Walt Disney World with Cerebral Palsy

Between May 1 – May 7, 2005, my husband and I took a vacation to Walt Disney World Florida. The trip was to mark our third wedding anniversary. I’d like to give you suggestions for your Walt Disney World trip.

I have athetoid/spastic cerebral palsy. I need assistance in daily personal care and I use a motorized wheelchair. For this trip, I took my AT’M motorized chair. It’s a very good chair for travel.

PLANNING THE TRIP AND ORDERING TICKETS:

1. You cannot buy accessible rooms over the Internet on the Walt Disney web site. I’m not quite sure why that is, but you need to fill out a form and they email you. Instead of that hassle, I suggest calling Walt Disney directly. Explore their site and figure out what you want and then call and book it.

2. We choose to fly on Southwest Airlines. We never flew them before, but I’m afraid of flying so we picked the number one safest airline. I really don’t have any complaints. They sat us in the first row. They don’t have first class or in flight entertainment, but the flight was smooth.

3. Now that they have Magical Express you don’t have to worry too much about transportation when you arrive. You might want to mention you need a lift on the bus, but it looked like a lot of the buses had wheelchair lifts.

PACKING TIPS:

1. Try to pack enough clothes because laundry service is expensive. Remember you can wear clothes for multiple days by rinsing or cleaning them in the sink and drying them on a drying rack.

2. Pack medicines. If you’re like me, you get sick frequently and easily. I regretted not asking my doctor for antibiotics to take with me. The first day we were there, I got strep throat and we had to take time and money to go to the medical facility to get treated. Also pack cold medicine, headache medicine, and any other medicine you might need.

3. Pack plenty of sunscreen and sunglasses. I wore a lot of capris because they cover a lot of the thigh of the leg that can easily be burned when sitting in a wheelchair.

4. Pack rain ponchos and rain jackets. It does rain in Florida and the rain is not good for your wheelchair.

My husband and I had my Dad drive us to the airport. Lucky for us, he could do it. I took my ATM wheelchair, one big suitcase, and one bookbag. The charger for my wheelchair could fit in our suitcase.

My dad dropped us off and we immediately checked our bag in at curbside check in. They also asked me what kind of battery I had, and I didn’t know. It wasn’t a huge problem, but you might want to find out before you go.

SECURITY

1. When you’re in a wheelchair, you still need to go through security. Make sure that you take off your bookbag so it can go through the bag check. The security people will usually have you pull into a separate room and they’ll scan you to make sure you don’t have anything you shouldn’t.

AIRPLANE

1. Make sure you check in with your airline after security so they know what assistance you’ll need. They will probably want to put you on the plane before anyone else.

2. I’m afraid of flying, but I took this free online course – Fear of Flying Course and it helped me a great deal. It also helps if you tell the flight staff because they try to comfort you.

3. Try to use the bathroom ahead of time because the bathroom on the airplane is really small.

GETTING TO THE HOTEL

1. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you’ll probably use a Magical Express Bus. They have wheelchair lifts and the drivers are very helpful. You just need to tell them what hotel you’re staying at. They’ll also take you back to the airport. The Magical Express buses have TVs that help give you ideas about your trip. The bus ride is about 30 minutes.

HOTEL

Israel and I stayed at Pop Century which is a Disney Resort Value Hotel. We got a room with a king size bed and a roll in shower. We liked the room except there could be more room between the TV and bed. The roll in shower didn’t have a slope or lip so the water went all over the bathroom.

DINING PLAN:

Israel and I choose the dining plan where you get a table service meal, snack, and counter service meal. We found this plan to be very effective. It was all paid for and even the tip was included. All you do is look at the brochure and see the lists of restaurants participating in the plan. Many are.

MAGIC KINGDOM

The Magic Kingdom turned out to be our favorite park. I’ve been there twice before, but my husband has never been. The accessibility is very good and easy to navigate. Many rides we were interested in, I didn’t need to transfer.

Our Favorites:

It’s a Small World – If you’re in a wheelchair, you can go right in. This makes it so much easier and you don’t bump into others. They have a couple boats that you can drive or wheel your chair right on. It’s not scary at all and a must see.

Buzz Lightyear – This ride might seem for younger children, but it’s for people of all ages. You can drive or wheel into a wheelchair accessible car and participate. It is a little loud and lots of flashing lights, but it’s not scary. We rode this twice.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic – This was definitely our favorite. It was a 3D movie with music, smells, and feelings. We were amazed by it. You don’t have to get out of your wheelchair. Some parts might be a little loud, but it is not scary.

Cinderellabration – We only saw this from afar, but it was good. It shows all the princes and princessess together. At the end the shoot off a few fireworks even in the daytime. I found the fireworks startling and you can hear them no matter where you are in the park.

Haunted Mansion – This ride Israel had to transfer me. They made it very easy by stopping the ride so he could put me on/off. The ride is gentle, but a little spooky.

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art21771.asp


Disability Organizations to Host Historic Voting Summit

Advocates to focus on how to get more people with disabilities engaged in elections

Contact: Jim Baker
(202) 973-7114

Washington, DC, February 8, 2005 – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) will welcome disability vote leaders from across the nation to the first ever National Disability Vote Summit to strategize about how to get more voters with disabilities engaged in elections. Approximately 20% of the entire voting age population has some form of disability.

Confirmed speakers include:

Mark Mellman, President and CEO of the Mellman Group, and pollster for John Kerry ‘04
Brian Donahue, National Director of the Republican National Committee’s 72 Hour Project
Gracia Hillman, Chair of the Election Assistance Commission

Who: American Association of People with Disabilities and United Cerebral Palsy host key state and national disability vote leaders to analyze 2004 disability vote efforts and strategize for future election cycles. All sessions are open to the media.

When: February 9 – 10th
First session begins at 9:00 a.m. on Day One and 8 a.m. on Day Two

Where: Metro Center Marriott Hotel
Meeting Salons C&D
775 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Contact: For a complete schedule of events, please contact Jim Baker.

The AAPD Disability Vote Project, through state organizations, registered tens of thousands of people with disabilities to vote in 2004. DontBlockMyVote.org, the online UCP voting rights campaign generated more than 16,000 letters to Members of Congress and the White House in support of full funding for the Help America Vote Act.

About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy is one of the nation’s leading organizations serving and advocating for the more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. Most UCP consumers are people with disabilities other than cerebral palsy. Through its nationwide network, United Cerebral Palsy offers services to individuals, families and communities such as job training and placement, physical therapy, individual and family support, early intervention, social and recreation programs, community living, state and local referrals, and instruction on how to use technology to perform everyday tasks. For more information, call (800) 872-5827.

About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

AAPD is the country’s largest cross-disability membership organization, with more than 100,000 members. AAPD’s mission is to politically and economically empower the more than 54 million people living with disabilities in the U.S. Toward that end, AAPD is dedicated to educating businesses and the general public about disability issues, and providing membership benefits, such as financial services and product discounts. AAPD helps to unite the diverse community of people with disabilities, including their family, friends and supporters, and to be a national voice for change in implementing the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.