By Michelle Leifur
That’s what I heard one morning when I woke up at Disney. From me and 2 of my children. But why were we all sneezing? Sure, we have seasonal allergies, but not in January! I stepped outside to get a breath of fresh air and lo and behold, the railing was covered with pine pollen and the azaleas are in bloom! Azaleas? In January? Ah yes; I forgot that the weather in Orlando is very spring-like for the majority of the rest of the country’s winter! Fortunately, I was smart and remembered to pack our allergy medications. After this first sneezing morning I started becoming more aware of all the potential allergens that we were facing on our vacation.
Seasonal allergies. Whether you are allergic to pine, oak, ragweed, or (like me) azaleas (and other flowers), something is always in bloom at Disney. Even when people are chipping ice off their windows in Minnesota, there is some flower opening its petals and spewing pollen and fragrance around the resorts and park. Whether it is roses, daffodils, rhododendrons, hyacinth, daisies or the various trees that produce pollen, something is going to be blooming at any given time of the year (thanks to the hard working gardeners at Disney!) From the ever-blooming tangerine trees at the Moroccan pavilion to the acres of pine trees all over Disney property, you will run into pollen throughout Disney property.
Mold. It is everywhere! Orlando has a very humid climate to begin with and then add to it all the water that Disney has. From all the man-made lagoons and rivers to the rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Maelstrom, Disney is a wonderful breeding ground for molds of all varieties.
Yeast. Much like mold, yeast also thrives in moist, warm environments. If this is a trigger for you, be aware that you will run into yeast at some point on your Disney vacation.
Dust. Despite Disney’s constant attempts at housekeeping, I was very aware on a recent trip of all the dust I did find. The tops of light fixtures, the nooks and crannies of molding around a room, along the walls of queue areas and even on the buses. While I never ran into dust bunnies on my vacation, I did encounter several instances of surfaces that would not have met satisfaction with Mary Poppins’ white glove test!
Skin allergies. Be aware of all the new things that you may come in contact with. From chlorine in the swimming pools to the cleaning agents used all around the resorts and parks. If you have particularly sensitive skin, make sure you take your own soaps, shampoos, lotions and even laundry soap. Dealing with a case of hives and other rashes while on vacation is no fun!
Food allergies. If you have any food allergies or sensitivities at all, be sure to talk to your waiter ahead of ordering about how foods are prepared. You can even call ahead and talk to the chefs where you are going to be eating just to make sure. Disney does its best to deal with a variety of food allergies (and other food related requests). Often servers and hosts ask about allergies when seating guests, but it is always a good idea to be prepared ahead of time.
So now you know that there is the possibility of running into your favorite (or infamous) allergen. What are you going to do about it? My best advice would be to talk to your doctor, particularly if you are going to be facing unseasonably seasonal allergens. Take any medications that you normally do and try to take them on your regular schedule. Forgetting your Claritin one day could mean the difference of a gorgeous day in the Florida sunshine and feeling like you have a flying elephant stuffed up your nose. If you have respiratory issues that could be affected, make sure you pack your inhaler or other breathing aids. Make sure that you have enough of your prescription for your trip. While there are several nationwide pharmacy chains in Orlando (such as Walgreen’s and CVS) that can easily fill an empty prescription, taking the time to do it takes away from your enjoyment of your vacation.
As I mentioned before, make sure you take products that are going to be familiar to you. Your vacation is not the time to try out a new skin cream, fabric softener or body wash. If you have ultra-sensitive skin you may even want to call and speak with housekeeping about what kind of laundry products that they use on their sheets and towels. As much of a hassle as it may be to pack your own sheets and towels, it would be even more of a hassle to deal with hives and rashes. Just make sure you take something other than white sheets and leave a note to the housekeeper that the sheets are your own and not to launder them.
Don’t be afraid of having a miserable vacation based on this article. That wasn’t my intent at all. Just be informed and prepared. Make sure that you don’t forget to take care of yourself while enjoying all that Disney has to offer (pollen and dust aside!)