disneyland-anaheim-chronic-illness

As we relaxed in our Hollywood apartment on our second last evening, Ross asked me what I would like to do on our final day in LA. I figured it would probably be a good idea to spend the last day chilling out and relaxing. Ross had other ideas. He reminded me that I had made the comment “I will stick to Disneyland” after my day at Six Flags Magic Mountain. He knows me too well and knew fine well I was wishing I was well enough to go to Disney in Anaheim. When he suggested visiting Disneyland my face lit up but my rational brain reminded me that it wouldn’t be a good idea so I said no. Ross took to google and looked up Disney’s disability policies and managed to convince me that I would be okay. I’ll admit that it did not take much to convince me! I was like a hyper 5 year old on Christmas Day on the car ride there. I love Disneyland!


Visiting Disney was actually a pivotal moment for me. It made me realise that it’s okay to accept help. Queueing in line at the Town Hall to ask about accessibility, I honestly felt like a fraud. Without going into details of the condition I had, I explained to the very helpful cast members what my concerns were and they explained my options: 1/ I could utilise fast passes for rides, 2/ I could be given a disability access service card or 3/ I could hire a wheelchair or scooter. I opted for the second option and would of course be making use of fast passes too. The disability access service card allows you to queue for rides without being in the actual queue. Basically you have your card stamped with a time to return to ride. So if the queue is 50 minutes, you will be asked to return in 50 minutes time and you will get on the ride without standing in the queue. This means that you can go and rest knowing that you have your place in line. It turned out that the park was so quiet that day that I only had to use it twice.

As the morning went on, I realised that I was enjoying the rides but that I was steadily becoming more and more fatigued. Walking was becoming difficult and it was only 11AM. I was starting to feel upset as I knew it was about time to give up. As we walked past the Pirates of the Caribbean ride on our way back to the entrance I noticed a woman in a mobility scooter. The cast member was informing this lady that she could take her scooter all the way up the ride queue where she could then transfer onto the ride. “It’s okay”, the woman replied, “I can walk but I can’t be on my feet for long. I’ll manage to walk the queue.” Whoever that woman was I thank her. Ross turned to me and suggested that I hired a scooter. I protested initially. Then I realised I had two options: hire a scooter or leave.

I’ll be honest, I was mortified. I made Ross go and deal with hiring the scooter and pretended that I had nothing to do with the process! That was until I had to be shown how to use the thing. I cringed as I sat on the scooter. I imagined that the woman who was showing me would be thinking “what’s wrong with her, she looks fine?” When I began to scoot around I started giggling though. I instantly felt better for being on that scooter. I was then able to spend the rest of the day enjoying both Disney parks to the full. Most of the rides were fully accessible so I could scoot right up to the point of getting on the ride. The staff were all so helpful and understanding and had clearly been given training on what to say and do. They helped to make my day. Sure people stared at me. Many ignorant people got in my way (hello, it’s much easier for you to take two steps to the side to move around me than the other way round). Mostly I was oblivious to it though. Any time I did notice, I began to sing “Rollin'” by Chamillionaire and both Ross and I would be in stitches. Another funny thing was the fact that the scooter had a headlight. Queueing for the Tower of Terror was hilarious as it was dark inside and every time I moved forward, I would light up the place.

mobility-scooter

I managed to go on all the rides I wanted to and I lasted until closing time. I was so grateful to that scooter and all the amazing staff that helped me to have a wonderful day. The only two rides I would suggest avoiding are Space Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds as I found these rather painful. However, I never experienced a problem with the rest of the rides. I would absolutely recommend Disneyland to other people with chronic illness and encourage you to look into the accessibility options. I had read some horror stories online of people being told by staff that fibromyalgia is not considered a disability. However, you do not need to disclose your condition to Disney. You simply need to state what you will struggle with. I simply said that I found standing for long periods of time (especially in the heat) difficult and I suffered from pain and fatigue. I didn’t feel as though I had to justify myself at all. The staff were nothing but understanding and helpful.

As I boarded the tram to head back to the car park I genuinely felt sad to be leaving Disney. A little girl who was sat in front of me felt the same way and began to bawl her eyes out and had an almost-tantrum about the fact she had to leave the happiest place on earth. Her parents found this hilarious and filmed the whole thing. I am sure she will love being shown that video at 18!

That was the conclusion to our Californian adventure and it was a fun way to end it. The next morning, we got up early and headed to the airport to make the long journey home. This is the first holiday in a long time where I did not want to go home. I wished I had more time to experience California. However, I fully intend on returning in the future as I am sure California has even more to offer!

If you would like to catch up with the rest of the posts in this series, you can find them here.

Author

Hello, I'm Donna. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2013 and started this blog shortly after. After my health declined significantly the following year, I decided to become my own advocate and searched for answers. It took two years but, in 2016, I finally discovered I had Lyme Disease. On February Stars, I share my personal journey back to better health; discussing what has helped me and the mistakes I've made along the way. I also cover topics on self-improvement, managing symptoms and living life to the fullest with chronic illness.

4 Comments

  1. Oh oh oh! I love Disneyland. As I a kid I wanted to move into the Haunted Mansion. Still do, actually. 😀 A) I’m glad Disneyland was so helpful. I went once (pre-sickness) wearing a foot cast and didn’t ask or get any help. B) the choice to use a scooter or chair is one I struggled with for a long time. Mobility vs expected shame sucks. And yeah, wheelchair/scooter users seem to be invisible. I’ve had people crash into me – once while balancing crutches on my good foot so they were sticking straight *up* and with a hot pink cast sticking straight out in front of me! So glad you had fun. Now I’m daydreaming of mint juleps and hanging out at The Blue Bayou.

    • The haunted mansion is amazing! That sucks that you never got any help, I couldn’t fault the staff when I was there. I have a whole new view on mobility aids now, I’m much more accepting of help. Anything that helps you get out and about is a positive.

  2. What a useful post, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to go to a theme park now that I have M.E, and if I would manage any of the rides. I used to love roller coasters! I thought it was really good that they let you “queue without queuing!” That really shows an understanding of fatigue/pain related disabilities! I suppose at Disneylad they are aiming to please everyone as much as they can, so they would be only too willing to make everything as accessible as possible. I had never really thought about that before. I’m so glad that the scooter made you feel so much better! It’s weird isn’t it, the just help so much. It’s even quite fun experiencing the whizzing motion! 😉 I’m so glad that you had such a good time, it sounds like the perfect way to end your Californian trip! 😀

    • Glad you found it useful Jenny. I too have always loved roller coasters. I didn’t manage very well at six flags magic mountain but Disney was great! The scooter made all the difference. You are right, it is quite fun whizzing around knowing you aren’t wearing yourself out. It was definitely the perfect way to end it, thanks 🙂

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