Disabled Disney

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Hi friends!  We are back from our very first Disney vacation and I am so excited to tell you all about it.  We were able to go because hubby’s work did a conference at the Disney Swan and Dolphin so the hotel was paid for (for some of the trip).  This is not a vacation that I would normally pick, as I prefer to lounge on a beach or hike in a rainforest, but there are some things we do for our kids!  We certainly didn’t have a bad time, but we knew we’d be tired and broke by the end of it, and that’s the choice we made for our little man who has been working so hard at all of his therapies this summer.

Before we got down, someone suggested to me that on our first day in the park, we go to Guest Services an obtain a “disability card”.  Our first day was just Harry and I and we opted for Magic Kingdom, so as soon as we got there we headed to Town Hall.  I spoke to a very nice man who granted us this card (apparently they are, rightfully so, particular about who gets them) which allowed us to have a sort of fast pass.  Guests can buy fast passes that allow them to cut their wait time in line and pre-schedule ride times.  Honestly I don’t know how anyone goes during a busy time without a fast pass.  The disability card is a bit different – you can only get a wait time for one ride at a time, no pre-scheduling.  You need to approach a ride attendant at the entrance to the ride, inform them that you have a disability card (which they scan), tell them how many in your party, and you are given a time that is 10 minutes less than the current wait time.  After that time, you can return and enter the fast pass line where you wait another 5 to 15 minutes.  This system works wonderfully!  My only complaint is that I had to say “my son is disabled” about a million times, but other than that I was a super happy camper.

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Now let’s elaborate on that 5 to 15 minutes you are in line.  My friendly Guest Services employee did not know that my son was physically disabled, and therefore did not inform me that I had one more option.  For half a day in Magic Kingdom I was getting my return time, coming back to the ride, parking my stroller, extricating Harry, and carrying him through the line, on to and off the ride, out of the ride and back in to the stroller.  Compound this with Florida heat and the tons of times we went on rides, and by lunch I was toast.  It took one of only a few jerk employees to help me realize there was another option.

Of course Harry insisted on riding the steam train that circles the park, so when I needed the above mentioned break I headed there.  As I approached the station, I noticed there was no ramp other than the handicapped line, and I could see the train coming.  I had to hurry and we needed our stroller (Mama needed a rest), so I let myself in the handicapped lane, hoping to explain to the attendant my situation.  This very elderly man noticed my security breach and yelled at me.

“Ma’am you CAN’T go through the handicapped lane!  That’s for disabled people, not strollers!”, said elderly attendant.

“My son is disabled…” slightly embarrassed Mama returns.

“Ma’am I said DON’T USE THAT LANE.”

“I heard you,” a little louder, “my son IS disabled.”

“WHAT?”

“He’s DISABLED.”  Now I’m mad.

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”  This is clear.

“SIR MY SON IS DISABLED HOW MANY MORE TIMES DO YOU WANT ME TO ANNOUNCE THAT TO THE WORLD?!”

At this point a very kind engineer (well he was dressed like one, let’s say he’s an engineer) sees my distress and helps me to the handicapped area.  He offers me a hug and I decline, take a deep breath, and am alright again.  The train approaches, stops, and the conductor gets out to help me.  She kindly explains to me that normally they don’t allow strollers unfolded but she’ll allow me on because I look like I need a break.  I explain to her that my son is disabled, and she informs me that I can obtain a tag from Guest Services to use my stroller like a wheelchair.  WAT.

So let my struggle help you (which I did two days later when I met a woman whose two year old was in a body cast), if your child is physically disabled, not only can you get a Disability Card from Guest Services, but you can get a red tag that literally has a picture of a stroller, an equal sign, and a wheelchair.  BOOM.  Knowledge.  Granted, this is not fool proof.  We were stopped many times by people who couldn’t see the tag…Excuse me!  Miss!  Your stroller can be parked over there! *points to the left*….to which I respond with a smile and a point to the sticker, and each time I got an apology (unnecessary but sweet) or something of the like.  Problem solved.  Harry happy, Mama’s back happy.

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I also need to tell you one more story.  In Disney there are lots of people stationed around to answer questions, like the people who stand at entrances to restaurants.  I spoke to a woman in front of the Pinnochio Restaurant or whatever it’s called, because I looked confused.  She asked me what I was looking for and I told her my son needed a special cup and I was looking for a tall one with a long straw to refill with water to keep him hydrated.  She informed me there was one inside the restaurant, so I went in.  What they had was this cute Frozen cup, super tall, but it was filled with frozen lemonade and also $12, so I opted to leave and keep looking.  As I was leaving, she politely asked me if she her suggestion wasn’t right, apologizing to me.  I explained I was going to keep looking, and she asked me to wait a moment.  She returned soon after with a cup and a large bottle of water, and gave it to me with a smile.  She has no idea how much she saved us, and how much independence she ended up giving Harry.  The cup was perfect and we used it every day, all day.  Amazing.  A little can go a loooooong way.

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