January 4-19, 2021 - Just Keep stimming! Family trip with special needs teen :) PTR (updated 5/25)

Leopardchucks

Riff Raff, Street Rat
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Hello all!

This will be my very first PTR ever. I've been really enjoying reading through these threads and getting lots of ideas from all you creative planners. I have decided to participate in creating my own PTR for a couple reasons. First, I think my family is sick to death of listening to me drone on and on about the teensiest details of our vacay. Also, this format provides a more organized reference for such details aside from my scribbly Leuchturm bullet journal. 😬

INTRODUCTIONS

I am Heather.

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I am the big ol' Disney nerd in the family. I have been to Disneyland a bajillion times, but only to WDW once before. I work as a manager at a popular seafood restaurant in fabulous Las Vegas, NV. I'm a collector of all things Mickey. I love going to concerts, urban exploring and working on all kinds of art projects. Since I have visited before, I am really excited to organize a fabulous first trip for my two favorite people.

This is Frank.

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Originally from Anaheim, California, Frank is my partner and the love of my life. He is currently working on his Masters in History and Anthropology. He collects vintage Star Wars toy figures/vehicles. When he isn't studying or hanging with me (and the kiddo), he can be singing or playing guitar in one of his punk bands. He is a very go-with-the-flow kinda dude and is really content with letting me do all the planning. He's just happy to be along for the ride. He likes all the rides, but has expressed a lot of interest in Country Bear Jamboree and the People Mover because he hasn't been able to see them since his childhood (they removed from Disneyland a long time ago.)


Here is Gumby!

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Gumby is my super awesome 16 year old son. His legal name is Johnny, but only doctors and teachers call him that. lol Everyone in our family and circle of friends calls him by his nickname, even my grandmother! This kiddo is the sweetest mama's boy you will ever meet. He is severely autistic and is non-verbal. However, we have never let that stop us from going out and doing things as a family. Gumby adores amusement parks, swimming, dancing, watching YouTube and EATING ALL THE SNACKS! He has been to Disneyland several times and we are annual passholders for Knott's Berry Farm. His favorite rides are Splash Mountain and Haunted Mansion (just like his mom.)

We are a family of thrill-seekers. We love exploring new places and trying new activities. Give us all the roller coasters! Give us all the unusual food and drinks! Plop us all in a log flume and we will never be happier.
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Thanks in advance for joining us on our planning (and touring!) journey. I look forward to sharing our experiences with everyone.:earsboy:
:earsboy::earsboy:


VACAY DATES:

The plan is to do 16 days in January. Arriving on the 4th in late afternoon and departing on the 19th in the evening. We chose these dates because the amount of school Frank will be missing is minimal. Because Gumby is in an adapted special education program, we have a great deal more flexibility with absences than many other parents of teens do. For me, this whole trip will eat up my entire chunk of paid vacay days, but it's worth it. We anticipate getting 10-day hopper + tickets. Park hopping is essential for us as it allows us the ability to adapt in the case of over-stimulation and not being restricted to certain parks in dining/attraction plans. Having the start of the Festival Of The Arts occur while there will be super cool. However, we are not looking forward to the Marathon Weekend crowds.

TRAVEL SPECS:

We will be flying from Las Vegas and utilizing Magical Express to get to and from WDW. For the remainder of the trip, we will be reliant upon Disney transportation. I'm particularly jazzed to check out the Skyliner. We might use Uber or Lyft here and there, but I want to avoid unnecessary spending. Gumby thinks the transportation systems are just as fun as some rides. I am going to make an effort to ride each one of these : monorail, ferry boats, skyliner, buses.

HOTEL:
Pop Century!

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I had a split stay last trip (All Star Sports/Polynesian). It ended up being a big hassle for me. I felt like I wasted half a day just schlepping my crap around and checking-in. This time, I chose our lodging based on price and location. Pop Century is sooooo close to the Skyliner. Since we are getting park hopper plus passes, we can get our water slide fix at one of the water parks. Needing just a comfy and convenient spot to sleep and bathe, PC will suit us perfectly. I'm really hoping to take some fun pictures around the resort. Fingers crossed we end up in the building with the Mickey Mouse phone statue. I have already booked our rooms as a "room only" stay, but I intend to upgrade to a package as soon as those are released. The friendly CM I spoke to while booking explained that those packages will for sure be released BEFORE my ADR booking window.

ITINERARY:

Our focus is on experiencing each attraction at least once! I'm aware it's a lofty goal. We have a handful of must-do dining planned and a list of some must-have snacks. Our ADR date is July 8th. A lot of my planning will depend on park hours and special events (Race weekend, festivals, EMH, etc). I compiled a list of must have snacks and a few must-try activities. Out of my lists, I broke the ADRs, snacks and activities up by park. We will have a loose daily agenda with a few daily goals (attractions, food,etc). The rest of the time can be used to re-ride stuff (Gumby looooves repetition) or relax and decompress.

My next post will describe our dining plans. Table service, Quick service, snacks and our plans to stock the room with goodies from the grocery store.

Thanks for reading this far!
 

Attachments



  • Leopardchucks

    Riff Raff, Street Rat
    Joined
    Mar 15, 2018
    Following along!! Can I just say that I LOVE your PTR title?!?! :)
    welcome aboard! Thank you! I was trying for something that represented my lil dude's unique way of self-soothing.
    For those who don't know, "stimming" is a common way to refer to "self stimulating". Many individuals on the autism spectrum have quirky lil habits they do to express themselves, to calm down, to focus, etc. My son has a tendency to flap his arms and make lots of joyful chirping noises and grunts. He's also a hopper, so he will jump back and forth to express his excitement. As long as it harms no one, we happily tell him to "just keep stimming!"

    It feels good to him and I encourage him to live his best life.
     

    ariane37

    Dis veteran
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2012
    Following along and jealous of such a long stay! We did a few 10 day stays when our kids were younger, now it's usually just DH and I for 3-5 nights and the occasional trip with the boys thrown in but no more than a week. Definitely cool to be able to hit the Festival of the Arts too! We went the last 2 years and really enjoy it.


    The friendly CM I spoke to while booking explained that those packages will for sure be released BEFORE my ADR booking window.
    They are normally released mid to late June so unless, like everything else this year, the release is weird, she's right :)
     
  • Leopardchucks

    Riff Raff, Street Rat
    Joined
    Mar 15, 2018
    Following along and jealous of such a long stay! We did a few 10 day stays when our kids were younger, now it's usually just DH and I for 3-5 nights and the occasional trip with the boys thrown in but no more than a week. Definitely cool to be able to hit the Festival of the Arts too! We went the last 2 years and really enjoy it.



    They are normally released mid to late June so unless, like everything else this year, the release is weird, she's right :)
    Welcome! Since we plan on only going every few years or so, I gotta plan trips BIG enough to cram all the attractions into the visit. I am really looking forward to FoA! I like Figment so much and I am jazzed to see all the cute FoA Figment merch!

    Weird indeed. :crazy: I'm ready for the weirdness to give way to some normalcy so I can plan like the mico-manager that I was meant to be! lol

    Following along. Looking forward to reading more
    Thanks for joining!

    Planning a trip a few weeks after yours, so happy to follow along !
    Yay! I hope I can share something that may be helpful. :)
     

    Leopardchucks

    Riff Raff, Street Rat
    Joined
    Mar 15, 2018
    Alrighty! This post will be about

    ALL THINGS DINING!

    After watching a million DFB and other vlogs on Youtube, I was inspired to crunch the numbers and see if the DDP would be beneficial for my family and our eating habits. It turns out no version of the dining plan would really save us any money. I am mildly interested in having that part already paid for ahead of time, but not interested enough to fork over the cash. I have decided to make our restaurant must-do list based on a couple factors: Does it offer an experience we can't get anywhere else? Does it provide a snack we can only get at WDW ?

    So places like Morimoto, Jaleo, STK, Rainforest Cafe and Earl of Sandwich are not on our radar since we have those establishments in our hometown.

    Because of textural aversions due to his autism, Gumby is somewhat of a selective eater. He does like the basic kid stuff: chicken wing/nuggets/fingers, pizza, mac n cheese, SWEETS, PB&J, fries, etc. I will be printing up partial menus to all the TS and QS locations we are planning to visit so he will be prepared. He is non-verbal, so pictures work best to give him choices.

    We will be shipping a large box of non-perishable snack items ahead to the hotel so it will be ready upon our arrival. This will be beneficial because I will probably save a few bucks and I will have the satisfaction of knowing my kid will have snacks that he is GUARANTEED to eat. In addition to this, we will utilize Garden Grocer for things like milk, cheese, beer, and other cold staples to keep in our hotel fridge.

    We will be purchasing 3 rapid refill mugs for each of us. Once again, saves big money and they make nice souvenirs. Gumby still uses my mug from my last trip just to add a lil Disney fun to our home life. :earsboy:

    I made a few dining lists:

    🍔 MUST DO RESTAURANTS:

    - Sci-Fi Dine In - Frank is a HUGE fan of drive in theaters and we love to visit our local drive in every month or so. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere last time I dined there. I think Gumby will get a kick out of sitting in a "car" and we will all appreciate the perpetual night sky above.

    - Space 220 - Not much is known about this super NEW space -themed spot. Honestly, I don't care. Lol The concept art was enough to sell me on this one. The opening has been pushed back so many times. My fingers are crossed for the ADRs to open in the next few months.

    - Garden Grill - You gotta have at least one character meal, right? I picked this because it is all-you-can-eat, but NOT a buffet. The breakfast food is all Gumby-approved and my only must-meet character is Mickey. I think the setting will be far less chaotic than Chef Mickey's and we can can get some cool views into Living With The Land. I'm hoping to snag a reservation before or at park opening.

    - Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review ( category 2) - Once again, all-you-can-eat is a BIG incentive. Does anyone else have a teenage boy??? LOL My son looooves fried chicken and I loooove beer. Since we spend a lot of time at the old west saloon in Knott's Berry Farm, we are big fans of corny sing-alongs and western style melodramas. If the antics get to be overwhelming for the youngster, I think he might ignore them and focus on eating. I am planning to do this one on a resort day and hit the last show of the night.


    - Be Our Guest - Literally only picking this to see the inside of Beast's castle. Going for a lunch slot. Hoping to be seated in the spooky West Wing cuz we like all things forbidden. hahahaha This one will most-likely be a one and done for me. I did Cinderella's Royal Table last time and I probably won't ever do it again. They're Disney bucket list experiences. You gotta try 'em at least once, right??

    - Whispering Canyon Cafe - Boisterous breakfast before the Barnstormer and Belle's Enchanted Tales... alliterative talk for starting a Magic Kingdom park day with a large and leisurely brekky at this rowdy cafe. Gonna make Frank ask for ketchup and see what happens. 🤡

    - Oga's Cantina - Both Frank and I are HUGE Star Wars fans. We want to geek out on all the details and listen to DJ Rex blast out the spacey jams for our listening pleasure. Does he play any hits from Max Rebo or Sy Snootles? Probably going to taste a couple exclusive tipples and nab some tiki mug souvenirs.

    - Flame Tree BBQ - The food is decent, but what I like so much about this place is all the birds. Yes. Those pesky begging white birds. It was unexpected on my last visit, but I really had fun watching them and I found out they were scared of my Duffy bear! Good times. Some places just kinda become tradition. I'd like to make this one of mine.

    - Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar - Gotta get our Indy fix! Picked this spot for the cool Lucasfilm related easter eggs.

    - Biergarten - While we do have something similar here in town, there's just something so charming about the Epcot Germany pavilion. I adore German food and beer. We are gonna dance and sing and probably purchase some lederhosen. I want to do this one on our last night and I hope hope HOPE they will have a dining package for Biergarten/HarmoniUS.

    - Trader Sam's Grog Grotto - MUST do. I collect the tikis and the atmosphere is top notch.


    🥨 MUST HAVE SNACKS :

    - School bread
    (Norway pavilion)

    - Orange Swirl (Adventureland)

    - Grapefruit Cake (Hollywood Brown Derby)

    - Mezcal flight w/ roasted grasshoppers (Mexico pavilion)

    - Giant Cinnamon Roll (Gaston's Tavern)

    - Mango Pie (Yak n Yeti QS)

    - Dole Whip (Adventureland or Poly)

    - Blue and Green Milks (Galaxy's Edge)

    - Boozy Beignets (Scat Cats POFQ)

    - Coke Flight (World of Coke) ....wanna watch the boys taste Beverly for the first time! hahaha

    - Beer with MY Face in the foam (Raglan Road)

    - Mustang Coffee ( Nomad Lounge AK)


    There is a handful of what I've dubbed our "maybe snax" . The things I would like to try, but are not really convenient. Some might be easily accessed, yet I didn't want to bog us down with overly planned days. The attractions are most important to us, so missing out on some Zebra Domes isn't gonna be a deal breaker.

    🍪 MAYBE SNAX/MEALS:

    - Zebra Domes (Mara AKL)

    - Epcot Wine Walk

    - Southern Brunch (Homecomin' @ Disney Springs)

    - Chicken Guy (Disney Springs)

    - Lobster Roll (Harbor House) .... So, I manage a seafood restaurant and we are famous for our maine-style lobster rolls. This snack is really just because of my own curiosity. I will probably be disappointed. lol


    There it is! My list of food adventures we must try on our voyage is lengthy, but we will have the time to achieve it.

    My ADR day is coming up on July 8th. Wish me luck on getting those toughies!

    My next post will be much shorter. Gonna plan out my "must do activities."
     
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