Wednesday, March 30

Special Needs at Disneyland is super special

"A dream is a wish your heart makes....."
And like every parent,
I made a wish long ago that I wanted to
go to Disneyland with my own little family.
But how was it going to work out,
I wondered,
with our special son in a wheelchair?
Boy, did we find out and in true Disney fashion,
it was magical!
I'm thrilled to share with you
some of what we experienced.
And really, our day at Disneyland was enhanced
by having our Bugg with us.
We never ever felt left out,
or disappointed.
We were accommodated and included!
It is like everyone working at Disneyland
was meant to work there!

Typically, when arriving off the freeway,
you'd enter this way in the right lane.
for handicapped parking
you'll stay in the left lanes
and go this way into the Express Lane............

You'll be directed into a parking garage.
While you'll still need a tram ride
from your car to the park,
it is a lot closer.

You can take the tram,
this van just happened to be waiting
outside the parking garage.
Both have lock-downs for wheelchairs.
And the drivers were so nice
and thorough, making sure Bugg was safe 'n snugg.

City Hall is located on Main Street,
just past Mickey's flower face.
This is where you can check in
and tell them your special needs
and get a special pass to jump to the front of the lines.
We didn't need to get a special pass
because the wheelchair was the pass.
But if someone is mobile and not capable of standing
in a long line,
City Hall will issue a special pass,
which is also good for 5 additional people
with the special guest.
And by the way,
everyone (3 & up) pays for admission to the park.
Even the "special" ones.
It is so worth it, though.
Bugg was able to go on most every ride.

We were the proudest parents ya' ever saw!
We are at Disneyland!
And our Bugg gets to enjoy it with us, too!
Okay, so I cried.
Let's just get it out there.

The Baby Care Center:
a place for all things "baby."
It is absolutely adorable inside
and there's a Nana in a cute apron to help & assist, too.
There's a sign outside that says to leave
your stroller outside.
But wheelchairs are welcome!
(it doesn't say that, though)

There's cushion-y changing stations,
little potties,
high chair,
tiny tables,
I think I saw a fridge.
Everything is super clean.
It is really awesome!
Entering a ride through the exit

Most rides for wheelchairs and special pass holders
are all about the exit to the ride.
That is where we got to enter.
This sign means that Bugg will have to transfer.
Meaning, he'll have to get out of his chair
and sit on the ride.
This only worked if we could either hold Bugg on our lap
or sit next to him and help him be supported.

The Disney website has a really detailed list
of the rides and wheelchair accessibility
that we printed,
so we could know beforehand which rides could
accommodate Bugg & how.
In the picture above,
you can kind of see a sign on the right.
There is one of these at every ride entrance
to let us know how Bugg could ride.
This one was "it's a Small World" and he was able to stay
in his chair and be fastened down onto a special boat
that had a ramp.
Check this out.......

How happy it made us to see our
big boy so happy, too, & riding along with us!
Here are some more rides....

Buzz Lightyear

Bugg & Dada


Bugg was pretty chill on most the rides.
But every now & then,
he'd give one of his happy lil' squeals
and smile and giggle.
Oh, my heart must have burst a thousand times
that day!
I was holding Bugg & my 1 year old was
sitting next to me

Even though we were able to skip
the main line,
we still had to wait in the special line.
Most of the time,
we waited less than 5 or 10 minutes.
We waited 20 or so for Pirates.
No shock there.
That is such a crazy cool ride.
When the ride is a transfer like this one,
we were able to leave his chair
right where he gets on the ride.

The rider switch pass is great.
It is specifically used for kids that are too young
or too short to ride the big roller coasters.
For example, with this switch pass
my husband & our 6 year old daughter, Mia,
would ride the roller coaster
while Bugg & I & Ella (1 year old) waited for them.
We would wait at the exit and when they got off,
we would switch places and then
Mia & I would go on the ride together
without having to wait in the line all over again.
But I'm thinking this would also work
even if we just had Bugg.
We wouldn't put him on a roller coaster even if
he were tall enough.
He'd hate it and his head control isn't strong enough.
Make sense?

Did you know you can pack food
into the park?
I wish we'd brought in more soft foods for him
and kept it in a fridge somewhere.
I think you can store it at City Hall or Baby Center??
Anybody know for sure??
Because Bugg can only eat soft foods,
it was tricky trying to find stuff that would work for him.
(Their macaroni was super soft & easy goin' down
but overpriced for the amount you get.)

Bugg was loved everywhere we went.
I guess everybody puts on their best selves
when they step into this magical place.
Taking this picture,
people courteously stopped crossing the bridge
so we could catch our boy standing all grownup-like.
And they cheered him on.
It was so sweet.

Of course, it is a lot of work
to handle a day at Disneyland with children,
one of which is in a wheelchair.
But it was so so beautiful.
The memories will be there forever.
And our sweet Bugg.
I may never know how much he really got out of it.
I don't know if he'll ever remember it.
Or appreciate it.
And maybe he would have been much more
comfy staying home.
But he had his share of smiles.
And we were able to enjoy this trip
I'm all about creating memories
and family bonding.
It was way worth every effort!!!!

So do any of you have any tips
to add to this?
Click HERE to read more about our trip


  1. Amazing!!! I've probably been to Disneyland a dozen times and never knew just how much they accommodated!! Looks like so much fun!

  2. So sweet! Disneyland really is a magical place!

  3. I love it! We totally need to plan a trip now!

  4. I had no idea they would be so accommodating. Now I kind of wish we had brought Katie, but I know we made the right choice. Our big girls needed a trip for them. But I'm so glad you got to take Wyatt. We'll have to take Katie someday. I'm surprised he wasn't scared by the rides. I really think Katie would have been so scared by most of the rides, even It's a Small World. I'm so glad you got to go with your special little family.

  5. That is super amazing, It made me tear up that he got to do all that. That is truly amazing Bree.

  6. I have a blog friend who lives in CA. She has a 10 year old son with a rare condition that involves many things, but he is is pain 24/7. He LOVES disneyland and they go a few times a week if not everyday because that is the medicine that will always make him feel better. I love love love how accomidating they are. It truly is magical there, I hope to one day take Caleb again, he hasn't been since he was 3. It is so overwhelming for me to think to do it. He is so big and he LOVES rides and doesn't understand why he has to get off and becomes pretty physical. But if he could stay in his chair and we don't have to take him out very often would be awesome, thanks for the post!

  7. I almost want to cry myself. That is just too sweet. So special and great that they have such amazing accomidations!

  8. What a wonderful and joyous trip. I'm so glad that you had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing (I even teared up!).

  9. Did you see any characters? Charlotte was NOT a huge fan of any of the rides when we took her, but she loved the characters and they would always pull us to the front of the line and spend extra long with her so we got great pictures, and she loved them. We just got back from Disneyland with our other girls a few hours ago!

  10. What a great trip! I'm so glad you were able to go. We were able to get the same types of accomodations for Jackson. Amazing!

  11. Wow, that post brought tears to my eyes! What a lovely family trip and it looks like Bugg enjoyed it so much too! You are such a great family! Disneyland definitely sounds like a place to be with little ones, although we're going to wait just a little longer for our youngster to grow a tiny bit more before we take an adventure down out South for a Disney visit!
    P.S. Love all your photos!!!

  12. Such wonderful memories. You should go again soon! ...and don't forget to stop in Vegas!! :)

  13. Thank you for this post! How encouraging it is that you did it all, it seems like quite the task! I am hoping this post will help talk the husband in to taking our whole family! Congrats on a great trip. I am glad you all enjoyed yourselves!

  14. Ok, so I cried as I read this. We went to Disney World a couple years back, and LOVED how accomodating they were. We were there for a family reunion, so it was so nice that we could get family members through with us to experience the rides with Samantha. We don't have a wheelchair for her yet, but it worked with our stroller and it made such a huge difference. We keep talking about driving down to Disneyland and I so want to do it. I'm glad you guys had so much fun! Love you!

  15. Oh what wonderful memories you've created together! Made me teary.

  16. I'm so happy to hear your family had such an amazing experiance! We too have 3 kids, one with ACC and are fortunate enough to live close to Disneyland. We go quite often. It is so amazing how accomodating they are. We had a friend who was in charge of Human Resources there and I asked him if they train their cast members (like the characters) to be so attentive to guests with special needs. He said no. They are hired for those positions because thats a natural trait in them. Awesome! If you return in the furture, you can store special food for your son in the baby center or the first aid station. Our son with ACC is 13 so for his bathroom needs, we use the first aid station instead. They have 2 large bathrooms with a cot inside that let us take care of all his needs in private. Thanks again for such a great blog!

  17. This blog is pretty helpful. My son has epilepsy and is special needs.We are doing disneyland soon. It can be very overwhlming doing a theme park but the staff is really cool there.


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