I have heard nothing, but complaining from the parents in the special needs community about Disneyland’s recent policy change for families that bring their child with special needs.
First, I should say my son has Aspergers and is high functioning and we took a family trip to Disneyland the first week of June 2014.
He wanted to try Disneyland without using the disability pass, and we supported his desire to be like his brother and cousins.
Though, I should have taken him in to get it first thing and if he didn’t want to use it would have been available if needed. Waiting in the line to go into Disneyland, he turns white and says I am getting a headache which is his first sign of being overstimulated.
He still refused to go get the pass, and then he and cousin took off on their own. I received a call saying he has a migraine and he was in line for the Cars ride. I happened to be further up in line on for same ride, and asked if he wanted me to come back and get him. He said no. As we loaded onto the ride we saw him and his coloring was bad. When he got off I offered to go get the pass again. It wasn’t until he was upset by a lady who started yelling at my sister, my mom, and me that he gave in and got the pass. The lady had him so scared, because of her behavior that I couldn’t get him calmed down and I finally told him lets go get the pass. (Thank God, he didn’t hear the lady threatening us; otherwise, I would have never gotten him to ride on another ride.)
At this point, I still had no idea how the pass worked. I just knew we were on the first day, he had rode on two rides and he already had three different issues.
I went to the customer service area with my son and told them what was going on.
The lady was amazing! She asked me if I knew how the pass worked and then explained it.
You signup for a ride with a long wait for example Splash Mountain had a 90 minute wait. They write down 80 minutes instead of 90.
You DO NOT have to wait in line those 80 minutes.
They recommend eating, shopping, or go on the rides that have ten minute waits or less.
They asked how many were in our party. In our case there was 10. They asked to see all 10 people to verify.
They took his picture and put it on the front of the pass with how many were in the party. They also told us they had customer kiosk booths throughout the park where we could add the next ride on to the pass AFTER we finished the ride. We would find a kiosk and I would tell them the ride he wanted to go on next. Then they sent us on our way. The only thing I found annoying about the whole things is the kiosks were not always easy to access. They were small and far apart so they were not easy to find; however, the customer services was friendly and very helpful.
Day 1 had a few more meltdowns. I met my cousin who lives in Southern California for drinks and left the boys with my mom and sister. The older son’s phone died, so the younger one had a meltdown because his brother was lost. (He was in the meeting place waiting patiently with his cousin for an adult to come find them.) Then after his brother was found he had another meltdown because his brother was lost because he didn’t get the message on the phone in time. (Can you tell I waited too long to get the pass?)
Day 2 was better and Bubbie and Papa (grandma & grandpa) rented him a scooter to ride around on. Now it may sound stupid, but let’s think about this. I walked 20+ miles on the first day which means my boy wasn’t too far behind me in distance walked. His feet were hurting bad and he was already overstimulated. This took one thing out of the equation which really did help. Day 2, myself, hubby and our youngest did our own thing on his schedule. He chose to sign up for a ride and set and wait a lot on day 2.
Day 3 we hung out with family that day, but Bubbie took Yaakov on some of the more quiet rides like canoeing and that sort of thing. But, of course we had to have one last melt down. Family pictures and the photographer had him tears. It never fails; pictures with the whole family and he ends up in tears.
We as a group of ten only used the pass once with all of us there. The rest of the time, family members did their own thing.
I felt Disneyland allowed our family to enjoy Disneyland as a whole group. Supported my son and his disabilities, but mostly I felt it was fair that my son had to wait like every other kid that goes to Disneyland, but I appreciated that we didn’t have to wait in line.
We have worked hard teaching our son that even though he has a disability it doesn’t mean things in life will be handed to him. I think the staff at Disneyland did a very good job at trying to balance the experience for families with children with special needs.
Thank you, Papa and Bubbie for the fun and Disneyland thank you for making this vacation possible!