From guest contributor Cindy Simmons-
When I broke my foot, it was the first time I broke anything ever! I went straight into a cast and couldn’t walk or drive because it was my right foot. Unfortunately, it was also less than a month away before we were heading to Walt Disney World to celebrate my Momma Jane’s Birthday. Since Mom needs to be in a wheelchair for long distances and I wasn’t able to walk, we knew this trip was going to be different but by golly, we were going. My Orthopedic Doctor had removed my cast a few days before we left but put me in a walking boot. A walking boot that I couldn’t put any weight on OR walk on, so I basically had to stay off my foot.
I decided that a motorized scooter would be my best choice for conquering Disney parks so I rented one to be delivered to our hotel upon our arrival. I had my awesome Minnie inspired crutches but there was no way I could only crutch around Walt Disney World so I needed both. After I had my electric scooter booked, I headed to the Walt Disney World Parks website to check out what our options were for both my mom and my disabilities. I learned that an electric scooter is called an Electric Conveyance Vehicle aka ECV and of course Disney has a page dedicated to services for guests with disabilities so I started there. My concern was mostly the whole not being able to walk thing. How do you get on rides? How do get around at the parks? However, Disney literally lists EVERY single attraction at all of the Walt Disney World Resort Parks and how you access each one according to your mobility disability. No kidding. Reason #8,471,397 we love Disney!
Initially, everyone said to me…”score, you’re going to the front of the line!” Nope. Not anymore. I had heard years ago that several people were, how do I say this, taking advantage of the system by faking disabilities or paying someone with disabilities to accompany them to Walt Disney World. What? Really? Shame. Shame. Shame. So because of people’s dishonesty, Walt Disney World had to change their Disability Access Service (DAS) which you can see here. But here’s a snippet:
“Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experiences for guests. Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program, which provides access to attractions for guests with disabilities so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. It will also help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate. The new Disability Access Service (DAS) will allow Guests with disabilities at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort to receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. Guests Relations at the front of each park will continue to assist Guests and provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.”
The cool part of the Disability Access Service is that you can also use your DAS with your regular ol’ FastPass+. Fortunately, our situation was more mobility issues for Mom and me, so we did not utilize the Disability Access Service. We just waited in the queue with in her in the wheelchair and me on my ECV and then Mom was able to park her wheelchair and transfer on the attraction. (Note: there are actually a few attractions where you even can take your wheelchair or EC straight onto the attraction…i.e. The Jungle Cruise). Most attractions though, I would just get off my ECV and have my husband help me hop over to get on the attraction. Yes, that was a sight to see. Ha! Talk about Disney dedication. Side note…my absolute FAVORITE ride at Walt Disney World Resort is the Haunted Mansion because it was my favorite ride growing up at Disneyland California. I know before my personal experiences, when the attraction would stop, I’d get annoyed or frustrated…not anymore. They stopped that attraction for my mom and me so we could feel comfortable getting on at our own speed and because they stopped the ride, I got to ride my favorite attraction with a broken foot. So now instead of feeling frustrated when an attraction stops, I will forever say a little prayer of gratitude and a prayer for the person for whom the ride was stopped.
I have to admit I was having some pretty silly anxiety and insecurity about not being able to walk around at Walt Disney World and trying to get on the attractions. Like really? It’s Walt Disney World. One of the most magical places on Earth. As I was sitting on one of the Walt Disney World Transportation buses where I had to roll up the ramp to get on the bus, feeling slightly silly embarrassed about having a broken foot…I saw a little girl who is visually impaired. Boy, it made me really check myself. This sweet girl was at Walt Disney World, happy as could be and without a care in the world not being able to see the sights of Disney. The thing is though, she didn’t seem like she needed to, she seemed so happy just feeling the magic all around her. You could just tell by looking at her. Surrounded by family, love and happiness. But duh… THAT is what is important right?! It made me smile so big and brought a tear to my eye because it reminded that life really is truly precious. It’s so easy to get down about an injury, an illness, a bad day, haters, a relationship, a job, life…silly things that may not even matter ten years from now or even ten minutes from now, but wow life can change or be gone in an instant. We really need to just savor every moment. And getting to savor it at Walt Disney World…that’s pretty great in itself.