Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::start_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::end_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::start_el() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::start_el(&$output, $item, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::end_el() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::end_el(&$output, $item, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_gallery_walker::start_el() should be compatible with Walker_Category::start_el(&$output, $category, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 154

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method truethemes_sidebar_generator::init() should not be called statically in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 525

Strict Standards: Non-static method truethemes_sidebar_generator::get_sidebars() should not be called statically in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/extended/multiple_sidebars.php on line 60
Accessible Attractions Archives - Special Mouse - Unofficial Disney Parks and Travel for Your Special Needs Special Mouse – Unofficial Disney Parks and Travel for Your Special Needs
Special Mouse – Unofficial Disney Parks and Travel for Your Special Needs

Special Mouse Podcast

Posts Tagged 'Accessible Attractions'

WDW Attraction Vehicle & Seating Guide – Animal Kingdom – 064

Part 4 of a discussion with Erin Foster about accessibility and sensory concerns of attraction vehicles and seating at the Walt Disney World theme parks. Today we visit Animal Kingdom!

We break down  all of the Attractions and Shows by:

– Seating capacity per row

– Seating capacity per attraction vehicle

– Wheelchair accessibility

– ECV or Scooter accessibility

-Stroller accessibility

– Seating surface

– Safety restraints

– Boarding procedure

– Height requirement

– Sensory issues: sights, sounds, smells, motion

You can read Erin’s original blog Here.

 

We also touched on The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line 2015, which Erin co-authored with Len Testa and Laurel Stewart.

UG DCL

 

Tip of the Week:

Today’s tip is in response to a listener question about the Kids Clubs on Disney Cruise ships. Jennifer asks,

“On a cruise if my daughter wants to be in the kid’s club, which I’m sure she will, if she is suppose to get certain meds at certain times will I have to go there and do it? Can I leave the meds with the cast members in there to give to her at those times? How does this work? She is on meds 4 times a day.”

Answer:  Unfortunately, Disney Cruise Line Kids Club counselors are not permitted to administer medications to children due to liability reasons. You will need to either (1) schedule your daughter’s visits around her medication schedule or (2) stop in and give her the medications yourself. You will be given a “sea phone” so that you can communicate with counselors while your daughter is playing in the activity center. For more information about DCL Kids Clubs you can visit the DCL website.

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

Thank you to all who voted for Special Mouse in the 10th Annual NMX People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Results will be announced mid-April.

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

Please check out our new affiliate, Mom-Approved Costumes! Sensory-friendly, machine washable Disney dress-up clothes.

You will be given a savings coupon code and Special Mouse will earn a small commission if you make your purchases using the link in the sidebar, right >>>>>>>>>

It’s a fun and easy way to help support the show!

 

Thanks for listening,

 

Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

WDW Attraction Vehicle & Seating Guide, Part Three: Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 063

BillandTracy

 

Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times; we’re taking a practical look at the accessibility of vehicles and seating found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including

– Seating capacity per row
– Seating capacity per vehicle
– ECV and wheelchair accessibility
– Seating surface
– Safety restraints
– Boarding procedure
– Height requirement
– Sensory issues

Tip of the Week: Information and a bit of etiquette advice regarding posting questions about Disney’s DAS Card in groups and discussion forums.  How to navigate Disney’s website to find information for Guests with Disabilities.

 

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

WDW Attraction Vehicle and Seating Guide, Part Two: Epcot – 061

Part 2 of a discussion with Erin Foster about Epcot’s attraction vehicle and seating accessibility and more!

Land

Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times; we’re taking a practical look at the accessibility of vehicles and seating found at Epcot, including

  • Seating capacity per row
  • Seating capacity per vehicle
  • ECV and wheelchair accessibility
  • Seating surface
  • Safety restraints
  • Boarding procedure
  • Height requirement
  • Sensory issues

 

Tip of the Week:

This week I have a question from Rae who asks about the ECV and wheelchair accessibility of the water taxis that run between Port Orleans & Port Riverside and the Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) area.

I’m happy to report that they are accessible, unlike the smaller water taxis that run between the Magic Kingdom and the Monorail Resorts (The Polynesian, The Contemporary and The Grand Floridian). This is important to know if you are staying at one of these resorts and are using a scooter or ECV because you will need to use the monorail to get to and from the Magic Kingdom.

Also, some of the smaller launches that run between the Magic Kingdom and the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resort do not accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, but some of the larger ones do. So, make sure you check the signage when you queue up at the dock before you spend time waiting for a boat that cannot accommodate you. It’s also important to remember that none of these boats run if there is lightning danger, heavy rains or high winds.

Thanks for listening,

 

Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

WDW Attraction Vehicles and Seating Guide, Part One: Magic Kingdom 060

PPan

 

Erin Foster, original member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line (2015 edition), joins Kathy to discuss her recent four-part blog series at touringplans.com: Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating Guide. Today we take a practical look at the attractions and seating at the Magic Kingdom.

The questions that Erin originally set out to answer in her blog series were:

  • I’m a single parent with two small children, will I be separated from them on rides?
  • I’m a plus-sized person, can I fit into the ride vehicles without embarrassment?
  • My knees are bad, will I have to step up or down to get into the ride vehicles?
  • I’m in a wheelchair, do I have to transfer out of it to go on the rides?
  • I have a large party, how will we be split up when visiting the attractions?
  • I have balance issues, will the attraction vehicle be moving while I’m trying to board?

You can find her post here on Touring Plans.

We expand on this information to include elements of attraction vehicles and seating that have an impact on those with sensory issues and fears:

  • Darkness, bright lights
  • Loud Noises
  • Strong Smells
  • Spinning, Motion Sickness
  • Heights

Included in our discussion is an explanation of the Child Swap, Use of Strollers, Disney Parks policy on Cast Members assisting with transfers to ride vehicles, and the importance of following posted safety guidelines/recommendations (especially for guests who are pregnant or who have pre-existing heart, back and neck problems).

Tip of the Week:

For plus-size guests who may be concerned about ride vehicles that require the use of seat belts: some of the attractions provide seat belt extenders. Ask a cast member about availability at the entrance to an attraction if you are concerned about fitting into the traditional seat belt. You want to be both safe and comfortable!

Join us next time for Part Two of the Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating Guide when we look at Epcot.

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

 

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Disney Theme Park Accommodations for Guests with Disabilities: An Overview

 “To all who come to this happy place — welcome! Disneyland is your land.”

Walt Disney, Disneyland Opening Day Speech, 1955

waltopening

 

Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort have long been recognized as among the most inclusive and accessible vacation destinations in the world, largely because of the high standards of hospitality and customer service set by their namesake in the 1950’s.

Tradition notwithstanding, times do change and in many ways for the better. Improvements in health care and pharmacology are enabling adults to live longer. Advances in technology allow those with mobility challenges to maintain active lives within the community. Increased social awareness and acceptance of people with differing levels of functional ability provide greater opportunities for everyone to access and participate in travel and recreational activity, such as a theme-park vacation!

Given all this, it would be difficult to imagine a travel party that does not have at least one member with some sort of special need or health challenge.

On October 9, 2013, Disney completely overhauled its system for accommodating Guests with disabilities to coincide with the new FastPass+ System of reservations for high-volume attractions. If you’ve visited either the Disneyland or the Walt Disney World Resorts prior to this date and have utilized these accommodations, you’ll see that although Guests’ needs continue to be accommodated, the system has become more complex.

So, what does this mean for you as you plan your Disney vacation with extra challenges? Let’s look at what the parks offer for differently-abled Guests with special needs:

 

Before you arrive

Disney has information for Guests with Disabilities available for review on the official website. This should be your first stop when seeking information because it comes “straight from the Mouse’s mouth!”

Walt Disney World

Disneyland

 

At the Theme Parks

The Guide for Guests with Disabilities is a brochure that provides a detailed overview of services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities. It is available at Guest Relations locations within all 4 Disney Theme Parks, 2 Disney Water Parks, vacation planners, front desk and concierge areas, and wheelchair rental locations.

This guide provides a detailed overview of the services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities, including information about:

  • Parking
  • Companion restroom locations
  • Accessible drinking fountain locations
  • Auxiliary aids
  • Telephone assistance
  • Transportation facilities
  • Specific attraction entrance and boarding procedures, as some attractions allow Guests to remain in a wheelchair and some are transfer-accessible.

 

Additionally, Guests with specific disability concerns can visit Guest Relations at any of the Disney Theme Parks or Disney Water Parks for additional information and assistance.

Note the locations of the First Aid Station in each of the theme parks. First Aid Stations provide a place to store medications and spare oxygen tanks, or to receive assistance.

Disney offers several accommodations for Guests with visual and hearing challenges and for Guests who utilize trained service animals – for the most part, these have not changed.

Some examples of accommodations include:

  • Assistive Listening systems
  • Reflective Captioning
  • Sign Language interpretation
  • Text Typewriter telephones
  • Handheld Captioning
  • Video Captioning
  • Audio Description devices
  • Braille guidebooks
  • Digital audio tour

 

Handheld Accessibility Device

Image: Disney

 

The Disney Theme Parks welcome Trained Service Animals

It is important for you to know that Cast Members are not permitted to take control of service animals. Guests with service animals should follow the same attraction entrance guidelines as Guests who use wheelchairs.

Each Theme Park and allows Guests to use (backstage) locations for service animal relief areas. Please consult the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities, for specific information.

 

10943216_933854013293375_1294259386_o

Photo: Edward Crane, personal collection

 

Accelerated Access to Attractions

The accommodation that previously provided accelerated access to certain attractions based upon the ability of the guest to tolerate an extended wait in the queue is no longer being provided. Disney’s Guest Assistance Card (GAC) has been replaced with the Disability Access Service Card (DAS), which has been designed to work together with the FastPass+ system of attraction reservation. With the DAS, guests now receive a return time for attractions based on their current posted wait time.

 

Image: wdwdreamin

 

The official guide to the Disability Access Service Card   is available for download in PDF format. If you plan to request this accommodation, I highly recommend that you review the file thoroughly.  As with the GAC, requests for the DAS accommodation are made in person at Guest Relations located at the front of each of the four theme parks. Unlike FastPass+ reservations, procurement of the DAS is not available prior to your arrival at the theme park.

One noticeable change with this new system appears to be the way in which the Cast Members at Guest Relations are granting a particular accommodation based upon the Guest’s stated need, NOT their diagnosis or disability.

Needs based upon cognitive or sensory disabilities that make it difficult for the Guest to wait in the traditional queue are offered the DAS, which will provide the Guest with an alternate waiting environment. Guests who state that they their need is based upon mobility or endurance issues are offered the accommodation of wheelchair or ECV (scooter) rental if they do not already have their own assistive device and are offered the alternate entrance accommodation.

Guests are encouraged to utilize either of these accommodations in addition to the Fast Pass and FastPass+ reservation systems. Again, I urge you to review the official Disney Parks information prior to your arrival at the theme parks. There you will find a detailed description of how the accommodations are utilized.

 

Accommodation for Guests with Cognitive, Sensory and Mental Health Challenges

Disney has created a Resource for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities Including Autism Spectrum Disorder for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, also available as pdf files. Some of the information is applicable to Guests with Anxiety Disorders and PTSD, so even if the need is unrelated to Autism, it is worth a review.

 

Image: Disney

 

It is important for you to know that the American’s With Disabilities Act prohibits Disney from requesting “proof” of disability or even a specific diagnosis. You are, of course, free to divulge your diagnosis if you so choose.  However, Cast Members are being discouraged from accepting “doctor’s notes” that in past years could support the Guest’s request for accommodation.  This is to avoid the perception that Disney is requiring proof, which would be against Federal Law.

In addition, please be aware that Cast Members are not health care providers and most likely will not have a clear understanding of your needs if you simply provide them with a medical diagnosis. Therefore, it is important that the Guest or the Guest’s representative be able to clearly articulate the need.

While the DAS card is most commonly requested for use by Guests with cognitive, sensory, or mental health challenges, there are other invisible medical challenges for which a Guest may find the card useful. Again, it all depends upon the individual need. Some possible examples are:

  • Medical conditions that may result in a rapid change in blood sugar, necessitating immediate treatment
  • Medical conditions that may result in seizures, necessitating immediate treatment
  • Medical conditions that make it difficult for a Guest to wait in a traditional queue, yet preclude the Guest from utilizing a wheelchair or ECV

If there is more than one Guest in a travel party with the need for accommodation with a Disability Access Service Card, it is highly recommended that each Guest obtain his or her own card. This allows the guests to “split up” if needed and still make use of the accommodations.

The process sounds overwhelming, but it is easier than you may think to obtain the accommodations you need. To assist you, I have created an easy-to-read Guide to Requesting Disney’s DAS Card. To receive your guide directly to your inbox, please see the sidebar, above right.

 

Accommodations for Guests with Mobility and Endurance Challenges

Wheelchairs and Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs or “scooters”) are available for rent in all the theme parks.  Quantities are limited and they are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Guests are permitted to bring their own mobility assistive devices.

 

 

Boarding an Accessible Vehicle on the Jungle Cruise

Image: Disney

Guests using wheelchairs or ECVs are provided the accommodation of alternate entrance. It should be noted that, due to safety regulations concerning the number of mobility-impaired guests that may utilize an attraction at one time, the wait for a particular attraction may actually be longer when using this accommodation.  Options for boarding procedures are posted at the entrance to each attraction and may vary.

 

Multiple Disabilities

If the Guest has both a cognitive and a mobility disability, the Guest should request both accommodations.

 

Physical Access

Most attractions, restaurants, shops and shows are accessible to all Guests. In some cases, however, Guests may need the assistance of a member of their party to fully utilize these areas. Also, at some attractions Guests using wheelchairs may need to transfer from their wheelchairs onto an attraction vehicle. Disney Cast Members are not permitted to physically lift Guests from wheelchairs. Disney recommends that Guests who need assistance plan to visit with someone who can physically assist them, when necessary.

 

Prosthetic Devices

Although there are no written guidelines for Guests with prosthetic limbs, Disney Cast Members operating the attractions, particularly the “thrill” rides, may determine Guest safety on an individual basis. The deciding factor appears to be whether or not the Guest is able to brace him- or herself on the ride, with or without the prosthesis.

 

Prosthetic_Info_Sheet

 Image: Rae Augenstein, Personal Collection

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

The above information has been presented as a basic guide to the accommodations provided at the Disney Theme Parks. If you have additional questions regarding your individual needs that cannot be answered using the resources mentioned, you may contact the Resorts directly:

Walt Disney World Guest Communications

PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

You can also send an email to WDW.Guest.Communications@disneyworld.com; address it to Disability Relations in the subject line. Give them a phone number so that they can call. It sometimes takes 2-3 weeks, but someone from Disability Relations will call you to discuss your concerns.

DISNEYLAND Guest Communications

 P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92803-6161

Email DISNEYLAND.Guest.Communications@disneyland.com. Use Disability Relations in the subject line as above.

It's

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

Our Listener Community: Meet Bill! Traveling “The World” in a Power Wheelchair

 

Bill K.

 

Note: this article originally appeared in my ‘Faces in the Queue’ column on WDW Fan Zone.

 

The lift groaned softly as it hoisted its precious cargo higher and higher into the air. Three hundred-plus pounds of man and machine (mostly machine) locked into position with a shudder and a snap.  With mounting excitement, Bill prepared to board the Magical Express bus while seated in his power chair.  He chuckled to himself as he looked down… w-a-a-y down… at his nervous fiancé staring up at him from the pavement below.

Tracy caught sight of Bill’s face, saw the twinkle in his eyes, and realized she had been holding her breath. She exhaled deeply, willing herself to relax.  “I have to stop worrying so much,” she thought as she smiled up at her Prince Charming. Bill could always make her feel as though everything would be all right. “But I will never get used to seeing him hanging off the side of the bus like that!” she thought. Once he was safely inside, she boarded the bus that would take them to the Pop Century resort. But instead of sitting next to Bill, she pulled out her camera and slid into the front seat!  She just had to get that perfect shot of the sign welcoming guests to Walt Disney World!

Bill watched her making her preparations and smiled. Then his smile grew to an all-out grin as he anticipated her reaction to the flower arrangement that would greet her as she entered their room at Pop.  This romantic gesture had become a tradition for him and every trip it produced a satisfying flood of happy tears from his sentimental fiancé.

Bill had introduced Tracy to WDW in 2006, just a little over a year after they had begun dating.  Although he had visited the World several times previously, she had been a bit apprehensive before their trip and had thrown herself into a flurry of research.  Thirty-six years of living with the effects of Cerebral Palsy had strengthened Bill both mentally and emotionally, but Tracy wasn’t entirely sure he would be up to it physically.

Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain injury that affects the way the brain controls muscle movements. Not everyone who has CP shares the same number or severity of symptoms, but all have problems with mobility and balance. Bill’s CP affects his muscles to such a degree that he is unable to walk and must be physically transferred in and out of his wheelchair. He has muscle spasms hundreds of times each day and constant pain in his right ankle. He only has the use of his left hand because his right hand stays closed and that arm is prone to sudden, involuntary movements… he calls it “Wild Thing!”

Every single activity of daily living is a challenge for Bill.  Yet here he was, asking his girlfriend… a self-proclaimed worry-wart… to go on what she thought would be a grueling theme park vacation! He used his best powers of persuasion and eventually Tracy decided it was useless trying to resist. “I look into those deep blue eyes and I just melt!” On that vacation she fell in love with Walt Disney World almost as quickly as she had fallen in love with him.  Four years later they took their eighth trip to Disney together.

I caught up with Bill recently and asked him about his passion for Walt Disney World and what his thoughts were on Disney’s extraordinary ability to accommodate guests with special needs.

BillandTracy

 

KATHY:  Bill, you recently visited WDW for the thirteenth time; I suppose you could say you’re a big fan!

 

BILL:  Yes I am a big WDW fan. My first time was my 10th birthday and enjoyed every minute of it.

 

KATHY:  I’d like to talk about how and why you’ve developed a passion for the World.

 

BILL:  The main reason is it is very wheelchair accessible. When Disney creates a new ride they always try to design it so users can stay in our chairs.

 

KATHY:  You have multiple physical challenges because of your CP: muscle spasms, balance & mobility issues, and speech that can be difficult to understand for those who don’t know your speech pattern. How do you manage all that and still have such boundless energy and enthusiasm for WDW?

 

BILL: I don’t let my disability get the best of me.  I try to live my life to the fullest, there is always a way to make the muscle spasms not as severe.  When I get to WDW I forget about the pain, there is so much going on my mind doesn’t focus on it.  As for having enthusiasm for WDW, I feel normal there.  Most CM’s [Cast Members] go out of the way to make me feel special but not because of my disability.

 

KATHY: Tracy has said that you two love Disney because you are accepted for what you are and not what you look like. Tell me more!

 

BILL:  People don’t talk down to me there, like I have a mental disability as well as a physical.  That happens a lot in the “real world”.  Many people in our town shy away from people with disabilities; they don’t know what to say so they don’t say anything.  At WDW people, both guests and CM’s, talk to each other.  No one knows a stranger, people say hi, if you have a button on you are congratulated.  People talk to me about my pins, if I am having a good day in the park, and ask me questions about accessibility.  I have even been mistaken for a CM 3 times in one day and that made me feel wonderful.  It let me see that people were more accepting of CM’s in wheelchairs.

 

KATHY:  Do you see yourself working as a Cast Member one day?

 

BILL: That is a dream of mine.  I would love to work in special events, coordinating the accessiblity of things.  It would be wonderful to work in the department that deals with accessiblity in the parks.  If we ever move to Florida Tracy and I really want to volunteer for Give Kids the World too.

 

Kathy: That’s an amazing organization.

[Give Kids The World is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need.]

 Kathy: Another thing that I find amazing is that you’ve earned not one but three college degrees and recently completed you Master’s in rehabilitation management. Whew!

 

BILL:  I did get burned out at times, but I wanted to complete my degrees.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my family and Tracy.  I am hoping with all my schooling a potential employer will look past my disability and see my mind, my personality, and that I go after what I want.

 

KATHY:  You’re a big, big Star Wars fan… and a fan of Yoda in particular. He’s known to have said, “Try? There is no try… do!  Do you think that describes your personality?

 

BILL:  I have that tee shirt, yes it describes my personality.   I don’t take no for an answer.  If there is one way I am not able to do something, I find other ways of getting it done.  A teacher once told our class “if you want something you have to go to it, it won’t come to you” and I always remembered that.

 

KATHY: I’m sure that this kind of attitude is born from a lifetime of overcoming so many obstacles that able-bodied people don’t have to contend with.

 

BILL: I was very lucky, my parents always supported what I wanted to do and helped me overcome things that got in my way.  I want to summer camps with persons with disabilities and it helped me see I could do things.  The object of the camp was to help me grow as a person and not be shy.  They helped me to see I could do many things if I worked hard enough.

 

KATHY: Yet our differences seem to blur at Walt Disney World… why do you think that’s so?

 

BILL: There is a common bond, our love for Disney.  They make it where able bodied and persons with disabilities can enjoy experiences together.

 

KATHY: And that’s why you’ve been back thirteen times! Tell me, how was your last trip compared to that first one way back when you were ten years old?

 

BILL: The parks are a lot more accessible.  When I went there when I was 10 there was only Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Magic Kingdom wasn’t very accessible; the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] wasn’t in effect yet.  I transferred out of my chair so much more back then. I am more comfortable now since I can stay in my own wheelchair.  I feel a lot more independent now, I could go to the parks by myself if I wanted and ride many things.

 

KATHY: I think that’s the way Walt would’ve wanted it! Tell me about one special memory of Disney magic.

 

BILL: Tracy’s birthday special this trip, so I enlisted our friends Toni and Terry who were in WDW at the same time as us to help me.  Terry went with me to the Boardwalk area and I got Mickey head earrings and a necklace for Tracy.  Toni helped by arranging with the manager of `Ohana to let [me] have flowers delivered there.  I picked out the arrangement, gave Toni my [credit card] number and she made it happen.  I didn’t want Tracy seeing me ordering from the Disney Florist.  The day Toni and Terry left they had breakfast at `Ohana and dropped off the jewelry to be ready for Tracy’s surprise.  When the host took us to be seated, the flower arrangement was on the table with the two jewelry boxes opened.  We had a table with a great view of Holiday Wishes and had a wonderful evening.  It was perfect.

 

KATHY:  How romantic! And to think, you met Toni and Terry online at a Disney fan site! How do you think the social network… Discussion Forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc… has affected the way we approach our Disney vacations?

 

BILL:  For us it has added to our vacations.  Tracy is the one that goes on the DISboards, Be Our Guest, etc., and formed friendships there that evolved into wanting to meet people in the parks.  Our first DISmeet was with you and your wonderful family and showed us how you really could form a bond with someone over a common love for something such as WDW.  We have been blessed to meet amazing people that we would love to see again and again.

 

KATHY:  Well, Bill, I know the Special Mouse readers will enjoy meeting you! Okay, let’s finish with some rapid-fire Q&A about your WDW favorites, all right?

 

BILL: Okay!

 

KATHY: Okay…. your favorite park?

 

BILL: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

 

KATHY: Favorite thing to do at the Studios?

 

BILL: Toy Story Mania is my favorite ride for all the parks. We also have to see Beauty and the Beast.

 

KATHY: Okay! Now… your favorite resort?

 

BILL:  Port Orleans French Quarter.

 

KATHY:  Favorite non-park activity?

 

BILL:  Eating, LOL!  (Just kidding)  Resort hopping and buying pins in DTD [Downtown Disney.]

 

KATHY: I think I already know the answer to this next one… favorite Disney restaurant?

 

BILL:  `Ohana. [The Polynesian Resort]

 

KATHY:  Ha! I was right!  How about counter service eats?

 

BILL:  Sunshine Seasons. [The Land Pavilion in Epcot]

 

KATHY: Tough one, now… favorite Disney character?

 

BILL: Buzz Lightyear.

 

KATHY:  And finally… you’ve visited WDW at many different times of the year. What’s your favorite time to visit and why?

 

BILL:  After the Christmas decorations are put up.  There is nothing like going through the parks seeing the beautiful decorations and hearing the happy Christmas music.  The lights on the Castle are just amazing, it is beautiful.

 

KATHY:  Thanks so much for giving up so much of your Sunday night to talk with me! Would you like to add anything else?

 

BILL:  In my opinion, no theme park compares to WDW in accessibility and customer service.

 

KATHY:  I agree, completely!

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The next time you visit Walt Disney World, keep a sharp eye open for Bill. It should be easy to spot him… he’ll be wearing a lanyard full of pins on his chest and a huge grin on his face as he zips along in his Quickie P-222.  Go ahead… say hello! Take some time to talk a little Disney with him. Just like you, Bill is one Special Mouse!

 

~Kathy

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

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.

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

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!”

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

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!

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

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

Thanks for listening!

 

Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Disneyland Paris and Wheelchair Accessibility -042

ChrissyR

Guest Chrissy Roulet describes her experiences using a wheelchair at Disneyland Paris. She and Kathy compare and contrast Disneyland Paris’ system of accommodation with that of Walt Disney World, namely, that guests are required to provide written “proof” of disability at DL Paris — which in the American theme parks is prohibited by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Here is a video link that offer more information about Disability Services at Disneyland Paris: Accessibility at Disneyland Paris

Here is information for guests with disabilities from the official Disney website: Visitors with Disabilities or Special Needs 

We also discuss how Chrissy is coping with and adapting to the diagnosis of hypermobility syndrome, a painful and less commonly known invisible disability, and how it has changed her method of touring and experiencing the Disney theme parks.

Hypermobility syndrome facts from MedicineNet.com:

  • The joint hypermobility syndrome is a condition that features joints that easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular joint.
  • Hypermobile joints tend to be inherited.
  • Symptoms of the joint hypermobility syndrome include pain in the knees, fingers, hips, and elbows.
  • Often joint hypermobility causes no symptoms and requires no treatment. Treatments are customized for each individual based on their particular manifestations.

Visit Chrissy’s blog, Disabled in Disney, on Tumblr. Connect with her on Twitter @DisabledDisney.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

This episode of Special Mouse is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, a Disney-dedicated travel agency that specializes in planning vacations for guests with special needs or disabilities, and by JoEllen at Orlando Scooter Rental, Serving Disney World & Universal Orlando – All Hotels, Resorts & Residences.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to review Special Mouse on iTunes!

Thanks for listening,

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (1) →

Disney-with-Special-Needs Blogging Bonanza! – 030

Kathy shares excerpts from a dozen unofficial Disney-themed blogs written from a special needs point of view.

Blog

Here are the links to all of the blogs mentioned in our “Blogging Bonanza” episode! I hope you will enjoy discovering some new Disney blogs and re-visiting some old favorites!

The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin’ Spectrum Mom – Kathy Kelly – Autism, Walt Disney World
The Autistic World of Disney – Jackie Psarianos – Autism, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney World
DIStherapy – Didi Marie – Autism, runDisney, Disneyland
Mousecation – Laurie Smith – Special Diets and Disney Dining Reviews
Orlando Informer Blog – Special Needs are Universal – Debi Dane – Mobility, wheelchair, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Cognitive Disabilities
Pixie Dust Girls – Ellen Gerstein – Autism, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney World
Return to Disney – Tricia Ballad – Autism, Walt Disney World
Rolling with the Magic – Melissa Knight Coulter – wheelchair accessibility, Walt Disney World, Disneyland
Temporary Tourist – Aunesty Janssen – Autism, Walt Disney World
WDW Dreamin’ – Amy Hughes – Autism, Walt Disney World, Disneyland
Wishing Well Travel Blog – Tabitha Nixon – Disabilities, Walt Disney World
Wishes and Pixie Dust – Mark & Jen Vitek – Autism, Walt Disney World
Fort Friends: Camping with Disabilities – Ed Russell – Fort Wilderness Camping, wheelchair runDisney
Dare to Be – Kerry Kingdon – wheelchair runDisney

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

Please visit Up and Up Travel, the preferred travel agency of the Special Mouse podcast, for your free Disney vacation quote and exclusive savings offers for listeners of the show! Call 1-877-WDW-WISH or email amy@upanduptravel.net.

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

Thank you for listening! Please join me for Real-Time Disney and special-needs chat in our CHAT ROOM on Thursday nights at 8pm, EST. Just click on the CHAT ROOM tab, above. Find me on Social Media by clicking the tabs in the sidebar, right.

Bye for now,

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

004: WDW Autism, Soarin’ in a Wheelchair and Disney with Diabetes!

 

We begin with an excellent question from one of our listeners about Food Allergies and the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot.

If you have a special-needs Disney travel question, please use the Contact Page — or — connect with me on Twitter @SpecialMousePod or on Facebook at Special Mouse Podcast!

Ray and Rachel Pilgrim from the Mouse Travel Tips podcast join me for the feature interview. We discuss their original venture, wdwautism.com, and how it serves as a valuable planning resource for families with autism spectrum disorder.


You can connect with Ray on Facebook at Ray Pilgrim and with Rachel at Rachel Williams Pilgrim.

* * * * * * * * * *

Melissa Knight from the Disney on Wheels Blog gives us wheelchair accessibility tips for the Soarin’ attraction at Epcot.

You can connect with Melissa on Facebook at Melissa Knight Coulter and on Twitter @DisneyOnWheels.

* * * * * * * * * *

Finally, Cheryl Koren from New Jersey gives us a Special Trip Report on her recent trip to Walt Disney World with insulin-dependent diabetes and food allergies.

 

 

Cheryl blogs about Disney at Magical Memory Maker.  She is a Magic Maker with Off to Neverland Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

You can connect with Cheryl on Facebook at Cheryl Koren – Off to Neverland Travel.  Her Pinterest board is Magical Memory Maker

* * * * * * * * * *

Click the icons, RIGHT, to subscribe to Special Mouse in either iTunes or Stitcher!

 

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy 

 

 

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (2) →

Episode 003: Disneyland Accessibility/Gluten-Free Trip Report

 

On this episode of Special Mouse I begin by answering a listener question regarding Autism and The Guest Assistance Card.

 

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

My Feature Interview is with Stuart Haasis, author of the soon-to-be-released book, “A Disabled Person’s Guide to Disneyland.”

 

 

You can read an excerpt from his book HERE. Connect with Stu on Twitter @DisneyAccess and on Facebook at Stu Haasis.

 

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

Melissa Knight from Disney On Wheels returns with a wheelchair accessibility tip for the Merida Meet ‘n Greet at the Magic Kingdom!

 

 

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

For our Special Trip Report we’re going Gluten-Free with Karen Stoj, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease only a few days before her trip to Walt Disney World!

  

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

The Special Mouse Podcast and Disney On Wheels are having a Meet ‘n Greet at WALT DISNEY WORLD on Saturday, Sept. 29th, 3:30-5:00pm at Disney’s BEACH CLUB Resort. If you’re going to be in WDW celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Epcot, please stop in and say “Hello!”

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A NEW TIME AND LOCATION!

For more information, go HERE.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

002: Touring with Infants and Rolling through Rain!

This Episode of Special Mouse is dedicated to the memory of Nolan Woodall. Rest in peace, my friend.

Feature Interview: Jennifer Lissak, author of The Disney Babies Blog, chats with me about the special needs of infants at Disney. Please visit her blog for more information, particularly about Baby Wearing.

 

 This is one of Jennifer’s favorite resources for Baby Wearing products: Carry Me Away

You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter @Disneybabiesblg and on Facebook at Jennifer Dreispul Lissak.

 

Our Special Trip Report comes from Melissa Knight, author of Disney on Wheels: Rolling with the Magic.

Melissa and her husband traveled from Georgia to Walt Disney World in May, 2012 — the same week that Tropical Storm Alberto was visiting Florida! Melissa gives us insight into the accessibility of many rides and attractions, including the new Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Mission Space at Epcot.

Melissa posts videos of herself utilizing many accessible attractions at Walt Disney World on her blog, so please check it out!

 

I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa Knight will be joining me during future episodes of Special Mouse for a special feature called Disney on Wheels!  Melissa has a lot of accessibility tips to share that I hope will benefit our listeners with a variety of mobility issues.

You can connect with Melissa on Twitter @DisneyOnWheels and on Facebook at Melissa Knight Coulter.

Thanks to all of you who have posted such lovely Tweets on Twitter and to those of you who have “liked” us on Facebook! Thanks also for all the lovely reviews on iTunes; I’m so happy to have your feedback!

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (5) →