I would like to begin this post by thanking everyone who followed along, commented, and/or asked questions! With that said, here is a recap of my day along with details that I would have gone crazy trying to put into 140 character tweets. Wonder why I am live tweeting my visits to Disneyland? Click here to find out!
When planning a single day in the park, I prefer to open the park rather than arrive later and stay to closing. This means waking up early. Funny thing is, even though I live 45 minutes from the park, my wake up time is the same when I stay on property or at a nearby hotel. One reason is that when staying at a hotel, I don’t have my own bathroom. Instead of waiting for someone else to finish getting ready, I prefer to be the first one. This gives me time to relax while everyone else is getting ready.
Physically I was already pooped by the time we loaded into our car. Even though I packed my day bag and snacks the day before, I still had to pack our soft sided collapsible cooler with frozen water bottles intermixed with unfrozen ones, plus a few small bottles of soda. When the daily highs are under 80 I don’t bother with frozen bottles, but anything over will result in having to drink hot water later in the day. My feet were hurting, as were my hips and back muscles. This is normal and why I am so thankful for my wheelchair and my friends and family that don’t mind pushing me around.
I feel I need to clarify this first post about medicating. What I meant to say was that I don’t normally medicate in the morning when I am at home. I always, unless I am the driver, medicate early in the day on a Disney day. One thing that I am better about doing while at Disneyland rather than at home is staying ahead of my pain and preparing my body for the beating it is about to receive. This is why I love medicating with medical marijuana, it actually relaxes my muscles, reduces my pain, and lets me have some fun. The most important reason I have for medicating in this manner is at the end of this post. Anyways, the car ride from home to the park is just the right amount of time for my meds to start preparing my body for the first ride of the day.
Not all handicapped parking spaces are close to the tram area in the Mickey and Friends parking garage. Unless you arrive early, you may find yourself having to park at the far end or on another level. To be honest I would rather have my family push me from the other end rather than park on an upper level. The reason for this is that there are only one elevator that always has a long line of strollers. The last time this happened to me, we would have had to wait a half hour or more just to get into the parking garage elevator to go home. Luckily I felt okay to stand for a few minutes and we took the escalator. I don’t care that a wheelchair doesn’t belong on the escalator, I wasn’t sitting in it, and we made it to our vehicle in less than 5 minutes. This is just another reason that I prefer to arrive early rather than later. The other parking lots aren’t an issue as they are single level lots.
It was a beautiful day. Clear skies and warm temps! Since I never know how long of a day I will be able to withstand, I always bring along warmer clothing for evenings. No matter what the season, I am always cold once the sun sets. Being in the wheelchair and not moving my body doesn’t help. So I always bring along a heavier sweater/jacket, socks and slippers (if I am wearing flip flops), and gloves. I like to be prepared in case I do stay past sun set. I also always bring several bottles of water for myself. On warmer days like this day, I freeze one or two to keep the others cool throughout my day. When the forecast is predicting high 90’s or low 100’s, I freeze every bottle that I plan to bring.
When parking in The Mickey and Friend’s parking garage there are two options for getting to the park besides walking. The first is to take the tram. The trams only have one handicapped accessible car each. Each is equipped to secure two wheelchairs, however there isn’t enough space for two wheelchairs to get in and out without hitting each other. There would be if the ramp did not encroach so far into the vehicle. The second option is my favorite, the Mickey handicapped bus. This one not only fits two wheelchairs, but the people with them as well. On the tram if each wheelchair guest has more than two people with them they have to sit somewhere else. On the bus, a third wheelchair could also fit if that person is able to transfer to a seat. The best part of the bus is that you are inside a vehicle, not having to feel the cold night air smack your face after a long day.
There are no choices for the other parking lots. They all offer full size busses for all guests. Walking is always an option. We once walked (family pushed me in my wheelchair) from the Simba lot because there was a long line of guests in wheelchairs. We arrived at the park in less time then it would have taken to wait for a bus.
For the second time this year, my daughter was chosen to go through the metal detectors at the security check point. Some people have expressed annoyance over the metal detectors. We love them. Since they have been installed we have begun placing bets to see if one of us will be chosen and if so, which one of us.
In the center of the gates for Disneyland is a special gate just for the handicapped and their guests. We are able to use the other gates, however the wait is usually shorter and our group doesn’t get divided. At the standard gates, as you reach the cast member, the wheelchair and person pushing it must move to the center while the rest of your party goes through the turnstiles. The guest in the wheelchair and the person pushing them have to wait until a cast member stops entering guests through the turnstiles to be scanned and given entry. Oddly, there isn’t a handicapped gate for California Adventure. There we enter like we would at the standard gates for Disneyland.
The gates always open prior to the park actually opening. During this time guests can shop on Main Street, get coffee, or line up at the ropes in hopes to be the first to their favorite attractions. We went straight for the rope that blocked off Tomorrowland. It was during this time that people stumbled over my feet. Anytime there are heavy crowds, people see the empty space between whoever is pushing me and the person in front of me, but they never see me until they are falling over me. This was actually a good day. Reason number one is because while those people stumbled, no one hit the ground or was hurt. The second reason is that was the total amount of times that someone stumbled over me.
First stop Hyperspace Mountain! This ride requires a disabled return time or a fast pass for disabled guests. Being that we were there when it opened, the cast member scanned our tickets then immediately scanned them again to allow us entry. Most of the time if there isn’t a wait, they don’t bother scanning them at all.
First ride of the day hadn’t even begun and all it took was transferring from my wheelchair and sitting down in the ride vehicle to bring on some nasty back spasms. I usually leave this ride in more pain than I enter it, but today was different. On this day I actually felt better afterwards! The pain I normally experience is from my abdominal adhesions ripping. I avoid neck and upper back muscle spasms by riding hand-free. Some times I have my hands in the air and at other times just folded on my lap. Either way by not bracing myself I am able to keep those muscles happy. If I brace myself with my arms, I experience muscles stiffness and pain similar to whiplash.
The handicap entrance is narrow and extremely narrow at some points. At its widest, two wheelchairs may pass each other as long as they both have their arms inside the chair. However there are stretches that requires everyone to proceed single file. Often traffic jams occur. There are a couple of ways to avoid this. The first is for guests to use the mirrors located at the top of corners. If you see someone coming, wait… The other would be for the cast members to not allow the next group to enter until the last group has exited.
We love having fun by posing for the rides that take your pictures. Note that if you are riding in the handicapped vehicle, your picture will not be on the screens at the exit like everyone else’s. Just stop by the store next to the screens and the cast member will gladly pull up your photo.
One of the reasons I prefer to open the park rather than stay until closing is that mornings are less crowded and we are able to ride more attractions without the hassle of having to have a disabled return time. Some days we only have this luxury for a ride or two and on other days we can knock out five to six! Thunder Mountain is another attraction that I ride hands-free. The entrance to this ride is also at its exit. There is no way to know if they are issuing disabled return times or just letting you straight on until you check in with the attending cast member. Later in the day we thought we would need a return time, but turned out we didn’t.
There was no wait for Splash Mountain on this glorious morning! When there are little or no lines, there won’t be a cast member attending the handicapped line which is located at the exit. When this occurs, just proceed through the exit to the handicapped loading area. I had to move fast to put on my shower cap! On a hot day like this one I don’t mind getting my clothing wet, but I refuse to ruin my hair!!! I also ride this one hand-free.
I was in need of something a little slower. Three fast rides in a row had left me feeling a little beat up. The park was still fairly empty and thankfully there was no wait time for the Haunted Mansion. My favorite part of this attraction is a portion in which the Doom Buggy slowly goes down a hill while facing backwards. This portion takes all pressure off of my spine and hips. Feels great!!! I always wish that the ride would break down at this point. I could stay there for hours!!
In need of a rest, I sent my family off to another attraction while I sat in the sun, sipped more coffee, and took a few bites of the poptart that I brought with me. I try to avoid big heavy meals in the park, as I usually feel like I need a nap afterwards. Instead I bring along fruit, crackers, poptarts, etc…. I don’t mind my break times. I have no issues sitting alone while my family is on another ride. In fact it is during these breaks that I have met many interesting people. My husband thinks it is hilarious that I am able to pull the life story out of 2 or more people every time we are there.
Decided to take advantage of this slow morning by hopping back on Thunder Mountain! I find nothing defeats the sandman as he lures me for a nap like a wild thrill ride!
No matter what the forecast, I find it wise to layer!! I can be dressed for winter and then shed layers for summer temps in just a few minutes!! With that being said, I always keep a light sweater within reach, as many indoor rides keep their A/C so low that I would freeze without one.
While on Thunder the muscles surrounding one of my hips seized up. Thankfully it released as we made our way over to Indiana Jones. By this time the park was getting busier and there was a wait time for this attraction. We received our disabled return time from the cast member at the handicapped entrance which is located next to the standard one. With 40 minutes to kill, we decided to make a restroom pit stop.
Like I tweeted, I have NO control over my pain. I am always in pain. There are certain levels of pain that I have come to accept. I also accept that to enjoy somethings I will have to experience additional pain. But that is my personal choice. Thankfully medical marijuana decreases the level of pain that I reach, and later when I take my full bedtime dosage, my body is restored to what I consider my normal level of daily pain. If I waited to play at Disneyland until I was virtually pain free or feared the additional pains that the day will bring, I would never come. It is just how it is.
The Tiki room is the only attraction near Indiana Jones that doesn’t require a disabled return pass. Read my post The Enchanted Tiki Room to find out more. Wheelchairs must use a lift to enter the hut. If you are able to sit on benches and handle a few steps you may leave your wheelchair outside of the hut. However, guests like me that can’t sit without full back support without causing severe spine and muscle pain, there is a lift for wheelchairs. This lift is tiny!!! It was designed for a wheelchair and caregiver, that is it! The person that designed it didn’t take into consideration that the guest in the wheelchair would have to have a back pack hanging from the back taking space away from the person pushing them. They also didn’t consider that the person pushing may also have their own backpack. My husband has to stand sideways, and I have to keep my feet under the wheelchair as to not lose my toes when the lift moves.
Because Indiana Jones had shut down, the cast member cleared our disabled return time (so we would be free to get one from another ride as you can only have one on your pass at a time) and gave us a bonus fast pass to use on whichever ride we wanted. We chose Indiana Jones as we knew that the lines would be long once it reopened and this bonus pass would allow us to come back whenever we wanted that day.
Since we were going to be in line for a while, we sent our daughter along with our passes to grab fast passes for nearby Hyperspace Mountain. She was back with our passes in hand in less than a few minutes. I had given up riding Star Tours almost a year ago as I began experiencing motion sickness. Rather than riding with my head between my legs or risk hurling on my family or other guests, I found it was best to avoid this attraction. With the changes that Season of the Force made, my daughter has been begging me to give it another try. Never again!! Not only did I have to fight with all my might to not throw up, this attraction, even though I rode with my hands in my lap as to not add impact to my neck and shoulders, ended up pinching something in my neck. I will never ride it again. There are some things I won’t put my body through.
On this visit I brought my lunch from home. I have been dealing with chronic diarrhea for approx. a year and a half. After trying many doctor recommended diets, I finally found something that has helped me. After two weeks of replacing one or two meals a day with oatmeal I was finally experiencing normal bowel movements!!!! I wasn’t about to end this streak by eating park food. So I brought my own instant oatmeal. My husband and daughter grabbed some sandwiches and chips and I grabbed a Starbucks unsweetened coffee with half and half from the Marketplace on Main Street. We got lucky and were able to score a table just outside the Marketplace. I do not like my oatmeal hot or soupy. I prefer mine cold. I never use the amount of liquid suggested either. I would guess that I use 25% of what the package suggests. Sometimes instead of water, I pour a little of my iced coffee into my oatmeal. Either way, once it looks like cookie dough, I let it sit for a few minutes then enjoy with a little fruit! Not only has this given me normal bowl movements, it fills me like nothing else. I wasn’t hungry again until after we were in the car and on our way home.
After we ate, we left Disneyland and hopped over to California Adventure. There were no lines at the gate. My husband decided he would rather ride Tower of Terror while my daughter and I rode Radiator Racers. While the standard wait time was 90 minutes, the single rider line was only 30. Sitting next to each other or riding in the same vehicle is not that important to us. It is not that we don’t enjoy sharing the experience, instead think about how often we do ride together. Sometimes we just want to get on as fast as we can. So into the single rider line we went. I am unable to maneuver my wheelchair throughout the entire queue. I even struggle with the handicapped portion of the line. Most of the time the cast member at the break point for the handicap line will allow the person pushing me to join me in the disabled line. However we are still treated as single riders. There are times we are in separate vehicles, or in a different row. If a cast member chooses to send the person pushing me to the standard line, I request that they allow them to push me to my designated line first or ask if a cast member can assist me. There has never been an issue no matter what they have chosen. Afterwards whoever finishes first waits at the handicapped loading area for the other to arrive as the hill is too steep for me to wheel myself up.
Because I had already pinched something in my neck earlier, I ended up pinching another nerve in my shoulder blade while putting on my seatbelt on this attraction. Afterwards, I knew I would need a break. My daughter was also ready for a break, so we rested while my husband went on The Grizzly River Run, a ride I wanted to go on, but knew that nothing good could come from it considering my neck and shoulder blade pain.
Since overcoming my fear of loops, California Screamin’ has become my favorite ride. The loop, the thing I feared the most, has become the thing that gifts me with physical relief! While going through the loop, all pressure from my spine, hips, shoulders, feet, etc… is relieved. I feel totally relaxed and pain-free for that wonderful moment in time. Some days I can feel my spine adjust. I need to start riding this more than once each visit.
Every visit to Disneyland is different. How I pace myself, how long I last in the park, how many fast rides, etc… depends upon my pain level or if I am spending multiple days. I tend to do more in the mornings when spending multiple days as I don’t mind if I need to end my day at 3pm. Where as on a single day visit, if my body allows me to, I will push hard until 1 or 2 in the afternoon before slowing down. Then again, there are days like today where I was ready for my first break just a few hours after the park opened.
We decided to ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure while waiting for California Screamin to reopen. There is rarely a long wait time for this attraction and we were shocked to see a 25 minute wait posted. However, they were wrong as we were inside and in our clamshell in less than 15 minutes.
In less than 20 minutes we went from entering the line to boarding the coaster! I can not describe just how wonderful it felt to go through the loop! Sheer pleasure!!!
On our way back over to Disneyland, I medicated for the fourth time that day. This is typical for me when in the park. When I am at home I usually don’t medicate until after 5pm. Since we still had time to wait for our Fast Pass return time on Hyperspace, we decided to use our bonus past for Indiana Jones.
My eyes are extremely sensitive to cold and wind. Because of this I was unable to ride Hyperspace or Indiana Jones without exiting the attractions with tears streaming down my face. Not only did I look like a cry baby, but my tears would destroy my make-up!!! To solve this and to keep my face painted, I began using these safety glasses a few months ago. By placing the over my regular glasses, I can see and my eyes are protected from the cold wind from all directions. I love them!! No more tears or need to reapply make-up!!
Sadly this happens to me often when the crowds get heavy in the park. Usually it happens to my entire family. We can text and place calls, but we lose our data connections. However, this time I was the only one who lost their connection. My husband was streaming the super bowl on his phone and my daughter was able to post on FB. Not me…ggrrrrr.. This is another reason why I will be recapping each visit. When this happens I will do what I did on this day. Keep a log and post when my connection returns.
The handicap entrance to Indiana Jones is through the standard exit. It is a long and winding path. My issue with this queue is that those exiting rarely look at where they are walking. I get that they aren’t expecting anyone to be coming from the opposite direction, but if they would look ahead instead of at their phone or friend, they wouldn’t be so surprised to see that they are about to faceplant into my chest!!
One last time on Hyperspace. I would have pushed myself for one more ride if my husband and daughter had wanted to, but they were also ready to call it a day. My daughter was more tired than usual as she was fighting a cold and my husband wasn’t about to complain about leaving so early as he has to not only drive us home but had to be up by 3am to get ready for work the next morning.
We slowly strolled out of the park to Downtown Disney to take the shuttle back to the parking garage.
One perk of parking at the Mickey and Friend’s parking garage over any of the other lots is that this one has a restroom! It doesn’t matter if I use the restroom just before exiting the park or not, I always seem to have to go just one more time before hitting the road.
As we were leaving the parking garage I took my bedtime dosage of medical marijuana. We were home by 7pm and I was in bed, fast asleep by 8pm. Because I had medicated throughout the day and heavily that night, the next morning I awoke to what I consider to by my average pain level. Considering that I went on a total of 11 rides and only two of those were slow moving, I would say that my day was a success!
Hopefully my daughter will be feeling better next week, (the cold she was fighting finally won yesterday), because she and I have a mother/daughter Disneyland day planned for next week. This means that I will be driving and unable to medicate until I return home. This visit may only last a few hours. We may only go on a couple of rides. We may take in a show or spend our time meeting characters. Your guess is as good as mine! And yes, I will be live tweeting. I have only visited the park without someone else to drive one other time and that was two years ago! Stay tuned as I will be announcing the date of my next Live Tweet day from Disneyland soon!
Wishing you a day filled with Pixie Dust, gentle hugs, and many reasons for smiling,
Tagged: abdominal adhesions, arthritis, California, California Adventure, california screamin, chronic illness, chronic pain, coccyx, degenerative disc disease, Disney, Disneyland, fibro, fibromyalgia, grizzly river run, handicapped accessible, haunted mansion, health, hyperspace mountain, indiana jones, invisible disabilities, little mermaid, live tweet, medical marijuana, medicinal marijuana, mental-health, MMJ, MS, pain, pain pals, psoriatic arthritis, radiator racers, recap, splash mountain, spoonie, spoonies, star tours, thunder mountain, tower of terror, vacation, wheelchair