Autism Watch: 2007

Disney Mania

Posted on: June 26, 2008

We’re annual passholders at Disneyland, so we try to go at least once a month, if not more often. With leaving for vacation soon, we weren’t sure we could fit it in but we wanted to check out the new Toy Story Mania ride. In one word: fantastic! Again, Disney has succeeded with a unique ride that is definitely going to be a big hit. Before you go, prepare your child that it’s not so much of a ‘ride’ as it is an event in which you participate. The car you sit in spins a bit (four to a car, but two to a seat, and you won’t see the other two in the car at all during the ride) and moves semi-quickly but there’s no up/down. The thing that you might want to be ready for is that some of the objects ‘fly’ at you — it’s 4-D flying, but they do an amazing job of feeling the objects as they fly at you. Ds did great, didn’t freak at all, and insisted on going back again later. So we did!

For a Monday after school was out, the park wasn’t that busy. We waited a mere 3-4 minutes to get our special assistance pass renewed, then headed off for rides, rides, and more rides. Tower of Terror is a ‘must ride’ every time, and we even got him to go on Soarin’ Over California. And, wonder of wonders, he was just tall enough to ride California Screamin’ — and he got front row! Talk about proud, I thought dh was going to cry afterwards. 😉

As you know, or maybe not but you will now, autistic children have unique personalities. They usually know what they want, and trying to change their mind is often futile. You end up trying to understand what they want, then learning that’s often futile, too, and just go with the flow. This was clear again when we took the little ones shopping and told them to pick a souvenir bigger (e.g. more expensive) than what they normally buy, as an ‘end of the school year’ celebratory purchase. First stop, dd finds a keychain, and ds finds a “crystal skull” (so named since he saw Indiana Jones’ latest movie). Next store, ds finds this big, thick walking stick, topped with a wooden skull. (Notice the theme here?) Cute, but honey, really, how are you going to carry that the rest of the night, and what will you do with it? Two more stores later, and ds is running to the skull-topped walking skull immediately consistently, like he knows the store layout. I pick up the tag; it’s $35. So it’s not just a walking stick, it’s an expensive walking stick….handcarved out of some special wood in Bali. Okay, that explains the price. But again, how are you going to carry it the rest of the night, and what will you do with it? Thirty minutes later, I had the answer. He wasn’t going to carry it; we were. And he was going to name it and make it his new friend. After we got him back in the stroller, we spent the rest of the evening saying “Honey, hold it straight up. Straight up! STRAIGHT UP!” to prevent the skull from taking out unsuspecting guests. To his credit, it apparently was a cool souvenir. It got a slew of comments but all he cared about was that it was his. And what does he do with it? Sleep with it…carry it around everywhere…it took a bit for him to realize that it wasn’t going on our vacation with us. No, really, we aren’t carrying it and I doubt the airline would have let us carry it on anyway. (Then again, at this point, maybe it’s just lucky if we autistic families get to stay on the plane anyway? Maybe I shouldn’t joke. I’m getting on a plane in about 35 hours….and landing at Raleigh-Durham airport. No, I’m not flying American Airlines.)

If you’re considering a Disneyland trip soon, go for it. If you can, try out the Blue Bayou restaurant at the Pirates of Caribbean ride, but make reservations or you will be out of luck. It’s not cheap — kids’ meals are $7-$8, and it comes with loaded plates (we aren’t GFCF so I didn’t ask about it) and adult entrees start around $27.99 and go up. Also, they offered my dd a ‘larger’ portion of the child’s mac ‘n cheese plate, and we said yes…for $18.99, who knew? But, the service is phenomenal and the environment is different from anywhere else you go. It wasn’t without its entertainment, courtesy of ds and his behaviors. He loves to shove food in without silverware, and the plain pasta went in so quick, he ended up gagging. No more pasta. He tried the chicken. Didn’t like the consistency. No more chicken. The grapes and strawberries were a little more successful…a little…but his favorite was the rolls and butter. (Again, we’re not GFCF so I know this is easier for us than it would have been otherwise.) The cookie, decoration from our Creme Brulee Trio dessert, was not chocolate chip. Disneyland really helps make the whole visit as ‘normal’ as possible, but you’re not without little reminders all evening about the necessary accommodations.

Not sure if I’ll be able to update for a couple of weeks. It depends on our internet access while traveling, but I promise to have some interesting stories to share when we return. Enjoy your fourth of July! (This year, we won’t be spending it with ds hiding in a box in our driveway…not only are fireworks no longer allowed in our city, but headphones and a firm snuggle on my lap have really improved on the holiday.)

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1 Response to "Disney Mania"

I had visions of my own son when I read about yours in the souvenir shops. Isn’t it funny how, if we truly let them pick what THEY want, it usually ends up being something that they’re absolutely in LOVE with? My son proves me “wrong” all the time, by picking out the weirdest things, but loving them all the same! Hope you’re having a great vacay!

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