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Old 02-09-2012, 07:45 PM   #1
lewiswharf
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Thumbs up Quadriplegic Ride Transfers, My Experience

It has been a week or so since we returned from an unbelievably magical Walt Disney World trip! This was the second time I have been to Walt Disney World as a quadriplegic and boy did I do it right this time. I left my service dog at home and I was accompanied by my wife and a friend who both assisted in transfers. Halfway through our vacation we were fortunate to be joined by a good friend who is also a quadriplegic and had a single helper with him. My friend’s additional helper proved invaluable when it came to Test Track and Rock N Roller Coaster. On Haunted Mansion, Test Track, and Rock N Roller Coaster, we were asked if we wanted to ride twice and we did!

I am a C-5 quadriplegic, 6’2” tall and weigh 240 pounds. To give you an idea of my upper body abilities, I do not have the use of my hands, no tricep muscles, and absolutely no trunk stability. I do have a strong bicep in each arm. I used my wife and friend to help transfer me into the ride, with the exception of Test Track and Rock N Roller Coaster which required additional assistance from my friend’s helper.

I have tried to summarize my experience below as best I recall, please feel free to ask any questions; I’m an open book and hope my experience can help others.

Lastly, thank you for your help leading up to the trip. Without the knowledge these boards provide, I believe I would’ve rolled away unsatisfied which happened in my first visit to Walt Disney World as a quadriplegic in 2003 (I believe it’s my 11th time overall). I can now say with 100% confidence, that even as a quadriplegic that I have been there and done that!


Haunted Mansion
: they have a special transfer car which has a wider opening, and deeper seat if I recall. The seat was fairly level with my power wheelchair and I could get pretty close to the ride car. I felt very comfortable but I did lock arms with my wife. There were no sudden movements that were uncomfortable to my stability. The cast member stopped the ride completely and told me I had as much time as needed to transfer.

Soarin’: was not as easy a transfer as I expected from what I had read. While the ride seat was level with my power wheelchair it was an awkward transfer because of the armrests/arm grabs on the ride vehicle. I parked my power wheelchair in front of my seat perpendicular. I had to be right in front so that we did not have to lift my body over the armrest of the ride car. However, if you can imagine, halfway through the transfer we needed to back my wheelchair up so that we could finish; this proved a little bit difficult and was an uncomfortable transfer to say the least. I found the ride itself difficult for me because of no trunk stability. Each time the ride car tilted forward gently, I got nervous and would focus on the tilting of the ride car taking the enjoyment away from the ride itself. In other words, the ride delivered a brilliant feeling that is really freaky with no trunk stability. Also, I was uncomfortable with my feet dangling especially when upon takeoff my legs started to spasm and I slid out of the seat a little; this added to my anxiety of the ride itself.

Test Track: again they stopped the ride and told us we had as much time as needed to transfer. Getting in was a coordinated gentle fall from my power wheelchair. Getting out was very difficult and required three helpers. While they were able to do it in two phases, each lift up was fairly dramatic for a person my size with no ability to help or stabilize himself. The ride itself was awesome! I felt very secure in the seat along with the over the shoulder belt.

Spaceship Earth: again, the ride was stopped and we were given as much time as needed to transfer. They have a special transfer car on this ride as well which allows for a significant size opening compared to the normal ride cars. If I recall correctly this turned out to be one of the easiest transfers. Also, this was the only transfer I did I did that required a separate backdoor entrance.

Expedition Everest: The transfer for this was in the middle range of difficulty. We practiced on a transfer car just outside the exit entrance and everything went smoothly. There is a special transfer car for this ride and the difference in height between the seat and my power wheelchair was only a few inches. For the record, before my injury that led to my paralysis, I had ridden every type of roller coaster. That being said, I found this ride to be a little too uncomfortable for me. I found it a bit jerky and I did not like going backwards due to my nonexistent trunk stability. My wife and I started the ride with locked arms and by the end of the ride my wife had her other arm wrapped around my head with fear that I would fall over to the side or forward. While the ride was exhilarating and a fairly easy transfer in and out, I chose not to ride again. However, boy am I glad I tried it!

Rock N Roller Coaster: I asked a cast member to show us the practice transfer car before hand and knew it was going to be another difficult transfer like Test Track. I was right and it required three helpers to get me out. Once again, however, we were given as much time as needed to transfer. Again, it was a controlled fall into the right vehicle and a large two-phase lift out. They have a transfer bench that helps a little but I found that the grab rail on the back of the transfer bench got in the way because the overall depth of the transfer bench was too shallow for my bottom. Make sure you get the special transfer car on this ride as well because much of the side will swing away. As one member was surprised and mentioned on the forums, I felt very secure with the over the shoulder harness system even though the ride was out of this world. I did not feel uncomfortable safety wise whatsoever for this ride. However, for those who broke their neck like myself, make sure you put your head back and tuck your chin down for the beginning of the ride! This was my favorite ride!

Awesome, awesome, awesome.
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:19 PM   #2
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Did you use the booster seat on test track? It makes you sit higher in the seat and is the only way my oldest daughter can get out of the car.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:09 PM   #3
lewiswharf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michigan View Post
Did you use the booster seat on test track? It makes you sit higher in the seat and is the only way my oldest daughter can get out of the car.
I was unaware of the booster seat for Test Track, but honestly given my size it was probably best to keep my center of gravity as low as possible, for the ride itself.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:18 PM   #4
Mary976
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Thanks for the great report! I'm glad it was a good experience for you.

Can I ask what you thought of your hotel? We're looking for somewhere different next time. Most recently we stayed at the Contemporary and while it was gorgeous, DD was unhappy with the overall accessibility...so I'd love to hear about other places.

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:34 PM   #5
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So glad you had a good time and that our experiences may have helped a little! As you found out, everyone has a different point of view and what works for one does not always work for another, I am glad you posted what worked for you so the next person can consider your experience.
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Old 02-11-2012, 12:38 AM   #6
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so glad your trip was awesome.. and really happy to hear they offered you a second time around on some of the attractions..
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:21 PM   #7
lewiswharf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mary976 View Post
Thanks for the great report! I'm glad it was a good experience for you.

Can I ask what you thought of your hotel? We're looking for somewhere different next time. Most recently we stayed at the Contemporary and while it was gorgeous, DD was unhappy with the overall accessibility...so I'd love to hear about other places.

Mary
I rented points from a Disney vacation club member and stayed at the Boardwalk villas. We actually chose a non-accessible room for the view overlooking the water. That was okay with me because I rarely actually need to get into the bathroom. However, it's worth noting that the balcony which was the deciding factor was not accessible to the fact that there was a significantly high threshold. The metal threshold was at least an inch and a half high and I have some low hanging gear (easy lock bolt) on my wheelchair that I knew I would get stuck on. However, I enjoyed opening the door every morning and hearing the sounds of the Boardwalk as my helper got me out of bed and prepared for the day. It was also nice to wheel out to the door opening even though I couldn't go out on the balcony itself. The balcony itself was rather enclosed, so I don't feel like I missed out on a lot but do feel it was worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krisnme View Post
So glad you had a good time and that our experiences may have helped a little! As you found out, everyone has a different point of view and what works for one does not always work for another, I am glad you posted what worked for you so the next person can consider your experience.
So true, if there's one thing I've learned having a disability at that there's no one similar to another. Our needs vary and unfortunately, while I got awesome responses prior to my trip, no one with my specific disability had written anything regarding their experience. If my thread connects with one person in the future then I believe it was well worth the time to make it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A Mickeyfan View Post
so glad your trip was awesome.. and really happy to hear they offered you a second time around on some of the attractions..
Yes, I mean awesome! I'm not sure I've ever been so satisfied after a vacation
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:30 PM   #8
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Thanks for the report. Glad to hear you had a good time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lewiswharf View Post
I rented points from a Disney vacation club member and stayed at the Boardwalk villas. We actually chose a non-accessible room for the view overlooking the water. That was okay with me because I rarely actually need to get into the bathroom. However, it's worth noting that the balcony which was the deciding factor was not accessible to the fact that there was a significantly high threshold. The metal threshold was at least an inch and a half high and I have some low hanging gear (easy lock bolt) on my wheelchair that I knew I would get stuck on. However, I enjoyed opening the door every morning and hearing the sounds of the Boardwalk as my helper got me out of bed and prepared for the day. It was also nice to wheel out to the door opening even though I couldn't go out on the balcony itself. The balcony itself was rather enclosed, so I don't feel like I missed out on a lot but do feel it was worth it.[/b]
My DD's power wheelchair also has the easy lock bolt (which we don't actually use as we chose not to get the easy lock installed in our current van).
For those who have low hanging items, did you find it interfered with any of the attractions that have wheelchair accessible ride cars that you rode?
[b]So true, if there's one thing I've learned having a disability at that there's no one similar to another. Our needs vary and unfortunately, while I got awesome responses prior to my trip, no one with my specific disability had written anything regarding their experience. If my thread connects with one person in the future then I believe it was well worth the time to make it.



Yes, I mean awesome! I'm not sure I've ever been so satisfied after a vacation
Very true. There is so much variability, even with the same disability.
But, each piece someone can add will help someone else decide if they can even try something.
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:51 AM   #9
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I just have to say I really enjoyed hearing about your experience, and I'm so glad it went well for you! We're staying in a BWV BoardWalk view too in a few weeks, so it's good to hear a good review of that too.
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