About three years ago, I wrote a very similar post about navigating the Disney Resort with a broken pancreas. However, times have changed, information was left out, and the post was extremely long. To follow up on this original post, I’m creating shorter series-like posts to reference at different points of trip planning.
Why is this relevant to the non-Disney fan? The Friends for Life Conference is held annually in Orlando, usually on or near Disney property. CWD is also planning a conference at the Disneyland Hotel in September 2016 and May 2017. (And if you are a parent caring for a CWD, definitely check out a Friends for Life conference if you can.) In between sessions and in the evenings would be a fantastic time to check out the Resort.
These posts are Disneyland Resort, California specific, but the tips can apply to visiting the Resort in Orlando as well. (I just live much closer to “Land.”)
One Disney Park item I haven’t really explored in great detail is the Disability Access Service program. The major reason for not doing so? Well, honestly, why would I need this – I don’t have any special needs that would require this amenity in the Parks.
I’ve been on enough Disney vacations where my condition has never been a hindrance (*knocks wood*). I have had moments, interruptions, and inconveniences of course. But I am lucky enough to not have diabetes completely mess with plans.
Consider the Disability Access Service Card to be a safety net for an already well thought out plan.
Some background: In an effort to make the Parks enjoyable for everyone, the DAS cards are available at Guest Services, providing equal access to the amenities, programs, and attractions as needed. Those with mobility, auditory, vision, or cognitive disabilities are frequently used as examples in blogs, news articles and other forms of media to describe this program. The recently revised program involves a short interview with Guest Services and a photo of the individual requesting the card. Disney is not able to ask guests to provide proof of any condition or illness during the interview; only ask what are the requirements the guest needs to make the experience more enjoyable. For example, a child with autism may need a quiet place to stand in line and the ability to leave a line and return at another time.
The card then serves as a Fast Pass-like feature, allowing the guest to not spend time sitting in one queue for long periods of time in a crowded place. Instead, a return time is given at various guest service stations, or the ride itself, and the card holder and family members will ride during their specific time. Click here for a whole lot of information about the program.
This revision apparently serves as a fraud deterrent because the previous program allowed guests to “jump to the front of the line” or ride a ride multiple times without getting off.
Since I have nothing to compare it to, I have no idea if the previous program was better than the current. But, I fully support keeping a program honest and a Fast Pass-like system isn’t a terrible idea. There are a few blogs available via Google Searches, as well as Disney Forums detailing stories of experiences with the new (and old) system.
So why would this benefit people with diabetes at all? I know, for one, I feel guilty using these systems because “I don’t look sick.” I have an invisible illness so I should be able to enjoy these Parks just as my husband would, right?
But then I thought of a few examples:
- Queues in the heat. I have talked about how keeping hydrated is very important in the Parks. And while Anaheim doesn’t get extremely hot most of the year, summer season can be surprising. In recent months, Anaheim has topped out around 100 degrees; not fun. Even the best efforts to keep hydrated can be thwarted by a hot day. And if I’m stuck in Peter Pan’s queue in the afternoon, where the average wait is 40 minutes on a good day, I can kiss goodbye to my insulin’s effectiveness. Instead, I could use the pass to “wait” in the shade somewhere, then approach the exit with my party and ride as normal.
- Hypoglycemia in lines. Lows can strike at the most inconvenient times. Nothing like having to chomp down on glucose tablets while in line and then feeling the hangover around a ton of people while remaining upright. The DAS cards grants users, and their guests, readmission rights. Or a little sheet of paper that states, “hey, return between these times and jump back in the FastPass line when ready.”
- Frequent bathroom trips. Similar to point two – if blood sugars are running higher than normal, most likely, so is the frequency to use the restroom. The readmission cards will also be helpful in these instances since bathrooms are never near the queues.
- Access to quiet spaces. I personally like time to decompress after a bad low. But I’m far from the age of being able to sit in the Baby Care Center without a child. (Though, a child with diabetes probably can.) Guest Services should be able to provide a guest with this information and point out any special areas to retreat if I just need a moment.
- Access to clean spaces to do site changes. Surely, a crowded restroom with a zillion screaming kids and no counter space is not an ideal place to change an infusion set. Ask Guest Services about Family Restrooms or other suggestions to do this while in the Parks.
- Special diets. The Resort restaurants are ready to accommodate a litany of special diets, including dairy free, vegetarianism, gluten free, and no refined sugar. These requests can be made without a DAS card, of course. But for more complicated requirements, allergies, or diets, include this in the conversation with guest services. I will talk about food and beverage in a later post.
These are just a few suggestions of how diabetes can be accommodated with the DAS program. From what I’ve gathered, the interview is more of a “how can we accommodate you best” questionnaire, rather than an interrogation to ensure people aren’t cheating the system. But, in this one instance, diabetes can serve as an advantage to organizing a trip.
I plan to explore this program a bit more when I visit in November. Has anyone used the DAS cards as a T1? Share your experience below.