Saturday, May 24, 2014

Disney's New Disability Access Service is Fair?

We went to Disney World a few months ago and were able to try their new “Disability Access Service”.  I can say our trip to DisneyWorld was not Magical!   I am not saying it was all bad.  I did like the way all the cast members looked Marebear in the eye and called her "princess". But the problem is we spent most of our time trying to work within the parameters of the new "Disability Access Service" system.

The new "Disability Access Service" system was developmental due to misuse (see blog post on Disney World changes to disability policy ).

How does it work:

When you get to the park you go to the guest service desk and ask for the “Disability Access Service”.  They give you a card with your child’s picture and name (see photo below).  This card is basically used as a Fastpast.  The cast member will look at the wait time of the ride, and give your party (no more than 6 people in a party.  So I guess if you have more than four kids, you get the pleasure of picking which person will have to go and wait in line.)  You are also only allowed to have one ride at a time on your card.  So if the wait time for the Peter Pan ride is over 1 hour (which most of the time it is) you are not able to ride any other rides during that time. 
As you can see we were there for a week and in no way did we ride all the rides.

I understand the new “Disability Access Service” program has rules, but what about special cases? For instance my family was waiting (off to the side of a ride) for the designated time of a ride.  We only had ten minutes left until our ride time when my daughter had a bowl movement. For the sake of everyone, I took her for the extremely long walk to the first aid station so I could properly change her. By the time we were able to get back to the ride it was past our time indicated on the card.  The cast member would not let us ride the ride because she states we had not come in the one hour of time allotted on our card.  Needless to say I was more than a little upset.  I informed her that I was not out in the park riding other rides or doing anything remotely fun, I was changing a smelly diaper.  But to her the   “Disability Access Service” was bound by its rules and we need to wait the same as everyone else because if we didn't it would not be “FAIR” to the other guest.   FAIR.  Who said life was fair?  I mean life is not fair for my daughter or our family. 

It is not fair that we have to:
  • Worry about Seizure on a ride and what to do when our daughter has seizures.
  • Worry about how to keep her from having a seizure.
  • Keep her emergency seizure medicine with us at all time in the park and administer them to her in the park.
  • Find a first aid station every time she soiled her diaper. (we are never close to one when it happens)
  • Bring a packed diaper bag in the park for a 10 year old
  • Worry about her immune system becoming compromised.
  • Find a private place in the park we can tube feed her.
  • Make sure everything is wheelchair accessibility.
  • Know how to transferring a 70 pound preteen from a wheelchair to a ride while the ride is moving.
  • Worry about sensory overload or melt downs.
  • Worry about the heat or cold because she cannot regulate her own body temperature. 
  • Knowing at any time she will have a meltdown.
  • Never hearing her say to me what her favorite part of going to Disney because she is non-verbal.
  • Watch as people stare and point at her as we walk around
  • Dealing with non-compassionate people

The list goes on and on...

So why is everyone so concerned with life being fair for everyone?  I mean I wish life was fair, but as you can read that clearly is not the case.   So they are right it is not fair that my daughter will wheel up to a ride after a person and get to go on the ride before them.  But you know what else is not fair? I will most likely out-live my daughter. I have to feed, diaper and talk for my 10 year old daughter.   When put in perspective of waiting a little longer in line so that I might have one more precious memory with my daughter before she leaves this earth it doesn't seem so unfair.  One more memory of our family at Disney World, " the Happiest Place on Earth" as I am laying in my bed crying because I miss her so much and can no longer hug her or kiss her little face.  So you’re right it's not fair.

So I ask parents of typically developing kids to rethink the idea of being “fair” when it comes to special needs kids.  It’s okay for your kids to let a special needs child have a little more time with a toy when it comes to sharing.  It’s okay for your kids to let a special needs child go first.  AND it’s okay for your kids to let special needs kids go on a ride a little bit before them too!  I mean isn't that what being compassionate is all about?  And isn't compassion what we as parents are trying to teach our children?