Where Dreams Really Do Come True!

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Where Dreams Really Do Come True!

By: Sharon Hodges, Seth’s Mom

You dream about it; the perfect vacation to take with a special needs child. But it’s always a dream, isn’t it? Since Seth joined our family almost 5 years ago, we’ve been determined to make his life, and our lives, as “normal” as possible; to expose Seth to as many things that kids his age experience. But Seth has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, vision problems, and multiple, life-threatening food allergies, just to start. Vacations for us have always been lots of “work” and I have always come home more exhausted from them than following my daily, normal, tiring routine. We’d heard that a vacation to Disney World would be a real vacation for us, but the price tag of a trip like that, combined with my apprehension of flying with a wheelchair-dependent child, kept us from truly pursuing it. As more and more people kept sharing with us how accommodating Disney World is for special needs individuals, though, I began to investigate further and our family decided to save up for the trip.
We saved and planned for almost 2.5 years, and finally traveled to Disney for 5 days this past November. What a real DREAM COME TRUE! Here’s why:

  1. We got 2 connecting rooms at our hotel for the price of one (our family of 4 needed a bed configuration that was not offered in the accessible room with accessible shower. DW’s policy is to give a free connecting room to families that have this need).
  2. I didn’t have to worry about Seth’s food allergies at all-this is HUGE for me (he’s allergic to wheat/gluten, barley, peanuts and buckwheat). The chef at each restaurant where we had a reservation came out to our table promptly, spoke directly to me about his allergies, and provided me with ingredient lists of anything I wanted and was willing to prepare the food any way Seth needed it. Seth ate like a king!!!

  3. We didn’t have to wait more than 5-10 minutes to ride/view any attraction! This is especially true about the Magic Kingdom, where the Guest Assistance Card I got for Seth at Guest Relations got our whole family speedy access to almost everything promptly.

  4. There are some rides that are ADA approved and accept wheelchair-dependent people on them! This is true for “It’s a Small World” and “Toy Story Mania”, two rides Seth wanted to experience.

  5. Characters go out of their way to greet special needs individuals, especially on parade routes, where there are special locations for guests with disabilities! I have to say that Seth was less than thrilled about this part of it, except for the many Disney princesses he got to meet (smart boy).

  6. We went during the free-dining plan promotion by Disney and went during an off-peak time of year when the price is cheaper. Both of these factors financially helped us immensely! Seth has asthma and some environmental allergies, too, so traveling during a hot, humid time of year wasn’t an option for us (which is also a busier time of year, too).

I can truly say that this was the first vacation where I was on vacation, too. I have been to Disney a few times throughout my life, but I have never experienced such a magical and worry-free vacation with my family than I did this past November. Disney made both of my boys feel special, while acknowledging that parents of special needs children deserve a break, too. This family vacation was worth every hard-earned cent, and we endeavor to go again in another 3 years or so!

If you would like to talk with me further about a vacation to Disney World, I would be happy to do so: jshodges@verizon.net . Blessings to you and your families!

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