This past Thursday, Logan and I took a trip to Magic Kingdom to check out the new Disability Access Pass that Disney has implemented in all the parks. In the past I have taken one child at a time with me to the parks on a rotating basis once a week for the morning. It gives me time with the child to have fun and just hang out. Each child has a different itinerary in what they like and want to do with me. The only caveat is that we have to do it together. It’s usually something different every time with Madison and JoJo but Logan is the same always. He wants to go to Magic Kingdom because it has the most rides. I have come to cherish this time with each child as we make memories to share later. I especially cherished the time with Logan because it was so easy and fun to do. We could laugh and have fun together with no agenda and usually guaranteed success. Sadly, I fear that opportunity has ended for our family.
Logan is so high functioning that it is easy to forget his autism until it rears its ugly head. I never thought about it at Disney because we had the guest assistance pass to ride his favorite rides as many times as he liked. He really likes going to Disney which was a major factor in our decision last year to purchase annual passes. Since he loved it so much , we would reward good behavior or the completion of a difficult task with down time at a Disney park. It was easy to jump over in the evening , hop on some rides then shoot home.
I did prep him Thursday with the information that the Guest Assistance pass had changed and we were there to try out the new one. We stopped into Guest Relations to get the new pass. The first cast member was very polite in asking what we needed then directing us to the appropriate spot. I was cautiously optimistic. Rachel then approached us to ask a few questions. What did we need? What kind of services were we looking for?
I explained that we were looking for the new pass for assistance for Logan’s autism. He has difficulty standing in line with other people and waiting to get on a ride. Without blinking an eye , Rachel asked me what I thought would be the answer to that. I stammered ( she was really direct). I said getting access to the ride like the former pass had done. She immediately informed me that there were no more passes that gave immediate access to a ride . We now needed to get a time to return from the ride and virtually wait. At this point, I asked about riding the attraction more than once. Something we have done in the past. She cut me off rather sternly to reiterate that there would be no immediate access at any time. Would I still want a pass was her next question.
After acknowledging that we indeed wanted a pass, she asked whose name it should be under, mine or Logan’s . After filling out that info on her iPad, she asked if cast members should address me or Logan when talking. In disbelief, I answered the question which then led to asking if he would be agreeable to getting his picture taken. I agreed and turned to speak to Logan to tell him that she would take his picture . She then addressed Logan with the exact same question she had asked me. Could she take his picture? He let her and she walked away to print the pass.
She came back with the pass and verbally read every single line out loud to me. I was asked to sign the pass certifying that there was a disability at which point she even told me the date. She flipped it over to show us where to have it filled out . I asked where we returned when it was time but she didn’t know that answer. I thanked her and we exited the building en route to a ride.
Walking down Main Street brought us smack dab in the middle of the morning parade. It got loud and crowded fast. We managed to slip out of the crowd near Haunted Mansion. While Logan went to his favorite restroom (yes, he has tried all of them out in every single park), I approached the cast member at Haunted Mansion to ask a few questions. What did we need to do? How did it work? Where did we return when it was time? Could I have him mark it off then run over to Peter Pan to get another one while returning to Haunted Mansion to ride during that wait time? This cast member was patient as he answered all my questions. Turns out there was a 10 minute wait for that attraction so we just jumped in line which moved fairly quickly.
After exiting the ride , we were met by no less than 3 scooters and their families waiting to board at the exit. I was quite aghast that my kid would be required to wait in line which was difficult for him but they were allowed immediate access. Even Logan verbalized as we were walking out that it seemed a little unfair . I rubbed his back as we walked to calm him while gently reminding him that we were there to figure out the pass in an effort to make it work for him.
Imagine his delight when we entered Adventureland to see that his most favorite ride , Jungle Cruise, was finally reopened from refurbishment. I could barely keep up with those long legs as we approached the ride. I had to grab his arm to make him turn to look at me to remind him that we would have to get a time to return. He bravely stepped aside hiding his disappointment while reaching for his Sharpie. He has taken to flicking a Sharpie between his fingers to calm himself and to self regulate. I’m ok with that. Whatever it takes for him to remain calm. I approached William at the entrance to the Fastpass lane to hand over our DAS. What ensued was comical . First, William had no clue what to do with it. His manager was present with him so he walked him through it. The queue was 25 minutes so take 10 away and we could return in 15 minutes. For some reason, William couldn’t figure out what time that would be if it was 11:46 . No clue whatsoever until his manager told him what to write. At that point, I asked about if we returned late could we still get on. Brilliant me decided maybe we should ride Pirates while we wait. That’s at least 15 minutes long. We’ll finish then come back to Jungle Cruise. For the record, the answer is you can return anytime after the posted time but not before.
I thanked William and his manager then quickly suggested to Logan that we go ride Pirates. We have a running joke between us about getting wet on the ride. One time, in an effort to coax him on the ride into the front seat, I remarked that the seat was dry hinting we wouldn’t get wet. We got soaked on the drop. To calm him, I made fun of myself. “It will be fun , I said.” “You wouldn’t get wet, I hinted.” “The seat is dry, I said.” After repeating this several times he got that the joke was on me. We laughed all the way home . I quickly brought this memory up as we left Jungle Cruise without riding.
The wait at Pirates was 25 minutes. That should have been my first clue to try something else. I was frankly grasping at straws at this point to do something to kill time before Jungle Cruise. We reluctantly got in line where it began to unravel quickly. I continued our conversation until the cast member began yelling right next to us to everyone to fill in all available space. I’m not talking about loud. I’m talking about yelling at the top of their lungs right next to us. I pushed Logan forward incurring dirty looks from people to get him away from the yelling. People began pushing forward to fill in the space. Not all of them smelled great to be kind. We walked a little then waited . Jostled with the crowd some more then waited . We aren’t even in the building yet. We reach the entrance where Logan sees the cast member and demands she let him out. There was no saving it at this point. He loudly tells her these people stink and are crowding him . Let me out NOW!!! I fumble with the chain to get us out of line as people stop moving to listen to Logan lament about the lack of deodorant in the line. I get it undone and yank Logan out of line . We exit the ride where he immediately turns back to Jungle Cruise. I traipse behind those long legs breathlessly grabbing at arms to stop him. It’s not time yet to board. Where’s that funny meme thing on your phone that has all those silly jokes? Happy that I want to see it, he stops in the shade to break out his phone. That buys us the final 8 minutes until we can board the stupid ride. I’m exhausted at this point.
We stop at Guest Relations on the way out after riding. I ask who to contact about my concerns . The cast member kindly answers my question then realizes he should have sent me inside. He steps in , ask a question then here comes Rachel. What are my concerns? What are my suggestions to fix it? She reminds me that it’s a work in progress and they are tracking the guests concerns. How long can he wait? Am I aware that there are Fastpasses? She suggested I use the My Disney Experience App to get a DAS for the long rides then wait in line or get a Fastpass for the shorter ones all while shooting down every suggestion I had about how to make the pass better. I ask her what she suggests we do while we wait . She looks at me like I’m the village idiot at which point I thank her and leave.
A stop at the Hess station to get him his favorite Vanilla Coke and a bag of Cheetos to end on a positive note. I even listened to that silly cd he likes so much but I could sing in my sleep. Here’s hoping next week gets a better outcome. We didn’t even do a return trip this week. I’m still exhausted from the first one.