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Old 05-22-2006, 11:58 AM   #1
...and the greatest of these is Love
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Arrow KathyRN Family's Trip Report: Adventures in Autism: WDW... A FEW PICS, FINALLY! pg 13

Walt Disney World Trip Report: November 6-14, 2006

Pre-trip Report #1 May, 2006 (6 months to WDW)

The Cast : The KathyRN Family from New Jersey (and North Carolina):

Ed (aka: DH) : Forty-something, #1 Hubby, Daddy, and Cop. First in our family to visit WDW (at age 13). Also went to DL (at age 6). Takes 100% credit for exposing wife and kids to the magic of WDW in 2003. Repeatedly claims that he has “created a monster” when observing wife playing on Disney boards instead of folding laundry or vacuuming the house. Frequently displays glazed expression when wife hints that more DVC points may be needed in near future. Consistantly complains that he gets no rest on WDW vacation because wife insists family get up early every day, and his body is used to working the night shift. Generously indulges family with a WDW vacation every year, thus enabling wife’s addiction! Favorite character: GRUMPY Favorite park: EPCOT.

Tricia (aka: DD) : 10 yrs old, going on 16! Soccer Princess. Likes to dress up in Mom’s clothes and play with make-up. First Halloween costume was Minnie Mouse. A voracious reader. Loves the book, Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg , and is working her way through all the Nancy Drew mysteries. Big WDW fan, but rolls eyes when Mom blathers on and on about upcoming trip. Favorite character: TINKERBELL. Favorite park: MK

Billy (aka: DS) : 8 yrs old and autistic. LOVES WDW! (That’s my boy!) Actively working toward amassing the largest collection of DVDs in the western hemisphere. Can’t really carry on a conversation, but able to communicate his needs. “Go to Walt Disney World? Okay!!” Brought map of MK into school after first visit to WDW, pointed to all the attractions and NAMED them for his speech therapist! ( a real accomplishment!) Gives great hugs. Favorite character: BUZZ LIGHTYEAR. Favorite park: MK.

Eddie (aka: DSS) : 16 yrs old . Lives in North Carolina, but visits during school breaks. Junior Varsity baseball player and Honors Student. Watched video of Disney Sing-Along-Songs: Disneyland Fun EVERY NIGHT before bed for about a year when he was three! First and only visit to WDW at age 11, this will be first time to WDW with us. Yay! Makes no secret about his plan to get Yours Truly on ToT ! Favorite character: UNDECIDED. Favorite park: MK.

Aunt Rae (aka: AR) : 75 yrs young ; DH’s aunt. Like a grandmother to the kids. Recently moved from out of state to our town. Loves Disney! Visited DL with DH when he was six, and twice more, besides. Has been to WDW once in ’97. This trip will be first time to WDW with us. Yay! Favorite character: CINDERELLA. Favorite park: MK.

Me (aka: Kathy/Mom): Forty-something wife, mother, and RN. Dreamed of going to WDW since childhood, but never made it until three years ago. Making up for lost time by obsessively researching, planning, discussing, and daydreaming about the family’s next trip to the World! Recently conquered an irrational fear of computers; motivated by the desire to access even more info about WDW. Favorite character: POOH-BEAR. Favorite park: MK.

Our story thus far:

Although this will be our family’s fourth visit to WDW, this is the first time that I have given any thought to writing a trip report. Perhaps it’s because I’ve enjoyed reading the reports of my fellow WDW fanatics. It is fascinating to see how many different people can experience the same place in so many different ways! Upon reflection, it’s amazing how much our own WDW vacations have differed from each other.

I remember our first trip in September of '03. The kids were five and seven then, which seemed like the perfect ages. Disney was offering the Fairy Tale Package (you got a seven-day vacation package for the price of four). It just happened to coincide with the re-financing of our house, so we decided to do it!

First, I made our reservations quickly (it was the last day of the offer). I didn’t know anything about the resorts, but DH had stayed at the Poly years earlier and thought it would be great. Even with the package, though, the Poly was a bit out of our reach, so we opted for a moderate. We had to make the ressie that day, and all I knew about the moderates was that my sister had stayed at CBR once and loved it, so CBR it was.

Of course, I was looking at this as being a “once in a lifetime” vacation and planned on cramming everything I could into one wonderful week. I thought I was so savvy! (I didn’t do the computer thing as of yet, so I hadn’t yet discovered the boards). I went out and bought every WDW travel guide I could find and read them cover to cover. Well, I thought I was quite the little vacation planning queen when I was able to score priority seating for CRT on my first try!! I also patted myself on the back for knowing the EMHs schedule and about procuring the Guest Assistance Pass (GAC) for our autistic son.

Now, to better understand the dynamics of our family and the love affair we now have with WDW, I need to share with you a bit of background about my DS(8). If you have read my posts on the Disabilities board and/or have an autistic child of your own, please bear with me a moment while I give the other readers the basics of autism.

Autism is a neurological or brain-based disorder that causes problems in cognition, communication, and social interaction. There are many symptoms and conditions associated with autism and it can be difficult to know that a child is autistic just by looking at him. Many people think of the Dustin Hoffman character in Rainman , but those savant characteristics are only shared by a few on the autism “spectrum”.

Billy attends a special school and receives speech, occupational, and physical therapy. He displays poor eye contact, impaired conversational abilities, repetitive language and mannerisms such as hand flapping and sniffing objects. He has a degree of hyperactivity and poor attention span that makes it difficult to attend to an activity for more than a few moments without direction and supervision. He has a poor hand/finger grasp and has difficulty with handwriting and other “small” movements such as buttoning buttons and snapping snaps.

He constantly makes noise…humming, singing, “scripting” pieces of dialogue from his favorite TV shows, and laughing. Big, boisterous belly laughs at nothing in particular. Usually at inappropriate times like in the middle of the homily (sermon) in church! Or, in the middle of watching a baseball game from the stands…while others shout, “Swing batter, batter!”, Billy will shout, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!” at the top of his lungs! (That one was pretty funny!). In our house we call these moments "adventures in autism" .

Now I’m not telling you all of this to garner sympathy, just to help you understand some of the peculiarities of Billy's behavior and how they affect our WDW experiences. As you may well imagine, I was more than a bit apprehensive prior to our first WDW vacation. How would Billy handle it? Would he get so overstimulated that the week would be just one continuous “melt down”? Would it ruin the vacation for Tricia, who is two years older and has the often times difficult role of sibling in a special needs family? Would we get this close to the Magic, then not be able to touch it?

Well, friends, I had underestimated the power of prayers and pixie dust!! Not only did we have a wonderful vacation, we had what can only be described as magic. WDW was unlike any vacation experience we had previously had as a family. A very stressed out and tired family. A family that so much needed to feel like a normal family. It was truly a watershed experience.

I had done as much as I could to adapt our trip to Billy's needs. We went during the low season (mid September) for lighter crowds and shorter lines. We found on that trip that we barely needed the GAC, mostly on the weekend and for reserved seating for the big nighttime spectaculars. We dutifully returned to our resort for a midday nap, even though it practically killed me to leave the parks while we were having so much fun! The Cast Members were just so understanding and helpful. I wound up writing a three page letter to WDW when we returned home, thanking all the CMs for being so incredibly kind.

Billy spoke so many new words. He loved the rides and the shows, (except the fireworks!) He even went “poo-poo in the potty” for the first time! Hooray! The whole thing is just one big, happy blur! I’m not much of a picture-taker, I’m so busy seeing and doing that I usually forget all about the camera in my backpack. Thank goodness for PhotoPass! That’s one reason for this TR; I’d really like to be able to re-live our WDW vacation memories in the years to come.

After a second trip in ’04 (POFQ), I somehow managed to convince Ed that we needed to go to WDW every year!! Well, soon we were DVC members (SSR). Early last December, we went for all the special holiday magic and were not disappointed. The Candlelight Processional was breathtaking and we had a blast at MVMCP! The kids were getting bigger now, so having the spacious 1BR vacation home at SSR was really a luxury. Only a mom could get so excited about having a full kitchen and a washer/dryer right in the room. (I told you I was forty-something, but that just looked so very matronly in print!).

So, that brings us to the present. I’m in the planning phase of our upcoming November trip. (Ed has observed pointedly that I am always in the planning phase, starting the day after we return from WDW.) But I know you all understand, so I am comforted that I am not alone!

Well, what variables are affecting The Planning this year?

The first will be the time of our visit. I have always felt very comfortable with pulling the kids out of school for a week so we could visit WDW during the value seasons. Billy gets really hyper in crowds, so the summer and school holidays are out of the question. His teachers have always been fine with it, especially since they, too, have seen the progress he makes with each subsequent visit to our Laughing Place. Tricia's teachers have also been wonderful about her missing school. Fortunately, she is a good student and catches up easily. Last December, we even lucked out by having a snow day during our trip, so the kids missed only four days instead of five! Well, as the expression goes, all good things must come to an end!

Even though Billy’s teachers would wholeheartedly support the need for missing school, I’m just not feeling comfortable about Tricia missing a week of fifth grade (and neither is she). And so, we will be joining many of our neighbors by visiting WDW for the first time during Jersey Week . This is the unofficial nickname for the week of the NJ State Teachers Convention, typically scheduled around Veteran’s Day Weekend. Apparently, lots of NJ parents are in the same boat: they want to pull the kids out of school for less crowded conditions at WDW, but don’t want them to miss too much class time. Public schools are closed for two to three days for the Convention and Veteran’s Day, thus, you get a week-long vacation and the kids miss only a couple of school days…a nice compromise.

Actually, early November may not be so bad. The weather is supposed to be great. And we will be able to catch the last week of the F&W Festival at EPCOT!

Next variable is who will be coming with us. Well, from the very first, I’ve been hoping to get my DSS(16) to come to WDW with us. No go. Eddie is an honors student and takes all kinds of advanced placement courses. He insists that he will get hopelessly behind if he takes a week off during school. Gosh, when I was his age I would have jumped at the chance to miss a week of school for WDW! It’s just a different world for these kids; too much homework IMHO.

Anyway, he does have that Friday off for Veteran’s Day, and I’ve convinced him to fly down from North Carolina to join us for the three-day weekend at the end of our vacation! Yay! Oh, the younger kids are so excited! They just adore their big brother!

The other new member of our party will be DH’s aunt, Rae (AR). AR never married and was always close to DH and his brother when they were growing up. She recently moved to the senior apartment complex in our town and we see her regularly. She dotes on the children like she doted on Ed when he was little. I don’t mind because neither of the real grandmas lives nearby, and AR is very sweet. We had invited her to go with us last year, but she declined. Well, this is one of the reasons we became DVC members, so that we could get the larger accommodations and bring other family members with us!

So, this year, I had a heart-to-heart with her and reassured her that we always tour at a relaxed pace because of Billy, and we return midday to the resort for a nap. She is quite healthy and walks everyday, but she is 75, after all, and she remembers getting quite tired the last time she went to WDW, and that was nine years ago. She loves WDW, though, especially the MK, and the thought of being there with the kids must have been very appealing to her, because she agreed to come with us!

I let her know that she doesn’t have to spend every moment of the trip with us, and that if she does start to get tired she should just stay at the resort for the evening. She looked aghast when I suggested this. “I don’t want to miss any time with my sweethearts!” I know that an ECV would be out of the question. She would just be too self-conscious. Hmmm. I’ll just have to keep my eye on her.

Next chapter: Where to Stay and the Disney Dining Plan or “How am I supposed to know where I want to eat dinner 180 days from now??”


Last edited by KathyRN137; 04-16-2007 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 05-22-2006, 12:11 PM   #2
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We will be there part of the time from Nov 5th to 7th staying at CSR. I am almost done with my master's in ESE (special education). I am also taking 4 extra courses in autism for my endorsement on my certification. I want to teach students with autism.

Looking forward to reading your trip reports!!
Offsite (3 times), CBR Dec 2004, POR May 2005, AKL Nov 2005, CSR May 2006,POFQ June 2006,POFQ Nov 2006, BWV July/Aug 2007, BCV Nov 2007, POFQ Jan 2008, June 2008 SSR, AKV Aug 2008, SSR Oct 2008, SSR 2009
Aug 2010 BCV/BWV, Dec 2010 BCV/POFQ SEPT 2011 POFQ

Hoping either BCV or BWV March 2011
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Old 05-22-2006, 01:50 PM   #3
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We'll be there right with you...

from Nov. 4-11. We'll also be staying DVC (I'm currently booked in a 1BR at VWL but am waitlisted for a larger unit). This will be our first trip home.

My kids are a bit younger (older ds was 8 in Feb and will be iin 3rd grade, younger ds will be 4 in July) but are WDW veterans. In fact, November will be their 4th trip this year alone! So I can totally relate to your feelings of being a Disney fanatic.

I want to thank you for your descriptive writing on autism. DS8, while not autistic, does exhibit some behaviors on the spectrum, which I'm told is not necessarily out of the ordinary. He has some difficulty reading non verbal cues, can be obsessive at times, and interestingly enough, he's also a sniffer! Not to the extreme, but I've noticed it for years about him so thought it was interesting that you mentioned it. He's had some trouble making friends but we've had him see a therapist and he's currently in a social skills class (with a bunch of other boys his age...some of whom I'm sure are autistic) which is helping him out bunches. I am so thankful that the drs say it isn't anything that we should be seriously worried about, since his verbal skills are off the charts and he is able to concentrate on tasks, does very well in school but just needs a bit of "help" with social issues.

Perhaps we'll run into you during out trip in November. Where are you staying this time? Also, since you've done this before in a 1 bdrm, how do you handle where the kids sleep? I'm concerned since for all of our trips, ds4 has slept w/ me and ds8 sleeps w/ dad. I'm hoping that w/ the larger unit, we can move him to another part of the unit, but I'm not sure where. How do you arrange sleeping for the kids, particularly since you have girl/boy? I was thinking of bringing an Aerobed or similar bed for ds8 and have ds4 sleep in the sofa bed or vice versa. Thoughts?

Looking forward to additional pre trip posts from you. I'd be happy to talk w/ you about what we have planned and the dining I'm hoping to make. Have you done your ADRs yet? I did ours for September (free dining) but not November.

Also, where in NJ are you? We're in Morris County.

Disneyland 1991 Offsite 1992 CBR August 1997 Swan/CR Concierge January 2001 CR/DCL Wonder August 2001 CR December 2001
Offsite December 2004 POR June 2005 Offsite Jersey Week Nov 2005 WL February 3-6, 2006 Spring Break April 8-14, 2006 Free Dining Sept. 9-16, 2006 NJ Teachers' Conv. 11/4-11/11/06 Jason's 9th Birthday February 3-6, 2007 Aug. 18-25, 2007 March 23, 2008 August 16-22, 2008 April 9-17, 2009 February 18-22, 2011 July 22-25, 2011

Last edited by janets; 05-22-2006 at 01:51 PM. Reason: You'd think I could remember to ask you where in NJ you live?
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Old 05-23-2006, 09:14 PM   #4
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Arrow KathyRN Family's Pre-Trip Report, Part Two

Welcome back! In Part One, you met our Cast and learned about the plans I’ve made thus far for our November journey to see the Mouse. These next several posts will be about the trip-planning phase, so, if you like that kind of thing—great! If you just want the “meat and potatoes” of the trip, please check back with me in a few months!!

(If you like, please go to page 6, "We're Back!", if you want to get right to the trip!)

But, since planning is half the fun for some of us....

For a long time, my “guilty pleasure” has been the hours I spend pouring over WDW info in preparation for our upcoming vacation. I never really had an interest in any hobbies, except perhaps, curling up with a good book. Over the past few years, however, WDW trip-planning has BECOME my hobby. (Some would say my part-time job!) Now that I have discovered the Dis-boards, I can indulge myself in the World of Disney Vacationing whenever I have precious moments to spare! It’s so nice to have other WDW fans to “talk” to, so I don’t have to drive my friends and family crazy with my incessant chatter! Thanks for listening!

So, where were we? Oh, yes. Choosing a Resort! Ahh, decisions, decisions!! Well, fewer decisions now that we are DVC members. You see, even though there are great resorts like AKL and the POLY that I would love to try, it just doesn’t make sense to me to “spend” more in points to stay in a standard room at one of these than to stay in a 1BR vacation home at BCV or WL!! Fewer points for a full kitchen, whirlpool tub, and a washer/dryer right in your room! I would rather have the larger accommodations. We stayed four in a room at both CBR and POFQ. Wonderful resorts, but by the end of the week, we sure were tired of living on top of one another! Now, please don’t get me wrong! It’s not like we live in some McMansion here in NJ. No Way! We have a little 1-1/2 story Cape with 1 bath and a teeny-tiny kitchen. It’s just that it can be tough sharing a bedroom with two active children, especially when one child is autistic.

Well, you may recall that it will not be four of us this time, but six. Three adults, two kids, and one teen-ager (for three of the seven nights). That means a 2BR vacation home is in order. In Regular, not Value season like I’m used to. Yikes! Okay, so I always wanted to try Old Key West ; looks like this is a good time! (Fewer points, larger accommodations than other DVCs) Can’t beat that! So, one ressie for OKW!

From what I’ve read in the books and on the boards, OKW seems just perfect for our little group. Quiet, relaxed atmosphere. Low-key. Just right for unwinding after touring the parks. I requested a unit on an upper floor (for me…I don’t like staying on ground level…especially if we could get visits from “critters”!), and in one of the three buildings that have elevators (for AR). These buildings (#62-64) are also relatively close to the Hospitality House and the theme pool (good for the kids). So that’s set!

Next…..FOOD!! Definitely doing the Dining Plan. Even though we have a full kitchen?? Yes. Here's why:

Kitchen or no, Ed says he absolutely will not have his wife cooking while on vacation. I love that man!

We only use our kitchen for quick breakfasts before heading out the door. Remember how I said in Part One that I am the one getting the family up early and chasing them out the door to get to the parks early? Especially for EMHs....definitely want to take advantage of those! Breakfast at the food court just wastes valuable touring time!

The DP is most cost effective for CS lunches and TS dinners. Normally, with just the kids, we would be content to eat CS for most, if not all, of our dinners. This time, however, we have a 75 yr old woman with us who, while known to eat the occassional hamburger now and then, will certainly rather have TS for dinner. Therefore, the DP should save us $$.

The only glitch in the DP for us is Eddie(16), who will be arriving for the last three nights of our stay. We can't have him on the initial ressie because everyone on that must have the DP. We can't add him on after he registers, so we will have to pay cash for the three days he is in WDW. Drat!! You know how much a 16 yr old boy can eat!!

Next, Part Three: Park Hours, EMHs, and ADRs shape the Operational Plan!

Last edited by KathyRN137; 03-26-2007 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 05-23-2006, 09:19 PM   #5
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oops! Sorry!

Last edited by KathyRN137; 08-06-2006 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 05-23-2006, 10:13 PM   #6
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I think you will really like OKW. My DD8 has autism with the related sensory issues and we love the extra space along with the jetted tub.
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Old 05-26-2006, 12:21 PM   #7
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Arrow Adventures in Autism: Pre-Trip Report # Three

Welcome Back!

Now that I know when we will be traveling (Nov 5-12 ) and where we will be staying (OKW), the next thing I do is to form what DH (the SWAT team leader) refers to as "Kathy's Tactical Operations Plan"!

I impatiently count the days until April 1st when the hours of operation are posted for the theme parks. November hours are fairly short. I am particularly interested in the EMHs schedule because we try to take a break at our resort midday and the EMHs really help!

I have to admit that I preferred the old EMH schedule; one park opened an hour early each day. I'm not a morning person, not by a long shot, but we get to do so much more in the 8-9am time period! We would then "hop" to a non-EMH park in the evening to avoid the crowds. Evening EMHs are great; just more crowded. Of course, no one likes crowds at WDW, but for our family it is very important that we plan our itinerary around the least crowded days for each park.

As mentioned in Part One, Billy, my autistic DS(8) is "sensory-seeking" in some areas, and "sensory-defensive" in others. What does this mean? Well, let me try to give you an example: You are watching the SpectroMagic Parade and the stranger next to you is standing uncomfortably close to you. You seek to reduce the uncomfortable stimulus by moving away from him a bit. Now you feel better! Now, reverse the situation! You are really looking forward to viewing the parade, but you can't quite see around a lamppost that is in front of you. You move a bit to the side, then a little foreward, jockeying for a better view. You weren't getting the stimulus that you craved, (a good view), so you acted in order to get it. Now you feel better!

Because autism is primarily a nervous system disorder, autistic children have problems with handling the environmental stimuli that bombards us all each day. In order to cope, they often withdraw from their environment, or perhaps engage in abnormal, obsessive, or repetative behaviors in order to get the stimulation that they crave, or to block out the stimulation that is too much for them to handle. These are commonly referred to as "stimming"behaviors. Now, take an autistic child and place them in an environment like WDW, and you can see why he will now have a difficult time with crowds, noise, and some of the special effects in the WDW shows and attractions.

Billy is probably more sensory-seeking than sensory defensive, so there are a lot of reasons why he loves going to WDW! He loves spinning and swinging sensations, so he has a blast on rides like the teacups and Star Tours! He loves the coasters like BTMRR and SM. This year, he wants to try R&RC!! Only problem is, he gets so excited that he can get really hyper And when he gets hyper, he gets LOUD! He makes noise constantly, but when overstimulated, the noises can be piercingly loud. He also will get preoccupied with one thing and says it over and over AND OVER! So, if you see my big 8 yr old with a chewy tube in his mouth and ear plugs in his ears, now you know why!! And if he asks twenty times in a row for Mickey's Philharmagic when we are in line for Peter Pan, please try to understand that he just can't help himself!

Anything that I can do to help Billy to manage his behavior will help our entire family, not to mention the other families around us! That is why the primary goals of the OP (OperationalPlan ) are:
To tour the parks during the least crowded conditions;
To ensure that everyone gets adequate rest; and
To balance structure with flexability.

So, now you know why I am obsessing over my OP six months prior to our vacation!

Now that I have the park hours and EMHs in hand, I have to look at the other variables that will affect crowd levels. MGMs Super Soap Weekend is the last two days of our stay, so we will want to tour MGM earlier in the week. The Festival of Masters at DD is that same weekend, including that Friday.

Although we usually like to go to DD toward the end of the week, we will need to do that earlier to avoid those crowds. DD(10) simply MUST visit the new Bibbity-Bobbity-Boutique at World of Disney. She's dreaming of hair extensions and glittered hairspray! This entire week will be the last week of the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT ; hopefully that will only get crowded in the evening and on the weekends. It goes without saying that we don't do MK on Saturday!! We will have to brave SOME crowds toward Veteran's Day weekend because Eddie will be coming in and will want to do the thrill rides. By then, the rest of us will be doing these the second or third time around, so there will be less pressure to do everything (I hope!) Well, several rough drafts later, I've come up with the tentative OP :

Morning-Travel time (flight info?) Check-in at OKW
Afternoon-EPCOT (Future World)
Dinner-Coral Reef
Evening-More EPCOT (FW)

Morning-Animal Kingdom (Early EMH)
Lunch- CS?
Return to OKW for nap
Dinner-50's PTC
Evening-More MGM

Morning-Magic Kingdom
Lunch- CS?
Return to OKW for nap
Afternoon-Magic Kingdom
Dinner-Character Meal at Liberty Tree Tavern
Evening- More MK

Morning- Sleep in! Swim/relax
Lunch- CS?
Afternoon-EPCOT (World Showcase)
Evening-More EPCOT

Morning-Magic Kingdom (early EMH)
Lunch- Character Meal at Crystal Palace
Late Afternoon-Return to OKW for nap
Evening- DH to airport to pick up DSS. Rest of us to DD
Dinner-CS at DD

Return to OKW for nap/swim
Afternoon-EPCOT (Future World-evening EMHs)
Evening-More EPCOT

Morning-Animal Kingdom
Afternoon-AK until after the 4pm parade
Return to OKW for nap/swim
Dinner- Olivia's

Check-out. Leave bags at Bell Service.
Morning-Magic Kingdom
Afternoon-MK until time to return to resort
Late Afternoon- leave for the airport

Whew!! We don't get to utilize as many EMHs as I would like, but I think it's the best I can do considering the above-mentioned variables for this trip. We follow the K. Family tradition of starting our trip with EPCOT and working our way up to the MK! It's also traditional for us to visit the MK on our last day so we can say "good-bye" to the Castle!

Thanks for letting me share!

Next Chapter: Locking in those all-important ADRs and OMG! They want HOW MUCH for airfare?!

Last edited by KathyRN137; 04-05-2007 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 05-26-2006, 08:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by KathyRN137
Or, in the middle of watching a baseball game from the stands…while others shout, “Swing batter, batter!”, DS will shout, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!” at the top of his lungs! (That one was pretty funny!).
ok, I'm a mom of a kid w/ an ASD and this is SO funny and I can SO relate!!! Love the trip report so far....keep up the good work!!
me DH DD DS .......
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Old 05-28-2006, 03:28 AM   #9

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Enjoyed reading your reports ~ Thanx for sharing.
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:02 PM   #10
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Arrow KathyRN Family's Adventures in Autism Pre-Trip

Pre-Trip Report # Four:

Hello, again!

As mentioned in Part One, our family has decided to try the Dining Plan this year. I mapped out our schedule of parks, so now my attention is turned toward Disney restaurants. The 180-day window is marked on my calendar in red ink. Like all good vacation planners, I seek input from everyone. I eagerly question the members of our group, “So, what restaurants would you like to eat at in WDW?”

Ed “Kathy, how am I supposed to know what I want for dinner six months from now?" Resumes watching TV.
Tricia: "I don't know!" Resumes reading her book.
Billy: “Fries!” Resumes spinning on swivel chair.
AR: “Wherever you want to eat is fine with me.” Resumes beaming at children.
Eddie: “Kathy, how am I supposed to know what I want for dinner six months from now?” Sound familiar? Resumes threatening me with ToT.

Is this a conspiracy? Am I the only one in this family who understands the urgency of these decisions? The fate of our WDW vacation hangs in the balance! I patiently explain to Ed that we can continue to “wing it” for our CS lunches, but that we needed ADRs ASAP for our TS dinners unless we want to eat burgers and fries every night.

“Fries!” exclaims Billy.
“Well, didn’t we want to try Coral Reef ?” Ed asks. “Why didn’t we do that last time?”
“Because we couldn’t get a reservation.”
“Oh.” One vote for Coral Reef .
“Fries, PLEASE!”
“I’ll eat steak.” offers Eddie.
“Well, I do like when the characters come around to your table,” remarks AR.
“Great!” I say. “Which character meals would you like to do?”
“Oh, wherever you want to eat is fine with me.” Sigh. OK, one vote for character meals
“I’m too old for the princess meals!” declares Tricia.
“Fries! Fries! FRIES !!”
“Yes, honey, you can have......
“I mean, I LIKE the princesses, I’m just too old for princess meals.” Tosses hair.
Fries! Fries! Fries! Fries! Fries! Fries!

OK, I tried.

Happily, the 180-day mark falls on one of my days off. The kids are off to school, my DH is upstairs sleeping off his 12 hr night shift, and I’m on the phone with Disney! We usually eat dinner around 7pm; AR usually eats at around 5:30. I decide to compromise and go with “anytime around 6pm.” I know, I know. That’s prime dinner- time. So, it won’t kill us to eat a little early. AR, on the other hand, would be famished by 7 or 8pm.

I start with the toughest one first: LeCellier . For our first night in EPCOT. The only times available for a party of five: 4.00 or 8:30 . AT 180 DAYS OUT! Are they kidding? Is LeCellier THAT GOOD? This isn’t even during Free Dining! Well, I keep trying. Finally get a 6pm ADR for Friday night. Good. DSS can have his steak! The other ADRs were not a problem; everything fell into line pretty easily. Two character meals for AR and me, (oh, and the kids): Crystal Palace (Pooh! ), and Liberty Tree Tavern . We did the CP breakfast once before, this time we’re doing lunch. First time at LTT and I’ve read good things about it! We had a fun time at 50's Prime Time Cafe three years ago on our first trip to Disney, so we’ll try it again. AR should get a kick out of it.

That’s it. Nothing Fancy. But it’s amazing how the DP is shaping our evenings. Gone are the days of spontaneity when it comes to our evening meals. Unless, of course, we only want… FRIES!!

Thanks for listening,


Last edited by KathyRN137; 03-26-2007 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:40 PM   #11
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I am loving your descriptions- I have a sister, Kathy, who has twins, Samantha and Erin-Erin is autistic, and also has Moebious Syndrome-she has no nerves in her face and can't smile, is the simple version. They also live in NJ. You could be writing about Erin and not your son- we take them to Disney often, and while we get and have used the GAC, she is so much more involved and alert at Disney, we wish we could live there. You would think the stimulation would be too much for her, but she is a daredevil and loves the rides, the faster the better...lol
We try to prepare her everyday, with what we will be doing-so we avoid any meltdowns, and we will hear it verbatim, alllll day long...and then what?and then what?? But she really does shine there. I will be following your story and passing it along to Kathy. Thank you for sharing. Sue
How long til we go?
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Old 05-28-2006, 10:40 PM   #12
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Thanks for sharing your Pre-Trip Planning.

My sister went with her family last year, the only advice I gave her was to take documentation along from her pediatrician stating her son was autistic.

My bil kept telling his boys they were going to Fake World. Nice guy. He came back praising his WDW vacation. Pixie dust sure worked with him. They experienced a lot of 1st with their autistic son and had the badge to let them get on rides right away. My bil said, they sat on the train for over an hour at the MK. They are going back with us next April and they are going to stay at the Animal Kingdom and only do what bryce wants to do, they want to take it a lot slower this time.
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Old 05-31-2006, 12:47 AM   #13
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Arrow KathyRN Family's Pre-Trip Report #5


Any bride who has ever planned a wedding knows how I feel at this point in the planning phase. You know; the date is set, the service arranged, the banquet hall reserved....all the BIG plans nailed down by the six-month mark.


It's still too early to do a lot of the smaller tasks that gradually move you closer and closer to the big day!

This is the point in my WDW planning that I begin to get antsy. Of course, daily life keeps me busy and, while I would never wish precious days away, I do find myself thinking that November is soooo far off and that it is so hard to wait for our trip to WDW. So, usually late in the evening, when the kids are asleep and DH is at work, and I'm done with the day's activities, I find myself here on the boards either trying to pick up the latest WDW info or to travel to WDW vicariously through other's trip reports.

My Billy came to me earlier in the evening and looked me right in the eye and said, "Go to WDW??" I try not to talk too much about the trip so far ahead but, of course, he knows that we are going and he just loves it so much...it's rather nice to make a connection with your child in that way when he's autistic. If I asked him what his favorite color was or what he did in school that day, he would not be able to verbalize it unless I used a social story or some form of pictoral aid. But when he asked about WDW, I said, "What do you want to do at WDW?", and immediately he rattled off about eight of his favorite attractions without any prompting at all. THAT is one of the magical ways WDW affects my son.

Now I have to put the time of the trip in perspective for him because he's off and running to put on his socks and sneakers to leave for the airport!! "First, summer vacation, then, back to school, then Halloween, and THEN, WDW!" He repeats the sequence a few times and seems to accept it.

Now, if only Mommy could accept it! LOL!

Okay, let me try to think of some constructive things to do during the next three boring months until preparations for our trip rev up a bit. Hmmm.

Well, there are the few (cough, cough) pounds that I always manage to put on evey winter! A little more time on diet planning and exercise would be more constructive than a couple of hours plunked in front of the computer each night! In fact, Billy has put on a little weight himself. I resolve to take him out for walks with our dog everyday after school. It will help him to build up endurance for all the walking at WDW...whoops! There I go again!

Of course, there are always projects around the house. The wallpaper in the bathroom began lifting in places a few months ago and Billyhas been pulling little pieces off whenever any bits curl up, so now there are little strips missing all over. Definitely could strip the whole thing and paint it. That will keep me busy for a little while!

Tricia wants me to read some of the books she's read so we can have a little Mother/Daughter book club of sorts. "Mom, you REALLY should read Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg , it's a new classic!"

And, of course, with summer almost here (it's been 90 degrees and humid for the past three days), the kids will want to go to the pool whenever they can. Our town pool doesn't open until school ends--June 21st. Ugh!

Yes, I think that I can try to keep my mind off of WDW so the wait does not seem so excruciatingly long! Wish me luck!


Last edited by KathyRN137; 03-25-2007 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 05-31-2006, 06:00 AM   #14
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You sure are all ready to go! What a planner! I have to start thinking about my December trip soon--I'll be six months out from that trip in a few weeks.

Thanks for posting.

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Old 05-31-2006, 01:04 PM   #15
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It sounds like you have done a great job planning! I have one son with AS and another who has alot of spectrum traits (spinning, humming, finger stims, sensory defensiveness for sounds, poor eye contact) without many of the other hallmark traits (rigidity, routines, tantrums,OCD behaviors, repeating phrases), so know alot about going to WDW with kids like ours. I don't know if you have seen it, but allears has some articles on WDW for autistic kids. It sounds to me, though, that you could write such an article yourself!!

We do many of things that you do......tour without crowds, get the GAC, midday breaks, breakfast in the room, make reservations for meals (my family also doesn't want to participate, but they are sure glad when we have a reservation), bring earplugs. By the way, I usually bring more than one pair, ever since my DS left them on a ride one time.

We also try to rent a car most times to cut down on bus waiting time. We do this even when we stay on property. When we can, we get AAA Diamond parking pass, which allows special area parking very close to the park. So far as meals, my AS son will still only eat a plain burger, a plain slice of pizza or chicken strips (plain of course!!) and fries, fries and more fries. However, hallelujah, he will now eat plain steak in a restaurant. By the way, he is 16 now. This change took a long, long time.

He loves going back to WDW. It is his favorite vacation and he loves doing the same rides everytime. He is not a fan of change.

Enjoy your trip. I look forward to reading your trip report after you get back.
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