weather gets hot and humid, even during the winter and especially over the summer. Many visitors fall ill from heat exhaustion or suffer from a nasty sunburn. To prevent a heat-related illness, water and sunscreen are your two best sidekicks! Chugging water throughout the day isn’t an ideal strategy. Instead start drinking water two to three days before you hit the parks so you’re well-hydrated. Stay away from sugary drinks and alcohol, which could leave you more dehydrated. Apply sunscreen in the morning and continue to slather up throughout the day. A hat or visor can also help with keeping the sun off of your face.
Take breaks when you feel like it, especially in the hottest parts of the day. Air-conditioned shows, rides and restaurants are all excellent ways to get off of your feet and cool down for a bit. You may also opt for a mid-day nap, then head back to the parks in the evening after the sun has gone down. Whatever your strategy is, be sure to take the time to, as Tad would say, stay cool!
Motion Sickness and Dizziness
The theme parks have so many different kinds of rides, including ones that could make you a bit dizzy. (Think along the lines of simulation rides, spinning rides and roller coasters.) For those who are more prone to motion sickness, there are a few things you can do to try to avoid it. Take an over-the-counter, non-drowsy pill such as Dramamine a half hour before your first ride, or acquire and apply a prescription-only Scopolamine patch. If you prefer a more natural approach, try ginger root supplements and watch what you eat! Stay away from greasy or heavy foods and stick to bland foods like pretzels, crackers or a simple sandwich.
A subset of motion sickness, nausea is a common ailment at the theme parks. Think of all of that delicious (but gut-bomb-esque) food we all look forward to, and you'll quickly understand how those beloved treats can turn on you. Stick with light, healthy food and pepper in your favorite treats in moderation. Rather than eating two or three large meals (ahem, buffet, family or all-you-care-to-eat style), aim for four or five smaller or shared meals to keep from getting weighed down and stay light on your feet.
Sore Feet and Blisters
When you’re walking or standing in lines all day, your froggy feet may be screaming at you at the end of the day. Pack appropriate footwear, and go for comfort rather than style. Avoid flat-footed flip flops or sandals and brand-new sneakers that have yet to be broken in. You could also buy orthotic insoles for extra support. For protection against blisters, wrap toes and heels with moleskin to prevent rubbing against the shoe. Plan breaks throughout the day, so you can give your feet a few minutes of rest periodically. You know that saying about the best laid plans? Well, we always bring some bandages along just in case (they're even sold in convenient blister-sizes). More on this in a bit.
Insect Bites and Allergic Reactions
You know who else loves Florida? Bugs. Bites and stings are never fun, nor are allergic reactions to the fine Florida flora and fauna. If you have a serious allergy, we're sure you already carry your EpiPen with you. For others, don't reach where you can't see, don't linger near trash cans and when on more rugged terrain, keep an eye on where you step. And don't forget the bug spray! If you do get stung, let a cast member know so that they can steer you toward relief (or medical assistance).
Slips, Trips and Falls
If you've been to Disney, you're probably already familiar with the ride safety spiel (we even have it memorized in Spanish!): Para su seguridad, permanezca sentado con las manos, brazos, pies, y piernas dentro el tren. Accidents happen, but the best way to avoid them is just to use common sense. Keep an eye out for uneven or wet surfaces that can get slick (my backside can attest to this, remember?), stay on designated paths and take your time. This is where that good footwear will help out again! While it's common sense, it bears repeating: Listen to instructions and follow rules aimed at keeping guests safe.
Building Your Own First-Aid Kit
There are a few items you can bring with you to help with some of these common problems. You'll of course want to bring any medical supplies you regularly need on hand, including inhalers, EPI pens or insulin. Some additional items you may want to pack with you include:
- Band-Aids (we like to keep favorite characters on hand to make those bumps and bruises a little more manageable)
- Bug repellent
- Water bottles
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Health insurance cards
I also keep a small pillbox and label the following (for tadpoles and big frogs alike):
- Allergy pills, such as Claritin or Benadryl
- Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Anti-itch cream, such as After Bite or hydrocortisone cream (these are often sold in travel sizes, perfect for a park pack)
Where to Find First Aid at Orlando Theme Parks
Of course, if you don't have these items handy, or find yourself needing something not included here, you'll want to seek out back-up from the pros at the first-aid station at the park. Let’s take a look at each of the resort's and park's first-aid stations and procedures.
First Aid at Disney World
At Disney World, there is a first-aid station in every park, including the two water parks. If you’re feeling a little under the weather, these stations are equipped with remedies for minor injuries and illnesses, semi-private resting areas and a licensed registered nurse to help you with any needs. You can get free sample portions of over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, bug bite ointment, eye wash solution, ice for bruises or sprained ankles, Band-Aids and more. First-aid stations can also store and refrigerate medications for you. It must be labeled and be in an original bottle. You can safely administer daily injections and dispose of hypodermic needles here, as well.
If you need more urgent care, Disney World offers complimentary transportation to and from off-site AdventHealth Walk-In Urgent Care Centers. In a medical emergency, Reedy Creek Emergency Services (RCES) responds to situations in the parks. You can alert a nearby cast member who will call for RCES, or call 911 on your cell phone and make sure to specify that you’re on Disney property so the operator can direct the call to RCES.
Here’s where you can find the first-aid stations in the parks:
- Magic Kingdom — between Crystal Palace and Casey’s Corner
- Animal Kingdom — next to Creature Comforts and across from Terra Treats
- Hollywood Studios — near Guest Relations immediately by the park’s entrance
- Epcot — inside the Odyssey Center, which is between Test Track and the Mexico Pavilion
- Typhoon Lagoon — behind Leaning Palms
- Blizzard Beach — between Lottawatta Lodge and Beach Haus
First Aid at Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort has both health services and first-aid stations at Universal Studios and Universal's Islands of Adventure, and a first aid facility in Universal's CityWalk and Universal's Volcano Bay. They are staffed with professional paramedics and registered nurses.
At Universal Studios, a first-aid station is located at Family Services, near the Studio Audience Center by the park’s entrance. The main health services station is behind Louie’s Italian Restaurant on Canal Street between the New York and San Francisco areas.
At Islands of Adventure, a first-aid station can be found inside the Guest Services lobby to the right of the main entrance turnstiles. The main health services station is at Sindbad’s Village in the Lost Continent.
CityWalk’s first-aid facility is at the end of the hallway behind Cold Stone Creamery. Volcano Bay’s first-aid station is located near the entrance.
First Aid at SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando has two stations located in the park. One station can be found behind Stingray Lagoon, while the other is in the new Sesame Street land. Discovery Cove and Aquatica Orlando also each have one First Aid station. These facilities are staffed with registered nurses who can provide medical assistance.
Have you ever had to seek first aid at Orlando theme parks? Do you have any advice to share? Did we miss any first-aid kit must-haves? Hop down to the comments below and let us know!