Foster Parent Tip for Diagon Alley – Kids with Sensory Issues


Sensing Something Wrong

Many foster and adoptive parents have to cope with sensory issues with their children. What is the deal with sensory issues? Essentially children living life with sensory issues are having to cope with their brain processing the world around it differently than the average person. A foster child may process sound more sensitively than the general public. Consequently, noises that are at a comfortable volume for others may sound like loud booming sounds. A sound that is really loud may be simply deafening and deathly scary.

I’ve had someone try to equate living with sensory issues like going through life constantly like you’re walking through a carnival midway while someone is scraping their nails on a chalkboard AND trying to deal with life. Imagine trying to take a test at school when the fluorescent lights are overpowering your eyes. Try to listen to a math lesson when the tag in your shirt is literally driving you crazy.

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None of our children have been formally diagnosed with sensory perception issues. What do you think though?

  • One of our children had constantly wanted lotion all over his body before he put on clothes, PJ’s, robe… anything. We’re not talking about the suggested amount of lotion either. I’m talking about such a thick coating of lotion that it was seeping out in between the fibers of the cotton shirt this child was wearing.
  • One child with a charismatic personality will become a wall flower if you place them in an event with lots of people, noise, and activities. This child has also been known to start covering their ears as though the suitably set volume of music were blaring loud.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is a popular destination for vacationing families. Both the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley areas are wonderfully immersive. The parks have been so well done that you will doubt whether the Harry Potter books are actually fiction.


The harsh reality for a foster family is that everyone wants to witness this immersive park. This means that while you might be in a crowded environment in the rest of Universal, The Wizarding World is going to be absolutely jam packed. Tons of people means lots of noise, too much to look at, and unusual smells.

My Son Hides From His Senses

During one visit to the Diagon Alley area of The Wizarding World, my son’s senses had met their match.

  • Our family entered Diagon Alley, which is an experience in itself. There were people everywhere. My youngest son wanted to enter into the Quidditch store immediately to the right of the entrance. Simply walking to the store a few feet away brought about so much bumping and jostling within the crowd.
  • Once inside the small aisles and space of the Quidditch store, the bumping and density of the crowd increase. Plus, being in an enclosed area made the crowd noise heighten. Finally, let’s mention that my visual senses were bombarded. Not only were there people all around me to be aware about, but I was looking at scads of amazing merchandise and there was an animated Quidditch poster. After taking some exciting and fun time looking around at things in the store, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and like I needed to get to more open spaces.
  • Strolling out of the store I was able to feel the ease of being in a more open space.
  • My wife got my attention and pointed over to a little corner nook by the shop. My youngest son had tucked himself out of site in the nook. He traded between covering his eyes and covering his ears. His face and eyes looked exhausted. His senses desperately wanted a vacation for a few minutes.

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If any family is going to make it through the day to witness as much fun as The Wizarding World has to offer, a family has to guard themselves against fatigue. This means mom and dad have to have enough energy as well as the kids. However, when kids start to melt down because they are too tired of dealing with their senses being bombarded, what are you going to do?

Eeylop’s Owl Emporium – Haven For Senses

While we were exploring Diagon Alley, we discovered a gem that will help you on your trip with your foster and adoptive children.

Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions is a store that sells apparel in The Wizarding World. Once we entered the main entrance, I immediately noticed a doorway to the right. I continued to explore the clothing store but made a mental note to revisit this mysterious doorway – assuming that it simply went to the next adjacent store.

After exhausting everything there was to see at Madam Malkin’s, I walked through the mystery door and saw… nothing. It was an empty room. Well, the main floor was empty but the area near the ceiling was littered with cages holding faux owls that were hooting. As our family stayed in the owl emporium area, I bet we witnessed about ten people enter and quickly exit the room within a time period of 15 minutes.

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Once we were home I emailed Universal’s guest services about the room. I was told that the room was actually an overflow room for the que at Madam Malkin’s. However, after several visits to Diagon Alley, this is what the room offers a foster and adoptive family:

  1. Visual Rest – Eeylop’s Owl Emporium is an empty room. It’s not a complete bore because you can look at the owls and cages near the ceiling.
  2. Vacation from Touch – With minimal people entering this area, it will give you a break from the jostling crowd in the main areas of the park.
  3. Auditorial Spa – Compared to the main areas of the park, the noise level is minimal.
  4. Taste – Grab a snack and head to the owl emporium. Letting blood sugar levels get too low makes it difficult for anyone to cope with life. Getting a drink or snack will help level out those levels and give your mood a lift. Children from difficult circumstances have blood sugar levels that are harder to maintain. Experts recommend eating something every two hours for these kiddos. Protein is a great option as it provides more stability in sugar levels. We recommend cornish pasties from The Hopping Pot for a good snack to split among the family.

How Do You Roll?

  1. What other areas have you found in The Wizarding World that let your family find some much needed rest?
  2. Have you been to Eeylop’s Emporium? Did you find that it was a good place for your family to get some rest?


Written by
Co-founder and President of Transfiguring Adoption. Darren is a graduate of Illinois State University where he studied fine art. He offers foster and adoptive parents over a decade of experience in parenting foster and adoptive children, as well as his introductory to counseling training. Darren is the author of the "A Guide to Magical Creatures Around Your Home," book series. LinkedIn: Book series:

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