Faces in the Queue: Meet Maureen!

The Deal Family at Be Our Guest Restaurant, 2013
At Be Our Guest Restaurant, 2013

When Maureen Deal was planning her family’s first visit to Walt Disney World in 2003 she scoured the internet for information about guests with Autism, hoping to make the trip easier for her nine year-old son, Zachary. “There wasn’t very much,” she says, “a page of tips here, an article there” but no comprehensive source of information regarding the sensory impact of all the shows and attractions.

Nevertheless, she and her family had a magical vacation — falling in love with the way Disney Cast Members treated her non-verbal son and with her his enthusiastic reaction to the parks.

Years later, when the family considered relocating in pursuit of a new job opportunity for her husband, Phillip, she admits they focused on the Orlando area specifically so that Zachary could be able to visit the area theme parks on a regular basis. They found the perfect location, “forty-five minutes from the parks and forty-five minutes from the beach” and divide their weekends between the two activities their son loves.



The ability to visit the theme parks regularly gave the stay-at-home mom an idea. Why not fill the void that she had encountered when planning her family’s vacation and develop that “one-stop-shopping” website? Thus, Autism At The Parks was born.

Maureen began her research with the basics; by developing a Restroom Guide with tips and information about all the companion restrooms and where they are located throughout the parks. From there she branched into a Rides and Attractions Guide (with an emphasis on information for those with sound/sensory sensitivities), a Guide for Parades, Fireworks and Shows, information on the various disability accommodations provided by the parks, and much, much more.

Maureen hopes that the tips and suggestions that she provides to readers with a family member who has a developmental disability helps to make their time at the theme parks as enjoyable as possible. She is even planning to author an e-book for people like her husband, Philip, who like “something they can hold in their hands.”

So, if you see Maureen and her son, Zachary in the parks, make sure to stop and say hello. She’s one of the faces in the queue that make magic for others!


To hear more about Maureen and Autism At the Parks you can listen to our full interview on the Special Mouse Podcast, episode #7.

Connect with Maureen @AutismAtThePark on Twitter and on Facebook at Autism At The Parks.


Kathleen Kelly

Connect with me @KathyKellyRN and @SpecialMousePod on Twitter and Kathleen Kelly / Special Mouse Podcast on Facebook.

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