Monday, October 29, 2012

Disabled or Not: Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth!

I am going to admit something right off:  I love Disneyland!  It’s not that I am a huge cartoon fan but I do love smiles and laughter and all things happy.  Oh my gosh!  And I love the parades and life-size characters and the music and going on It’s a Small World several dozen times –

Good grief!  Please stop me!  You can only imagine how annoying I am at Disneyland.  It’s so bad my husband, Richard, threatens to wear ear plugs while in It’s a Small World!

At the Happiest Place on Earth

Maybe I love it because I grew up in Nebraska and didn’t to Disneyland until I was in my twenties.

Maybe I’m enthralled with the persistence of Walt Disney and his brother, Roy, following a dream. 

Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a fantastic marketing campaign.

Whatever the case, I do love Disneyland.  I even went there two years ago with the kids (okay, I know they’re grown!) and my husband to celebrate my 50th birthday.  (Oops, did I just give away my age?). 

I was fortunate enough to go again earlier this month.  The stars were aligned perfectly.  I had a legal administrator conference in Anaheim and, coincidentally, my mother-in-law turned 70 in May and was determined to visit Disneyland during Halloween as a present to herself.  Richard and his brothers decided to surprise her with an all-expense paid trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! 

An added bonus was the conference was held at the DISNEYLAND HOTEL (!) with room rates drastically reduced.  Richard and his mom, Carol, and I shared a room with a view of the “Neverland” swimming pool and Disneyland mere minutes away. 

Well, mere minutes for someone without mobility issues.  Richard and Carol both have mobility issues (Richard because of his chronic back pain and Carol due to her heart and knee issues) so our visit through Downtown Disney was more leisurely than most. 

We anticipated needing to rent a wheelchair but Richard also brought the transport chair with him just in case.  We had carefully planned our visit with mobility issues a huge consideration.  However, Carol refused to be pushed around in the transport chair or a wheelchair and instead insisted on renting a motor scooter.  I offered to push Richard in the transport chair but he preferred to walk and take breaks when his pain got too much. 

So much for planning!

Disneyland itself is well prepared to handle anyone with a disability.  It’s a Small World even has boats designed to let a motor scooter ride directly onto it so the person never has to leave their scooter yet can enjoy the attraction. 

Most rides and attractions have disabled access lines which means a shorter wait time which is a huge help to those who can’t stand for long periods of time.  The Disneyland website has a whole section dedicated to describing the services available to those with hearing, mobility or visual disabilities.  There is even information about service animals which are welcomed at Disneyland as well as a warning about lighting sensitivity in case of a seizure disorder. 

Yes!  Disneyland is sensitive to those with epilepsy!  (I'm not sure I could take Robert, though, since we'd have to fly and don't think he'd do well on a plane).

We were all excited to be in Disneyland and Carol was happy to have some independence on her scooter so she wasn’t a burden to anyone which was her fear.

The park does get crowded though (as you might imagine) and we quickly found out it is a little difficult to navigate a motor scooter through all the people.  It doesn’t help to have a first time driver (yes, Carol, I’m talking about you) who is so eager to take in all the sights that she becomes easily distracted by the constant stimuli surrounding her while still driving. 

We did our best to give Carol a wide berth all the while discreetly directing traffic in front of her, behind her and on all sides of her. 

When that wasn’t enough, we resorted to screaming “LOOK OUT” to anyone within earshot (or in danger of having their foot run over).    

Even with this extra bit of adventure, I would love to go to Disneyland again with her and I’m sure we’ll rent the scooter again.  After all, she needs to be able to see everything she can while not feeling like she’s slowing the rest of us down.  At Disneyland, they make that possible.

Next time we’re there, though, be sure to look out for a smiling lady wearing flashing mouse ears.  She’s at the Happiest Place on Earth and isn’t about to let a few people/strollers/toddlers/curbs wipe the smile off of her face. 

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


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