Disney After Cancer Treatment 10

Trips to Disney World or Disneyland are often seen as a once in a lifetime event. Many families going through major life events like cancer treatments see Disney trips as a celebration of life. Cancer treatments are designed to kill the cancerous cells that ravage our bodies and take over our lives.  Several years ago, I underwent a series of Cytoxin chemotherapy treatments. During the treatments I sat in a comfy chair and relaxed while the medicine dripped through an IV into my arm. After each treatment I was exhausted for the next 24 hours.

Cancer treatments, while they save lives, take a major toll on a person’s health and energy levels. Taking a trip to the Disney Parks after cancer treatments requires using different touring strategies than one taken prior to a cancer diagnosis, especially if the celebratory trip is very soon after the conclusion of cancer treatments.

I myself and a “pseudo-commando” style tourist at the Disney Parks. My family and I get to the parks as soon as we can, and we stay for as late as we can. Often, we will park hop to another park with Extra Magic Hours. We make up a list of specific attractions that we feel we must visit in each park. If we are able to hit more attractions than what is on our list, then we are happy to have extra fun.  Other Passporter members are “commando” style tourists and will open and close the parks each day. They will hit every attraction in each park as many times as possible during the day. If I had visited Walt Disney World within the first year after my chemotherapy treatments, I would not have been able to tour the parks as much as I did in my last few trips.


For people visiting Disney Parks after cancer treatments the best advice I can offer is: take it easy. Slow down and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the parks. Take a break in the middle of the day to go back to your resort and relax by the pool or in your room. Plan a relaxing meal at one of the wonderful table service restaurants that the Disney Parks have to offer.


Chemotherapy and radiation treatments take a toll on a person’s body. Rest is the best way to allow your body to recover. Visiting the Disney Parks requires a tremendous amount of walking. Even if you have to benefits of an electric scooter (ECV) or a wheelchair, there are often times where you will need to leave your wheelchair or ECV behind while you wait in an attraction queue. Pirates of the Caribbean is one such attraction. My daughter had to leave her wheelchair behind near the entrance to the attraction and walk the entire way through the queue area. In instances like this, a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) is invaluable. At the beginning of your first park visit, stop in at Guest Services and ask for a GAC. Explain that you tire easily while standing and need to have a place to rest while waiting your turn to experience the attraction.


Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of visiting Disneyland, so the following advice I offer is specific to Walt Disney World. In all the parks, be sure to stay hydrated. This is key, especially after a cancer diagnosis and treatment. There are certain attractions that will allow you a bit of a rest, while allowing you to stay in the parks.


Magic Kingdom

Enjoy a relaxing ride on the People Mover, the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority ride. This attraction is a leisurely ride through Tomorrowland and some of its major attractions like Space Mountain. Learn a little history in the Hall of Presidents. I have read where some Passporters feel this is a great attraction for a nap. LOL At the very least it is a nice air conditioned place to sit for a while.



The Voices of Liberty offers entertainment while guests wait to experience the American Adventure Show.

In Future World there are benches and ledges where you can sit and people watch for a little while. In World Showcase, you have more options for restful spots. Most of the eleven country pavilions have some sort of attraction where you can sit and relax. Canada pavilion had the “O Canada” movie. There is also and area to sit and listen to the music of Off Kilter. China pavilion has “Reflections of China,” a Circle-Vision movie. These are just two of the options in World Showcase. The American Adventure has an (in my opinion) interesting show about the American Dream throughout history. If you are lucky, while you wait in the air conditioned lobby for the theater to open, you can listen to the Voices of Liberty.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The American Idol Experience allows you to rest while you listen to (hopefully) good music. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is a half hour (approximately) show where you can sit and learn how some of the stunts are created in your favorite action movies. This attraction can be extremely warm, however, especially in the warmer months since it is outside. The Magic of Disney Animation offers a short respite from the heat while  you learn how Disney animators work through the process of creating beloved animated characters.


Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Festival of the Lion King offers semi air conditioned bench seating while you enjoy a lively, colorful show inspired by the animated movie and Broadway show. This is a large and rather loud venue, so be prepared. Finding Nemo, The Musical is another enjoyable show that gives you a chance to sit and relax. This park has the least amount of shade and is the hottest of all the parks.


If you have visited the Disney Parks before and after a cancer diagnosis and treatment, please leave a comment about how your touring plan changed, if it did. For more tips on visiting the Disney Parks after a cancer diagnosis check out the Passporters Open Mouse to Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line.

About Pamela Dorr

I am a mom, a girlfriend, a caregiver, and a nerd. As a Disney nerd, I enjoy planning Disney vacations for myself and others. I am a travel agent with Off To Neverland Travel, in addition to being a mathematics tutor at the local university. My love of Disney has overflowed and found a home in the hearts of my beautiful daughter and my loving boyfriend. Both of my loved ones have special needs that must be considered when planning a Disney vacation. Whether it is a trip to Walt Disney World or a Disney Cruise, I know that the Disney Cast Members will help me to plan an awesome trip for both of them. In the Disney With Hidden Needs Blog, I hope to offer a few insights, tips, and tricks to planning a fantastic Disney vacation with Hidden Needs in your party.

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10 thoughts on “Disney After Cancer Treatment

  • Misty Haileu

    I was diagnosed with colon cancer in July 2009. I had surgery to remove half my colon in August, and went to DIsney for 10 days in October. I returned home to start 8 months of chemo, 3 days long every to weeks. This was very hard on me. It killed all my white & red blood cells, plus all my platlets & I was also very anemic. I finished I finished in May 2010 & went to celebrate being cancer free in June 2010. I did have to take it a bit slower, and I was in bed by 9pm, but it was the most important trip to Disney I ever took!!

  • donnarlamb@comcast.net

    My partner was diagnosed with stage iv colon cancer in August 2011 which was right before our first ever trip to WDW in September. We almost cancelled but after talking to all doctors involved we pushed forward with our plans. The diagnosis definitely changed the focus of our plans (I’m the go-go-go person and she’s more laid back) but we relaxed, took our time and didn’t worry about trying to see everything. She’s had rectal surgery, is doing chemo and has liver surgery in the future but has a terrific positive attitude and we can’t wait to plan another trip.

  • Leigh Milich

    I am a cancer survivor and have loved Disney World since age 14 when the parks opened. About 15 years ago, I had Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 38. Before chemo, we were park commandos, opened and closed the parks when we could–although travelling with small children did already put a damper on that. Our first disney trip after chemo (about one year after completion of chemo, no vacation time before that), I found that I still had problems with the fatigue. We have since found that we need to take more breaks. Opening and closing the parks doesn’t usually happen any more. If we don’t get to everything, we know we’ll get it next time. The first few trips I still wanted to do everything-being afraid the cancer would come back and I wouldn’t have the chance. Time has given us a little perspective on that, but there sometimes come chronic health problems that result from the treatment. I sometimes find that more challenging than the treatment. But WDW as a whole represents normality to me, so being able to go gives me a whole new sense of wellness.

  • Joann Cancer Survivor

    I lack the energy to move through the parks the way I did before cancer. I have found places to rest while others in my party enjoy the attractions. I can sleep through the American Adventure’s preformance at Epcots World Showcase beginning to end and awake totally refreshed. Another good nap location is Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom. I hope I never snore as to bother those around me but boy do I sleep good! We save these for when Mom needs her nap!

  • Josi

    My breast cancer came back. I planned a trip to DisneyWorld while undergoing radiation treatments to get me through them. It really helped having a countdown to going to Disney. Now,I am beginning chemo April 19 and leaving April 27 for 8 days and starting chemo #2 when I get back. I hope I can make this trip without getting sick or getting too tired. I really want to go. I need the boost to get me thru the chemo. It really is the happiest place on earth and I could use the happiness. We got cancellation insurance. If we need to cancel, we need to cancel. Health come first.

  • Denise Lewis

    I was diagnosed with uterine cancer in January 2012. I completed my radiation treatments 2 weeks ago. We are traveling to WDW on 4/28. I am so looking forward to a leisurely trip instead of our usual commando trips. It is so nice to read this blog about it! Thank you!

  • Mary Jane Crawford

    I am a 2-time breast cancer survivor. At the time of my first diagnosis (2000), I was planning on going to leave for Disney World in 2 weeks, and then after that my son was being married. Not knowing what to expect (and against my family’s wishes), I put off my surgery until after the trip and the wedding. So glad I made that decision, being new at having cancer, I had no idea if I would survive or what to expect.

    Not only did I enjoy that trip, but returned many, many times since, and done a Disney Cruise at least 7 times. No I did not regret it and I would definitely advise everyone to do it while they are well.

    My second diagnosis wasn’t until 10 years later (2010) and we had already planned a multi-generation family Disney Cruise and Disney World vacation for early 2011. Although my family wanted to postpone it – there was no way I would do that. Knowing I had that to look forward to helped me keep a happy, positive attitude. When you are going through cancer, I believe you need to focus on the future.
    A few weeks after my last chemo treatment and before I started radiation, we had our 3rd multi-generation Disney Vacation. Other friends and relatives joined us for a total of 39 people! Was I tired – yes sometimes. I didn’t open and close the parks, but I enjoyed a Magical Vacation with my family.

    Being a cancer survivor makes you realize how important it is to enjoy life and make everlasting memories. I want my children and grandchildren to remember all the Magical Moments we shared at Disney.

    Our next Multi-Generation Vacation will be in 2013 in Disneyland; and in 2015 we plan to do a Disney Cruise to the Mediterranean. What better way to “Enjoy the Magic, Share the Dream, and Create Memories than at Disney!”

  • Faith

    I am 15 years old and was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in August of 2011. I have been a disney fanatic since age 3 and have visited Disneyland up to two times a year. Before chemo, my mom and I would be in the park from park opening to park closing without hardly any breaks besides meals. I had my last chemo treatment in January and just visited Disneyland a couple weeks ago for spring break. I found myself needing a lot of breaks. I knew my stamina wouldn’t be like it was before but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. My legs were tired from walking after just a couple of hours. We went back to the hotel during the day and I would take a short nap before heading back to the park. I also had to limit my sun exposure due to a medication I’m on which made being there a little more difficult. But it felt good to be there and was still just as enjoyable as it always has been. After all it is the happiest place on earth!!

  • Tony Howe.

    Our family had planned on going to Disney World in 2015. A few months before I found out that I had colon cancer we decided not to go and am glad we did, spent most of the year with chemo treatments and it really took a toll on my body. But we are going in October of this year and we have planned the longest stay ever for us, a celebration of sorts. I applaud everyone who went during chemo, it was hard enough just to make it to work.