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
Disney Cruise Line 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 'Disney Cruise Line'

Autism on the Seas and the Disney Cruise Line! 085


Today’s guest is Dr. Rachel Potter from Autism on the Seas!

Dr. Potter is co-chair of the volunteer Advisory Team for Autism on the Seas. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and currently serves as Director of the Graduate Teacher Education Program at Mary Baldwin College where she teaches graduate courses in special education, autism spectrum disorders, and applied behavior analysis.

Dr. Rachel Potter

Dr. Rachel Potter

She is a parent of two children, one of whom has autism.  She has cruised with Autism on the Seas as both a client (with her family) and as a Group Leader and she is here to chat with me about this wonderful organization and how it supports the autism community. Dr. Potter describes how she became involved with Autism on the Seas, first as a client family and later as a Group Leader on Autism on the Seas Cruises (including several on the Disney Cruise Line.)



Autism of the Seas provides a number of different services to special needs families:

  • Cruises with Staff – We discuss the various kinds of supports they provide in kids clubs and during activities while on the cruise. Another big question is toileting issues, and staff ARE able to assist with toileting.  We also discuss the special boarding, mustering and debarking procedures available for clients with sensory issues who are supported by Autism on the Seas.
  • Cruises without Staff
  • Cruise Assistance Package
  • Resort Vacations with Staff –  Autism on the Seas staff are available to assist families at Walt Disney World!




Please visit the Autism on the Seas website for more information. You may reach out to Dr. Potter directly via email. 

Thanks for listening!




Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (2) →

Disneyland Resort and Cruising to Alaska on the DCL with a Power Wheelchair – 075



Feature conversation with Kelly DeBardelaben from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She’s here to chat with me about her Disney travels with her husband. He gets around using a power wheelchair because his mobility is affected by Cerebral Palsy. The couple has cruised to Alaska with the Disney Cruise Line AND vacationed at the Disneyland Resort in California and Kelly gives us the scoop on the wheelchair accessibility of both these Disney destinations.

Some of the things we discuss are:

Airport considerations for her husband’s power wheelchair

Accessibility and space requirements for resort rooms/cabins

Reasons she and her husband love using a Disney Travel Agent to help plan vacations

No grab rails in the accessible cabins on the Disney Wonder!

Kelly’s tip to avoid sticking to a toilet seat during bathroom transfers

Ability of adults to enjoy a kid-free Disney cruise

Off-ship excursions with a power wheelchair

Disneyland attractions that accommodate a power wheelchair

Disneyland attraction queues that accommodate a power wheelchair

Using a Service Dog in Disneyland

Teaching your child how to approach people in a power wheelchair or with a service dog


Tip of the Week:

This week we have a question about use of the Disability Access Service accommodation, or DAS, during the after-hours hard ticket events at Walt Disney World, namely, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.



(By the way, in case you are planning to do either of these parties in 2015, tickets are on sale now!)

A few Special Mouse Community Members who have attended these parties in the past 2 years have said that the DAS is NOT implemented during the hard ticket events.

First of all, DAS Return Times are generally procured when waits in the standby queue are 20 minutes or greater. The wait times rarely reach 20 minutes during the parties. In fact, FastPass queues aren’t even open.

After the day guests leave and the parties are in full swing (7pm), most of the partygoers are there for the special party offerings – the holiday parades, the special meet-and-greets, the unique stage shows, etc., and so if you are interested in doing rides, it is a fabulous time to visit the more popular attractions as the wait times are low, low, low (particularly during parades and fireworks.)

So, the short answer is no. The DAS is not used during the parties because, like FastPass+ reservations, it simply isn’t needed!

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

Thanks for listening!



Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Diabetic Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World, New DCL Service Dog Gangway Pass and more! 066

Service Animal Gangway Pass

Guest: Robyn Adams. We discuss DAS Rumors, Diabetic Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World, the new DCL Service Dog Gangway Pass and more. It’s a Round Robin with Robyn!

We’re calling out a blog-disguised-as-a-news site that is posting rumors about changes coming to the DAS Card at Walt Disney World that are emotionally manipulative.

We discuss the upcoming Special Mouse Listener Meet  Friday, May 22, at the Contempo Cafe inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. (4 PM to 6 PM)

This coincides with Robyn’s Diabetic Mouseketeers Weekend, an opportunity “for Diabetic families to go to Walt Disney World and make their own memories while getting a chance to meet other Diabetic families.

Another item we talk about is something shared by listener, Mark Sumonka. Mark has cruised multiple times with the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and today he posted a picture of something new for guests with service animals: a “Gangway Pass.” (We believe this is an internal method of notifying Cast Members on the ship that guests have already notified Disney that they would be traveling with the service animal when booking the cruise.)

For more information about Diabetic Mouseketeers’ and Walt Disney World, contact Robyn Adams at

Tip of the Week:

As part of Autism Awareness Month, I’d like to spotlight Beth Blancher at Mouse-Aid. Beth has created social stories for people with Autism and related challenges to use at Walt Disney World. Social stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. Social Stories can help a person with autism to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation, and therefore how they might be expected to behave.

Check them out at 

* * * * * * * * *

Please visit my page on Kickstarter to learn more about the book I am writing,

Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide

Thank you!

~ Kathy




Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

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.



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,



Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Chatting with Kellie, a Disney Lover with Down Syndrome


Kellie’s mother knew that something was up.  It wasn’t like her daughter to complain about aches and pains, and she seemed to be getting sick all the time.  Normally she was as bubbly and chatty as any other eight year-old girl; perhaps even more so.  She usually relished any kind of outing, whether it be shopping or going out to eat, and struck up a conversation with every single person she met along the way, always with the same question: “Have you ever been to Disneyland?”  Kellie made friends everywhere!  Now she seemed to be tired all the time… too tired, even, for a day trip to her favorite place in the whole world: the nearby Disneyland theme park.

So, Kellie’s mother took her to see the pediatrician.  Along with the genetic disorder, Down Syndrome, Kellie had been born with a heart defect and had undergone open heart surgery when she was very young.  Evette wondered if her daughter’s symptoms were cardiac in nature but another, more frightening thought soon took hold.  “Could it be leukemia?” she asked the doctor, hoping and praying that she would say no.  After all, hadn’t her youngest child been through enough?

Instead of rejecting that possibility the doctor opted to do a blood test, which Kellie endured without a complaint.  That night Evette and her husband, Lance, anxiously awaited their daughter’s test results.  The next morning, the doctor called.

“Which hospital do you want me to send you to?” she said.

Kellie was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, near Disneyland.  Further tests of her spinal fluid confirmed that she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections.

According to the National Cancer Institute, ALL is the most common cancer in children, representing 23 percent of cancer diagnoses among children younger than 15 years of age.  It occurs in about one of every 29,000 children in the United States each year, with a somewhat higher incidence for children born with Down Syndrome.

Kellie took her cancer treatment in stride.  “I don’t think she ever grasped how very sick she was,” Evette recalls.  “She loved all the attention everyone gave her, at the clinic, the hospitals, etc.  She never gave me a hard time about going and having chemotherapy, spinal taps (‘poke backs’ as she calls them), and shots.”

Now a young woman of twenty-four, Kellie recalls that period in her life (late 1996 to early 1999) as sometimes being hard.  “I had a central line and had to take a lot of pills and once I even got shingles on my leg!” she says.  But she also recalls the thrill of a special visit from her favorite Disney character. “Goofy sat on my hospital bed!” she gushes. Then the Make-A-Wish Foundation chose her to be the recipient of a special gift. Together with her parents and her three older brothers, Kellie was given a magical trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.

The family began planning her Wish Trip in the summer of 1997.  “Kellie is moderately developmentally disabled and really had no real concept of what a Wish Trip was,” Evette related. “We kind of made that decision for her. We knew she would love Walt Disney World because of her love of Disneyland.  Living in Anaheim, of course, we had been to Disneyland more times than we can count.”   She recalled when volunteers from Make-A-Wish came to the house to interview her daughter.  Kellie turned the tables and began to interview them! “Have you ever been to Disneyland?” she demanded. ”What’s your favorite ride?”  Evette laughs, “They knew right away [the trip to Walt Disney World] was her own wish!”

Kellie’s original Wish Trip ended up being postponed; a few days before they were about to leave she came down with a fever.  This was potentially dangerous because of her central line (a catheter placed into a large vein in the neck, used to administer medication.)  Instead of a trip to Florida, poor Kellie took a three-day trip to the hospital for intravenous antibiotic therapy. “I wasn’t well enough to go to Disney World,” she says, “and I was very sad.”  But the story has a happy ending; eventually she was well enough to make the big trip in January of 1998.

What a thrill it was for Kellie to ride in a limousine to the airport!  She and her family flew to Florida First Class and before the plane left the gate the pilot announced that “a very special young lady named Kellie in Seat 1-A was making her first trip to Disney World!”  For Kellie, one of the highlights of their stay at Give Kids the World Village was taking a carousel ride with Tigger. “She loved all the characters and all the attention she got as a Wish Kid,” Evette says. “Everyone was so lovely to us.  She loved going to the different parks, but I think Magic Kingdom was her favorite since it was so much like Disneyland.”

Kellie finished her chemotherapy in the spring of 1999 and has been fine ever since.  According to the National Cancer Institute, improvement in survival for children with ALL over the past 35 years “is one of the great success stories of cancer treatment.”  In the 1960s, less than 5 percent of children with ALL survived for more than five years. Today, about 85 percent of children with ALL live five years or more.

Kellie lives every day of her life with a sense of joy and wonder and an enduring love of all things Disney.  When I asked Evette if she and her daughter would be interested in doing an interview, she told me that Kellie loves to talk about Disney to everyone she meets… and boy, was she right!  The did not use Skype, so we had our interview via Instant Messaging. Kellie had as many questions for me as I had for her… so read on and you will learn a lot about me, too! We “talked” for almost two hours!  Let me share the highlights of our conversation with you. (Kellie’s mom helped by doing the typing for her.)

Hang onto your hats, folks. This interview whisks you down to Walt Disney World, across the country to Disneyland and then out to sea with the Disney Cruise Line!


KATHY:  Hi Kellie! My name is Kathy and I love Walt Disney World. Your mom says that you do too!

KELLIE: Hi Kathy. I like Disney World, Kathy!

KATHY:  I’d like to talk to you about Walt Disney World and then share it with some friends on the internet. Is that okay?


KATHY: This is going to be fun! How many times have you been to Disney World?

KELLIE: I’ve been to Disney World 4 times.

KATHY:  Oh, so you are an expert!

KELLIE: The first time I was 11 years old and I was on my Make-A-Wish trip.

KATHY:  Tell me about Make-A-Wish, Kellie. Were you surprised when they told you that you could have a wish granted?

KELLIE: I was very happy when they told me I was going to Disney World! My three brothers were happy too!

KATHY:  I’ll bet!

KELLIE: I want to know your favorite ride at Disney World!

KATHY:  Oh, wow, that is so hard! I can’t pick just one! I love Soarin’ at Epcot and the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom… What is yours?

KELLIE: My favorite ride is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! I like Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios and Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom.  Do you like Thunder Mountain?

KATHY:  I do, especially in the dark! Have you ever ridden it in the dark?

KELLIE: Yes we rode it at night when we visited in 2009, it was fun!

KELLIE: What is your favorite ride at Animal Kingdom?

KATHY:  I really love Expedition Everest but I also like wandering along the jungle trek and the forest trail to look at the animals. My son loves Expedition Everest, too.

KELLIE: What is your son’s name?

KATHY:  His name is Billy and he just turned 13.  He loves Dinosaur, but I think it is LOUD!  I always wear ear plugs on Dinosaur.

EVETTE: Kellie laughed when I said you wear ear plugs, she said you were silly… LOL.

KATHY:  It is the only way that I can ride!

KELLIE:  My Mom rents a wheelchair for me.

KATHY:  A wheelchair can really come in handy, there is so much walking at Disney World! Most people don’t realize how BIG it is!  I know that you can walk by yourself, so the wheelchair is so you don’t get too tired, right?

KELLIE: Yes, I use it so I don’t get tired.

EVETTE: She has low muscle tone due to the Down Syndrome and I believe the Chemo affected her legs too.

KATHY:  We took my husband’s aunt to Disney World. She was almost 80 and did NOT want to use a wheelchair. She changed her mind by the middle of the week! There’s a lot of walking…

KELLIE: What is your husband’s Aunts name?

KATHY:  Her name is Rae.  Kellie, do you think people treat you differently when you are in a wheelchair, or the same?

KELLIE: The people are friendly.

EVETTE: She may not know if they treat her different; she makes friends everywhere!

KATHY:  Any good stories to tell about friends you made at Disney World?

KELLIE: I like when the cast members ask if I want to go again on a ride and I don’t have to get off first. I really liked eating at 1900 park Fare and having Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drucilla come to our table to talk to me and take a picture with me. The cast members are always very nice to me and take time to talk to me. I really liked meeting Ranger Stan at the Wilderness Lodge; he was so nice and I still talk about him to my Mom and Dad.

Kellie with Ranger Stan, who passed away in 2011

KATHY:  Oh! I met Ranger Stan when we stayed at Wilderness Lodge!  He is very nice.

KELLIE: I have stayed at Saratoga Springs and Bay Lake Tower. I like Bay Lake Tower best. I like to be able to go on the Monorail!

EVETTE: We are Disney Vacation Club members since 2008.

KATHY:  My husband thinks Bay Lake Tower would be cool because of the monorail!

KELLIE: What is your husband’s name?

KATHY:  His name is Ed; he loves Disney World, too.

EVETTE: She wants to know about everyone! She wants to know Ed’s favorite ride.

KATHY:  Hmm. I know he loves Soarin’ and Test Track.

KELLIE: Whooooo, like me!

KATHY:  Do you have a favorite park? I don’t think that I can choose just one!

KELLIE: Magic Kingdom!

KATHY:  Are you excited about the new Fantasyland they are building?

KELLIE: I am excited; I want to see the Little Mermaid ride!

KATHY:  Me, too! It looks amazing! And I want to eat at Be Our Guest in the Beast’s castle. Speaking of food, what is your favorite Disney restaurant?

KELLIE: I like Teppan Edo in Japan.

KATHY:  Oh, yes! Isn’t it fun to see the chef preparing the meal right in front of you?

KELLIE: Yes. I liked the chicken. Do you like the chicken too?

KATHY:  Yes, it is so tasty. Did your chef make a smoking onion volcano?

KELLIE: Yes. Did you have dessert there?

KATHY: No, we were saving room for gelato in Italy!

KELLIE: Did you see the fireworks?

EVETTE: (Illuminations)

KELLIE: I like Illuminations!  Do you like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland?

KATHY:  We’ve only been to Disney World, never to Disneyland.

KELLIE: Do you like Tower of Terror?

KATHY: Yes I do, but it took me until our 3rd trip to Disney World to get up the courage to ride it!

KELLIE: I want to go Disneyland and California Adventure next year. I want to go on the Indiana Jones ride with my Auntie JoAnn.

KATHY:  I wish that Disney World had the Indiana Jones ride. The show at Disney Studios is okay, but I think the ride would be more fun!

KELLIE: I like the ride better!

KATHY:  You used to live near Disneyland…

EVETTE: We lived within walking distance of Disneyland; Kellie really wishes we still lived there!!

KATHY:  I can’t say that I blame her one bit!

EVETTE: Yes, in fact her dad’s first job was at Disneyland. He was in the bicentennial parade in 1976.

KATHY:  Wow! So he was a cast member!

EVETTE: He also worked as a Janitorial Host on Main Street; he has some stories to share about that!

KATHY:  See, Disney in Kellie’s blood!

EVETTE: Right! I hadn’t thought about that… LOL.

EVETTE: I remember when my Dad would give my sister and I each $5.00 to go to Disneyland. That would buy our ticket book (yes, I’m that old), plus be enough to buy food for the day while we were there.

KATHY:  Kellie, what was it like to have Disneyland as your neighbor?

KELLIE: I loved going to Disneyland a lot, we had annual passes!

KATHY:  I would, too! How old were you when you moved away?

EVETTE: When Kellie was 15 when we moved to Kent, WA because of my husband’s job. We moved to Wheeling, IL in 2005 for the same reason. She can’t understand why some people have never been to Disneyland or Disney World.  She asks EVERYONE she meets if they have been.

KATHY:  Your mom said you were going on another Disney cruise soon; a cruise to Alaska!

KELLIE: I love Alaska!

EVETTE: We haven’t been yet, but she loves it… LOL!

KATHY:  Tell me all about the Disney cruise you took.

EVETTE: That was the Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic in 2009.

KELLIE: I liked going to see Karaoke on the ship! One of the guests, a girl sang a song for me.  She sang ‘Beauty and The Beast.’

KATHY:  You meet so many nice people!

KELLIE: I liked all the Disney shows too!

KATHY:  There is so much to do on the Disney cruise.  When you get off the ship in Alaska, what are you going to do?

KELLIE: We are going to go whale watching, take a train ride and see a lumberjack show.

KATHY:  Wow!  What special shows are on the cruise you are taking this summer?

KELLIE: Toy Story and the Golden Mickeys.

KATHY:  I would love to see Minnie in her fancy evening gown and Mickey in a tuxedo!  Do you like Disney music?

KELLIE: I like to listen to my Disney CD’s in the car when we take a ride.

KATHY:  Me too!

KELLIE: I have Finding Nemo, The Musical CD and The Lion King CD from Disney World. Do you have those?

KATHY:  No, but I will have to get them. I love both those shows at Animal Kingdom. Which one do you like best?

KELLIE: The Lion King!

KATHY:  Me too. I could see it a hundred times and not get tired of it!

EVETTE: She’s now quoting some of the dialogue from Nemo…

KATHY:  The puppets in that one are amazing… I forget that there are actors underneath!

EVETTE: Now she’s singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ from Lion King!

KATHY: That song is so catchy! I will probably be humming that all day, now that it’s in my head!

EVETTE: (She laughed)

KELLIE: Who is your favorite Character?

KATHY:  Oh boy, I love so many characters. Probably Mickey and Minnie! How about you?

KELLIE: Goofy.

KATHY:  Gawrsh!

EVETTE:  (She laughed)

KATHY:  Kellie, thank you so much for spending time with me!

KELLIE: You’re welcome.

KATHY:  I’m so glad that you are my new Disney friend!


KATHY:  Evette, let me ask you… why do you think the Disney Parks are so magical for your daughter?

EVETTE: I’ll try to sum up her feelings. I think she loves them because she still has a sense of innocence and wonder. She believes in the magic that being in the parks evokes.  Mickey Mouse and Goofy, etc. are real to her (she still believes in Santa and the Easter Bunny too.)  Disney World or Disneyland allows her to believe in and see the magic around her.

KATHY: Perhaps that’s a gift that God gives to our children with developmental disabilities… they get to keep the best of childhood forever!

EVETTE: I do believe that!

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

(This interview originates from 2011.)

Thanks for reading,


Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

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


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.


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.


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.


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


Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (1) →

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 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.


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.


Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Sailing to Greece with Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 043

Sailing to Greece with Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 043

Guest Jackie Psarianos reports on her family’s recent Mediterranean sailing on the Disney Cruise Line, including multiple shore excursions in Greece!

Jackie’s family had previously sailed eight times on the Disney Cruise Line, enjoying all four ships in the fleet.  Her teenage son Andrew, pictured below, has classic autism. According to Jackie, “Andrew knows all the ships and can take you from bow to aft in a flash, with great ease and certainty, while stopping for some soft serve ice-cream along the way.”  That level of familiarity allows Andrew to move about the ships with a greater sense of independence as he becomes older and provides Jackie with a much-needed sense of security.

Of particular interest is the family’s overwhelmingly positive experience with the shore excursions booked through Disney. We discuss their visits to the Athens Acropolis, Rhodes, and Mykonos, as well as their tours of the ancient sites of Ephesus and the stadium at Olympia.

Having informed Disney ahead of time of Andrew’s sensory and behavioral challenges associated with autism, Jackie was delighted when many of the guides made her son feel valued and important by giving him the opportunity to lead the tour group by holding the Mickey Ears sign.


Andrew P.


We also discuss Jackie’s plans to apply for the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel, hopefully as a Disney Cruise Line specialist! The Disney Parks Moms Panel has answered countless questions from travelers planning Disney Parks and Cruise vacations since 2008.

You can read more about Jackie’s adventures on the Disney Cruise Line on her blog, The Autistic World of Disney. Connect with her on Facebook @Jackie Psarianos and on Twitter @JackiePsarianos.


Please let me know if you are interested in joining our super-supportive private group on FACEBOOK! Email me at You can also send any questions, comments or suggestions for future show topics to that address.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (2) →

Disney After Cancer Surgery: A Wild Celebration! 036

Disney After Cancer Surgery: A Wild Celebration! 036

What better way to celebrate your cancer-free status than with a trip to Walt Disney World? Kris Banas joins Kathy to discuss her husband’s experience vacationing with an ileostomy at Walt Disney World and how she conquered her fear of heights on the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!


Disney’s Wild Africa Trek is a tour offered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort. It is “a privately guided VIP expedition offering close encounters with exotic African wildlife in their native habitat.” Accessibility Information: Guests must be ambulatory. For safety, guests should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or “other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure.” Expectant mothers should not ride.

For more information about ileostomies and colo-rectal cancer, visit the American Cancer Society website.

Our Tip of the Week comes right from our community group on Facebook! Listener Jennifer Banks asks, “How many people can accompany the person who is issued the DAS? The only place I’ve seen it addressed says six total in your party, but that if your party has more, you can all go together to Guest Services and have it issued for that many. Is this true?”

The answer is, yes! Visit Guest Services at any of the Disney theme parks and ask for a Cast Member manager. He or she can authorize a larger party for use of the DAS accommodation. Unfortunately, this must be done in person — Disney cannot issue these accommodations prior to your visit (at least at this point in time!)

For information on obtaining Disney’s Disability Access Service Card, visit  Guests with Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions.

This episode is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, the preferred Disney Travel Agency of the Special Mouse podcast. Visit Up and Up Travel today!

Thanks for listening!




Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (5) →

Cruising With Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 033

Cruising With Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 033

Our celebration of Autism Awareness Month concludes with a visit from Jackie Psarianos from The Autistic World of Disney blog. She and her family, including her 14 year-old son with Autism, have cruised eight times with the Disney Cruise Line and are planning their ninth cruise this summer!


Topics include:

How the Disney Cruise Line accommodates families with Autism

Tips for planning a Disney Cruise with Autism

DCL Children’s and Teens’ Programs and Autism (Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab, Vibe)

Dining on the Disney Cruise Line with Autism and special dietary needs

You can read Jackie’s blog, The Autistic World of Disney, and connect with her via Twitter , Facebook , and Google+


This episode of Special Mouse is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, a Disney Travel Agency dedicated to serving travelers with special needs and disabilities.


Tip of the Week:  I’ve recently begun listening to a podcast called Building Special Families, hosted by Jared Buckley, father of a 4 year-old girl with Down syndrome. This is an informative and inspiring show for parents of children with all kinds of special needs.  In his latest episode, Jared discusses Disney’s Frozen and the lessons he gleaned from the lyrics of the Oscar award-winning song, ‘Let it Go.’ It’s definitely worth a listen!

Disney’s Frozen Teaches on Social Isolation in ‘Let it Go.’


Remember to sign up for our monthly community newsletter!  Sign-up via the link in the sidebar, right.

If you enjoyed the show, kindly subscribe to the podcast and/or leave a review in iTunes — it is much appreciated!

Thanks for listening,





Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (2) →

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.


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

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

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) →

You Can runDisney in a Wheelchair!

Two runDisney wheelchair athletes join Kathy in this Listener Tea Party episode! We discuss the unique racing experience provided by runDisney events at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, accommodations for wheelchair participants, training/nutrition/hydration concerns, favorite runDisney memories and advice for listeners considering participating in a runDisney event as wheelchair athletes. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend – Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Expedition Everest Challenge – Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Ten Miler Weekend – Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend – Team AllEars
You can connect with today’s guests on facebook.comKerry Kingdon and Ed Russell.
Visit for complete information about Disney marathons and events.
Recommended podcasts: Mickey Miles Podcast and the Let’s Run Disney Podcast.
We’re headed out to sea on the Disney Cruise Line for the Special Mouse Tip of the Week! Children with special needs are always welcome at the kids’ activity programs on board DCL ships. However, one-on-one supervision by counselors is not available. The Youth Activities Open House sessions allow parents and older siblings to visit the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab with a special-needs child to tour the areas and participate in activities with the child, allowing children with complex needs or the need for individual supervision to partake in the fun of these themed, kid-centered areas.
For more information, visit
Thanks for listening,

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (2) →

Tips for WDW and the DCL with Visual Impairment

In this Listener Tea Party episode Kathy is joined by Lisa, an adult with visual impairment and Shannon, the mother of a child with multiple challenges including visual impairment, to discuss tips and tricks for managing these issues while at Walt Disney World and on the Disney Cruise Line. Included is advice on requesting the DAS, or Disabilities Access Service Card, while at Walt Disney World.

Connect with Lisa on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER.

Connect with Shannon on FACEBOOK or via EMAIL at

Don’t forget to enter our THANKSGIVAWAY!!

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (3) →

Disney Cruising with Man’s Best Friend — a Service Dog! – 014

Wounded warrior Mark Sumonka shares his experiences cruising with a service animal on the Disney Cruise Line; Kathy answers a question about availability of roll-in shower chairs at the Walt Disney World resorts.

Video: Mark’s dog Shadow has a Play Date with Pluto on the Disney Magic



Medical Supply Companies in the Orlando area:

(This is just a list of what is available; I have no personal experience with these companies and so I cannot give recommendations)

Care Medical Equipment

102 Drennen Rd
(407) 856-2273

 8451 S John Young Pkwy


(407) 363-3535


170 S Semoran Blvd
(407) 240-8600
2501 Investors Row
(407) 850-6068
Thanks for listening!
~ Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (3) →