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Posts Tagged 'wheelchair'

Adventures by Disney Trip Report: Germany Using a Wheelchair – 072

Mike_Greer

 

Willkommen! This week’s feature is truly a special trip report, because although we’ve visited Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris and the Disney Cruise Line in past trip reports, today I’m bringing you our first-ever Adventures by Disney report! Our good friend, Mike Greer, is back – this time to tell us all about his 2012 Adventures by Disney trip to Germany. Warning: we talked for a long, long time!

 

adventures-by-disney-europe-germany

Photo: Adventures by Disney

 

You may recall that Mike was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a genetic bone disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily. It is also known as “brittle bone disease.” Mike uses a wheelchair to get around, so he shares lots of information on the wheelchair accessibility of this particular Adventures by Disney trip itinerary. We also talked about the ways in which he prepared himself physically to push his manual wheelchair over grass and cobblestone roads.

Mike covers the Germany vacation in depth:

  • Their accessible airport “adventure” in Frankfurt!
  • Their stay at HOTEL SCHLOSS WALDECK, an 11th-century castle-turned-resort, perched high above the Edersee.
  • Touring the charming town of Waldeck, including archery, beer-tasting, and a scenic ferry ride on Lake Edersee.
  • Touring the lavish LÖWENBURG CASTLE.
  • Visiting the famous STEIFF BEAR MUSEUM. The company’s founder, Margaret Steiff, invented the teddy bear.
  • Pretzel-Making at STRIFFLER BAKERY, the oldest bakery in Rothenburg.
  • A lamp-lit walk with the night watchman in Rothenburg.
  • Their visit to the snowy-white NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE — an inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland ® Park.
  • A scenic ride on the “ROMANTIC ROAD” to Munich.
  • And much more.
adventures-by-disney-europe-germany-neuschwanstein-castle

Photo: Adventures by Disney

 

If you would like more information about Adventures by Disney, including a complete list of destinations worldwide, please visit the official website, adventuresbydisney.com.

Tip of the Week:

Summer afternoons at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida are notoriously hot, humid, crowded and often rainy. My first recommendation is that your return to your resort for an afternoon break or swim, but if you want to stay in the parks, plan to see indoor shows or smaller attractions. Don’t try to fight the crowds at the popular ones and don’t plan to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Here are some great summer afternoon choices that typically do not require the use of a FastPass+ reservation:

Magic Kingdom: The Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, Country Bears Jamboree, Mickey’s Philharmagic, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Epcot – Future World: Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Innoventions, and the aquarium exhibits at The Seas pavilion.

Epcot – World Showcase: The American Adventure and the movies in the Canada, France and China pavilions.

Animal Kingdom: It’s Tough to be a Bug, Finding Nemo: the Musical, and the indoor activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Disney Studios: One Man’s Dream, MuppetVision 3D and the Magic of Disney Animation.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Mousellaneous:

I’ve received several emails and Facebook messages from folks who missed the Kickstarter, but are interested in obtaining Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide. The book is still a work-in-progress, but if you would like an email notification when it becomes available on Amazon, please visit specialmouse.com/book and sign up!

Thank you for listening!

Kathy

 

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Teen with Cerebral Palsy is Rolling with the Disney Magic! 071

DOW Logo

Today’s feature guest is Andrew Prince from Ohio.  Andrew is a contributing writer of Disney on Wheels for the WDWRadio blog.  He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. (Cerebral palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning.)

Andrew is an experienced wheelchair traveler and has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL gold castaway member!

A.Prince

Andrew’s Disney travels began with a trip to Walt Disney World in 2003, where he met his first “crush,” Mary Poppins! Since then, he and his Disney-loving family have traveled and cruised extensively with Disney. He hopes that his blog will encourage others with cerebral palsy or other mobility challenges to pursue Disney travel on wheels!

First trip to WDW Oct 2003 Mary Poppins!

If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at arprince@bex.net or look him up on Facebook and on Twitter.  Disney on Wheels itself can be accessed on Facebook here,  or you can join the Disney on Wheels Facebook Group.  The archives on WDWRadio can be accessed here.

First trip to WDW family with Mickey!

 

Tip of the Week:

This week’s tip concerns the use of Disney’s DAS (Disability Access Service) system. The DAS is used in conjunction with the FastPass system to reserve ride times for certain popular attractions. Unfortunately, theme park attractions do break down from time to time and it is particularly frustrating when they do so during your ride reservation window! What do you do when you are given a DAS return time only to discover that the attraction has broken down? This happened to our family twice on our recent WDW vacation, once at Epcot’s Test Track and once on Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

Because Cast Members are unable to determine how long an attraction will be out of service, they are unable to provide DAS return times while the attraction is out of service. (This is because DAS return times are based upon current standby wait times.) We discovered that CMs were unable to delete or edit our DAS return times using their handheld devices. Instead, we were directed to choose another attraction and visit the FastPass return kiosk at the new attraction to make a brand-new DAS reservation. (FastPass holders would need to do the same thing; visit a FP kiosk and make changes.)

This is one more reason why it is important to prepare the person with cognitive, psychological or developmental disabilities for the possibility of ride breakdown and a change of plans!

Mousekeeping:

Thanks and shout-outs on-air for supporters of Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide on Kickstarter!

I will be a guest on the Big Fat Panda Show later this month! Check out this fantastic youtube channel by my friend, John Saccheri. (I’ll share the link when the show goes “live!”)

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

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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

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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.

 

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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

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WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 Wheelchair Racing Report! 058

Kerry1

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

 

Kerry2

Kerry Kingdon

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

 

MikeG

 Mike Greer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening,

~Kathy

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Walt Disney World with Type 1 Diabetes – 056

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Tip of the Week:

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

A member of our private Facebook discussion group asks:

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

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

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

Well, that certainly does sound confusing!

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

 

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________________________________

Feature Interview: Walt Disney World with Type 1 Diabetes:

How an insulin pump works

How an insulin pump works

Some of the topics we discussed are:

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

Robyn’s Diabetic Packing Tips:

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

*Glucogon

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

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

*2 blood glucose meters

*Extra batteries for pumps and meters

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

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

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

____________________________________________________________________________________

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

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

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

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

IMAG0211_1

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

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

Her books are available on Amazon.com!

Chronic Pain, It’s a Family Affair

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

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

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gingerbread_run

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

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

Thanks for listening!

 

Kathy

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

Mike_Greer

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

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

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

Connect with Mike on Twitter and on Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

 

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A Cast Member Conversation About Disability Services – 039

exclusive-stampA Walt Disney World Cast Member chats with Kathy anony-MOUSE-ly about her experiences serving guests both with and without disabilities…

I was thrilled to be able to connect with a current Cast Member to discuss Walt Disney World and Guests with disabilities, both visible and invisible!

Cast Members Only

Some of the topics that came up during our conversation:

  • New Cast Member training regarding working with guests who are differently-abled
  • The role of Guest Relations in distribution of accommodations for guests, such as the Disability Access Service Card (DAS), Alternate Entrance Accommodation and the Stroller-as-Wheelchair Accommodation
  • The role of Attractions Cast Members in providing the above accommodations
  • Whether or not Guests without disabilities should be permitted to sit in areas designated for those with disabilities

You can connect with our guest on Twitter @mainstreetfairy

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This episode of Special Mouse is brought to you by Up and Up Travel, a Disney-dedicated travel agency that specializes in planning vacations for guests with special needs and disabilities.

And by Orlando Scooter Rental, serving Disney World and Universal Orlando – all hotels, resorts & residences.

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Tip of the Week:  In honor of Independence Day here in the U.S.A. this week’s tip concerns the fireworks spectaculars at Walt Disney World!

We’ve talked many times about assisting sensory-sensitive individuals with the use of earplugs, earmuffs, or noise-cancelling headphones during Disney fireworks to dampen the sound.  You can also prepare your child ahead of time by watching (and listening) to the nighttime spectaculars with him/her on YouTube. 

4th-July-Fireworks

Start with the volume on low and gradually increase the volume to just above your child’s tolerance level and repeat the sequence as often as needed. This is called GRADUAL DESENSITIZATION and it’s a good way to help your child become more comfortable with things that are sensory-difficult.

It is important, however, that you are prepared to bail out in case the sensory stimulation during the show is too much for your child. Position yourself close to the park exit, or even just outside the exit, just in case!

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I am encouraging contributions to the Special Mouse Community Blog, Use Your Words. Submissions should be 500-100 words and covering a topic that is relevant to Disney travel with special needs.

>>> Don’t forget to click on the link in the sidebar, upper right, to receive our monthly Special Mouse Community Newsletter! <<<

 

Thanks for listening,

 ~ Kathy

 

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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

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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.

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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

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You Can runDisney in a Wheelchair!

runDisneyPin
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 runDisney.com 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 disneycruise.disney.go.com.
 
 
Thanks for listening,
 
Kathy

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Disability Access Service Card: A Round Table Discussion

In this Listener Tea Party episode, a panel of Disney Parks guests with special needs discuss how they anticipate the new Disability Access Service program will affect their park experiences and how they plan to adapt.

My Tea Party Guests:

Tracy Brooks –  Facebook , Twitter

Debi Dame –  Orlando Informer

Maureen Deal –  Autism at the Parks , Orlando InformerFacebook , Twitter

Stu Haasis Facebook , Twitter

Amy Hughes WDW Dreamin’ , Facebook , Twitter

Gordon LaGrow Cruise Directions , Facebook , Twitter 

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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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.

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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.

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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

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

 

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy 

 

 

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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

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