Powering Through: Disney for the Migraine Sufferer

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Powering Through: Disney for the Migraine Sufferer

Migraines are the worst! For me, a full blown migraine equals total shutdown. I want to crawl into the darkest, quietest, place. My head pounds and smells send me over the edge. I try my hardest to avoid migraines in my day to day life, but especially when I am at Disney World. When the severity equals a total loss, it is important to think about prevention. For me, there are several triggers. Some which I can control and some which I have no control over. Today I am sharing my strategies for making my vacation magic minus the migraines!

#1 Be Prepared

Scar knew what he was talking about! Granted, he was refering to the overthrow of the animal kingdom, but I am here to tell you that being prepared can save you! I come to the parks with basic medications that I can get to if needed. Amongst my mini pharmacy are basic ibuephropin and my over the counter migraine medicine. Keeping your own medicine with you is not only helpful but it also can save you cash. I am pretty particular about brand so carrying my own helps to make sure that I get what I need when I get a headache coming on. I get a lot of pre-migraine warnings like halo vision, mine looks like dots of bright shimmering light or flashes of light. I also get a shooting pain on one side of my head with an ache in my eyes. I have learned to pay attention to these signs. Sometimes I can treat those signs with meds and avoid the pain later.


Quick Tip: Carrying around lots of medicine bottles does not make for a security bag check friendly bag…you don’t want to be “that guy”. I recommend a pill case where you can put just the right amount of medicine for a day in the park!

So…what if you forget your own medication and you get some of the classic migraine warning signals? Don’t worry…

#2 They Got Ya’ Covered!

There are a couple of options here. Let’s visit each!

Option A: Buy it

Buying is always an option. If you are brand concious, this might be the best route for you. You probably already know by now that this will cost you a pretty penny. I purchased Tylenol from the Emporium in March and paid around $3 for 3 travel size (2/pack) advanced strength Tylenol. I actually wanted Advil and in my desparation, I swapped my hard earned Lincoln for some overpriced medication.

Quick Tip: Ask for medicine products at the cashier’s desk. They have a small pharmacy behind the counter. Make that purchase quick and easy when you don’t feel your best!

Option B: Get it for FREE!

Did you know that Disney World has first aid services? Yep! They do! In each of the parks and even at the water parks! These first aid stations are equipped with nurses who can provide you medications, bandages, creams, and more all for FREE! All you have to do is speak to the nurse about what ails you and sign your name and provide your contact info and you are set! I love this not so known freebie! I am saying goodbye to my days of $3 pills and HELLO to the free!

Quick Tip: You can find first aid at the following spots:

Magic Kingdom: Near the Crystal Palace

Animal Kingdom: On Discovery Island near Creature Comforts

Epcot: In the Odyssey Center

Hollywood Studios: Near Guest Services

Typhoon Lagoon: Just behind Leaning Palms

Blizzard Beach: Between Lottawatta Lodge and Beach Haus

Remember you can always ask a cast member for help finding the first aid station.


#3 Hydration

I always have a bottle of water with me in the parks. Hydration is a good healthy choice all the time (not just during the summer months). Doing a lot of walking and riding can cause you to become dehydrated. Dehydration can trigger migraines. While you can purchase water (and other drinks) in the parks, I highly recommend carrying a bottle of water with you that you can get to easily and frequently. I make myself drink even if I don’t feel thirsty. I’ve found when I stay hydrated I don’t tend to get migraines as often! I can drink to that!

Quick Tip: A frozen bottle of water from home will come in handy as it a) saves you money b) provides you cold water throughout the day. If you forget a bottle from “home” you can always purchase a bottle, find a water fountain, or get tap water from restaurants for FREE!

#4 Stay Nourished

Eating regularly can help me avoid a migraine. If I skip a meal I can almost bank on a headache! When I am at Disney World I make sure to keep a I keep a ziplock baggy with a quick snack (something that I can munch and go without much fuss). Of course, there is food everywhere in the parks, but I love having a quick “go to” without lines or paying. Bring your own or buy it…either way, keep your body fed and avoid the pain!

Quick Tip: Planning ahead can save you lots of frustration. I pack something that is easy to share, not too messy, and can sustain a hot book bag. Cheese crackers are a personal favorite.

#5 Get Covered

Being in the sun is a HUGE migraine trigger for me! I have got to have a pair of sunglasses on when I am outside. Even on not so sunny days I put on my shades. I highly recommend shades or a hat to protect your eyes (and thus your head) from the harsh sun.

Quick Tip: Finding shade will help here. If it is an especially sunny day, I like to head to Animal Kingdom. There are plenty of attractions with shade plus great indoor options like Finding Nemo the Musical!

#6 Don’t Over do it!

Over doing it means: over exertion (via exercise), not getting enough rest, overheating. I avoid all three. I tend to get overheated when it is hot out. I can almost guarantee a migraine in this situation. It starts with a pounding in my temples and ends in a full blown nausea filled migraine. I’ve learned to monitor myself on days like this. If I am sweating more than usual, red faced, with a that pounding sensation, I force myself to slow down. I take advantage of indoor rides and attractions (and, gasp…even a trip back to my hotel for a…double gasp…nap). I am able to avoid the total loss when I take a moment to recoup my body.

Quick Tip: Scheduling dining reservations can help to break up your day. I prefer to eat my big meals at night but, I’ve found that on really busy days, sometimes what the doctor orders is a lunch where I can sit and catch my breath for a while. I really like Sunshine Seasons in Epcot. When the crowds are low, I find this spot to be relaxing (and delicious!).

#7 Caffeine

Caffeine is such a big help for me when a migraine comes calling. I get a full blown, caffeine filled soda when I have pre-migraine or full blown migraine symptoms. It helps to take slow sips (That is, if you can. I know how nauseous you an get). Searching for a medicine with caffiene in it is a smart idea too. If you can’t (for whatever reason) get your hands on medicine then you can try this option.

Quick Tip: Find FREEfills (free refills) at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons & the Electric Umbrella, Hollywood Studio’s Backlot Express, and Animal Kingdom’s Restaurantasaurus.

So, what are some of your strategies to cope with or treat a migraine while in the parks? Have you ever gotten sick at Disney? What did you do to get well? Leave your suggestions below in the comment box!

For more tips and ideas check out my blog disneydonerightblog.com

See ya real soon,




  • What to bring with you to the Disney Theme Parks (chipandco.com)
  • 10 Tips for Staying Cool in Disney World (chipandco.com)
Powering Through: Disney for the Migraine Sufferer

Powering Through: Disney for the Migraine Sufferer

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7 thoughts on “Powering Through: Disney for the Migraine Sufferer

  1. learning to recognize and react to my headache triggers has been a struggle for me. denial I guess. how foolish. anyway, i’ve not had the agony of a headache in Disney, but I’ll certainly make sure I’m prepared. Scheduled to be there in september for my first trip to Epcot. can’t wait.

  2. Excellent advice. My husband got the worst headache of his life at AK one year. Now we take our Camel Back to the parks with us!

  3. Good article! As a daily migraine sufferer I have to manage my days to ensure I do everything I can to manage an attack..it’s always worth remembering that even when you’re enjoying yourself in WDW your disability is never far away!

  4. Great article! I immediately thought of the sun and the hydration, but eating regularly and carrying your own meds are crucial as well. I bring an empty water bottle to fill in the parks. The Disney water tastes a lot like sulfur – I find it helps to add some real lemon, or a drink mix to overcome the taste.

  5. Sadly, in the past year I’ve been getting migraines regularly
    when we visit Disneyland and CA Adventure. After getting migraines during 3 different
    trips, I’ve given up on riding CA Screamin’ because that loop seems to trigger

    I also know it is the heat and the bright sun that cause mine. Caffeine, shade and staying hydrated help a

    The first time I got a bad one my family went on Tower of
    Terror (which I don’t ride anyway) while I lay down on a bench. Your opening picture made me laugh… that was just
    like me! Then we went over to Disneyland
    and while my family rode Autotopia, I went to lay on the cement wall that
    surrounds Innoventions (facing Space Mountain’s gift shop) because the air
    conditioning was streaming out Innovation’s doors and under the bushes. It was refreshing.

    Once my migraine meds can kick in and the sun goes down I
    usually feel a bit better.

    I love Space Mountain and just can’t give up that ride. But my photo always shows me blocking my eyes
    and tipping my head down when it is time for that photo strobe light!!

  6. On one vacation I went to First Aid more than once. Allergies . . . blisters . . . twisted ankle! Other than one cranky nurse, everyone else was marvelous. Smart, helpful and the First Aid offices are SOOOOO quiet.

    Also remember to check expiry dates on medication you are taking. One of the reasons I ended up in First Aid was expired antihistamines!

  7. Great article! I get migraines on occasion, but luckily only once have I ever had one at Disney (considering that I’m more likely to get them when I’m hot and tired, and that’s all the time at WDW!). It was pretty awful and my sisters and friend weren’t willing to leave the park, so I spent the last hour of the night sitting alone on main street and was glad that I made it to our car before throwing up 🙁 If I had known about the first aid centers I’m sure I would have been much happier! Since then I’ve never made the mistake of having enough pain killers on me and I try to head home for a nap and cool down when I feel one coming.

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