Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Walt Disney - Disney World - The Magic Kingdom

On July 17, 1955 Walt Disney's first theme park, Disneyland, opened it's doors in Anaheim California.

To the people in attendance Walt Disney is quoted as saying...

"To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
~Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955, 4:43pm
Walt Disney died December 16, 1966. In spite of this, the Walt Disney Company continued to expand his vision in Lake Buena Vista Florida. The second park, Walt Disney World, opened on October 1, 1971.

Today, when  you hear a friend say "I'm going to Disney World"  it could mean that they are planning to visit any one of four theme parks: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom or one of two water parks: Disney's Typhoon Lagoon or Disney's Blizzard Beach.

In celebration of our daughters 12th birthday (January 23) my husband and I took the twins, Selena and Sabrina, to the Magic Kingdom on January 19th 2013. This was their first visit to any of the Disney Parks due to the fact that both girls are autistic and have difficulty with the repeated bumping, pushing and sounds produced by large crowds of people, but also because instant gratification (no line waiting)  is a necessity if we, as their parents, plan to have a "good day."

Each stage of our trip needed to be carefully planned out to ensure the best possible outcome. I bought four of the Florida Resident 3 day park tickets for $509.96 online and reserved a room at the Knights Inn Maingate Kissimmee 7445 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, Fl 34747 (407) 396-4200 for the night of the 19th. Disney does not have printable tickets anymore so if you buy them online you will need to pick your tickets up at Will Call and you can expect to be standing in line for 20-30 minutes just to acquire them. Additionally, the hotel was fine for what we required however although it is one of the closest hotels to Disney World you may wish to make reservations at a more upscale hotel if you plan on staying for a while as the TV did not work and we had significant difficulty with our key card lock and door.

Why am I telling you all this? Well although my daughters birthday and the grand opening of the new Fantasy Land is a good enough reason, I'm telling you because I want to help other families like my own get the best experience possible. 

When we finally entered the Magic Kingdom, I made a short (10-15 minute) stop at the Town Hall and explained my unique situation to the cast member behind the desk. When I mentioned this was our first visit to Disney World, she handed over two buttons for the twins, when I said  the visit was for their 12th birthday two more buttons appeared.

I then explained that both my daughters were autistic and that they were wearing name badges with our name and cell phone number on them. She asked me about the nature of their disability and with out hesitation I told her that one of my daughters suffers from Pervasive Developmental Disorder and the other has Rhett's Syndrome. Neither of them like crowds, nor being touched, bumped or jostled around.  She asked me how many people were in our party (4) and then reached up under the desk and came up with two cards.  
Disney calls this the Guest Assistance Card. We were given one for each of our daughters in case we needed to split up for a period of time but unless you have two disabled children you'll likely only require one as long as there are no more then eight people to your party. Basically this card allowed us to use the "alternate attraction entrance" (the entrance wheelchairs use)  on rides and shows that have an alternate entrance... Not all do!  It's a Small World, Enchanted Tales with Belle, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Swiss Family Treehouse and Pirates of the Caribbean are among those that DO NOT.
Please Note: This does not grant you  immediate access to the rides. Most of the time there is still a line only shorter as many times the alternate entrance is the "Fast Pass Line."
Throughout the day we were able to take the girls to:
  • The Walt Disney World Railroad
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (x)
  • Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Carribbean (x)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Tom Sawyers Island
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • It's a Small World (x)
  • Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (x)
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Stitch's Great Escape
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
And for $52.00 additional dollars all four of us got to go to Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for a burger, fries and a coke!

The list of things we accomplished in one day, is a great feat for any family dealing with a child with disabilities who is out of their comfort zone. While we did not get to see any of the parades, the character shows, the fireworks (which are a big no no for us)  or the electrical parade, our Guest Assistance Card truly helped make our day a memorable one, free of meltdowns and tantrums and for that my husband and I are most thankful.

We even brought home a few memories..


Even though I am a member of numerous autism groups, I am active in the disabled community and attend the Family Cafe and Governor's Summit on Disabilities in Orlando almost every year I had never heard of the Guest Assistance Card. I hope that in sharing our experience at Disney World, other families in our situation will have a similar pleasant experience.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ushering in 2013

2013 started off with a bang. 

Meet the newest addition to our family, my grandson,

Jaxon Matthew.

Jax was born January 4th and although due to some medical complications he isn't home with us yet there are a plethora of things to do before he's carried through our door for the first time. Jax is expected to find his way home some time in March. Until then our family will be making two hour trips to and from All Children's Hospital to visit with him and my daughter Megan who has found lodging close to the hospital.
I have given my daughter my lap top and camera to use while she is away so we can keep in touch. Therefore, I can not currently write "on the fly" or even out of the confines of the 4 walls of my office. However I have a short story ready for the editor of Skipping Stones Magazine and  I am currently working an additional story that takes place in Oahu.
Many thanks to Shelly Tarmey, Operations Manager for the Lodges at Kaneohe Bay and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau for providing me with some geographic, cultural, and historical information that will lend itself to the completion of the story.
The one year Bloggiversary of the Power of Words on Paper (Jan 2nd) came and went virtually unnoticed by everyone, including me. I was preparing for Jaxon's arrival and was with Megan at the hospital and it never even crossed my mind that I should have been doing something to make it a big deal.  I suppose the only thing to do now is to continue building a fan base and plan for next year.  It's a shame though, Year One is gone and I would have liked to have found a way to thank those people who have supported me in my newest venture.
New Years also passed without a big fuss, but I assume that just like every year, New Years Resolutions were made and being that it is already the 14th of January at least 1/8 of you have given up on the prospect of loosing weight or quitting smoking.  No matter what change your trying to make to better yourself this year, have faith my friends.  Soldier on and keep fighting, it can be done.
I didn't have time to think of any Resolutions for the New Year with everything that was going on here at the time however now that I have had time to think, throughout the year I would like to ...
1. Muscle Train - I am planning a major surgery, a hip replacement, later this year and I need to be in better physical shape to aid in my recovery.
2. Post on this blog and my author Facebook Page, a minimum of 2x per week.
3. Complete NanoWriMo this year. Be it at camp in the summer or in November.
4. Cut the fat! No I'm not talking about my weight, I'm talking about the people who weigh you down. The non supportive people, people  who just take and never give, the ones who expect you to do everything for them and never lift a finger. I need a better outlook on life so...... Ya me despido! ( It's time to say goodbye. )
5. To take time with my husband,  plan a trip, go fishing, discover a new hobby  or pick back up a forgotten one. Our children are 22, 19, 15, and soon to be 12 and 12.  With the exception of the youngest of the lot, it is certainly time they become independent and run their own lives.  
Those five things shouldn't be to hard to do. I know there will be times when I fail but that's the thing about Resolutions they make us reflect on ourselves, something we seldom do as a people, and then compel us to try and and improve our own faults.  The journey is often just as important as the accomplishment.
So what were your Resolutions for this year?