January 18, 2017

Disabilities & Disney- A GREAT Relationship

Hello everyone, and Happy Wednesday! Since I was recently in Walt Disney World, I thought I would share a bit about our experiences travelling with my sister (who is in a wheelchair). I’ve shared some of the accessible ride vehicles if you’ve watched my Disney Vlogs, and I tried to capture as much of that as I could. I’ve mentioned before that we don’t go to Universal Orlando because of their policies for people with disabilities, and how Disney is SO much better. Today I thought I would share some of the things we experienced on our trip. As you can probably tell by the title of this post, it was all good!

Because there is one person in my life that allows me to learn all about this side of Disney, I thought I would take a minute to introduce my sister, Alexandra!

Alex has Cerebral Palsy, and has her own custom (green because she loves the show “Arrow”) wheelchair. She can’t walk or talk, or use her arms in the way we can, but she has a computer she uses to communicate. Alex is also great at using facial expressions to get her point across. She needs someone to help feed her and lift her, but she is always happy! Alexandra is on a puree diet, meaning her food needs to be blended into a hummus like consistency.

I’ve talked about her here and there on the blog, but I thought sharing some key things about her for the purpose of this post might be helpful. I asked her (just like I did in the Universal post) about how she felt about the experience she had at Disney and she said:

“I think Disney is very good, Disney food is really best, Disney rides is really amazing”

Keep in mind she doesn’t have the best grammar, but you can definitely understand what she means!

Our Last Trip (2012)

We hadn’t been to Walt Disney World with Alex 2012, so we weren’t sure what might have changed since our last trip. Luckily, the only thing that changed was the system used for guests with disabilities to access attractions. We had warning about this, and I had read all I could about the new system to be prepared. The old system was a card that had a stoplight on it, red, yellow or green. Our was always green which meant we would just walk up to a FastPass line as go straight through. Now things are a little bit different.

Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS)

This was the first thing I knew I wanted to take care of when we arrived in Magic Kingdom. The urge to see Cinderella Castle won out, but we headed to guest Services shortly after. When you visit Guest Services, you mention that you want to set up the Accessibility Services, and they will take a picture of the guest with a disability, scan the magic band of that person, and everyone in your party. Once that is done, you are good for the duration of your trip! The new system uses “come back times” based on the wait time, so you can spend the time doing something else. I think for people with sensory issues or those that have trouble waiting in line for a long time, this is a great solution. The best thing about it in my opinion, is anyone can go to get a time. I would be a “runner” (I’m a little aggressive when it comes to getting things done in Disney :D) and go to a ride, say I would like a come back time, they would scan my band, and say when we could come back. If their scanner wasn’t working, they would hand us the card below.

 

When it was time to go back, the person the “account” is associated with needs to scan their band first, so I would take Alex’s off her wrist (it’s difficult to line her arm up with the touch point for FastPass+), and then everyone else could enter.

Some important notes about the program:

  • You can only get a come-back time for one attraction at a time
  • to “cancel” the come back time, you need to visit the attraction
  • the time does not expire!

That’s about it when it comes to the new program!

Accessible rooms

Walt Disney World was actually the first place we ever reserved an accessible hotel room! We generally request a room with a roll-in shower because that works best for us. I show some of the differences in room in the Disney Vlogs that are currently running on Friday’s on my channel. Alex doesn’t utilize the accessible buttons herself, but it does help getting her out the door!

meals

When I made our dining reservations for our trip (right when the window opened up), I made a note of an allergy or dietary restriction. When we arrived at a restaurant, the little print-out of out reservation had a red ALLERGY stamp on it, so either a manager or chef was required to visit our table. I will admit we didn’t say anything during our first meal. But, at Tusker House on Day 2, we were so impressed when we explained to the chef that Alex is on a puree diet. He said “okay, what does she want? We’ll make it happen”. Normally in a restaurant they say they don’t have a blender, so this was AMAZING! She loved getting to eat whatever she wanted in the consistency that was easiest for her. It was such a great experience for us, and it definitely felt like a weight had been lifted, because I was definitely worrying about it.

Goofy LOVED Alex at Tusker House!

Transportation

This was our first time staying at a Monorail loop resort, and it was great! The monorail was much easier for Alex because her chair doesn’t have to be tied down, and the Cast Member always asked where we would be getting off so someone could assist us. The two(?) time we took the bus, it was easy, and short! The Magical Express is also wheelchair accessible, so we just had to wait to the side for a minute before boarding, and they took care of us first. Transportation at Disney when it comes to Alex was top notch!

This is Alex and her worker Megan.

a few extra tidbits

  • Space Mountain is the only attraction Alex can’t go on, because the seating is single file. The version in Disneyland isn’t so she could ride it there!
  • The Peoplemover ramp cannot accommodate a wheelchair, so if Alex wanted to ride we would have to lift her. We didn’t this time because we weren’t sure how long the line would be when we got up there, but she was fine with that!
  • When we went to ride Peter Pan’s Flight the Cast Member had to ask us if we could carry Alex down a ladder in case of emergency. That was something I hadn’t even thought about, but because the ride track is above you, it makes sense!

 

If you’d like to hear a little more about our experience (I think I explain it better talking than in text), check out the video below!

I hope this post helped to show how accessible theme parks can be, and part of why we love Disney so much! If you have any questions about anything I mentioned in the post, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer!

 

Thank you so much for reading!

 

Kelsey
December 2, 2016

Disney Vlogs Start Today!

Today is the day! I’m so happy to finally share the first day of Disney Vlogs with you today! I won’t be posting on the blog when every video goes up, so make sure to Subscribe so you’ll be notified every Friday! Check out Part 1 of our first day in Disney World below:

 

Editing is already taking longer than I thought so some days may be broken into multiple vlogs, but that means there are more to enjoy! I’m working really hard to keep with the once a week timeframe on top of a regular Wednesday posting schedule, so please bear with me! Also because this is my first time vlogging on vacation, let me know what you think! I’m enjoying reliving my trip with you all!

 

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Kelsey
November 23, 2016

Trip Recap & Vlogs Are Coming!

Hello friends! As I get back into the swing of things, I thought I would give you a recap of our trip! As you know I also took my camera with me, and those vlogs are coming soon. 🙂 Take a look at the video below (watch all the way to the end for a trip trailer) for my trip recap! I’m sharing the general outlines of our days, so you can know some of what you’ll be seeing in the vlogs! I’ve also included some of our PhotoPass pictures from each day.

Disney Trip Recap

Sunday November 6th

The Plan: Sunday was our travel day, and I was hoping to squeeze some time at Magic Kingdom!

Actual: Our flight took off at 10am and landed around 12:30 in Orlando! We went straight to the Magical Express and got on a bus quickly. The Polynesian was the first stop, and we were there a bit after 2. There was a bit of an issue checking in (because we had 4 different rooms and they were trying to get us all in the same building). 2 of 4 rooms were ready, and once we all had our magic bands, we changed and hit Magic Kingdom! The first thing we did was hit City Hall where we sorted out the new disability services pass. Don’t worry, a whole post about that is coming up! Next we enjoyed dinner at Crystal Palace, watched the Castle Lighting and hit some rides! We finished the night off with Wishes, the new “Once Upon a Time” night show, and you know… Ethan and I got engaged! 🙂 You’ll have to keep an eye out for a blog post to hear the whole story!

November 6th

Monday, November 7th

Plan: Animal Kingdom Day!

Actual: We got to Animal Kingdom a little later than expected and stayed pretty much until park close (7pm). We did the important things and I finally got to see the Tree of Life Awakenings! We had a great lunch at Harambe Market (I had the Grilled Vegetable Stack) and dinner at Tusker House! Goofy was the highlight with Alex, he fell in love with her! After heading back to the resort 6 of us went to Trader Sam’s, and it was so much fun! I had a Spikey Pineapple and shared the Uh-Oah with Ethan. I really wanted to go and I’m so glad we did! We had a fairly early night after that.Expedition Everest!

Tuesday, November 8th

Plan: Sleep in, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and a visit to the Grand Floridian!

Actual: Ethan surprised me Sunday night twice, first with proposing and second with a photo session Tuesday morning at the Polynesian! So instead of sleeping in we were up at 6:15 for our 7:30 session, which was really fun! I will share those pictures with you guys soon 🙂 We grabbed some breakfast then met up with everyone and walked to the Grand Floridian! I did a little bit of shopping there and we headed back. Hayley met up with us right before lunch at Kona Café, and we headed to the Christmas Party at 4 because it’s the earliest you can get in. We did some rides and then made a plan for the Party activities. I’ll have a whole post about that, but it was a blast! We stayed pretty much until midnight.

Christmas Party

Wednesday, November 9th

Plan: All the new things at Epcot! And Food & Wine!

Actual: We made it to Epcot just after the park opened and hit Future World rides before heading to World Showcase around Noon. Hayley joined us again today! 🙂 We split up and sampled Food & Wine things, and met up for dinner at Teppan Edo which was so much fun! We hit a few more rides before Illuminations. After that the park was closed, so we hopped back on the monorail and headed back to the Polynesian and had an early night!

Epcot!

Thursday, November 10th

Plan: Magic Kingdom, evening at the Polynesian.

Actual: Our first time seeing Magic Kingdom just during the day! We slowed our pace a little today, and beat the heat with Splash Mountain! Lunch at Be Our Guest was amazing, and we headed back to the Polynesian for dinner at O’hana. Many of us enjoyed Lapu Lapu’s (a drink that comes in a pineapple) and we relaxed before watching Holiday Wishes from the beach. This was the coldest night we had seen, so I was bundled up!

Splash Mnt

Friday, November 11th

Plan: Morning in Epcot, walk to Boardwalk/ Beach Club, Evening in Hollywood Studios

Actual: We spent little time in Future World at Epcot, and more time walking around World Showcase sampling the Food & Wine offerings! My favourite was the Spicy Hummus Fries from Morocco. After riding Frozen Ever After with our FastPass+, we walked around World Showcase and left through International Gateway. We walked to Boardwalk and relaxed for a little before heading to Beach Club for lunch at Beaches & Cream. It was delicious! We then walked to Hollywood Studios for the evening where we hit all the thrills, saw Fantasmic and the Star Wars Fireworks! We stayed to park close and headed back to the resort.

Food & Wine

Saturday, November 12th

Plan: Magic Kingdom, and head home 🙁

Actual: We got up and finished packing, checked out of the hotel and left our bags with Bell Services. We headed to Disney Spring for a few hours, which was really nice! We used our Quick Service dining credits at Morimoto Street Food, and Blaze Pizza, both of which were really good! After that Ethan and I grabbed a bus back to the resort, and headed to Magic Kingdom for the last time :(. And it. was. BUSY. We spent an hour and a bit walking around taking pictures, soaking it all in. I got a little emotional when it was time to leave, because I don’t know when I will be back!

We spent some time by the pool and had something to eat before cashing snacks in for our last QS meal. While heading to the Magical Express waiting area I bumped into BeingMommyWithStyle! I knew she was vacationing as well, and it was such a surprise to see her! I said hello and chatted for a bit, but left her and her husband enjoy their date night without the kids. She’s the first YouTuber I’ve met so it was a really neat experience! All of a sudden we were on the bus and back at the airport. Just before we boarded the plane I saw GillianAtHome, another YouTuber I watch on the regular! She was on the same flight, so I talked to her for a bit before we boarded, and I even made her vlog! It was an interesting day for sure! before I knew it we were home, after a whirlwind of a trip.

Magic Kingdom

Take a look at the video below, and make sure to watch until the very end!

I hope you enjoyed a peek at what’s coming in the vlogs, and a bit of a rundown of our trip! Vlogging was more difficult than I thought it would be, especially when travelling in such a large group, but I hope you guys enjoy the sneak peek I’m sharing today!

 

As always, thank you for reading!

Kelsey