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Mito and the Mouse: Tips for adults and children with Mito who plan to visit Florida attractions

Question: 

Has anybody done Disney? We are planning a trip to Walt Disney World within the next several months. Our 5 year-old daughter has Mitochondrial Disease.  She doesn’t generally use a wheelchair, but this trip would definitely require us to bring her medical stroller. Do airlines charge additional fees for wheelchairs or medical strollers?  Does Disney World offer any accommodations to individuals with medical conditions or disabilities?  Do children with disabilities have to wait in lines with everyone else?  My daughter has food allergies as well.  Should I bring food for her for the length of the trip, or will I be able to find foods that she can safely eat?  Thanks in advance for any advice!  Tabitha

Answer: 

Walt Disney World is very “special needs friendly” and there is a wealth of resources available to assist families in planning vacations.  I have listed several of the most common secondary conditions that individuals with Mito often experience.   For more information, contact Disney Guest Relations at the following phone numbers:

General information for guests with disabilities:

Walt Disney World Guest Services Voice: (407) 824-4321  TTY: (407) 827-5141

Disneyland Guest Services Voice: 714) 781-INFO  TTY: (714) 781-4569 

Guest Assistance Cards

Disney guests with special needscan discreetly alert cast members about their unique needs by presenting a Guest Assistance Card, which provides information regarding the type of assistance each disabled guest may need. GAC’s can be obtained at Guest Services in all four parks.  When you request a GAC, be sure to tell the Cast Member about your or your child’s specific intervention needs rather than a medical diagnosis.  GAC’s are not “front-of-the-line” passes; instead, the card specifies accommodations necessary for the disabled guest to enjoy the ride. Here are some examples of accommodations provided by the GAC:

  • Permit family to use a stroller as a wheelchair (most attractions require strollers to be parked outside and cannot be taken into ride queues, restaurants, and theaters.)

  • Direct family to an alternate entrance to a ride.  For example, some ride queues have stairs, which could be dangerous for someone with disabilities.

  • Permit guest to sit rather than stand while waiting for a ride or other attraction

  • Provide a shaded wait area

  • Preferential seating during shows and parades

Families who visit Walt Disney World as part of a wish trip receive a different pass, which does allow the family to go to the head of the line, as well as receive lots of attention and “magical moments” throughout their length of stay.

http://www.everythingwdisneyworld.com/2012/05/special-needs-and-disabilities-at-walt.html

 

 The following websites provide a wealth of information about Walt Disney World and Disneyland vacations:  

General Disability and Chronic Illness

Autism

  • www.wdwautism.com This site provide in-depth information for families traveling to WDW or DL with a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.   Information provided includes detailed descriptions of sensory experiences encountered on each attraction. These include sudden or loud noises, flashing lights, smells, water misting, wind, and vibrations. 

  • http://allears.net/pl/dis_aut.htm  Taking your Child with Autism to Walt Disney World 

  • GPS tracking devices:

  • Hotel room safety and comfort

    • The GE Wireless Door Alarm is easily attached to either a standard hotel room door or a sliding balcony door.  When the alarm is engaged and the door is opened, an alarm will sound.  The door alarm can be fastened and removed easily when affixed with a product such as the 3M Command adhesive picture hanger strips.

    • The Safety Sleeper is a  safe, portable, fully-enclosed bed that works with any twin mattress or could be used as a free-standing portable bed for children with special needs.  It easily assembles and disassembles like a tent and does not look “institutional” at all.  The site includes tips for applying for insurance reimbursement. 

    • http://www.myreadysetbloom.com/  This is also a tent-type bed enclosure that can be used on a twin mattress or the floor.

Blind/Low Vision

Mobility Impairments

            If your child is too big to sit comfortably in a standard stroller, you may want to borrow a special needs stroller from a DME lending closet.  There are medical strollers that fold up like an umbrella-type stroller, but can comfortably fit a child, adolescent, or even a small adult.  These national equipment lending programs are a good place to begin your search:

  • http://mda.org/services/equipment-assistance  The Muscular Dystrophy Association clinics have equipment loan closets available for use by adults and children who currently receive or have ever received MDA clinic services. 

  • http://passitoncenter.org/locations/search.aspx   The Pass It On Center is a national Assistive Technology reuse center. Durable medical equipment is located and lent free of charge or for a small processing fee.   

  • www.ilru.org/html/publications/directory/index.html   Most Independent Living Centers have equipment lending closets or can direct you to other local organizations that provide short- or long-term equipment lending.  This link leads to a directory of all ILC’s in the US.  There are also databases of ILC’s in US territories, Canada, and many other international programs. 

  • www.easterseals.com Most state-run Easter Seals programs include an equipment and toy lending library. Find your local program by simply entering your zip code on the Easter Seals home page.

  • http://www.rmmor.org/nonprofits.htm  More lending closets, organized by state 

Here is information for adults and children with all kinds of mobility-related disabilities, mobility devices, and information specifically related to mobility in and outside the WDW parks and other area attractions.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Service Dogs

  • http://allears.net/pl/service.htm General information for guests with service animals, including “relief areas,” navigating WDW transportation with SD’s, information about rides and attractions that are and are not suitable for SD’s, and other general policies specific to Disney property. 

  • http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/181  This site contains general information regarding travel and vacationing with SD’s, as well as information specifically focused on WDW and other central Florida attractions. 

Food Allergies/Special Diets

  • https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/special-dietary-requests/   Basic information for guests with special dietary needs; application for special dietary requests can be submitted when dining reservations are made.  Written information regarding food allergy, vegetarian, kosher, renal diet, low-protein, diabetic, Celiac, GFCF, specific carbohydrate, and other special dietary needs is available for all on-site food service locations, including formal dining, buffets, counter service, and cart service. 

Tube Feeding/TPN

  • http://oley.org/lifeline/TF_Disney_Travel.html  Families of children and adults with feeding tubes and TPN share their experiences regarding Disney vacations.

  • http://www.oley.org/traveltips.html   The Oley Foundation has created an information packet for travelers who receive enteral and/or parenteral nutrition.  This document helps people communicate their unique medical needs, especially if the person becomes ill and needs to receive treatment at an unfamiliar medical institution. 

Other Health Conditions

Enjoy your vacation.  I hope you have a wonderful time!