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Tag Archives: wheelchair

Disneyland Park Accessibility Update January 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Quick update!

Since I last updated the guide there have been a few new updates.

  1. Dumbo:  This attraction’s queue is now fully accessible to mobility aids, both manual and motorized.  All guests enter the same queue.
  2. Matterhorn:  The queue to this attraction has been widened making it easier for mobility aids to use.
  3. The Enchanted Tiki Room: This is my favorite update!! Gone is the awkwardly small and outdoor elevator for those unable to enter via the stairs.  In the entrance area, there is now a ramp to the right of the waiting area for guests to use.  In the past, guests unable to take stairs had to exit via the elevator and back through the entrance, now they exit out the same door and down ramps into the new Tropical Hideaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quit or Modify? The Choice is Yours!

 

 

 

 

 

When something becomes difficult to do, do you quit or modify how you do it?

I struggled to accept that I needed to change how I did things for the first 13 years of living with fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, endometriosis, and coccydynia.  All I wanted to do was to go on with my life the way I had and not have to figure out a new way to live.  Let’s get real, even life without a painful chronic illness can be difficult, but throw in an incurable injury or illness and it can be enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel.  My first instinct when I would discover that I was unable to do something the way I did it before becoming chronically ill was to give up.  The sad part is that if I had prepared myself to embrace change, I wouldn’t have missed out on so much during those years.

*Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Meaning that at no additional cost to you, I receive a commission when you make a purchase through my links. The proceeds earned fund the giveaways I host in my Facebook groups.

 

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Quitter

I hear so many people say that they can’t do this or they had to give up that just because they couldn’t do it like they did before their illness or injury.  But when asked if they tried doing it differently, they became defensive.  They shut down by saying that we have no right to suggest anything because we don’t understand what they are going through.  My favorite excuse is that doing something differently isn’t the same.  Well, duh!!  Sorry, but seriously, I have done and said both.  How dare anyone suggest that I hadn’t given it my all before giving up, but if I were to tell the truth, they would be right.  I didn’t try hard enough and I am willing to bet that many others haven’t either.

I was a quitter.  Chronic pain had made doing everything so difficult that I couldn’t see alternative options.  Even when set in front of me, I hesitated to try them.  My illnesses had won control over my life.  Does that sound familiar? Are you instinctively saying no or dismissing new ideas because you are tired of having everything you do increase your pain level?  I refused to accept that doing things differently could be as satisfying, even though the end result would be the same.  What I didn’t realize is that by doing things differently, I would still have the same outcome in regards to the task, but I wouldn’t have had the extra pain that doing it the way I used to caused. But I was so terrified of increasing my pain, that I refused to even consider trying.

Like the gazillion posts I see daily on social media, I too was bitter and angry about having to give up doing things that I loved.  I was furious that I couldn’t exercise, go out, travel, care for my family, or work like I used to.  To avoid listening to other’s suggestions, I stopped taking their calls, answering the door, and even began taking extended social media breaks.  Yet, if I had just put my anger, resentment,  jealousy (yep, that is something many of us in the chronic community don’t want to admit, but many are or were jealous of those who can do what we used to do), and had opened my mind and ears, I might have began to realize that life can be good and be different at the same time.

Life modified

In the past 7 years I have learned that it is okay to do things differently. These lessons have made my life one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  My hope is that it won’t take you reaching the point that I did (ready to commit suicide) to realize that change is okay.  I am not saying that you should be jumping for joy because now your chronic illnesses and pain are making you overhaul your entire life, but to not allow it to become a darkness that takes possession of your mind.

Here is a quick and far from full list of modifications that have made living with my chronic diseases easier and less painful:

  1. I began asking for help
  2. I found ways to work from home
  3. I have groceries delivered when unable to go shopping
  4. I used the mobile carts in stores when walking was painful
  5. To this day I utilize mobility aids FYI: Disneyland is just as much fun in a wheelchair or with a rollator as it is without!
  6. Do most of my shopping online (why waste energy that could be better spent at the beach or Disneyland?)
  7. Accept that my exercise goals and the form I participate in need to be flexible.
  8. Accept that exercise is not optional, but necessary!
  9. Allow my body to dictate my schedule for most days.
  10. Tried alternative and natural pain relief treatments
  11. I stopped fighting my body and began treating it like someone I loved.

There was and is nothing easy about anything I have done or currently do.  Living with one or multiple chronic illnesses is hard, but the hard work pays off!  Without modifications, I would be back where I was before, at home, alone, and in excruciating pain.  Although I would have argued this point 7 years ago, not changing how you live is the easy way. It is more painful, depressing, and aggravating, but it doesn’t require any work.  Making modifications to make living with your chronic illness and/or pain easier requires patience, persistence, and positive attitude.  Most of the modifications I made have decreased my daily pain levels as well as decreased the frequency and severity of my flares. The rest have made my life easier, which has resulted in less stress, which doesn’t increase my pain.

PEMF therapy with Oska Pulse has taken my pain management plan to a whole new level! Click here to see how it has improved my chronic life and click here to learn more about the device and how it may help you too! BTW My discount code DIVA will save you $55.00 when entered at checkout!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you ready to give up or are you ready to embrace the challenge of finding a new way to live?  I have some good news for you! You are not alone! While not always easy to find, especially in the chronic community, there are others who aren’t wallowing in self-pity. I invite you to join my Facebook groups that are filled with members who like you want to thrive and not just survive.  Another resource is my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life.  It won’t cure you, but it will help you recognize areas of your life that require modification and challenge you to make those changes.  Click here to order your copy today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips For Pushing a Wheelchair Through Disneyland

5 Tips For Pushing a Wheelchair Through Disneyland

By: Drew

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I’ll never forget the first time I had to push my wife through Disneyland in a wheelchair. We had planned a family vacation and traveled to California from Arizona. My son was 15 at the time, and my daughter was only 3. The first night of the trip, my wife (most of you I’m sure know her as the Disabled Diva!) began experiencing severe intestinal pain. We took her to the ER, and she was promptly diagnosed with appendicitis. They performed an appendectomy the next day, and she was released that night. If you’ve read her blog at all, you will probably not be surprised when I tell you we did not cancel the remainder of the vacation, but carried on after one day of recuperation. That trip was a nightmare on many levels, and most of them had to do with me being completely clueless on what it takes to navigate the parks while being an unintended chauffeur to my wife. Here are 5 things I have since learned that will hopefully help you to avoid some of the pain and suffering we endured on that first trip.

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1. The importance of pacing.

Needless to say, after missing out on two days of our vacation, we were all excited to resume our trip and “make up time”. I was up at 5 am that morning to go get everyone breakfast, help get my daughter ready, situate Cindy in her newly rented wheelchair and get us to the front gate in time for opening that day. I was already tired by the time the gates finally opened, and then we were off to the races! We zoomed from land to land, taking in as many rides as possible. Cindy couldn’t do much, and this often required me to leave her far away from the rides the rest of us were on at the time. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, and truth be told, just a little bit irritable. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a Disneyland vacation, but remember to pace yourself. Get plenty of rest, and try to walk at a normal pace. Remember, you aren’t just walking, you’re PUSHING someone as well!

2. Disneyland is not level!

“Where did all these hills come from?” That was a question I asked early and often on that trip! I honestly never noticed the slight (and many times STEEP) grades that dot the Disneyland landscape. The areas by Big Thunder Mountain, entering Toon Town, New Orleans Square, and Splash Mountain all have moderate to steep grades. Exiting Indiana Jones and Soarin’ also have a long steep grade when pushing a wheelchair. Be prepared, go at a slow steady pace, and make sure you stretch your hamstrings before you begin the day to help with these challenging sections of the park. Click here to learn about these areas in the Disabled Diva’s Guide to Disneyland.

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3. The importance of taking time for myself.

One of my favorite pass times is photography. I am forever stopping to try and capture an interesting scene that I see while traveling through the parks. On this particular trip, I actually had a brand new digital SLR camera I was looking forward to using. However, I discovered an inconvenient truth about pushing someone in a wheel chair. If you stop and pull out your camera with both hands, especially on one of the aforementioned steep slopes, you can quickly loose control of a situation! Even now when most of my pictures are taken from my phone, I still need to concentrate fully on taking care of the person I’m pushing. Make time for yourself to do some of the things you can’t while pushing. Perhaps you can have another member of your party push while you explore, or find a nice spot for your significant other to have a cup of coffee or snack while you get that perfect picture of the Haunted Mansion. It’s your vacation too, so don’t be afraid to ask for some time to enjoy the things you would like to do as well.

4. Pushing a wheelchair is like driving a car.

You probably have had more experience pushing a wheelchair around than I had on that first trip. I was a newbie. Not only was I trying to figure out how to maneuver Cindy in her chair, but I was also dealing with the crowds around us and how they reacted, or didn’t react, to a person in a chair. I clipped quite a few heals on that first trip, and Cindy wound up with one or two guest riders in her lap when we accidentally scooped up an unsuspecting pedestrian! If you are renting a chair you’re not familiar with, take a few moments to figure out your turning radius, and know how far the foot rests stick out. Also, if your chair has extendable leg rests, make sure you know how far these stick out and ask your partner to let you know when they have extended them if they are capable of making that adjustment without your help. Look well ahead in your path of travel, and try to detect problems or obstacles ahead of time.

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5. Do Your Homework.

While we were completely unprepared to experience the parks on that first trip with a wheelchair, we were determined not to make the same mistakes on future trips! Do your homework. Are you going to need a disability pass, or can you get by without one? Many of the rides in Disneyland were designed in the 50’s and 60’s, with no thought to making them handicap accessible. Do you know which rides have lines you can access, and which ones have alternate entrances? Can your significant other transfer from their chair, or do they need to stay in? If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to answer all these questions, check out our free downloadable guide at Disneyability.com.
I hope these few tips will help make your trip more magical! I’ll continue to add tips to this site, so check back regularly to get the latest information. Until then, push like a champion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My New Wheels

My New Wheels

This is NOT a sponsored post.  I purchased and paid for all the products mentioned in this post.

Last fall I purchased a new wheelchair.  I have been waiting to write about it because I wanted to make sure it was something that I would recommend to my readers. Those of us living with one or more chronic diseases know that coming to accept our need of a mobility aid isn’t easy and the cost of them often prevents us from buying one.  As my old wheelchair began to rapidly fall apart, I knew it was time to replace it and prayed I could do it without draining my savings account.  As expected they weren’t cheap.  Then I found one with elevating legs for under $150!!!

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My first thought was that the price was too good to be true.  However, since it fit within my budget I decided to give it a try.  At worst it would be a piece of crap and I would return it. I ordered my Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair with Flip Back Desk Arms, Elevating Leg Rests, and 20″ Seat from Amazon. Shipping was free with my Prime membership and it arrived two days later.

I have been using my new wheelchair for several months and have been very happy with it.  Its light weight makes it easy for my husband to load in and out of our SUV.  This inexpensive wheelchair has withstood the hills, cobblestone paths, and trolley tracks of Disneyland.  I have run into walls and poles without damaging it.  It’s comfortable and the elevating legs bring relief to my legs when I am experiencing nerve pain.  There is a pouch on the back of the seat that I keep my raincoat in.

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My husband and I  have only a few complaints.  My first complaint is that my foot rests are not the same length, one is a smidgen longer than the other. My other complaint is that the footrests are always elevated to some degree.  While this annoyed me at first, I have noticed that the swelling I used to experience in my feet and ankles when out for a day is no longer a problem.  My husband’s complaint is that the handles for pushing are also slightly uneven.  None of these complaints have given us a reason to not use it nor has it made using it difficult.  But it did take a little getting used to.

Would I recommend this product? Yes and No.  If you are like me and only need to use a wheelchair for outings and not on a fulltime basis, then YES.  The only reason I would not recommend this particular wheelchair for fulltime usage is because of how the legs stick out.  Like I said above, the feet are elevated to some degree at all times which would make it difficult to move around a home that was not designed for wheelchairs.  However, Amazon offers many affordable options for those who aren’t able to spend hundreds of dollars on a new wheelchair (click to see more options).

In addition to purchasing a new wheelchair, I also bought a few accessories to make my outings more pleasurable.

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My Pembrook Wheelchair Backpack Bag fits perfectly on the back of my wheelchair and holds much more than I expected it to.  I purchased two Demi Milan Stroller & Wheelchair Organizers.  One is placed on the back of my chair and the other on the inside of one of the armrests.  Now my husband, daughter, and I all have somewhere to keep our drinks.  Just a little FYI, if your wheelchair is wider than average you will need to purchase extra Velcro to attach it.

Wishing you a day filled with many reasons to smile,

The Disabled Diva

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How to survive a Disneyland or Disney World character meet and greet

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to survive a Disneyland or Disney World character meet and greet

me and the incredibles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survive a character meet and greet?  Aren’t those supposed to be fun?  For most people, both adults and children, they are.  It is a chance to meet their favorite characters, get autographs, interact, and have their pictures taken.  But some of us (adults and children) have physical and/or cognitive issues that can easily cause our day to go from magical to maddening.  Some may not like to be touched.  Others may need to be the one to initiate physical contact.  This can be problematic as most characters love to give hugs.  And beware; if one hug could set off a meltdown or cause physical pain, there are some characters that don’t know when to stop hugging or squeezing.  On a few occasions I have exited a meet and greet feeling like I had just been beaten up because the character was overly affectionate. There have been times when I chose to stand to meet a character only to come dangerously close to falling when a character has pulled me in for a hug.  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, there is a way to meet your favorite character without physical or emotional trauma.  Before visiting the parks, think about how you or the person (adult or child) with the physical or cognitive sensitivities reacts to everyday greetings.  Are they in constant physical pain?  Do they initiate physical contact or are they okay with someone else being the initiator? Will they tolerate a quick hug but nothing more beyond that? Will a prolonged physical touch or a rough hug cause physical pain?  When I am experiencing a high pain day, every touch no matter how light feels like a punch.  I could feel bruised for hours or days from the gentlest of hugs.  Do they have a weak immune system, could receiving a hug from a character that has already had thousands of other bodies pressed against it cause this person to become ill?

 

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Next, write a list of what would make the meeting more magical.  Keep it simple.  No touching, handshake only, be gentle, one hug, etc…   Depending on how many characters you or the guest with sensitivities is planning on meeting, you may want to print out the requests.  This would also be beneficial if the person will be meeting characters with other party guests and not always you.  Whether you print it out or not, make sure that everyone who could possibly accompany said person to a meet and greet is informed of the requests.  When you arrive at the line for your chosen character, you will see that they always have a cast member with them.  Some have several cast members in attendance.  Be sure to inform the first one you see of your requests.  They will then inform the character prior to your turn to meet the character.  

By following this simple tip, you can avoid messy meltdowns and physical pain.  Find out how to have a most magical Disney vacation by discovering what you should know about visiting the parks with a physical disability, chronic illness, special needs, a service dog, and more by reading my Disneyland attraction posts.  Information about Disney World attractions will be coming soon as well as a tool to help handicapped guests in both parks.  Visiting with a handicap of any kind can be daunting, but when you know what to expect in advance you have that much less to stress about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I call myself The Disabled Diva

cynthiacovertdisableddiva_coverimageFind out how I became The Disabled Diva, accepted my conditions, and more in this piece I wrote for Healthline.

If anyone would have told me in my 20’s that I’d be writing about living with multiple chronic illnesses in my 40’s I would have laughed. I’ve been experiencing various symptoms since the age of 10, but my flare ups were rare and never long in duration. Soon after my 30th birthday, I started feeling pain in my bones, muscles, and nerves, along with extreme fatigue almost every day. It was like someone had flipped a switch….. Click here to continue reading

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Wishing you a day filled with many reasons to smile,

The Disabled Diva

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Ten pitfalls of using a wheelchair at Disneyland

Ten pitfalls of using a wheelchair at Disneyland

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Some people think that those who use wheelchairs at Disneyland get on rides faster and/or have it easier than other guests.  However, that is far from the reality.  Using a wheelchair at Disneyland is tough, especially for those who don’t use one often.  In this post I share ten pitfalls that could ruin your visit.  Find out what they are and how to avoid as many messy moments as possible.

1.       A wheelchair doesn’t move you to the front of the line.

If you think that using a wheelchair will get you on rides faster than other guests you would be mistaken.  In California Adventure all the queues for rides and attractions are wheelchair accessible.  In the Disneyland Park, there are fewer ride/attraction queues that are wheelchair accessible.  In both parks, many of the queues, while wheelchair accessible, are only accessible to a certain point.  From those points the guest using the wheelchair and their party (a limited number can accompany the wheelchair- see #6) are moved to an accessible waiting and boarding area.  The rides in the Disneyland Park that do not have accessible queues require guests using wheelchairs to enter through the exit.  However, most of those rides also require what is known as a Disabled Return Time, which is basically a virtual queue.  Upon returning at the designated time, guests then enter via the alternate queue or exit and wait some more.  Our wait times can be anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes longer than the average queue.  To learn more about the Disabled Return Times and the queues for both parks, check out The Disabled Diva’s Unofficial Disneyland Accessibility Guide. 

2.       Rough terrain

Besides the really steep hills, when visiting Disneyland on foot, I used to think the parks were flat.  I was sooooo wrong!!! Not only are there steep hills throughout both parks, many of the areas that appeared to be or felt flat while walking are far from it.  For example: Walking on cobblestone in Fantasyland while wearing sneakers isn’t an issue.  However, rolling over that same area in my wheelchair when my body is already throbbing from pain, can and has increased my pain level.  I am not saying that you should avoid that area all together, just when your pain is higher than normal.  Other areas where the pavement is anything but smooth includes but is not limited to:  Adventureland, Frontierland, area near the Rivers of America, Fantasyland, Grizzly Peaks, Bugsland, and the Esplanade in between the parks.  There are also some rides that have an extremely steep incline/decline at their entrance/exit.  If you are like me and lack the physical ability to get yourself up and down those ramps alone, be sure to have a strong person accompany you.  Click here to learn more about attraction queues and boarding areas.

3.       Going against the flow

The exits are the entrance for wheelchairs for many rides and attractions that are not either fully accessible have a break off point.  While we are always advised to stay to a certain side, the exiting guests are not.  In their defense, they are not expecting oncoming traffic.  However, if they would look in front of them instead of at their friends or phones, they could prevent themselves and those using wheelchairs from getting injured.  Be on the lookout for mirrors to help you see what is around corners and always expect someone to not see you.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has landed in my lap, all because they weren’t watching where they were walking. 

4.       Not all restrooms are accessible

Yes, every restroom has at least one accessible stall, but not all of the entrances to those restrooms are easily accessed.  One of the worst is near City Hall on Main Street inside Disneyland.  The ramp goes all the way to the entrance making it difficult to swing a door open while trying to not roll down backwards.  If you are lucky enough to make inside the door, the entrance is narrow and lacks the room for other guests to go around you.  Sad part is the handicapped stall in that restroom is huge!!!  In my guide I list each restroom and share which are the easiest to access.

5.       Must wait longer than others to ensure a good parade or fireworks view.

The parade route in the Disneyland Park goes from Town Square at the beginning of Main Street to the area near “it’s a small world” in Fantasyland.  If you are using a wheelchair, you will want to camp out on the curb to ensure a view of any parade.  The reason for this is that the front (curbside) row remains seated throughout the parade, while everyone else behind that row must stand.  If you find yourself even in the second row, behind those seated, you will struggle to see anything, because the people next to you will lean and squeeze in front of and besides you.  Disneyland does provide a reserved handicap seating area.  However, it is on a first come, first served basis and has a poor view.  The handicap seating area is slightly elevated and has rows of benches.  The benches however are only for the handicapped and not their family members.  Family members, if there is no room on the benches due to a large number of handicapped guests, must stand behind these benches.  The worst part is that cast members and guests are always walking in front of the area and blocking the view.  I have used this area once and would never recommend it to anyone.  I would rather wait a few hours curbside than to ever sit there again.

 

 

6.       Not realizing that the number of people that can accompany a guest in a wheelchair is limited.

If your party totals 6 or less, this won’t be an issue.  However, those traveling with larger parties will be split up.  The best thing to do is to plan ahead of time.  Think about who wants to ride which attractions with whom and have your group line up in that order.  This will make it easier on you and the cast members as they direct one part of your party to the accessible queue and the other to the standard.  Just a little FYI:  Even though your party will be split up before boarding, you will still want everyone who is planning to ride to have a Disabled Return Time so that you can all enter the queue together at the same time.  I share everything you need to know about getting a Disabled Return Time in my guide. Another thing you will want to plan is where to meet upon exiting, especially if the exits for the disabled are separate from the standard exit.

7.       Eating and shopping are a little tricky with a wheelchair.

Whether it is a walk up or sit down restaurant, neither type of dining area is easy to move around in while using a wheelchair.  Tables are close together and paths between them are rarely accessible once guests are seated.  I recommend choosing a table on the outer perimeter or don’t plan on visiting the restroom or leaving your table for anything until you are finished with your meal. 

8.       We wait longer to use the restroom

With most restrooms only having two handicap stalls, and only one of them being wheelchair friendly, we often wait much longer than the average guest.  First, there isn’t always room to bypass the standard line so we must wait in that.  Sometimes a cast member will clear the way and make room for us to wait near our stall.  Secondly, families often use our stalls even though there aren’t baby changing stations in them.  Companion restrooms are equipped for families and the disabled, handicap stalls are not.

9.       Longer wait for trams and buses

Trams and buses that take guests from the parking areas to the parks have are limited in the amount of wheelchairs or scooters they can transport.  Patience is a must! The best way to avoid this hassle is to stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels or any other hotel within walking distance.

10.   We become trapped inside large crowds

Keep in mind when a parade, fireworks, or lightshow ends and do yourself a favor by avoiding that area until the crowd dissipates.  We once made the mistake of entering Frontierland just as Fantasmic ended.  We had been waiting to watch the fireworks, but they were cancelled due to wind.  We weren’t the only ones heading in that direction, so were most of the fireworks crowd.  Everyone one was elbow to elbow, moving slowly, and because my head was not visible people assumed I was an open spot causing them to either injure themselves as they fell over me or they fell on me.  When the crowds combined we came to a complete stop.  Because I was down below head level, I found myself feeling hot (even though the air was quite chilly) and claustrophobic.  I had bodies packed in tightly around me in all directions.  I try very hard to avoid situations like this.  Even if I am attending one of those shows, I will wait for most to exit before making my way out.  I would rather wait than be stuck in the middle of a thick crowd.

 

When you know what to expect you are less likely to let these situations ruin your vacation.  When I first began visiting Disneyland with a wheelchair, I found myself feeling annoyed more than joyful.  Now that I know what to expect and that there is always going to be some kind of annoyance or problem, I find it easier to let it go and keep rolling!  Planning on visiting Disneyland soon?  Be sure to download my guide for the disabled, chronically ill, and special needs.  Also be sure to tell your disabled, chronically ill, and special needs Disney loving friends about my site!

 

Wishing you a magical day!

The Disabled Diva

 

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