Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Saying YES to DAS

As a former Cast Member, I've said it a million times: if you need special assistance at Disney Parks, don't be afraid to ask for it. Go to Guest Relations, explain your symptoms or needs and enjoy your vacation. Disney will explain how they can help.

Do you know what they say about doctors? They make the worst patients. I guess the same can be said for Cast Members - or former Cast Members in my case.

I've said it before on this blog and I'll gladly say it again: I live with a pretty severe case of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. I was diagnosed in 2006. My symptoms include frequent diarrhea, regular pain, blood loss, weakness, etc. I take more pills than you can imagine and I go for regular infusion treatments. I do not talk about this a lot, but I'm getting better at that. As you can imagine, the symptoms aren't fun to talk about and are incredibly embarrassing.

Like most inflammatory diseases, I have flare ups which exacerbate my symptoms. However when I'm in what I consider "remission" I still have symptoms. I'm still having bowel movements at least six times per day and I deal with severe urgency even when I'm well. Worse than the physical conditions are the psychological ones. Fear of not getting to a bathroom in time is a daily battle.

This past March during my trip to Disneyland I was in what I consider a state of remission. It was a somewhat stressful trip in that I did not know the locations of the restrooms like the back of my hand, like I do at Walt Disney World. In addition, I did not know how far I was from the front of an attraction or the length of new rides. I was both physically and emotionally struggling.

Several times throughout the trip I left a line to use the bathroom. Most of the time my husband would wait in line for me and let other guests pass him while he waited for me. Other times, I had a difficult time getting back in line because the Disneyland lines are significantly more narrow. There was a lot of guilt associated with this pattern and I truly worked myself into a panic several times.

On our last day at the Disneyland Hotel, we were sitting by the pool and I turned to my husband and said, "I think it's about time that I come to terms with my limitations. I think it's time for me to consider DAS." DAS is Disney Parks Disability Access Service. I am, by no means, looking to skirt lines or ask for special treatment. I would simply like to use my time waiting in line sitting near a restroom.

My husband simply looked at me and said, "I've been waiting for you to come to that conclusion. I'm glad you've decided to help yourself."

He's right. The next time I go to a Disney Park, I'm going to help myself have an enjoyable time, free of panic. I'm going to ask the knowledgeable Disney Cast Members how I can take advantage of the services available.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Best Way to End a Disney Vacation

Welcome to those of you joining me from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the second stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When I was a kid, my family would stay at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for a week each year. One of my favorite traditions is riding the resort monorail with my little brother as my parents checked into the resort. In fact, when I was a child, my brother would say that when he grew up he wanted to be a monorail driver.

It's a classic kid story - give them the most amazing theme park in the world, with every type of attraction imaginable, and the kids want to ride the monorail. We memorized the spiels, stood clear of the closing doors, and took in all the sights and views.

My husband and I on the monorail during our honeymoon

That was the beginning of our yearly trip. But I think it is just as fitting as the ending of a trip. I usually enjoy spending my last day at the Magic Kingdom. I go and visit my family's stone, which is right outside of the resort monorail loop. After saying goodbye to Mickey Mouse, I'm not ever quite ready to say goodbye to the resort.

The Ragone stone - Two decades old
From approximately 100 feet in the air, the Walt Disney World monorail system gives you the best overview of the over forty square miles of the resort. In fact, you can cover about fifteen miles of the resort via the monorail system. There's something magical about viewing Walt's creation from up above.

From the Magic Kingdom station to around Epcot, there's plenty to see. Have more time to spare? Hop off the local resort monorail and visit Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. There's plenty to see and do at these resorts.

The best part about the monorail and the resorts? This activity won't cost you a penny. You can reminisce about your trip, discuss "favorites" of each day and get some great photos  - all in the comfort of air conditioning.

I love the monorail. It's truly a highway in the sky and a Disney trip would never be complete without it!

photo credit: SpreadTheMagic via photopin cc
The perfect activity when the sun sets on your Disney vacation

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Frontierland Station.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Magical Mouse School House – Park Hopping
2nd Stop ~ The Disney Point – Riding the Monorail
3rd Stop ~ Frontierland Station – Character Breakfasts
4th Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts – Shopping & Taking Photos
Final Stop ~ Superheroes and Teacups – Strolling Down Main Street, USA

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Dream for Disney: Live Bus Updates

Have you ever come across a cool technological advancement or a luxury that you wish Disney would incorporate? Disney is always pushing the technology button, moving to more automated systems to (in theory) make our lives easier and make our vacations stress-free. In Walt Disney World, they've debuted FastPass+ and My Disney Experience for this reason.

I was thinking about this the other day during my morning commute to New York City. In fact, my morning commute is usually the time I find myself daydreaming about Disney the most. (Probably because that's the one place I'd always rather be!)

A screen shot from Bus NYC. The red
symbols are buses on the route.
Over the past few years, the New York City MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) have debuted a number of smart phone apps that have made my life substantially better. One such app is called "Bus NYC." On this app, I am able to save my morning bus stop and my favorite routes. I then can view the timetable of when the buses are supposed to arrive. While this is helpful, anyone in New York City knows that traffic can throw a massive wrench in those plans.

Instead of relying on timetables, I can view the GPS location of the buses on that particular route. Therefore, I don't leave my house in the morning before I can see my bus on approach. In fact, I've timed it out perfectly. On a rainy day, or a cold snowy morning, I don't leave my house a minute before I have to.

How can this be applied to Disney? Imagine the possibilities!

Imagine you're staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and you have dinner reservations at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Your little one just woke up from a much-needed nap and is dragging a bit. You are rushing to get ready and you check your app. You see the next Hollywood Studios bus about fifteen minutes away, so you can take your time to get ready before running to the bus stop.

Or imagine this: You're at the bus stop waiting for the Magic Kingdom bus at Port Orleans French Quarter when your little one tells you that you the he has to use the bathroom. "It's an emergency!" he proclaims. You check your app and see that you have a least five minutes before the bus will arrive so you carry him into the lobby bathroom to take care of business.

So Disney Imagineers, if somehow, someday, you read this, please come up with a system like this for Walt Disney World! Guests would be eternally grateful!