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WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 Wheelchair Racing Report! 058

Kerry1

Mike and Kerry, two wheelchair racing participants, share their 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon stories.

 

Kerry2

Kerry Kingdon

Kerry is from San Lorenzo, California. She is a runDisney veteran who completed the “Dopey Challenge” using a push rim wheelchair. That’s  5K, 10K, Half- and Full Marathons in one weekend!

 

MikeG

 Mike Greer

Mike is from Ontario, Canada. He is new to runDisney and completed the 5K and 10K races using a push rim wheelchair.

Both Mike and Kerry discuss these aspects of wheelchair racing at Disney events:

  • Planning for a runDisney trip
  • Availability (or lack thereof) of pre-race information for wheelchair racing participants for the WDW Marathon Weekend
  • Racing wheelchair equipment
  • Nutrition and hydration during wheelchair
  • Weather and race clothing considerations
  • Race day transportation for wheelchair racing participants
  • Training
  • Motivation
  • The atmosphere of support and encouragement for wheelchair participants at Disney racing events

For information on Disney marathons and running events, visit the official website, runDisney.

You can connect with Kerry Kingdon on Facebook, or visit her blog, Dare to Be. You can hear more about Kerry and her runDisney experience in this past episode, You Can Run Disney in a Wheelchair!

You can connect with Mike Greer on Facebook and Twitter. He is a contributing writer at wheelchairtraveling.com. You can hear more from Mike in this past episode, Cruising with OI and a Wheelchair on the Disney Cruise Line.

You can also connect with Kerry, Mike and a bunch of enthusiastic Disney fans with a variety of special needs on Facebook in our Private Discussion Group. Simply leave a comment on our page and I will contact you!

Thanks for listening,

~Kathy

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TSA Tips for Air Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions – 057

If you are flying to your Disney destination with a disability or medical condition and have concerns about TSA security requirements, this episode is for you!

TSA_Disabilities

 

In this abbreviated episode, Kathy shares a valuable resource for  air travelers with disabilities and medical conditions in the Tip of the Week segment, as well as a touching thank-you letter written by the grateful parent of a child with multiple disabilities who received kindness and consideration from the flight crew during their recent Southwest Air flight.

Tip of the Week:

One of the most stressful aspects of modern air travel is the security screening process. This is especially true for travelers with disabilities and certain medical conditions. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s official website offers a wealth of information for travelers who wish to prepare themselves for the security screening process.

Transportation Security Administration – Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

Travelers with disabilities and medical conditions can call TSA Cares, a toll free help line (1-855-787-2227) with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. The TSA recommends that passengers call the help line at least 72 hours prior to travel.

Travelers may also request a Passenger Support Specialist ahead of time by calling the TSA Cares hotline. Passenger Support Specialists receive specialized disability training provided by TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement.  Training for Passenger Support Specialists include how to assist with individuals with special needs, how to communicate with passengers by listening and explaining, and disability etiquette and disability civil rights.

The TSA website offers specific information for travelers who:

TSA_service dog

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Many thanks to one of our listeners for sharing (with permission) a heartfelt thank-you to Southwest Airlines, written by the parent of a child with multiple special needs:

Sunday, December 28, 2014
Thank you Southwest Airlines
S. and I want to say thank you to Southwest Airlines, and specifically, the pilots and crew of 12/27’s flight 2748 from Las Vegas to Portland. They went above and beyond last night to help (our son) and us get home after a long, rough day.

By the time we boarded our last flight of the day, (our son) was tired and raw. We’d been traveling for 12 hours. During our three hour layover in Las Vegas, (our son) was over stimulated by all of the slot machines on the concourse, and he was stressed because he couldn’t understand that kids weren’t allowed to play those video games.

The minute we took our seats on the plane, (our son) started to escalate. He didn’t want to be on the plane. He definitely, didn’t want to have to stay in a seat belt.

I won’t say he was yelling at the top of his lungs. But if you’ve never heard how loud that is, you can be forgiven for thinking he was. He alternated between saying that he didn’t want to be on the plane or in the seat belt and yelling “I want milk!” (The first time he’s ever fixated on that.)

We boarded early and his tantrum continued well after everyone was seated. His yelling could clearly be heard throughout the plane. After about 5 minutes, one of the flight attendants came by to see if there was anything we needed. We asked for milk. Unfortunately, she said, they didn’t carry any milk on the plane. But she came back a couple minutes later with some water.

A couple of times, she came by and just quietly kneeled next to our seats. The way she handled it was perfect. She was clearly present and attentive but gave us the space we needed to work with (our son). At one point she asked, “Is he special needs.” I nodded, “Yes.” And she walked off to talk with the crew.

A few minutes later, I had started to think about everything that would be involved in removing (our son) from the plane, physically carrying him past all of the slot machines in the concourse and getting a hotel for the night.

I saw one of the pilots coming out of the cockpit and walking towards us and thought that we would certainly be asked to get off the plane and try again tomorrow.

Much to my surprise, the pilot stopped at the row in front of us and talked to a man just in front of (our son’s) seat.

The man must have complained to the flight attendants a few times. Because when the pilot approached him, the man said, “This situation is intolerable.”

The man must have asked to have us removed from the plane, because the pilot said, “That child is going to Portland tonight.

The man repeated, “This situation is intolerable.”

The pilot said, “Have some compassion.” To which the man replied, “I have compassion, but this is intolerable.”

The pilot simply looked at him and said quite firmly, “That child is going to Portland tonight.” His message was quite clear.

For three hours, we had been trying to keep (our son) on this side of a complete “stripping his clothes off meltdown”. By that point we were harboring our own doubts about whether we were going to make it. The pilot’s message simultaneously quieted the man and gave S. and me the support and strength we needed to keep working with (our son) so we could get our family home.

A few minutes later, just as (our son) had started to calm, our flight attendant returned and handed us a pint of milk. “The captain went up and got this for you,” she said.

Wow.

I don’t think (our son) knew where the milk came from. He seemed as surprised by its appearance as we were. The milk was just the distraction we needed to convince (our son) to take his meds. And the milk calmed him as much as the meds. Before too long he was stretched out between us with his seat belt on, watching a video. And a few minutes after that we pushed back from the gate.

Once he was calm, he did a fantastic job throughout the flight. He was a model passenger, We made it to Portland, and made it home with only a minor detour as (our son) decided he needed go shopping in the PDX airport. (He couldn’t understand why dad wouldn’t buy him that suitcase at Brookestone. It was green and it was “perfect”.)

So thanks Southwest. Thanks for sticking by (our son). Thanks for giving us the time, and space and support to work with him and settle him down. And thanks for the milk.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

See? There really are some good people left in the world!

Thanks for sharing that letter, it was just what we needed to hear!

And thanks for listening,

 

~ Kathy

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Walt Disney World with Type 1 Diabetes – 056

Everything you need to know about vacationing at Walt Disney World with Insulin-dependent Diabetes!

This father and son share more than fun - they both live with Type 1 Diabetes!

This father and son share more than fun – they both live with Type 1 Diabetes!

 

Hello and Welcome! A very Happy and Healthy New Year to you!

The podcast went on a bit of an unplanned hiatus during the holidays, but I’m back now with plans for lots of exciting topics in the New Year. Today we’ll be talking with my friend, Robyn Adams about vacationing at the WDW Resort with Type 1, that’s insulin-dependent, diabetes.

But before we jump into that discussion, I’d like to give a shout-out to several members of the Special Mouse Podcast community who will be participating in next weekend’s WDW Marathon events: Best of luck to Kerry Kingdon and Michael Greer who will be “rolling with the magic,” looking to earn some of that coveted runDisney bling. They’ve both promised to appear on the show later this month to give us first-hand accounts of their experiences.

If you’re new to the show, please visit our home base at specialmouse.com for contact information as well as our community blog. And if you have a question or a suggestion for a future show topic, please drop me a line at specialmousepodcast@gmail.com.

Walt Disney always said, “We keep moving forward,” so here we go!

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Tip of the Week:

This week’s tip concerns making a wheelchair-accessible reservation at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review. Hoop-Dee-Doo is a vaudeville-style dinner show and all-you-care-to-eat dinner at Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

A member of our private Facebook discussion group asks:

“I am wondering if anyone can help me figure this out.We would like to make an ADR (advance dining reservation) at the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue. We will be on the dining plan and our daughter is in a wheelchair.   I understand that there are 3 different seating sections, with tiered pricing. I also know that there are 3 different show times.  (That is correct!)

I’ve read that only section 1 is wheelchair accessible, but that only sections 2 & 3 are accepted on the dining plan, for the 1st & 2nd show times and that Show #3 – the latest show time – opens all 3 sections to dining plan participants.

My question is, does anyone have experience making an ADR on the dining plan, for an earlier seating, for a party with a wheelchair? If we have to sit in Section 2 on the DDP, but have to sit in Section 1 if we have a wheelchair, what do we do?  Thanks in advance, etc.”

Well, that certainly does sound confusing!

Luckily, several group members who have had experience making this kind of dining reservation were able to jump in and answer this question for our listener!

 

According to Hoop-Dee-Doo’s ticketing office there is seating on the last row of the main floor (Section One) that is accessible for wheelchairs and, when booked as such, is considered category 2. Thus, it meets the requirements of the Disney Dining Plan AND Accessibility laws at no additional cost to the diner.

Some guests have even reported they had this policy waived and once they checked in were shown to tables closer to the stage. Naturally, this would depend upon availability.

Many thanks to Tracy, Sue, Dede and Rae for their valuable input! Now, bring on the strawberry shortcake!

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Feature Interview: Walt Disney World with Type 1 Diabetes:

How an insulin pump works

How an insulin pump works

Some of the topics we discussed are:

  • The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • The role of insulin in the body’s metabolism.
  • Need to balance FOOD/ACTIVITY/INSULIN while on your Disney Vacation.
  • Pre-trip planning tips for people with diabetes.
  • Diabetic packing tips (SEE BELOW)
  • How an insulin pump works.
  • Air travel and thrill ride concerns with an insulin pump.
  • Importance of more frequent blood sugar testing.
  • Utilizing First Aid Stations
  • Requesting the DAS accommodation for Type 1 Diabetes
  • Robyn’s Diabetic “Mousketeer” Trips
  • Diabetic Alert Dogs

Robyn’s Diabetic Packing Tips:

*DOUBLE amount of testing strips, syringes, pump supplies, alcohol swabs, pens, lancets, EXTRA bottles of insulin (both types if you are on 2) – even if you are pumping, always bring an extra set of syringes and a bottle of the slower acting insulin (i.e. Lantus). You never know if you will experience pump failure. You may want to order a “vacation” pump.

*Glucogon

*Pumpers – don’t forget your caps for your port sites while swimming.

*Cool/ice/FRIO pack for your insulin if you are taking it into the parks with you. The refrigerator in your room will have a TINY little spot along the top for an ice pack. We have used this spot for years – it works great.

*2 blood glucose meters

*Extra batteries for pumps and meters

*Flashlight for the midnight blood sugar check or download an app for your smart phone

*Fast acting sugar candy/glucose tablets. Bring things that will not melt or crush – i.e. smartees, skittles, starburst, Quick Sticks, glucose tabs, fruit snacks (not gushers or fruit rollups – these get too messy).

*Calorie King book or app for those pesky carbs we have to count!

____________________________________________________________________________________

You can connect with Robyn Adams on Facebook. She is an authorized Disney Travel Planner with Travel With The Magic.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

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Thanksgiving Episode: The Special Mouse Community Gives Thanks – 055

Friends of the Special Mouse Podcast share Disney memories for which they are thankful on this Thanksgiving 2014 Episode!

Thanksgiving 2

In the spirit of Thanksgiving — this quintessential American holiday – a day set aside to officially give thanks for the blessings we enjoy throughout the year – I have decided to do a feature on something for which I am sincerely grateful – YOU!

Yes, you, the listener!

I’m turning this episode over to YOU by featuring YOUR favorite Disney memories that you are thankful for, recorded on our new SpeakPipe App.

But first,Please let me express my own attitude of gratitude!

Over the past year our community has grown exponentially, mostly due to our incredibly helpful and supportive private Facebook group. To the 213 members of that group, I say, “Thank You” for carrying out the message of our podcast – “the magic is for everyone” – by providing a safe, welcoming place for members to gather and discuss their concerns related to Disney travel. I’ve been truly blessed to make your acquaintance.

If you are not a member of the group and wish to join, please visit our public page, facebook.com/SpecialMousePodcast and let me know with a comment.

 

Thank you to my friends on Social Media who consistently like and share Special Mouse content on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus! Especially Maureen Deal, Sarah Norris, Heather Ford, Main Street Fairy, Ericka Busser, Debi Dame, Rae Augenstein, Jim Tucker, Sandy Nye, Stu Hassis, Andrew Carrieri, Ed Russell, Tracy Brooks, Jeanette Lynn, and many more!

Liking and sharing our content truly helps to spread the word about the show!

 

Thank you to my fellow Podcasters who have graciously invited me to be a guest on their shows to talk about Disney Travel for Guests with Special Needs – Lou Mongello from The WDW Radio Show, Ashley & Sam Turner from WDW Happy Place, Bob Coller & Tim Scott from the ResortLoop.com podcast, Jaren Buckley from the Building Special Families podcast, Frank Rogers from Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride and The Disney Dream Girls themselves, Michelle Young & Jayne Phipps.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for sharing your audience with me!

If you would like to listen to any of these episodes, use the “As Heard On” tab, above.

 

Speaking of podcast audiences, I am sincerely grateful to those of you who’ve shared ratings and reviews of Special Mouse on iTunes this past year – not only because they are personally encouraging to me, but because each review nudges the show just a little higher in the podcast queue, making it easier for new listeners to discover!

Many thanks to: Don’t call me Jenny, Kima 861965, disneyfan 64, jenniferlyn 1085, bethcgreen, Bill Kaiser, fromlisa2, SkepticAlan, iceserraon, debcalloway, disneynut1985, Mark Vitek, ginnyxpotter, KaleenaScarlett, and many more.

 

And finally, before we get to our listener messages, I want to express just one more, extra-special thank-you to Michael J. Carrasco who has opted to support the show with a monthly donation via PayPal. Michael, your gift is greatly appreciated and goes a long way in helping me produce the show.

If you’re not familiar with podcasting, there are some regular monthly expenses involved – web and media hosting, editing services, purchase of software and hardware, and so forth – and so your financial support, whether through a monthly or a one-time donation – truly helps me to continue providing the Special Mouse podcast as a service to the Disney community.

Information about supporting the show in this way can be found at specialmouse.com/donate.

 

And now, on to our Thanksgiving holiday feature – Disney Memories We’re Thankful For by The Special Mouse Listeners!

Wishing you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving,

Kathy

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Managing Gluten and Celiac at Walt Disney World with Dr. Kendra Becker – 054

Dr. Kendra Becker, speaker at the Food Allergy and Celiac Convention at Walt Disney World, joins Kathy to discuss many issues related to Disney vacationing with food allergies and Celiac Disease.

Kendra

 

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. so it’s only fitting that today’s show revolves around food, specifically, food allergies. This Saturday, November 22, 2014, Celebrate Awareness, the first-ever Food Allergy and Celiac Convention, will be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. I was lucky enough to get one of the speakers, Dr. Kendra Becker, to be a guest on today’s show.

Dr. Kendra has integrated a Doctor of Naturopathy and an Advance Practice Nursing Degree to focus on her specialties, which include asthma, autism, allergies, and eczema. By and large much of the treatment for these conditions includes special diets.  She is a mother, wife and Organic Lifestyleist and lectures on various topics throughout the nation and has made various TV appearances to discuss the importance of naturopathic medicine. She practices in Connecticut and is publishing her first book in 2014, a healthy cookbook to help families jump start special diets.

food-allergy-celiac-convention-wdw

Dr. Kendra and I discuss the upcoming Food Allergy and Celiac Convention and a myriad of issues surrounding food allergies and how they affect certain conditions such as Celiac, Asthma, Autism and Eczema.

Dr. Kendra is a self-described “Disney Nut” who loves Walt Disney World so much that she founded a travel company, Especially Magical Vacations, which specializes in Family vacations for families with special concerns!

You can contact Dr. Becker at:

Family Wellness Centre of Connecticut
181 Cross Rd
Waterford, CT 06385
860-572-7711
www.fwcct.com

You can also connect with her on Facebook.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our Tip of the Week involves my recommendations for Food Allergy-related Disney websites you may find helpful when planning your next Walt Disney World vacation!

The first is Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free at Walt Disney World, by Sarah Norris. Sarah, who is co-creator Celebrate Awareness, is a Florida resident whose dietary restrictions include gluten and dairy, along with special considerations related to Chron’s Disease. She provides frequent allergy-free Disney dining reviews and tips for gluten- and dairy-free, as well as vegetarian, dining in Walt Disney World (and more recently, the Disney Cruise Line) via her blog AND podcast.

Another Florida local who blogs about allergy-free dining is Alexis Solerno at Gluten Free in Orlando: Gluten Free Disney and Beyond. Alexis’ dietary restrictions involve gluten and special considerations related to Celiac and Hyperthyroidism. Alexis covers not only the Walt Disney World Resort but all of the greater Orlando area with dining reviews, gluten-free recipes and product reviews.

Last, but not least, please check out Pixie Lizzie’s site, Allergy Free Mouse. This site offers trip-planning tips, food allergy-related Disney dining reviews (including many submitted by readers) and a list of allergy-free foods you will find at the restaurants in Walt Disney World, Disneyland and on the Disney Cruise ships. Allergy Free Mouse goes beyond gluten and dairy, including the top eight food allergies (Peanut, Tree Nut, Dairy, Eggs, Wheat/Gluten, Soy, Fish and Shellfish).

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Please visit our new page at Speakpipe.com to leave a voice message from any browser!

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

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Military Disney Tips – A Veterans Day Special! 053

Today we are celebrating Veterans Day in the United States. I’m honored to be participating in a project called Voices for Vets. More than 45 podcasts have committed to producing an episode dedicated to providing a voice for the stories of Veterans. These are stories of Veterans for Veterans… and you! Please visit the Voices for Vets website to listen to more stories from our country’s heroes.

Did you know? During the fall of 1918, sixteen year-old Walt Disney attempted to enlist for military service but was rejected because he was underage. Determined to do his part “over there,” Walt joined the Red Cross Ambulance Service and was sent overseas to France where he spent a year driving an ambulance and chauffeuring Red Cross officials. His ambulance was covered, not with camouflage, but with his own cartoons.

Walt Red Cross

 

Our feature Voices for Vets interview is with Steve Bell, creator of militarydisneytips.com.  A USAF Veteran and former Walt Disney World Cast Member, Steve continues to serve the military community by acting as their unofficial advocate to the Disney Parks and by helping them plan for, and save money on, their Disney vacations.

Military--Disney-Tips-Steve

Some of the topics we discuss are:

– A little of Steve’s military service, both in the U.S. Air Force and in the Air Force Reserves.

– His experience as a Walt Disney World Cast Member.

– The origins of his website, created in 2008, for the benefit of active military and veterans.

– His advocacy for the military community regarding discounts. – The Disney Armed Forces Salute (resort and theme park ticket discounts for the U. S. military community.)

– The Shades of Green Resort, an Armed Forces Recreation Center located on Disney property.

– The daily Flag Retreat ceremony at the Magic Kingdom and participation by active military and veterans.

Flag Retreat

World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient Louis Lessure, 93, was visiting Magic Kingdom Park with his family when he was chosen to participate in the park’s daily flag retreat ceremony. (Disney Parks Blog)

– Steve’s best planning tips for military families planning to visit Walt Disney World.

– The impact of the Fast Pass Plus system on Military ticket discounts.

– Military dining discounts around Disney.

– What’s in store for the Military Disney Tips site.

Please visit Military Disney Tips and connect with Steve Bell on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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Thank you for sharing this special Veterans Day episode with me. To all our Veterans, on behalf of the Special Mouse listening community, thank you for the sacrifices that you and your families have made to safeguard our freedoms. ~Kathy

 

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Disneyland Trip Report with Aspergers and ADHD

Michelle_Ciaran

Michelle Young from Disney Dream Girls and her son Ciaran join Kathy for a chat about managing Aspergers and ADHD on their recent Disneyland / DCA vacation. 

We get a lot of Walt Disney World trip reports here on Special Mouse and while I love Walt Disney World, I’m always excited when we can branch out and give you listeners’ experiences at other Disney Parks. Michelle Young and her 14 year-old son, Ciaran, join me via Skype from Yorkshire, England. I want to thank Ciaran for being so open when sharing about his particular vacation challenges related to Aspergers and ADHD.

The pair had a jolly holiday that included Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm, lunch at Walt Disney’s favorite restaurant, The Tam O’ Shanter, and more! Included in our discussion is their experience using the Disability Access Service Card (DAS) at Disneyland and DCA and how the system varies slightly from that at Walt Disney World. And because Michelle’s son is a teenager, this TR contains a lot of dining reporting!

Connect with Michelle via the Disney Dream Girls Podcast and on Twitter and Facebook!

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 Tip of the Week: 

This question comes from Allison.

Allison asks: “Where are some good locations to charge ECVs and electric wheelchairs in the parks?”

I would think that parking your ECV near an outlet while you are at a meal or show would be the most convenient option, but since I personally don’t use an ECV, I posed the question to our Facebook group and we got some useful tips which I will pass along to you now:

Bruce says, “Almost all sit down restaurants know where to tell you to plug in. Same with first aid areas.” “In the Poly, second floor, by `Ohana, next to the men’s room, there is a convenient outlet. Retaurants like Le Cellier and Cape May, I plugged my scooter right by the check-in podium, at their invitation. At Trails End, they have outlets near the golf cart rentals, I’ve plugged in there. The Grand Concourse at the Contemporary has outlets.”

He believes that “Ride times are too short to have a decent charge on a scooter. Same with counter service meals. Only decent time is when you are sitting down for a meal.”

Dede says, “When I ate at prime time, in Hollywood Studios, there is a plug a little ways from the outside door on the left. They told me to use that. I tried using a plug next to my table but they wouldn’t let me because of fire laws.”

(Yes, it’s very important to remember that ECVs and wheelchairs are not permitted to block certain exit pathways in public areas.)

Sharon says, “A good rule of thumb is, anywhere there’s carpet, there needs to be an outlet to plug the vacuum cleaner in!”

Rae says, “The Tangled “Rest Area” in Magic Kingdom has stumps with standard 3-prong outlets plus USB outlets hidden behind a little door. You will see people using the outlets. It’s a nice place to hang out. You can get lunch from Columbia Harbour House and eat at one of the tables.”

(This is a lovely spot, Rae. The area is extremely popular at mealtime, so if you plan to eat here my advice is to arrive well ahead of mealtime and claim your spot early!)

And last, in the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” category, Tracy adds, “My boyfriend uses his own power wheelchair, I have been to Walt Disney World with him 12 times. He has never had to charge his chair during the day. He does a full charge each night and is good to go.”

Thanks, Group!

And for more information about ECVs at the parks, check out Podcast Episode 11, “FAQs for Scooter Newbies.”

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Don’t forget to drop me an email at specialmousepodcast@gmail.com so you can add your sound bite to our upcoming Thanksgiving episode!

Thanks for listening!

 

~ Kathy

 

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The Disabled Diva Dishes on Invisible Disabilities and Chronic Pain at Disneyland – 051

Tips for touring Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure with chronic pain due to Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Disc Disease and Psoriatic Arthritis.

IMAG0211_1

Today my guest is Cynthia Covert from Southern California. Cynthia is a wife, a mom, a self-described “Disney Addict” and author of The Disabled Diva Blog. We discuss living with chronic pain and how it affects the entire family. Other topics of discussion are tips for touring Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure with chronic pain and limited endurance, use of a wheelchair and wheelchair accessibility of the attractions, use of the DAS card at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, chronic pain management with medical marijuana, what to pack for your trip and the importance of choosing a comfortable and convenient hotel room.

Cynthia’s blog is The Disabled Diva’s Blog. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Her books are available on Amazon.com!

Chronic Pain, It’s a Family Affair

You Don’t Look Sick! What not to say to people who suffer from chronic pain.

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Our tip of the week comes from listener Melissa W. – “You no longer need to take a new picture every time you get a new DAS (Disability Access Service) Card. As long as you have with you the old DAS card that can be scanned, the picture is now saved and prints out on the new card. So quick!”

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gingerbread_run

As you may know, I’m a big supporter of the Give Kids the World Village in Central Florida. The GKTW Gingerbread Run 5K is an annual fundraiser that will be run on November 8, 2014. Even if you’re not in the Central FL area, you can participate in the Gingerbread Run as a virtual runner. Visit GingerbreadRun.org. and find out how you can register. All runners will receive an event t-shirt and a collectible Gingerbread Run medal. It’s a fun way to support GKTW and to inspire hope for families that need it most!

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If you have questions or ideas for topics for future episodes, please send them to me at specialmousepodcast@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening!

 

Kathy

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Disney DAS Card Survey Results 050

ATPs

 

Maureen from Autism at the Parks  joins Kathy to discuss the results of her informal Disney DAS Card survey, which was performed in September/October of 2014.  Maureen observes that, “The most significant conclusion drawn from the results was that almost half of the respondents are having difficultly using a system that is supposed to be helping them while visiting the parks.”

143 people responded to the survey. Elements of the survey included the following questions:

Demographics (age) of guest requiring the DAS accommodation.

How would you rate the difficulty of obtaining the DAS Card?

Did you receive any accommodations in addition to the DAS Card, such as the Stroller-as-Wheelchair Tag or Re-Ads?

Please indicate how difficult it was to use the DAS Card at the parks.

After we covered the survey results we discussed recommendations to help improve the DAS Card experience while remaining an equitable accommodation for guests with disabilities.

 

Here is the LINK to Maureen’s blog post where you can read about the DAS Card survey in detail.

You can connect with Autism at the Parks on TWITTER, on FACEBOOK, and on PINTEREST.

 

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Mousekeeping:

Congratulations to the following listeners who are advancing to Round 2 of the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search, 2015: James & Lisa Cameron, Didi Marie, Jackie Psarianos, Nora Stevens and Missy Sizemore. We wish you the best of luck! About the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

Listener Mark Sumonka shared that his service dog, Bingo, was featured on the Animal Planet TV Special, America’s Cutest: Disney Side Howl-o-ween.

And finally, the announcement you’ve all been waiting for, the winner of the Special Mouse podcast 50th Episode $50 Disney Gift Card Giveaway is — Matt Harbin! Matt is a disabled veteran who uses a wheelchair. He lives in the state of Washington and although Disneyland is his “home” resort, he is planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon. That gift card should come in handy then! Congratulations, Matt, and thanks to all of you who have supported the show throughout the past 50 episodes!

 

~ Kathy

 

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Listener Q and A and a Toy Story Midway Mania Monologue 049

Kathy answers questions about Magic Bands and resort room accessibility, RFID technology and insulin pumps, piped-in odors in attractions and COPD, and more. Toy Story Midway Mania Testing and the DAS

TSMM

Questions and Answers:

Q. From Bruce: Going solo to Walt Disney World with a scooter, I always have problems entering my room. First: using my Magic Band to open the door. All the readers are above the handle. Am I the only person who has problems doing mickey to mickey while sitting in the scooter? Next: trying to get my scooter into the room past the door. Disney does have special handicap rooms. Do you think it would be useful to install an auxiliary Magic Band reader that will automatically open the door for you?

A. I think this would make a lot of sense, Bruce! Currently the accessible rooms use the same Magic Band readers as all the other rooms. You are not alone, Bruce! Several members of the Special Mouse community group mentioned having difficulty with wrist flexibility which makes it difficult to open their doors using the Magic Band.

Michael says he found that turning the Mickey ears around so they are facing palm down improves the ability to make the contact with the sensor.

Well, Bruce, in my opinion, it really doesn’t make sense not to position the sensor for the person in the w/c or scooter a bit lower in the accessible rooms. Doesn’t make sense not to position the sensor for the person in the w/c or scooter. It assumes dependence: that the person seated always has a travel companion that will open the door for them if needed. Sounds like a good feedback item to communicate during the Customer Satisfaction surveys that Disney is so fond of using!

As to having difficulty riding your scooter through the door when you are alone, there are plenty of others who share your problem. Gale mentions that she regularly struggles unless there is another person to hold the door open due to the automatic closing mechanism. She says, “I think there should maybe be some sort of sensor where the door will not close as long as something is blocking it…like a person or scooter or even the luggage cart.”

Sue has stayed often at WDW with her daughter who uses a wheelchair and she reports that guests can call Engineering and get the automatic door closer disabled while you are staying in an accessible room, but warns that the door is still heavy, and you have to make sure it closes behind you. Stephen clarifies that only guests staying in accessible rooms have the option of disabling the automatic door closing device.

 

Q: Jennifer asks, “What kind of additional accommodations does Guest Services offer? I am taking my son with Autism to WDW for the first time in November so all of this info is very helpful.”

A: Jennifer, upon request, the two most common accommodations that are being provided to some guests on the Autism Spectrum, in addition to the DAS (Disability Access Service Card) are:

(1) Paper FastPasses good for only one-park-one-day for a particular attraction if your child obsesses about riding more than once in a row and

(2) Your first return time being written on your DAS card by the CM at Guest Relations for the attraction of your choice. This second one is offered less commonly than the first. The distribution of any additional accommodations are determined at the discretion of the CM at Guest Relations and are not guaranteed; it is generally believed they are available based upon supply and demand.
If you have questions about requesting Disney’s DAS Card, please visit specialmouse.com and visit either the blog or the podcast page. In the sidebars you will find out how to have The Special Mouse Guide to Requesting Disney’s DAS Card sent directly to you via email.
This next question came in via Twitter as a response to the latest post on the Special Mouse blog. (Yes, we have a blog!) The post in question is “Princesses with Pumps: Touring WDW with an Insulin Pump.”

Q: Morgan wants to know if guests have had any issues with RFID interfering with their blood sugar monitoring devices while at Walt DisneyWorld.

A. Morgan, this question has come up a lot since Disney implemented the Magic Band technology in the theme parks and resorts. MagicBands use Radio Frequency technology to allow you to touch to enter your Disney Resort hotel room and the Walt Disney World parks, make purchases at select locations, and access the FastPass+ attractions and shows you’ve selected.
RFID technology has been used for some time in credit cards, in highway toll paying such as EZPass or SunPass, in some video game controllers so if you haven’t had a problem with these, chances are you will not have a problem at Disney. HOWEVER,

It should be noted that the MagicBand packaging does include a few medical notices, particularly for guests using implanted pacemakers or defibrillators. If you use these or any other medical device such as an insulin pump, neurostimulator, or hearing aid, you’re encouraged to seek medical counsel about RFID interaction with your medical device.

Unrelated to the RFID, there have been a few reports on DisBoards of guests having some problems with insulin pumps malfunctioning on rides that use strong magnetic fields such as Rock and Roller Coaster and Tomorrowland Transit Authority. (There have also been many reports of people having no problems at all), but it would not be unreasonable to consider disconnecting the pump or turning it off when going on these kinds of rides.

Please remember that each model of insulin pump is different so I agree that the most sensible thing to do is to check with the manufacturer of your device directly.

 

Q: Whitney asks: I’ve read on a couple of different sites that some of the rides have smells pumped into them. Are these smells super strong, or are they just kind of faint hints of smell? My grandmother has COPD and will have coughing fits if she’s trapped in an area with really strong smells, like Bath and Body Works, for example. Do you think these rides will be bothersome to her?

A: There are indeed Rides/Attractions With Purposely Piped-In Scents, some pleasant and some unpleasant:

Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Magic Kingdom, you can smell the pie during the “Be our Guest” sequence.
Soarin’, Epcot. Smell the pine forests and orange groves of California.
Spaceship Earth, Epcot. Oddly enough, many people enjoy the smell of Rome burning (myself included.)

Some of the unpleasant piped-in smells are found at:
Stitch’s Great Escape, Magic Kingdom. Stitch belches chili dog, in your face.
Journey into Imagination, Epcot. Figment as a Skunk!
It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Animal Kingdom. The stink bug IS stinky!

Whitney, I think that the key phrase in your question is “if she’s trapped in an area,” which I take it to mean “a confined space” might these smells be bothersome and cause her to cough.

Let’s look at the examples from that perspective:

On Spaceship Earth and Journey into Imagination, you are in a ride vehicle that moves you quickly through the smells, preventing you from becoming overwhelmed. On the other hand, when you experience Mickey’s Philharmagic, ITTBAB and Stitch you are pretty much stuck in one place and must wait for the odor – whether pleasant or unpleasant – to dissipate. (It may SEEM like you’re moving through those orange groves on Soarin’, but the scented spray actually comes from your own seat, which is fixed.)

In general, these artificial odors are harmless. But there is no one “right” answer to this question. For example, one of the members in our FB group says that HE uses 3 inhalers, nasal spray and an antihistamine daily … and none of the smells used by Disney bother him. But Whitney, he is not your grandmother! If your grandmother is particularly sensitive to smells, and feels they may aggregate her medical condition, common sense should tell her to sit those attractions out.

Sometimes the artificial smells don’t necessarily cause breathing difficulties, they are just downright unpleasant! One of our group members writes,

“I am very sensitive to smells even when most people don’t notice them. I don’t go on Journey Into Imagination, Stitch or any 3D/4D movies. I think those are the only attractions that add smells. The biggest problem that I notice with smells are the lobbies of the resorts (especially noticeable at the Grand Floridian and Contemporary) and all of the restrooms in the parks. They pump smells into those areas especially and sometimes they can be very strong. At times I need to leave or rush through these areas quickly to avoid feeling sick..”

Good to know; sometimes it’s just trial-and-error when it comes to figuring out what will bother you sensory-wise.
Whitney, please tweet me and let me know how things turned out! I wish you and your grandmother a pixie-dusted Disney vacation full of magical memories!
And, if YOU have any comments or questions about Disney travel with special needs, I would LOVE to hear them! You can Tweet me, Kathy, @SpecialMousePod or send an e-mail to specialmousepodcast@gmail.com. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it for you!

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Special “Thank You” to friend of the show, Michael Carrasco, for his recurring donation. I appreciate your support!

If you would like to show your support for Special Mouse, please visit the DONATE page. Thanks!

 

~ Kathy

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Disney Frankness on Touring Walt Disney World with an ECV and Oxygen Therapy 048

Frank1

Frank Rogers, host of the Disney-themed vidcast “Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride,” discusses theme park touring with multiple disabilities. Some of the topics that came up during our chat are:

  • Using an Electronic Conveyance Vehicle (ECV) in the theme parks
  • Using portable oxygen in the theme parks
  • Disney’s accommodation of guests with disabilities
  • The importance of a positive outlook and a good support system for people with disabilities

Mr.Frank

Frank and his co-hosts deliver a healthy dose of “Disney Talk, Mayhem, and Mirth” on Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride, a podcast and vidcast. Check it out! Connect with him on Twitter @DisneyFrankness.

Frank asks that you kindly visit Thank You Walt Disney to learn more about the efforts that are being made toward the historical restoration of Laugh-O-Gram, Walt Disney’s first animation studio located in Kansas City, MO.

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Tip of the Week: This week’s tip(s) come from members of the Special Mouse Community Group on Facebook.

From Sam Tubbs: “Whilst we are all talking DAS, as a parent of two HF (High-functioning Autism) kids, I would just like to say “All hail Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom!”
This was our God send. In fact-it even took over from wanting to ride!  It certainly kept us busy in areas whilst waiting for FP+ or DAS times to come up.”

From Sue Mickelson: “Here’s another one your kids might like: A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas – an interactive game in Adventureland. We have not played it, but I have seen other people doing it and it looks like it might be fun.”

From Jeanette Lynne: “Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom kept my kids very excited (even for my 13 year old.)”

The takeaway here is that it’s not only about “the rides!” Many children thoroughly enjoy playing these interactive games; particularly detail-oriented kids who find audio-visual elements of the games highly engaging.

The best thing? Participation is included in theme park admission.

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Don’t forget to enter our 50th Episode Celebratory Giveaway!

 Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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Cruising with OI and a Wheelchair on the Disney Cruise Line – 047

Mike_Greer

Mike Greer uses a wheelchair because of mobility issues related to Osteogenesis Imperfecta. He joins Kathy to discuss his experiences cruising with the Disney Cruise Line.

Mike, who hails from Ontario, Canada, has sailed on three of the four Disney Cruise ships to the Bahamas and both the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Some of the things we talk about are:

  • Pre-Cruise Planning
  • Boarding and Check-in
  • Accessible Staterooms
  • Safety Check
  • Accessibility around the ship/ship’s activities
  • Dining
  • Bahamas Itinerary/Accessibility of Port Adventures
  • Disney’s Castaway Cay Island
  • Accessibility of Shore Excursions on Castaway Cay
  • General thoughts about cruising with the Disney Cruise Line

Connect with Mike on Twitter and on Facebook.

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This episode is sponsored by by Scooter Vacationsthe only Orlando scooter rental company to provide concise weight ratings to ensure a 12-15 hour theme park ride time at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or Sea World.

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Our Tip of the Week comes from community member, Diane Leibold: “September is the best time of year to go to Walt Disney World. Less crowded and much easier on our special kids!”

(She really means it; her family is vacationing at Walt Disney World right now!)

I agree, Diane, and thanks for the tip! Our family’s first Walt Disney World vacation was in early September, 2003. And although we still had to battle the summertime heat, the crowd level was delightful. If your children are young enough so that missing a week of school isn’t detrimental, then do it! September at Walt Disney World is great.

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Join our awesome PRIVATE Facebook group by posting a request HERE. This is a friendly, safe place for listeners of the podcast to connect and share their thoughts on Disney travel with special needs and disabilities.

 

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

 

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What a Dog! Disney with a Service Dog 046

 

Lady and Tramp

 

Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line travel with your Service Dog.

Kathy is joined by Gordon LaGrow, an SNG-certified special needs travel advocate and owner of Vacation with the Magic. Gordon has abundant first-hand travel experience both at Walt Disney World and with the Disney Cruise Line accompanied by his medical service dogs, Tasha and later, Tasha 2.0.

   Tasha

Tasha 2.0

Some of the topics we discuss are:

1. What is the difference between a service dog and a companion dog?  What jobs do these dogs perform and in what ways do they help people with disabilities or health conditions?

2. What are some transportation considerations for guests traveling with a service dog — Veterinarian, TSA regulations, Documents, etc. Do trained service dogs need to be certified?

4. What are Disney’s specific policies regarding service dogs in the hotels, parks and on the cruise line?

5. Restricted locations/Break areas in the theme parks.

6. General tips: what to bring for a day in the park, how do you handle people wanting to pet your dog, the importance of ensuring that your dog gets adequate rest/hydration, etc.

You can connect with Gordon on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+ and PINTEREST.

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TIP OF THE WEEK:  This tip comes from Facebook Community Member, Ashley Riggs: “Many resorts will allow you to ship essentials prior to your arrival, such as diapering items, wipes, dry goods. This will save you considerable room in your luggage! I plan to order using my amazon prime account, which includes free shipping right before our trip!”

Great tip, Ashley! Added tip: be sure the package is sent to the same name your reservation was made under.

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Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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5 Kids + 2 DAS Cards = 1 Magical Walt Disney World Vacation! 045

Walt Disney World with multiple kids and multiple special needs: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Jeanette & Family

Jeanette & Family

Kathy chats with Jeanette, a fellow Jersey Girl (and R.N.) who is probably still unpacking from her family’s late summer vacation at Walt Disney World! She and her husband are the proud parents of: Brandon (13), Madison (9) who has Social Anxiety and OCD, Kate (8), Bree (7) and Brian (5) who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In this episode, Jeanette gives a trip report from the family’s WDW vacation in August, 2014.

(Intro music to the segment is “Go With the Flow” from Finding Nemo: The Musical, which can be seen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.)

The family had a short Universal-based vacation this past December, 2013, and had the opportunity to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) at the Magic Kingdom. At that time, Jeanette feels that the crowds and the inability to utilize FP+ had a negative effect on their experience at the Magic Kingdom, resulting in multiple meltdowns for her two special-needs children. This made her quite apprehensive about their upcoming Walt Disney World vacation. We discussed planning for the August vacation, particularly the use of the new FastPass Plus reservation system and the DAS, Disability Access Service Card, system.

Jeanette was pleasantly surprised at the ease with which she was able to obtain the Disability Access Service Card for her two children. A DAS card for each child gives the family of seven the ability to split up and continue to provide accommodation to their special-needs kids (or, to allow Jeanette the ability to return to the resort with one or more children if they have become overwhelmed and need a break.) She had made a point of contacting Disney’s Disabilities Relations Department and listening to the Special Mouse podcast in advance of her trip in order to familiarize herself with the Disability Access Service Card program.

We discussed Jeanette’s impression of their resort, Disney’s Old Key West, including the spaciousness of the accommodations and the quality of the resort and internal bus system.

The recurring theme of the trip report is that, despite the most attentive of planning, the family had a positive and enjoyable experience primarily because the parents adopted the attitude of flexibility and “going with the flow.”

Bree & Brian Jr. chatting with Elsa

Bree & Brian Jr. chatting with Elsa

Thanks, Jeanette, for sharing your trip and your lovely family with us!

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This episode is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, specializing in helping families with Special Needs and Disabilities plan and create lasting magical memories , and by Scooter Vacationsthe only Orlando scooter rental company to provide concise weight ratings to ensure a 12-15 hour theme park ride time at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or Sea World.

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You can connect with Jeanette on Facebook HERE.

Join our awesome PRIVATE Facebook group by posting a request HERE. This is a friendly, safe place for listeners of the podcast to connect and share their thoughts on Disney travel with special needs and disabilities.

Thanks for listening!

~Kathy

 

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The Law of Attraction and Air Travel with a Power Wheelchair – 044

airplane-sunset-300x217

 

Kathy discusses special-needs Disney travel and the Law of Attraction, plus air travel with a power wheelchair on this “solo flight” episode! 

There’s no guest this week, so as Mr. Incredible would say, “you’ve got me monologuing!” I’m acting on one of the takeaways from Podcast Movement and giving you an actionable tip about keeping a healthy attitude towards travel with additional challenges by observing the Law of Attraction. In a nutshell: stay positive so you don’t attract negative stuff!

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This episode is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, specializing in helping families with Special Needs and Disabilities plan and create lasting magical memories , and by Scooter Vacations, the only Orlando scooter rental company to provide concise weight ratings to ensure a 12-15 hour theme park ride time at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or Sea World.

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One of the best things about the Special Mouse Podcast community group on Facebook is that it gives listeners a chance to ask travel questions of, and give valuable insight to, other members of the group. It’s especially helpful to hear from experienced Disney travelers who share your particular challenges. Recently we had a question that I thought would make for an excellent show topic so, here we go:

Tricia asks:  Hi everyone! It looks like our next Walt Disney World trip is going to be a little more special than expected — my sister-in-law and our niece are going to join us! Our niece has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair. We’re not worried about her once we get to WDW, but has anyone had any experience with flying with a wheelchair? Will the airline let her stay in her chair for the flight, or will he have to transfer to an airline seat and check the chair in the baggage hold? Thanks!

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate all airports and airlines operating within the United States to be fully accessible to disabled travelers and for their assistive equipment. With few exceptions, power chair users should expect to receive these accessible services:

  • Wheelchair accessible parking near the airport terminal
  • Shuttle service to parking lots, airport terminals, and/or hotels
  • Access to  ticket kiosks, baggage check areas, security checkpoints, etc.
  • Accessible restrooms throughout the terminal
  • Complimentary wheelchairs for passenger use, as needed
  • ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps and/or mechanical lifts
  • Preferential pre-boarding and priority seating
  • Storage for power chairs, scooters and other devices
  • Assistance with luggage, boarding and deplaning

It is my understanding that travelers who use wheelchairs, whether motorized or not, are required to transfer to a seat on the plane and check their motorized wheelchairs as baggage. The airline may provide a folding wheelchair to help squeeze through the narrow airplane aisle.

Special Mouse listeners chime in with their advice:

Paula writes: “She can stay in the chair until boarding. They will gate-check the chair at no charge to her. I would take off anything that is removable and carry it on with you (no charge for that either). I would also take a picture of all sides of the chair. I’ve never had anything happen to mine, but it is always better to be safe than sorry!”

Tracy writes:  “Call the airline before your flight date to talk about their procedures and what you need to do when you get to the airport. Ask where you need to check the chair.

Once you get to the airport, you will fill out paperwork asking several questions about the chair such as color, weight, type of batteries, etc. You should note any damage or wear and tear when checking the chair in.

Take pictures of the chair before you get on the flight.

Take anything off that is detachable…seat, foot rests, headrest, etc. Stow these items inside the plane with you.

Give them instructions about how you want the chair to be treated. Bill has a custom back and we tell them specifically to NOT detach the back. I got some of the blank luggage tags at the airport and wrote, “Do not remove back” and placed them on several parts of the chair.

Know how to turn the power off and on and how to disengage the motors to be able to put the chair into manual, they might ask you how to do this. We don’t mind if the airline keeps the power on to get the chair down on the tarmac; Bill turns it down to the lowest setting. Some people prefer to have them not use the power but some power chairs are extremely hard to push in manual so we don’t do that.

If the person is unable to walk there are aisle chairs to help. I am unsure how much the flight attendants can help since I am able to lift Bill and put him in a seat.”

(The answer is, no. Flight attendants are not required to assist you with transfers to either your seat or to the restroom. And in truth, you wouldn’t want untrained individuals assisting with transfers because they could hurt either you or themselves in the process. – Kathy)

“You will be one of the last people of the plane. I gather our belongings including all the detachables and place them just outside the plane door. When the chair arrives they will be ready for me to get Bill and go, but I take time to look over the wheelchair to make sure everything is okay. After re-attaching everything I place Bill in the chair. Once we are clear of the gate Bill makes sure that the chair drives correctly.”

Matthew writes: “I would add a few more things, as I have had my chair damaged when I went to Disneyland and Disney World. Trust me, you don’t want to get to the parks and have a power wheelchair not work. Take the control/joy stick off when she boards the plane, also take the cushion as she may be able to use it in the plane or you can put it in the overhead compartment. Dis-engage the drive motors when she gets out of the chair, it should have a lever on each motor.”

From wheelchair.com: It is very important to know how to disconnect the power from the batteries when you get to the aircraft. Locate the cable and mark each half of the connector with yellow tape. Practice separating and reconnecting the connectors. This may keep them from pulling your batteries out of the chair. If you cannot disconnect the joystick on your chair model, you may want to consider bringing along some bubble wrap and packing tape to protect it and any other areas that are likely to become damaged.

“When they bring the chair to you, look it over before you accept it. I have had damage done to part of the frame of the chair that I didn’t see, but my daughter did. So due diligence is needed when flying.

The airlines will ask what the chair weighs and also what type of battery it has. I would recommend having the information before you get to the airport. Always check in with the gate personnel when you get to your gate, as they will need to know if you need an aisle chair and what they can do to help you get to the seat, and the information about the chair. It can become stressful flying when your use a power wheelchair, but if you just do these few things and remember to have fun, you will make it much easier. I have found out that the more I fly, the easier it gets and the less stressful it becomes.”

From sath.org (The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality): There are two types of batteries used in motorized wheelchairs: wet acid batteries or dry cell (gel) batteries. If your wheelchair is older and has a wet acid battery you should check with the airline, as a leaking battery inflight can be dangerous. It will be necessary for baggage handlers to remove the battery and place it in a special container. This requires that you be at the airport at least three hours before departure.

Most modern power-operated wheelchairs have some form of dry cell safety battery so that they can be carried without risk of damage to the aircraft. However, it may be necessary for baggage handlers to disconnect the leads from the terminal and to cap them to avoid shorting. This may take some time, so you will have to preboard. It may be necessary to transfer you to a special aisle wheelchair in the air terminal, and be prepared for the fact that there may be a delay on arrival before your chair is available.

The airlines are responsible for ensuring that your battery is reconnected and that your chair is working on arrival at your destination.

Regarding the weight of your power chair, this is very important information because airlines have varying limits when it comes to weight. Each airline should be able to tell you whether the weight of a particular model wheelchair falls under the limits at the time of your ticket purchase.

In the event of a problem with airport or inflight personnel, you should require them to contact the Complaints Resolution Officer (CRO), who must always be available and willing to deal with your grievance. They cannot refuse. However, to avoid problems, make sure that you let the airline know your needs as early as possible. Also, make sure you have adequate insurance to cover damages to or loss of your wheelchair or scooter as well as personal injury.

Under the ACCA, U.S. airlines are responsible for all repairs to damaged wheelchairs. However, if the chair is lost or damaged beyond repair, the airlines are only responsible for the original purchase price. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know both the purchase price and the replacement cost of their assistive devices and to be aware of the difference between these two figures. If the difference is substantial, you may want to carry additional insurance with a high deductible to cover this gap.

It’s also important to remember to report any damage to your wheelchair immediately. In most cases this means before you leave the airport. The airline may deny a claim if they feel it is not filed in a timely manner. Additionally, under the ACCA, airlines are not required to respond to complaints that are more than 45 days old.

If you are unwilling to risk damage to your power wheelchair there is another alternative — if possible, don’t bring it!

Skip writes: “I cannot fly commercial with the power chair. We take the Convaid stroller on commercial flights.”

The bottom Line: Do what is best for you!

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Links:

How to Travel by Air with a Wheelchair – sath.org

Air Travel Tips for Power Wheelchairs – wheelchairtraveling.com

On a Wing and a Prayer: Protecting Your Equipment – barrierfreetravel.net

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These were some valuable tips! If you would like to join our private group on Facebook, email me at specialmousepodcast@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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