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Old 12-23-2009, 12:08 AM   #1
lizmom
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DS trip report daughter in wheel chair/GAC/other

WDW trip report with 20 year daughter in wheel chair – GAC and other info

I just returned from one of the best trips of our lives at WDW. My daughter is 20 years old and in a wheelchair all the time. Mom and twin daughters traveled together. Our trip was planned 6 weeks before travel. Our experience with WDW was awesome! I want to share with you how our trip was wonderful – particularly regarding my daughters disability challenges. I hope this information will help you plan and have a great trip too.

First off I want to qualify what I am going to say by explaining a few things about our attitudes with travel. We have traveled a considerable amount over the years with my daughter. We are experienced with wheelchair travel and do not get “bent out of shape” easily. We expect things to go wrong and especially are aware that others often do not understand our needs. We are strong advocates for making things work out but also anticipate problems every time we travel.
We always thank everybody who takes extra time to help us and I mean everybody. I can not over emphasize the value of kindness, patience and appreciation towards those that are assisting you with the challenges of traveling with a disability. This is the absolute key for having a good experience:

1) I called ahead to arrange a room and found one at POR for $96 a night for 5 nights for the three of us, the week before Christmas. They had no accessible rooms available at that resort and I didn’t want to pay more for another resort. I talked with the agent for 30 mins. I told him we would take a non accessible room but could it please be on the ground floor near the lobby. When I arrived we had two connecting rooms, one of which was accessible with a roll in shower and a low king bed. We were in building 14 (rooms 1403 and 1404). This building was very close to the lobby building and handicapped parking was right outside the door.

2) We rented a car and brought our placard for the parking and were directed to the front row or two of every parking lot (at MGK you take a monorail too). We just zipped in and out of very park. Most days we did two parks a day.

3) GAC: We went to the MGK guest relations as soon as we arrived and got a GAC. We had no doctors note. We bought a lanyard and a clear plastic card holder. We put the pass in the holder and she wore this around her neck. Every time we approached a ride (or show) we showed them the pass and were taken care of. If no one was there we just went in until we bumped into an employee. In a few cases they asked us to take the pass out and they looked at it. She rode every roller coaster!

4) Getting on the rides: Most of time she could swing herself onto a ride. Sometimes my other daughter and I had to lift her on. Some rides have a special car we had to wait for that the side opened up on(Rock and Roll Roller Coaster). On a few of the rides her entire chair could go into a special car. The staff were incredibly helpful! They were amazing at every ride and we did not have a single negative experience with rides. No one ever challenged us about her health or ability to safely ride (which is something we often have to deal with other places).

5) Park map and guide for the disabled: At every single park we stopped at guest relations and got a map and guide for that park for the disabled. This was very HELPFUL. We studied each one before navigating each park. The map details where the special disabled seating is for wheelchairs for the parades. Since the seating is reserved we could come 15 minutes before the parades or events happened, and thus continue seeing the park while everyone else secured their spots and hour ahead of time.

6) Shows: We saw most of the shows including several special Christmas shows. At Hollywood studios we went to the stunt shows too. We were able to arrive fairly close to show time (15 mins) and were escorted to the wheelchair seating through a special line. Again the employees were fantastic and went with us to the seating making sure we were all set. Although this may be because we showed up closer to show time when the other people were mostly seated already. We usually had to sit in the back row (except for a few special Christmas concerts) but that was no big deal and we saw everything just fine.

7) Dinners/Eating: We ate at a few on the nicer restaurants and had no problem getting a great table. They sat us right next to the belly dancing show at the Moroccan restaurant. DS upgraded up to a front row table at the ALOHA dinner (which was more expensive) because they had no accessible seating in tier three which we had bought. The Brown Derby gave us on the spot seating one night despite being unable to get a reservation after several calls. They had to take us around the outside through a side door to get us in.

I hope this helps others. We have never had such a hassle free vacation. I will sing DS praises for years to come.

Last edited by lizmom; 12-23-2009 at 10:42 AM. Reason: removed information
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:01 AM   #2
mikipe2
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Very cool. I'm glad you had such a great time.

And thank you so much for writing up your experiences. I'm going for the first time in January, and I'll be in an ECV. Slightly different situation, but still very helpful to read your experiences.
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:44 AM   #3
kaytieeldr
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Nice report, but just a couple of notes for future readers: a GAC should not have been necessary in this case; the use of a wheelchair/ecv is a visual indicator to the CMs that the Guest may need alternate access. Simply telling the CM, "I [she] can transfer with assistance from others in our party" should be sufficient. And the other - I'm not sure what "DS" is - Disney?
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:02 AM   #4
KPeveler
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the wheelchair may not have met all her DD's needs - a wheelchair is not enough for me anymore.

If what you need is an accessible entrance - the wc is enough to let them know you need the accessible entrance...

Not everyone gets the same GAC stamp, and it does not always work the same way. in fact, it doesnt even work the same way with the same stamp.

Glad everything went so well...
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Last edited by SueM in MN; 12-23-2009 at 07:43 AM. Reason: removed information
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