Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘special assistance pass

We spent yesterday evening at Disneyland — got there at 4pm, and were into California Adventure by 4:15pm, and on Tower of Terror, special guest assistance pass in hand, by 4:30. We were moving! (Not that I want to add to my quick lines, but getting the pass in Cal Adventure is much faster than Disney itself, as the line is always shorter. It’s directly to the left when you walk in, at guest services.) Since we always keep our old pass, we just show them and ask for renewal each time, updating the number of people in our party, though they do often ask to see ds, which is no problem. He’s usually so excited to be there, you can hear him a mile away.

After Tower of Terror, ds’s favorite ride by far, we left Cal Adventure, just missing the new Prince Caspian parade. It sounds really cute, but ds only likes parades from afar, for a few minutes, so it’s much easier to get away from those crowds and enjoy the shorter lines elsewhere. Off to Disneyland right away, where we headed straight for Space Mountain and then pizza. My apologies to the sweeper in the area of the Pizza Port; that was my ds throwing small sections of crust down to the birds, though I do think you could have stopped hovering behind the pole and let the birds take it before you swept it up each time. A few rides later, then an ice cream stop (“Yay! Ice cream.” Ten bites into it “I’m full!” so he tries to hit his stomach to make room…honey, that will just hurt…trust me.) A quick wait in line at Splash Mountain, where we found out that children under 60″ are no longer allowed in the front seat. Yay, finally, it always freaked me out. However, that left dh stuck in the front seat — 200 lbs. in the front and a high water level=getting soaked. But, I’d warned him it was late for a water ride, and he insisted we still do it, so laughter replaced my sympathy. Ahem. Sorry, Honey. 😉

Close to 8pm now, so we headed to Indiana Jones, now that ds is finally tall enough. We made it all the way to the stairs next to the loading platform, and the ride stopped. Cue the impending moans and meltdown. A compassionate ride staffer (I’m sure there’s a better word for her, but I can’t think of it right now) listened to my plea for help with a special needs child and a guest assistance pass stuck on the stairs, crowded and really bugged by it all, and maybe worse, having to go potty. She let us use the employee restroom, and promised us quick loading if the ride came back up…but it didn’t, so we and every other person in line headed for the exit en masse. I’m not claustrophobic in the traditional sense, but standing with what seemed like hundreds of other irritated people inside cave-like walkways was uncomfortable. Why is there a wait to GET OUT? Turns out they were giving out fast passes, yet we have the guest pass so we passed up the offer (sorry for the pun) and headed for the exit. Apparently, not only does Disneyland cut back on staffed rides during their weeknights (only one elevator per floor in Tower of Terror, only one side of Matterhorn open, etc.) but they can only afford to staff one exit gate for everyone at closing time. If I could talk to Disneyland, I’d let them know how much we truly appreciate the guest assistance pass, which is a lifesaver — we couldn’t do Disney without it — but open up the staffing again so more rides are open (slower nights should mean less wait for rides, yes?) and open up more exit gates, especially towards the side where you actually meet the tram.

We love Disneyland. My kids love it. It is not the happiest place on earth though. My heart went out to a family I saw when we literally ran into Goofy on Main Street. Three boys ran to Goofy, got their pictures taken by parents who can’t snap fast enough since there were tons of others waiting, and then my kids ran to Goofy, got a high five, and we turned to leave. Then an older boy, probably mid-teens, ran to Goofy, begging him to wait. I don’t know what the politically correct word for him was, as it seems to change daily and different parents have different words depending on their views (autistic? person with autism? just one example) but this boy was clearly challenged..and obviously so. However, that didn’t stop some other mom from frowning and shaking her head. Those are the times I want to really ask her what she’s doing at Disneyland, a child’s playground for the most part, if she can’t tolerate kids being kids…and to open her heart, and have some compassion. The boy/young man didn’t want to be left out, yet due to his size, he probably was. I wanted to hug him, then hug his mom, but I never saw her in the crowd of cameras trying to be sure their child was next, to heck with a line. Times like that make me sad that society is so harsh, and selfishness abounds.

Then comes the best ride of the day…the tram ride. Pushing and crowding to get on, and kudos <not> to the lady who sat with us, the lady who decided that she needed that last smoke (in a non-smoking area, on a non-smoking ride) more than my kids needed clean air. Like they don’t have enough issues. And then she couldn’t even apologize for rubbing her cigarette on the seat as she sat down, spraying both my kids with red ashes. That’s okay though, when I said “Dumb place to sneak a cigarette,” at least she didn’t argue.

All in all, a really good visit to Disneyland, though only four hours. It’s longer than other visits though, some where we’ve made it as far as Main Street before ds decides he wants to go home. Sometimes it’s because he’s had a potty accident and doesn’t want to tell me…others it’s because they don’t sell his particular liquid of choice (lemonade — it’s there, just not all over)…others, it’s just too loud and he’s done with lines after just waiting to get on the tram. The closest we had to a meltdown last night was when we refused him root beer when we found the only brand they sell contains caffeine, a no-no for both him and my daughter with seizure disorder. By the end of the evening, he was running off and not listening, in his own world yet happy about it, completely overstimulated. Getting him calm for the hour ride home was iffy in the beginning, but he eventually pulled out his DS and played. And we didn’t have to stop to potty all the way home!

If you get the chance, don’t let the idea of a Disneyland visit intimidate you. Talk to Guest Services, and get their help. They are truly the only park I go to anymore that allows 100% help for our kids when it comes to lines for rides, shows, characters, etc. And we’ve tried many, only to completely cross Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags off our list, as they don’t accommodate autism — “We wouldn’t want to upset our non-disabled guests” by basically allowing those of us with disabled children to “abuse” the system. What crap. Sea World is good, too, though you still have to wait in show lines and get no real help there.

Go Disney!


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