Sick at Walt Disney World? It’s Not the End of the World.

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There you are on the trip of a lifetime at Walt Disney World.  You’ve scrimped and saved to stay at your favorite resort (the Polynesian in my case) and you are having the time of your life.  You’re enjoying an evening at the resort, and you start to feel a tickle in the back of your throat.  Yes, even in the happiest place on Earth, illness can come to snatch away some of the fun. 

What do you do?  How do you deal with illness while at Walt Disney World, completely cut off from the outside world?  It’s not easy, I’ll tell you.  Since I have made frequent visits, though, it was inevitable that I would run into this problem.  The last time it happened was exactly as I described above.  I woke up the next morning as sick as could be, tired, congested and ready to stay in bed all day.  But we had 5 more days to go, so what to do? 

You have a few options to choose from, but rest assured that depending on your insurance, they are relatively painless.  Here’s the steps I took (and my wife took on a different trip) to ensure a smooth trip while sick at Walt Disney World. 

Disney’s First Aid – Although you might think Disney will only stock their first aid centers with Band-Aids for minor cuts and scrapes, they actually are much better stocked than that.  There are nurses on site who know the signs of more common maladies in the parks.  They are also fabulous with kids, so if it’s your children who get sick, this is your perfect first stop. 

In the Magic Kingdom, the first aid center is located just the left of the Crystal Palace restaurant, if you’re facing away from Cinderella’s Castle.  In Epcot, the center is located in the Odyssey restaurant complex, off to the side between Test Track and the Mexico pavilion.  At the Studios, it’s located near Guest Services on Hollywood Boulevard, and in the Animal Kingdom, it is behind Creature Comforts on Discovery Island.  There are also first aid centers located at the Disney water parks. 

Offsite Clinics – Let’s say you’ve been to the first aid station, and they determine you have a more serious ailment, like a cold or flu.  You’ll need to go offsite to try and get prescriptions, since Disney’s staff cannot provide them.  However, that will require a doctor, and you will need to locate a clinic where you can be seen. 

Luckily, drug stores have started to offer drop in clinics.  In the situation I described above, I ended up at the clinic at Walgreen’s on 192.  There

Can you tell I'm sick in this picture?

are drop in clinics at three Walgreen’s locations around Walt Disney World, and while I can’t personally vouch for all of them, the one I attended was quite good.  Although the wait was long, they saw me and got me a prescription for antibiotics and that allowed me to continue our vacation.  I was able to keep going, albeit a little slower.  

Change Your Plans – If neither of those things work for you, you may have to consider bailing out on your trip.  No one wants to even consider that, and for some, it’s not an option.  But the bottom line is that you are on vacation to enjoy yourself, so you need to get well, one way or another. 

Depending on the package you booked, you may be able to get a credit with Disney or move some days to another time.  If not, then you might be able to restructure the rest of your trip.  Instead of hitting 25 attractions in one day, spend more time doing shows, sitting by the pool or eating at a nice restaurant.  Always check your cancellation or change details before you leave. 

Regardless of how you deal with it, getting sick while on property doesn’t have to be the end of the world.  You may end up with a different trip than you expected, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recover and have a great time. 

What about you?  Have you ever gotten sick in the parks or resorts before?  How did you deal with it?

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Posted on May 9, 2011

40 Responses to “Sick at Walt Disney World? It’s Not the End of the World.”

  • We called an awesome doctor line and our doc came to our room and gave us our prescriptions right there. Pretty inexpensive also. Much better than having to leave property.

  • by Erin Foster on May 9, 2011, at 9:06 am EDT

    We’ve used the Lake Buena Vista Centra Care walk-in clinic several times over the years with good success. They took our insurance with no problem. We got all three kids checked, got antibiotics for ear infections at a nearby pharmacy, and were back in the parks within just a few hours.

  • I’ve used the First Aid Station at Epcot – extremely friendly, helpful folks! And it’s nice that you don’t have to carry common medications (Tylenol, Advil, etc) with you, as these stations are fully stocked.

  • by Philip Jones on May 9, 2011, at 9:18 am EDT

    When our 3-year-old got an ear infection, our home doctor was able to call a prescription in to a local pharmacy that delivered to our resort hotel (Pop Century). She missed most of Epcot. But with the antibiotic on board and ibuprofen to keep her fever in check, she was ready to get back at it the next day.

  • Has anyone had dental emergencies?

    • Great question. Anyone? I haven’t, but I can see where that coudl be a big problem.

      • I did. I had a terrible toothache (that turned out to be an abcess when I returned home that I received a lovely root canal for) and I was so miserable one day at Epcot (and my boyfriend wasn’t too happy with me after a day of moaning). I talked to the front desk at the Polynesian, where we were staying, and I was able to get some oral numbing agents delivered via Turner Drugs. That’s a great service they provide, though another time when I was sick at WDW I really needed Sudafed (the good stuff that you gotta give your ID for), but they couldn’t deliver that, so that’s their only issue.

        Anyway, with the dental stuff, I really should have seen a dentist right away, but because at the time I didn’t have great insurance and I didn’t want to ruin my first time at WDW I didn’t. However, the front desk gave me a flyer about a local couple of dentists that take in a lot of tourists to the WDW area. I remember calling them and they were booked for the rest of my vacation which was only a few days. But that’s always an option. I wish I still had that flyer: I would’ve posted their numbers.I remember them being very close to WDW, but I couldn’t tell you where.

  • by Philip Jones on May 9, 2011, at 9:24 am EDT

    I might also mention that the statement, “…they determine you have a more serious ailment, like a cold or flu. You’ll need to go offsite to try and get prescriptions,” is a little misleading. Unintentionally, of course.

    Cold and flu are viral, so there’s not much a prescription is going to do for you other than treat the symptoms. And most of the symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications. You mostly need prescriptions for bacterial things like strep or an ear infection.

    My $0.02.

    • Ask at the front desk before you go running around to look for clinics – when I was sick in 2004 a clinic van picked me up at the hotel, I filled out the forms on the way to the clinic, after I waited and was seen and prescribed, their van took me to the pharmacy and waited while the Rx was filled, and then took me to the park to meet up with my family.

      • Good call both of you. The front desk at any Disney or non-Disney resort is a really great resource. And yes, Phillip, you are correct. My non-medical mind didn’t make the proper distinction there. But regardless, the Disney people won’t give you much more than aspirin most of the time.

  • In Dec 08, my then 20 month old came down with croup, a barking cough that required a breathing treatment. It was the night before we were leaving so after a 2am call to the oncall nurse with our pediatrician’s office in Kansas City, she referred me to the local ER for treatment. The front desk at French Qtr had a cab take me to Celebrations hospital which got us taken care of…I was a little nervous taking my daughter off-site without a car seat by myself in the middle of the night with a stranger but with another one sound asleep in the hotel, we felt like that was the best choice. I had my phone, my purse, i was set to go. The cab driver was so nice each way. The medical treatment at the hospital was not quite what I am used to at the children’s hospital in KC. But it served the purpose. I thought given the proximity to WDW, they would be more equipped to handle children. They did not have all proper equipment for the breathing treatment for someone under 2. She did get better but it was not easy. Apparently they do not see this type of illness in their climate as often as we do in the midwest. Every time she coughed someone poked their head in our area and said, croup? As if she should be in quarantine…at any rate, if you ever need a hospital, they are fairly good and insurance was of no issue for me.

    On the way back by then I was wide awake and it was nearly daylight, the cab driver gave me all kinds of random Disney property trivia. Then the hotel reimbursed me for cab fare for both directions…

    • That seems like a very harrowing experience, but I’m glad it worked out for you. I have a friend who was also treated at Celebration Hospital, and raved about the service.

  • I’m too busy spending the remainder of my trip tracking down the person who got me sick.

  • Oct 2003, we had visited Universal on the previous day and I was bitten by some sort of spider. (At Jaws, not Spider-Man) The next day my arm was very swollen and the other three in our group were looking forward to a day at MGM Studios. I went to the first aid station there. The nurse was *amazingly* helpful. She called their transportation service. The transport van drove me through the MGM backlots and down to the emergency care center on 192 (Winn Dixie Marketplace shopping center). Urgent care was nothing special, but they gave me an antibiotic script and told me when to wait for the next ride back. The van was early and had already planned to take me over to the then-new Walgreens across the street to fill my Rx. Once back in MGM, the same nurse loaned me their phone to call my wife on our cell so I could let them know I was back and where we could meet.

    Since that experience I never hesitate to ask for basic first aid supplies. I’m prone to migraines so anytime I feel a headache trying to sneak up, I know I can get some OTC Tylenol to head it off, just by asking.

  • by Katherine on May 9, 2011, at 1:58 pm EDT

    Last trip I was stung by a wasp and got a nasty secondary infection. I knew enough to act fast- DH talked to the front desk at AKL, and they pointed us in the right direction. I was picked up by the (I think Buena Vista?) walk-in center’s van service right from the hotel. I walked in, filled out forms, ***had to pay $300+ upfront BEFORE seeing the doc because I’m Canadian*** and file for my private insurance reimbursement later. A little shocking because it was genuinely only a 5 min visit, but I got the prescription I needed- and had to pay extra for that before I left the office. I filled the script at the Walgreens accross the street. Whole ordeal only took about 3 or 4 hours. Luckily it was a day off from parks so my family enjoyed AKL and I just got picked up on our way to change hotels to the Poly :) Lesson? If you think you’ve got an infection act fast- Doc said I was lucky I did or I’d have been on IV antibiotics in the hospital instead- oh yeah, and bring your VISA!

  • by Janet Sala on May 9, 2011, at 2:53 pm EDT

    One of the few times we didn’t have a car (oddly, the budget busting 2 rooms at the Poly for a week), I ended up with a really nasty cold. The front desk gave me the number of the pharmacy and I had them send out a giant bottle of Nyquil, Zinc Lozenges, Vitamin C, Listerine and about a dozen pocket-sized Kleenex packs. It was expensive, but cheaper and more convenient than a taxi or last minute rental. Now all of those plus Tylenol and Aleve live in my Owner’s Locker.

    Still, a sick-day at Disney is better than a healthy day at work! ;-)

  • Two years ago, the minute I got off the plane the sore throat kicked in. By the time we checked in at the BCV, I had chills so bad I could barely walk. We got to our room, I popped a couple Ibuprofen and hit the bed for an hour or so. The chills finally went away and I started feeling better. The warm, humid Florida evening air actually felt good to my sore throat. The rest of the trip did get better. I didn’t feel 100% but I definitely felt better after the first night.

  • by Erin Foster on May 9, 2011, at 6:04 pm EDT

    Centra Care info here: http://www.centracare.org/

    Regarding dental emergencies: My husband knocked out a front tooth dental implant at Disneyland a few years ago. The front desk of the Grand Californian suggested that he call 1-800-DENTIST, which he did. He found a really fabulous dentist about 10 minutes away that would see him on a Sunday afternoon within two hours. He created a new temporary tooth that got us through the rest of the trip. I assume that something similar would work at WDW.

  • On one WDW vacation, we made a visit to First Aid stations in all 4 parks due to various “owies” our kids suffered. We found them all to be very nice and the staff more than helpful.

    During our Nov 09 trip we all got sick during the last couple of days of our vacation. We didn’t think much about it and then started feeling *really* bad on our way home. Got checked out when we returned and turned out we’d all caught the H1N1. Ugh. Got over it eventually but it’s never fun to come home from vacation sick.

    • Hey – I know this was posted a long time ago – but I was also there in November 2009 and got H1N1!!! We had to check into a hotel in Apopka on our way home and stay two nights because I was too sick to travel! The walk in clinic in whatever the grocery store was there was great – at least I think they were. I don’t remember much of it because my fever was too high.

  • The CM at front desk at our resort was very helpful. They called us a doctor that has a clinic nearby and he visited my daughter at the resort.

  • Somehow, while we absolutely love Animal Kingdom, that always seems to be the day my family gets sick, so we’ve had plenty of opportunity to test out that First Aid station. On one trip, my husband was extremely nauseous in the morning (and white as a sheet), so they gave him some anti-nauseau medication and advil and a place to lie down. I got a migraine there on our next trip- and while I had my migraine medication, I really needed a cool dark place to lie down for about 1/2 hour while I waited for it to kick in. AK First Aid provided it- if anyone in your family is really feeling not well, taking a few minutes to recover can make the rest of the day enjoyable, instead of torture. They have little cubicles with cots and chairs, that are cool and dark and a great place to lie down and try and feel better. Fortunately, on both trips, an hour or so in the First Aid station along with the medication and we were ready to go for the rest of the day. Thanks First Aid nurses!

  • The Unofficial Guide (ding) lists these contacts; we’ve tried the Centra Care Clinic and they were excellent:

    407-399-DOCS (in-room doctor visits)

    Centra Care (walk-in clinic and 24 hr house-calls & free shuttle) 407-238-2000 or 407-934-CARE

    1-800-3627911 (24 hr. In-Hotel Medical Care)

    EastCoast Medical Network (24/7 house-calls)
    407-648-5252 (xray/IV/dental)

    • Also, Physician Room Service is a 24 Hour house call service, at prices often lower than similar services. 407-238-2000 PhysicianRoomService.com

  • Just a suggestion, since I haven’t seen it posted yet, make sure you keep a can of Lysol in your suitcase or if flying, pick up one in the local grocery store or pack some Lysol Wipes in a ziplock bag before you leave home. These are wonderful to wipe down all surfaces in your hotel room as soon as you enter your room. Make sure to hit all door knobs, phones, and TV remotes which are just teaming with cold and flu germs! This may help prevent an unexpected illness that could ruin your trip.

  • by John E. Levis on May 12, 2011, at 3:57 pm EDT

    My wife and I have been very lucky during our many visits to The World over the years in spite of a litany of ailments. This post has made me aware of just how lucky we’ve been and pertinent parts and phone numbers are being archived. Thanks!!!

  • Around 20 years ago I ended up with viral meningitis during our Disney trip. At first I thought I just had a bad migraine but then the pain escalated. Once I was rushed to the hospital and they gave me an excruciatingly painful spinal tap they took good care of me. Mickey and the gang even sent me a get well card and a box of chocolates! One problem I ran into was finding out my medical insurance didn’t cover everything. I think it’s important to keep in mind that even if you might think you’ll never need it, purchasing good travel insurance is really a smart idea.

  • I love what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve added you guys to my own blogroll.

  • My little girl had an ear infection during our most recent visit and my wonderful pediatrician called in an antibiotic and we had it delivered. We always pack ibuprofen, benadryl, nebulizer with albuterol, epi pen and an oral steroid just in case. Never hurts to be prepared and it has saved us vacation time and helped our children feel better faster on several occasions.

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  • by Don Malzahn on June 2, 2012, at 9:46 am EDT

    We recently had a bladder infection in our party. It came to light only after 10:00 PM. Staying at the Polynesian, we called the front desk,(not having the time to check wonderful websites like this out), and got the same advice, with parks closed, and no car for us, and it being after 10 (when the Centra-Care clinic free shuttle stops running), we ended up hiring a cab. Fortunately for us, the sulfa drugs were in house at the clinic, so after the pee-in-a-cup routine and analysis, and a charge to our charge card, we were back in our room, also, about 3 – 4 hours later. I’ll always wonder if the Doctors On Call to our room might have been better / easier / cheaper now. But perhaps not possible with a test needed. We’ve used the first aid station for basic stuff before at Epcot, and found it very easy and the staff nice and helpful.

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  • by Stephanie kleis on May 26, 2014, at 12:46 am EDT

    My 17 year old son is currently at disneyworld for a high school band trip. He began throwing up 2 hours into the trip from northern Virginia! Luckily he has a nurse on the bus who is a chaperon. She believes it to be motion sickness. After they arrived he still felt terrible and was dehydrated. I told him to go to the first aid station. All they did for him was let him lie down for a while! I was expecting someone to take his vitals and possibly give him iv fluids. (This is florida in the summer isn’t it?). He has been at the mercy of the ” school itinerary and did not have the option to “rest comfortably” in his room. He felt better on day 2 but then got on the bus to come home tonight and got worse “from both ends”. He is still on that bus trapped in the bathroom for the next 12 hours!

    so, thanks disney, for not helping my kid when i wasn’t there to help. Get more than the “basic first aid” for your guests! Especially kids who are there without a parent to comfort them and make them feel better. It will be the last time my kid goes there.