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Disability Relations 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 'Disability Relations'

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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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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Beta Testing the DAS Card with Fast Pass+ at Walt Disney World

Florida resident and WDW annual passholder Mark Vitek discusses his family’s first experience using Disney’s Disabilities Access Service Card (DAS) with the My Magic Plus FastPass reservation system. Mark and his wife have a 14-yr old son who has Autism. Overall, they had a positive experience at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park.

This episode is sponsored by Amy from Up and Up Travel

Walt Disney World Disability Relations holds a weekly DAS committee meeting and they use that meeting to plan for the future of the program. They review all guest communications and discuss them at these meetings. Send your email to WDW.Guest.Communications@disneyworld.com; address it to Disability Relations in the subject line. Specify that it for a DAS concern and 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. The Cast Member that called Mark spent about an hour on the phone with Mark.

“Additional accommodations are the same as they were always meant to be.” Mark says.  “They are on a guest-by-guest, day-by-day and Park-by-Park basis. The only change is that there will be no notes in guest files anymore “guaranteeing” a certain accommodation. It all depends on how busy any Park is on any given day, how many attractions that Park has available and how much those accommodations are needed by that particular Guest. And she stressed that no Cast Member should ever be saying that there is nothing they can do, and if you hear that, ask to speak to a Manager immediately, as there is always something they can do. It might be re-ads, and they are allowed to give up to 3 sets at a time. Or it may be as simple as giving you your first return time while at the GR desk if the Park isn’t busy. How she put it to me is to simply state that you are using your FastPass and using your DAS but it just isn’t enough and you’d like just something extra to help with your day.”

You can connect with Mark on Twitter @DisFanMark. Please visit Mark and Jen’s blog, Wishes and Pixie Dust.

The Special Mouse Tip of the Week is for guests recovering from alcoholism. Alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disease that requires continuous and lifelong treatment. It can be tempting to take a break from a program of recovery while on vacation.

It is important to plan ahead. Bring your recovery literature; the books come in travel-size.

Continue with your meetings. You’re not traveling to some remote desert island! Meetings are available locally in both the Orlando, FL and Anaheim, CA areas.  Research the locations, dates and times of meetings before your trip. There are several apps you can purchase for your phone to help you locate them. I Googled “Apps to locate Alcoholics Anonymous meetings” and several popped up. One example is available in both iTunes and in Google Play for android Devices: Steps Away-Locate Worldwide 12 Step Meetings. There are also local resources that can help you find meetings and hotlines. For the WDW area, look up Central Florida Intergroup. In the DL area, Orange County AA.

Lastly, nothing beats keeping in contact with your existing support system. Have phone numbers and email addresses for your sponsors and fellow group members. Tell them in advance that you are going on vacation and arrange to connect with someone at the end of each day. This will help you to keep yourself accountable for your actions.

Between meetings, literature and calls to sponsors you can remain focused on your recovery while on your Disney vacation.

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I’d love to chat with you on social media! Special Mouse is on Twitter @SpecialMousePod and on Facebook: Special Mouse Podcast. If you’d like to join our Community Group on Facebook, kindly leave a message on the Special Mouse page and I will contact you!

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

 

 

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