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
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 email@example.com. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it for you!
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