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Old 10-28-2009, 05:53 PM   #1
RWaldon
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Helpful ideas for quadriplegic

My sister's family is making their first trip to Disneyworld since an accident that left her husband in a wheelchair just over 2 years ago. They have an 11 and 13 yr-old who really want to go to Disneyworld. Does anyone have any helpful advice for her in planning and executing her trip to make it easier and fun for all of them? Any experiences you want to share would be greatly appreciated. They are planning on being there the week between Christmas and New Year's.
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Old 10-28-2009, 08:50 PM   #2
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Hi and to disABILITIES!

One key question is does he use a power chair or does he have to be pushed? This can make a major difference.

Another is what will be their mode of transporation to/from WDW.

Right off the top my two recommendations are to make sure they stay at a Disney owned and operated Resort and it might be worthwhile to have two families together to make it easier on everyone (including the kids).
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:04 PM   #3
SueM in MN
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I hate to say this, but they are planning to go at just about the very busiest time to be at WDW. I would strongly suggest they plan for a different time if at all possible.

We have been there at various times and the time between Christmas and New Years is the busiest. There were times when literally, I could not reach my arms out in any direction without hitting someone. It is very difficult to manage a wheelchair in that situation - and can even be dangerous - parts of MK, Epcot and the Studio have sidewalks and streets for theming. When the crowds are thick, it is hard to see where the curb cuts are for getting in and out of shops and buildings. During 'normal' crowds, someone in a wheelchair sees a lot of people's behinds. When it is busy, they don't see much more than that.
The waits for attractions will be very long during that time period and, (contrary to what many people think), using a wheelchair doesn't shorten the wait in line for most attractions. In general, if the wait is 2 hours, they will wait 2 hours the same as other guests. We actually left the parks early some days because it was just no fun in the crowds.

Early January (after New Years Day and before Martin Luther King Day) would be less busy.

If they can't change the dates, I would suggest they prioritize the attractions they want to see. Even in 'non-busy' times, it is hard to see everything. In busy times, it is impossible to see everything, so you want to make sure you have a good chance of seeing the things that are most important to you.

Staying in a Disney resort would give them the benefit of using WDW (free) transportation and of using Extra Magic Hours (when the parks are open early or late just for WDW resort guests. Getting to the parks when they open is helpful - lines are shorter then because the average guest on vacation does not get up early. Even during busy periods, some parks/areas of each park and days are busier than others. Using something like Tour Guide Mike (google those words) can help minimize your wait by directing you to the places that are least busy.

For places to stay -
if they plan to spend most of their time at MK, the Contemporary Resort is nice, if they can swing a deluxe. There is a walking path from that resort to MK, so you can avoid using the transportation entirely. The other MK area resorts (except Wilderness Lodge) are on the monorail, so it is an easy trip to MK.

if the Studio or Epcot are more their style, Yacht and Beach Club, Boardwalk or Swan and Dolphin are all walking distance to those parks.

If you follow the link in my signature to the disABILITIES FAQs thread, post #3 includes a link to eternaldisneyfan's WDW trip. While not a quad, she uses a wheelchair full time and has little ability to move because of her condition. She gave very good write ups about everything her family did. Her link is near the end of post #3 in the area about travel with wheelchairs.
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:23 AM   #4
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Thank you-

He does have a power chair, but I have wondered about using his manual chair for a couple of reasons. I realize it will be fairly crowded and the chair is extremely heavy (around 600 pounds w/o him in it) and I think would be too heavy even for the rides that can be accessed with a wheelchair. Additionally, there are times when he has spasms and the chair can take off on it's own making it a little unpredictable. We have concerns about this in crowds with lots of little ones around.

Thank you Sue for your thoughts, I had already forwarded her the extrememly helpful links you posted as I looked at those yesterday. You have put a great deal of time and effort into that information. Unless they waited until Spring Break, this is the only week they have to go with kids in school. They will be driving down and definitely staying at a WDW resort. I liked your ideas about staying at one that is at least part of the time within walking distance.

We are looking at all your suggestions!
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Old 10-29-2009, 08:22 AM   #5
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A lot of people in Disney walk around with their head in the clouds, so driving a wheelchair, even at the quieter times, can prove rather difficult. If he sometimes loses control of his chair, I think it would be a lot safer for everyone if he were pushed in his manual chair. I'm sure the last thing any of them want is for him to have a spasm, and run into a child. This would be especially difficult in lines, where everyone is packed in fairly close.

I know it will limit his independence, but it will save him a lot of worrying, too. Also, I don't know what his energy levels are like, but if he gets worn out steering for a long while, he could end up exhausted by the end of the day. He could always take the power chair for use in less crowded places, like at the resort. Or, if he has attendent controls on his electric chair, he could have someone steer for him most of the time, and drive himself when he feels it will be safe.

Can he transfer at all, with assistance from his family (the CMs are not allowed to assist with transfers, other than to hold the wheelchair still and move it away afterwards)? Quite a few rides and all of the shows can be experienced from a wheelchair, but many do require a transfer. If he can manage a few transfers a day, it might be wise to plan out which rides he really wants to do, and try to spread them out through the trip.

Some of the transfers are easier than others. To get details on what is required for each ride, here are a few helpful links:
The Mouse on Wheels has detailed descriptions of the queuing and boarding procedure, with information on the difficulty of transfers where they're required
All Ears has a photo gallery of ride cars and show seating, so that they can decide whether they'd be able to manage a transfer or not, before they get to the parks

Hope this helps!
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Old 10-29-2009, 11:05 PM   #6
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If you have not looked at the Epcot FAQs thread, I would also suggest checking that out. There are photo montages for most of the Epcot attractions, including the queue, ride cars and in many cases the view from the wheelchair spots for shows. There is also a link in post #3 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread to the allearsnet.com and mouse on wheels site that were mentioned in a previous post in case you lose track of this thread. Also a link to my own photo album showing Ride cars/attractions in that same post. I have about 600 photos of ride cars and other access pictures. I haven't had time to post many, but if you have any special ones you want to see pictures of, let me know and I will post them.

I agree it would probably be best not to being hid power wheelchair for that busy time. One of the reasons we have not brought DD's power wheelchair is that she would become too tired driving it. We do have an attendent control, but I have not had much practice with it. I actually do much better with just her joystick, so my suggestion if you do bring the power chair is that someone (maybe several people) to become comfortable using it. Most power wheelchairs are very heavy - DD's is almost 300 pounds without her in it. The definition of 'common wheelchair' in the ADA includes that the chair weighs 600 pounds or less, when occupied, so his should be fine for moat attractions.
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Old 11-03-2009, 11:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWaldon View Post
My sister's family is making their first trip to Disneyworld since an accident that left her husband in a wheelchair just over 2 years ago. They have an 11 and 13 yr-old who really want to go to Disneyworld. Does anyone have any helpful advice for her in planning and executing her trip to make it easier and fun for all of them? Any experiences you want to share would be greatly appreciated. They are planning on being there the week between Christmas and New Year's.
I agree with others...it might be better to take the kids out of school (5th and 7th? they will be fine) for a week during non peak times to spend with their quadriplegic dad. Otherwise your sister will probably go crazy trying to accomodate everyone.
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:34 PM   #8
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If the kids are doing well in school the teacher should have no problem with them missing a few days. SOme teachers will ever allow a child to write reports during there tip about the things they learned and saw and that counts as class credit. We go in April and the crowds are not as large and the weather is nice as it is not so hot. If you have people in the group that will not mind pushing a chair I would recomend using a manual chair just bcause of the spasims that you metioned. I
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Old 11-09-2009, 04:24 PM   #9
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Do not go during those busy times!
Unless they are struggling, take the kids out of school.
The parks are not "fairly busy" at Christmas, its a total zoo. Seriously.
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Old 11-16-2009, 06:28 PM   #10
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I have never "discouraged " anyone from a WDW vacation, but unfortunately my first thought at your travel dates was OH,NO!!

Can you find a week where the kids have TWO days off and then take them out for only 3 days to make a weeklong vacation??

Going on your first WDW trip at the very busiest season when there are very important things that have to be considered is not going to equate into a Magical Time.
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