View Full Version : Family Trip with Disabled Child - Need Advice
05-20-2005, 07:11 AM
My family has been planning a trip to DL for the 50th anniversary for years now. We grew up in Cali (now in AZ) and my dad went to DL the year it opened. My dad, my family and my sister's family will all be going (9 of us). Well, since we started planning the trip, we had addition to the family who is now 5 years old. My son has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and is in a power wheelchair. My concerns revolve around the large group and what we can do together. I don't have a problem waiting in line - but I worry about which rides/attractions we can all do together and not have one of us have to take my son in another line, have to wait until everyone else is done. He is only 5, so we're limited in the rides he can do anyway, but any advice on rides we can do together? Also, he has some sensitivity issues, any advice on what to do with him when he gets overloaded and wants to rest? I haven't been to DL for over 10 years, so it's hard for me to remember and I'm sure much has changed. I know the reality is I may have to take him back to the hotel, but any other options there at the park?
05-20-2005, 07:28 AM
I'm assuming that at age 5 he is small enough that for some rides it wouldn't be a problem for someone to lift/transfer him. But just off the top of my head and this by no means is the "only" ones...It's a Small World has a boat he would be able to drive his power chair up/on and they lower him down, the boat would accomodate the entire group, the carousel has a loading ramp that he can just drive his chair on if you didn't want to transfer him to a horse, the new Pooh and Buzz attractions both have vehicles with the "new" technology that allows him to just roll onto the vehicle and enjoy the attraction. For Haunted Mansion, they will stop the flow of the doom buggies when the specific doom buggies that have been redesigned to accomodate transfers more comfortably. With the exception of the Main Street Station, the other 3 stations now have ramps to allow him to 'drive' up and into the new HCA area of the cars on the trains (they ROCK). For those lines that are not wheelchair accessible (and there are a LOT Of those!) You can let the bulk of your group wait in the standard queue and make sure that the CM's KNOW that you're at the alternative enterance. Now I want to warn you that this isn't always successful, sometimes you still don't get boarded as a group :( but the CM"s do try to accomodate families especially ones that aren't trying to 'take advantage' of the GAC/Alternate access lines.
05-20-2005, 12:37 PM
which rides/attractions we can all do together and not have one of us have to take my son in another line, have to wait until everyone else is done. He is only 5, so we're limited in the rides he can do anyway, but any advice on rides we can do together?
From the Guests with Disabilities Guide Book
"All guests may enter the following attraction ques by entering through the standard entrance:
Winnie the Pooh
Fire Engine Horse-drawn Streetcars, Horseless Carraige & Omnibus (I don't know how you'd load the chair though, maybe take a round trip?)
The Walt Disney Story which is now the 50 year anniversary overlay
Golden Horshoe Stage
King Arthur Carosel
Matterhorn Bobsleds- you will probably have to separate for this at some point but the CMs can probably get you boarded together or really close together
Honey I shrunk the Audience
Star Tours- this one you may have to separate at some point but the CMs can probably get you boarded together on the same Star Cruiser if crowds aren't bad
The largest group I have had is 6 people so I don't have firsthand experience with a group of 9. I bet you'll have a GREAT time with 9 of you there!!! :D
any advice on what to do with him when he gets overloaded and wants to rest?
My suggestions for this would be:
check out the water surrounding Sleeping Beauty's Castle for ducks and baby ducks, a nice quiet bench or table between the Matterhorn and Autopia- tucked back near the old motor boat area with less pedestrian traffic than most areas and possibly the exit of Indiana Jones where it back up to the Jungle Boat Cruise. These aren't silent completely distraction free areas but some of the areas *I* find restful for a mommy time out! :D
05-21-2005, 10:07 AM
They will most likely not be able to have your entire group in the line with the wheelchair (from my limitied expirence of going with someone in a wheelchair). I know that at HM, they said no more than 6 total could go with the wheelchair. I believe they load the wheelchair after everyone from the stretching room boards. They did let our group of 15 wait with the wheelchair in the Small World line. And for JC, a couple of people waitwed with the wheelchair, then we the rest of the group got to the front of the line, they boared and the rest of us got on the same boat with them.
just my very limitied 2 cents :)
05-21-2005, 10:23 AM
Actually, for HM, if a person is transferring from a wheelchair or ECV there are a set of doom buggies that have been modified to make the process easier, so it really doesn't matter when you get to the loading area, you have to wait til the doombuggies cycle thru, there are 130 doombuggies (they all have numbers) but you have to wait for the ones that have been modified, they are number 3-6 if memory serves. We have waited thru two cycles of Stretching room arrivals before the doombuggies we needed cycled thru to allow us to board. As for groups, the total for a group includes the guest using the wheelchair so it's that person and 5 more for a total of six. The CM's might stretch it for 7 but for 9 they are going to ask that the group split up and the ones that aren't waiting with the person using the wheelchair go thru the queue, Fast pass helps here big big time, if you have fastpass for everyone in your group then they still load the guest using the wheelchair thru the alternative entrance (unless it's one of the few that are HCA) but your group is more likely to be able to stay together.
The link in my signature goes to a (slightly dated) page with links to information about taking sensitive children to the Disney parks. A 5-year-old with SMA isn't going to be going on every ride, so you should just plan on being separate from the rest of your group for some parts of your days. Be sure to take cell phones to keep in touch and meet up. Going back to the hotel is easiest if you stay onsite, preferably Grand Californian or Disneyland Hotel. During the day, the First Aid station is available if you need a quiet place to change/rearrange/administer meds/rest a bit. The nurses in First Aid are top notch and patient. The Baby Care lounges are not quite right for this (been there, done that). Be sure to get a map of the current companion restrooms. Also, spend some time at one of the themed pools. Always good for these kids! Check out the kids' club at Grand Californian -- if there are no diaper changes or medications to administer, they may be able to take them for a few hours and give you a break, and give the kid an independent treat!
Fortunately, Disneyland is an awesome place for hanging out in restaurants with amazing views. Take a few games and toys for distraction, but don't fuss too much. You deserve a relaxing vacation. Take it easy.
06-05-2005, 11:45 PM
Along the lines of Sensory issues my son who has aspergers used to wear ear muffs in the park that you buy at a sporting good stores. They are normally used to reduce the sound of fire arms but work great in the parks for the high volume rides. Now that he is 13 his sensory issues are not as bad so he no longer wears them but at five it was a necessity!
You may want to stop by city hall and let them know about him getting over stimulated and that him being in a line may cause his health issues to become worse causing you to have to leave the line if there is too much noise they may be able to assist you.
06-05-2005, 11:53 PM
The link in my signature goes to a (slightly dated) page with links to information about taking sensitive children to the Disney parks.Terri your sig website is great has lots of great information thankyou for putting that together!
Thanks for the nice feedback. I really had intended to update that info by now! Life happens.
We visited DL/DCA about 2 months ago with my 4 year old son who also has sensitivity issues. My advice is to avoid these "kid" rides: Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin (flashing lights, LOUD noise, lots of commotion,etc.) and Mr. Toad's Wild ride (for the same reasons). Some great rides to start with (to ease him into the whole ride thing) might be (in no particular order and I don't know if you are able to carry him out of his chair) Dumbo, Storybook Boats, Small World, Winnie the Pooh. I hope this helps!