Timer Apps for Guests with Autism

So part of working with the DAS is helping those with Autism understand the concept of waiting to come back to the attraction after a specific time, same with using the Fast Pass system. Being a Parent to a child with Autism I understand what happens in these situations: “Mom is I time yet, how about now, what is the matter with this time, why can’t it go any faster?! Come on, can’t we just go? Is it time now?” Those with Autism, have a looser grasp of the concept of time. So I have listed below some highly visual Smartphone Apps to help wait on their return times.

Of course most Smartphones come with a standard timer countdown app located on my phone in the Clock App.  The additional ones on this list are more visual so as to better line out a quantifiable result that is engaging and customizable to hold their attention in a positive way.

For iOS only devices, I looked for Android specific but really the only Apps I could find were for parental controls on those devices versus “visual timers”:

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Kids Timer App, Free Download:  This highly visual app shows a tree blooming from a winter scene to growing leaves and eventually fruit over the course of the allotted time.  As well the sun in the upper left hand corner acts as a visual quantity timer and as the time passes goes from yellow to orange.

From the developer: Set the timer to any time between 1 and 60 minutes. Press start and see an apple tree grow fruits. Eventually the apples will fall off the tree. As time passes, the color of the sun changes. The sun acts like a normal clock. Once the time is up you will see the bright yellow sun blinking and hear birds chirping.  Download Here

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Kids’ Timer- Lickety Split, by Swirly Studios, LLC, Free Download, This app allows you again to customize the task, waiting for the Haunted Mansion return time, or Fastpass+ Reservations for a show like Fantasmic!  Once the timer is up you can customize a specific song from your iTune library to play to alert your child that it is time to go.  If like us you have a plethora of Disney music, this would also be good to have your child select a song they really love so they look forward to hearing it and become alerted that it is time to return to the attraction or show!

From the developer: “The Lickety Split Musical Timer turns daily tasks into a fun, beat-the-clock game. Accelerating classical music encourages dawdling kids to get going, while an animated hourglass counts down. The abstract concept of time becomes tangible for kids. The timer uses encouragement and the power of music to motivate children as they move through daily transitions. So, instead of nagging, grown-ups are free to champion their kids!” Download Here

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Childrens Countdown – Visual Countdown Timer for Preschoolers, Free Download: So if your child is like mine, they really don’t care if something is meant for a child younger than they are (like Elmo, we still can’t get over Elmo’s World or Sesame Street and go through phases of retouching on that cornerstone of our past); this app is primarily intended for preschoolers and as the timed amount disappears, a photo (which you can customize from your iPhoto library, to be the attraction you are waiting for) will appear ever more fully in the background.  Once it is completely visible, it’s time to go back to the attraction and ride!

From the developer: “Watch as the timer runs from green to amber to red, helping the child understand that time is running out. A fun picture is slowly revealed as the time runs down and when the time is up the child is rewarded with an exciting sound and the picture spins. Background image changes to match the time of day, so that your child is given subtle hints as to what time of day the task they are being asked relates to.”

Per the reviews there is one slight draw back in there is a gentle, yet persistent, ticking sound which you cannot turn off.  You can turn off the sound on your phone, but remember to turn it back up after you use the app.  Download Here

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Time Globe – by TOKIMATA

This is basically an Alarm Clock, but features soothing motions and relaxing colors and photos.  You can add new themes, but the ability to customize is limited somewhat to their specific themes for the app.  You can set a photo from your iPhoto library as the background, and a tip is to show your child how to use the app so they can select the themes and visuals present.  It is slightly interactive in that if your child taps on the phone more “drops” will appear in the background.

From the Developer: “This entertainment app is super easy to use, simply open the app and begin to tap on the time, Double tap to show menu then musical note (to turn sound on or off), question mark (for help menu), pencil (to add your own custom text), smiley face (to add your own photos), crown (to remove ads), Modes (b-bubbly, n-normal, f-flutter, s-space), Colors (c-changeable, w-white, F-fixed), and seconds for something special.”  Download Here

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My Video Schedule, $11.99 per download

Specs from the developer: A scheduling app made especially for kids and adults with special needs, such as autism. The app includes photo and video modeling as well as rewards for scheduled activities and behaviors. The library of photos and videos includes items such as brushing teeth, eating breakfast, getting on a school bus, going to the grocery store, and more. Parents or teachers can also add their own videos. For kids who respond well to visual cues and rewards, My Video Schedule could be an invaluable tool to help reinforce structure and necessary tasks in their daily life.

The great thing I can see on the outset for this app is you can customize it on your travels to include videos or photos and rewards.  So say you are touring and your child really wants to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Well you can customize the photo of Big Thunder Mountain to appear when the time is up along with the customized reward for their patience!  The major drawback is the price point, yowza.  But if it works, I’m willing to spend roughly $12 if it saves us from a meltdown. Download Here

So there are five to get you started!  Have one you know works that you would recommend?  Let us know in the comments below!

Valentine’s Day Movie Night – As You Wish

Fencing, Fighting, Torture, Revenge, Chases, Escapes, True Love, Miracles.


Well we decided to not let the coincidence of Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday and our usual Family Movie Night be wasted this week.  I started to rifle through movies that were romantic, but also not TOO schmaltzy.  A movie that had everything, was a fairy tale, but full of heart, action, laughter, romance, surprises and yes, a happy ending.  What OTHER movie could that be but The Princess Bride?  In fact, according to director Rob Reiner because it was a story so full of elements the studio at the time had virtually no idea how to market and who to market it to.  To me though, if I were to pick a tale for Valentine’s Day to share with my family, that’s my choice forever.


I’ve loved The Princess Bride since I was in the third grade, landed at home with a 3 day stopover of strep throat and my Dad walked in from the rental store holding it.  I eventually asked my Dad to call them and buy the VHS copy outright as I didn’t want it to go back, I wore it out subsequently after that.  Now I own it on DVD, Blu-Ray and of course on my iTunes account so we have it when we travel.  I’ve read the book since first seeing the film and it was my first foray into satire.  To put it succinctly (which I seem to have a problem with) I love this story.

So to our movie night.  I had posted on my Facebook earlier in the week that I was having trouble planning a menu for such an occasion.  One thing I knew would be on the menu ultimately was Center Pork Loin, cleverly called Roasted Rodent of Unusual Size.  But, that was it.  There are not real food items (aside from the Miracle Pills) in the film, so we had to get creative.  Leave it to my friend Sarah Weldon to step in, and once she lovingly hijacked my Facebook status, we had bounced enough ideas off each other to feed an army of Dread Pirate Roberts!

So our menu:

Roasted Rodent of Unusual Size – Roasted Pork Loin Center Cut, Organic


Either Marinate Pork Loin overnight, or use a rub like this:

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roast in a covered pan until center reaches a temp of 180 degrees.  Let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Wuv, Twue Wuv Potatoes – Roasted Red Potatoes, cut into hearts, served with ketchup for the boys

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Wash and slice potatoes (leaving skin on) and slice in equal width portions; carve out a digit at the top so the shape resembles a heart.  Boil in a sauce pan full of water until slightly tender.  Spread on a cookie sheet covered in Parchment Paper, slight spray with Olive Oil, sprinkle with Kosher Salt, Minced Onion, Garlic and Rosemary.  Bake at 450 degrees until golden.

Fezzik’s Unemployed in Greenland Greens: Seasoned Green Beans; Salad with homemade vinaigrette


Clean and break green beans into a sauce pan.  Cover with water until there is about 1 inch of difference between tops of beans and the water.  Put in 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste, onion, and garlic.  Simmer for at least 1 hour until very tender.

On the Salad I usually just buy an Organic boxed salad and mince a red onion, place some croutons, and a light dusting of Parmesan.  For the vinaigrette I take Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and emulsify them in a glass cup and put in a pinch of garlic powder.  Wait until serving and lightly toss salad with the dressing.

Inigo’s Fencing Sticks – Homemade Breadsticks


For the breadsticks, take 1/2 tsp of Yeast and 1/2 C. of Warm Water with 1 Tsp of Honey and blend in a Ramekin.  While that is rising place 1.25 Cups of Bread Flour and 2 Tbsp. of Salt in a Stand Mixer.  Once a nice foam has formed on your yeast mixture fold it into your flour.  Add in another 1/2 C of Warm Water until you get a nice consistency, the dough should not be too wet, nor too dry.  Remove it from the stand mixer and place on a floured countertop, knead for 5-10 minutes.  Place in a glass bowl sprayed with olive oil in a  warm place and cover with a light cloth.  Once it has doubled in size, punch the dough down and knead once more.  Roll out breadsticks on counter top and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Cover with a towel and allow to rise and proof once more.  Once they have risen place in warm oven at 450 degrees.  Bake until golden.  You can also brush them with garlic butter as they finish baking to give them a considerable amount of flavor!

Guess what their favorite part of dinner was?

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Notice he is using his left hand, it’s only fair.

Buttercup Yellow Lemonade for the kids.

And Wine for our own Battle of Wits, featuring Orin Swift’s the Prisoner, who looks like he too is in the Pit of Despair!


Cupcakes for Dessert


Chocolate Florin Cupcake – Graciously used via: The Cupcake Project


  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 ounces of your favorite chocolate (You can use any plain chocolate that you like except white chocolate or candy melts. The chocolate doesn’t have to be one typically earmarked for baking – any chocolate bar that isn’t flavored and doesn’t contain mix-ins like nuts, Rice Krispies, nougat, etc. will work.)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces) vegetable or canola oil, measured in a liquid measuring cup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounce) full-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa powder (natural or dutched will both work with this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) room temperature water, measured in a liquid measuring cup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.
  3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.
  4. Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined.
  6. Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.
  7. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting.
  8. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition.
  9. Mix in water until just combined.
  10. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in the oven.
  11. Check for doneness at 18 minutes – a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. If they are not done, check again every three minutes until they are done.
  12. Immediately remove cupcakes from the cupcake tin and place on a cooling rack or on the counter to cool to room temperature. Although they are really good when they are hot, be sure to wait until they are room temperature to give your evaluation.

Read more at http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2013/06/chocolate-cupcake-recipe-the-ultimate-chocolate-cupcake-test-baked-by-50-bakers-and-counting.html#gdyKmtWy04iEJCp7.99

Buttercup Vanilla Cupcake – Graciously used via The Cupcake Project


  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. (For those of you who are new to using vanilla beans, check out this video to learn how to get the seeds out of the bean.)
  3. Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
  6. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  8. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  9. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s supposed to be that way.)
  10. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
  11. Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
  12. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don’t own a cooling rack) to cool.

Read more at http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2011/09/ultimate-vanilla-cupcake-test-baked-by.html#Wd6wqh8yMDrX9I75.99

For the Iocaine Powder Buttercream:

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1 C. of Butter (Softened and Unsalted)

3-4 C. of Confectioners Sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/4 C. of Heavy Whipping Cream

Blend Butter in Stand Mixer, slowly add confectioner’s sugar, add in Vanilla and Salt.  Beat with Whisk or Paddle Attachment.  Then add in slowly the Heavy Whipping Cream until desired consistency is reached.  I sometimes go back and forth between the Sugar and Whipping Cream a few times to get it just right.  Place in Piping Bag with oversize tip and decorate!

We made Dread Pirate Roberts Black Masks and of course watched our feature:


So good night, and Happy Valentine’s Day!


Join Our Team!


We are always scouting for dedicated and caring people who have experience with both Disney & Special Needs!

Our Agents come from a variance of professional and personal backgrounds. And each of us has experience with a different special need, diagnosis, or disability. But, we love when someone comes to us with a view point we hadn’t considered in our own vacations. Simply put, we never stop learning about the myriad of ways there are to successfully tour with a special need or disability. And a great deal of that information is provided by our Agents who have been there and come back ready for more! We truly feel there is no wrong way to do Disney, unless you are simply not there to have as much fun as possible. So if you are a parent, caregiver, teacher, or even para-professional who has an unfettered love of Disney on top, we would love to speak with you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to have experience selling, marketing, or even managing? In a word, No. Is it helpful to have these skills coming into running your own side of the Agency? Sure! But, we can provide support where needed in these avenues. We consider this an opportunity to help others grow their own businesses in step with our brand,while providing a tremendous resource to Guests with Disabilities and Special Needs and we want you to be as successful in this endeavor as possible.

What does the position entail?

You are considered an Independent Agent upon hire, you will set your own hours, contribute on a full time or part time status, and work directly within the Disney booking system to provide for your clients’ needs for their vacations. Your clients do not pay for your services, but you will receive a Commission based off the total of your trips booked. You will partner with your clients to make sure that we obtain the best possible price for their vacation, accommodations for their requests, and assist however possible in their touring.

Do you have to have experience with Special Needs and/or a Disability?

We prefer to hire Agents who not only have professional or volunteering experience with Special Needs and Disabilities but also life experience as well. We don’t discriminate our Clients, and there are many that still need to have a fantastic Disney vacation planned who don’t share the specific concerns of a Guest with Disabilities. But, some knowledge and openness to the needs of those in the Special Needs or Disability community is necessary for hiring.

Do I Need To Know Disney Travel?

You will have to have some travel experience to the Disney Theme Parks, Resorts and Cruise Line. Most Guests out there have a home park, so that is understood if you have more experience with one over another. We aren’t asking you to be a walking talking Disney Encyclopedia, but a knowledge and expereience of Disney Travel coming into the role of Independent Travel Agent is expected. We request that you have traveled to the Disney Parks several times over the past decade as a minimum requirement for hiring.

If this sounds like it will work for you and that you have the experience necessary, please click here to contact us!

DisneySide At Home Celebration Menu Addition

Hello all!  Well by now we have a great deal of our ideas in granite and are moving forward every day tying up loose ends and getting those check boxes ticked off!  But, I didn’t want to forget our readers at home.  And in order to help you all join in from wherever you may be I thought it best to start sharing some of the food stuffs we are getting ready to prepare so that you can make them yourself for your own Disney Side Parties!

First up this week, we start with the Main Man: Walt!  We wanted to be sure to incorporate touches of Walt throughout the party.  We will have quotes, photos, and even videos, but one thing that was Walt’s absolute favorite food? Chili.   A lot of people don’t know this but Walt was a man of simple tastes when it came to food. So here is his actual recipe provided by the Disney family during the 100 years celebration and as well in 1965 by Walt himself, enjoy!


We’ll be posting more recipes throughout this week so that you can get that shopping list together!

A word to the wise

"Where are you going?" "Forward" -Ratatouille

“Where are you going?”

I wanted to say something today that’s been on my mind recently.  This time last week I posted an article on the fly, about Disney doing away with Re-Ads in conjunction with their DAS Cards.  The response was shocking to me.  I received over 4,000 page views in 48 hours.  We’ve never had that much traffic on our site, and I thank you for visiting.  I truly do.  I think that Disney taking this away does warrant a polite advocacy to alert them to issues their Guests might face while touring.  I would tell the same to Guests who tour in standard ways if their reasonable needs weren’t met, and have.  They can only know if you tell them, and you will get more response by being professional in your communications.  But then this past saturday I posted a solution to a great many problems faced with the changes to the DAS, a Disneybility Day.  You could have heard crickets on our site.

And while I understand, the disheartening quality of what I wrote, only a handful of people who responded to the initial Re-Ad article responded in kind to the Disneybility article with the solution.  And this gave me some pause as I have mulled it over.  Are we really going to be defined by what we can’t do?  Do we wake our children every morning and tell them over and over what is out of their reach with having a disability?  No, we don’t and if we did we really wouldn’t be any kind of parent at all.  We wake up our children telling them what they CAN do.  We tell them what is on their agenda, to prepare them but also to help them plan for hitting that next level.  I tell Thomas every morning he, like his brother, is my rock star.  He does things that surprise me, he says things that make me laugh and yes he illuminates me every day as to what it is like to live with a cognitive disability.  That he isn’t defined by it, but he has set out everyday to change the definition of Autism and what that diagnosis means.

So around here, we will probably post news as it effects our guests since you all need to know.  But really I’ve been re-focused and have been for some time on finding solutions, not mourning for too long the changing of accommodations that yes allowed for more spontaneity in our days.  As parents and caregivers we have all been down this road before.  We consistently advocate for our children and family.  Why do we think all of a sudden we can just hang our skills of working with our children on a hook because we are on vacation?  It’s work, constant work, but from that work comes such an ultimate reward it overpowers us and in some ways that reward can make us feel humbled.

Look, I’m not saying don’t advocate.  I’m not saying that upset feelings are unjustified.  It’s in how we choose to let those feelings and actions DEFINE our advocacy that sets how we move forward from this in our children’s eyes.  We have always been the greatest teachers, advocates, therapists and counselors for our children.  What makes us think in some way that touring with these new accommodations is somehow unattainable especially if solutions are out there?  Why do we let the World intercede and tell us over and over we can’t and that things WON’T work, when we haven’t given it a shot or allowed time to work.  Would you give up on a therapy you loved after one go with no positive progress in your child?  Heck no you wouldn’t.  So let’s get together, find solutions, instead of ripping apart and focusing on the negatives.  We are only as strong as the weakest amongst us, and really the only way we all can inspire change is by working with each other.

That’s all I want to say.  I hope I have not offended anyone, but for me and my family and my clients and anyone I help I have to look at what we CAN do in this world, and yes that includes Disney.  Because it is so weary, and needs kindness and humility.  It needs people to start looking up once more and reaching out.  That can’t be done if all we do is tear it apart.