What many people don’t really know is that I have 2 disabled parents. That being said, it’s extremely hard to care for them, and we’re very stubborn. My sister and I refuse to put them in a nursing home, so we take turns driving to and from Palm Bay to take care of them both, and make sure they’re as comfortable as possible.
Last year, my father was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, and although we were all seeing some signs of decline, we never would have guessed this would be it for him. In a matter of weeks, in February 2017, he stopped walking. It’s limited him tremendously. And obviously has made things harder on us. Really hard to take him anywhere to be honest, since we don’t have a transport vehicle to just put him in with a wheelchair. Or the man power to really lift him into the car.
I’ve been promising him for years now ‘Dad when you get better we’re going drinking around the world in Epcot! We’re gonna have a lot of fun’, not realizing that him ‘getting better’ wasn’t actually happening. It was time. We can’t just wait anymore. So we packed the wheelchair into the SUV , dad in the front seat and got him the Discover Disney pass. He’s going to live a bit more, no more sitting in front of the tv.
He was grumpy, didn’t really understand where he was going. But as soon as we got there and got moving his eyes lit up. It’s been a few years since he’s been to Disney, but Epcot was his favorite park. We had a group of people join us. Including his long time best friends Grace and Val , Michael (my boyfriend ) and my sister’s husband, Ferase.
When we went to Guest Services, they gave us a ‘guests with disabilities’ map. I’m like ‘oh great here are all the shows we can see’…then the lovely cast member said ‘and here are all the rides’ … ‘All the rides? You mean he can go on rides in his wheel chair?’. I was kind of blown away. OKAY Dad! You’re going on rides.
We walk towards Spaceship Earth, which is the huge golf ball that’s the staple of Epcot. After waiting in the disability access line, we rolled him in. Terry, the cast member who was operating the ride, COMPLETELY STOPPED THE RIDE. ‘Take your time’ he said, we were able to transfer my father from his wheel chair into the ride car. I can not tell you the emotions that were running through me. In a world where rarely anyone is patient or as kind, this was huge. We didn’t have to rush, he was able to go in comfortably without hassle, and the cast members ensured his safety. He enjoyed the whole ride. He hadn’t ridden Spaceship Earth in over 20 years.
We were laughing in no time….
My dad took my family to Disney world over 25 years ago. He didn’t go back until a few years ago when I took him for a day. After riding ‘Soarin’ Over California …(I think that’s what it was called ) he cried. He couldn’t believe how far we’ve come with technology. He thought it was incredible. And honestly, it is.
SO-Next up was Soarin’ Around The World, hey let’s at least try. YEP! He was able to get on that too! And ‘Living With The Land’ and ‘The Three Caballeros’, we were able to get a wheelchair accessible boat to just roll him on. We were a bit hesitant to get him into Frozen Ever After and Test Track, but overall there were no limits for him. He was able to enjoy as much of the park as we were.
I can not begin to thank all of the cast members for being as accommodating as they were, and Disney overall for the amazing experience and day we shared. We thought would end up being a big inconvenience for everyone. Of course, people with disabilities tend to always think that’s what they and their situations are, an inconvenience. No more.
I go to Disney quite often. I never imagined it being as easy and convenient as it was. We have 2 more days left on dad’s pass. At this point i’m considering changing it to an annual. In the end, the enormous amount of joy my sister and I had, from seeing how much fun and happiness was brought to dad’s face- was priceless.
Obviously not from the bottom photo, he was SO tired 🙂