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Darlene’s First Trip.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a reader named Darlene. I’m always touched and grateful when someone reads the blog and takes the time to write me about it, but Darlene’s story had an added element. She wrote:

My first trip to Disney World has waited 21 years – I had a two week vacation planned and paid for the spring of 1999, when the driver of a car ran a stop sign and broadsided my vehicle resulting in my 3 week hospitalization and back surgery, so I had to cancel that vacation.

Since then, Darlene has had serious medical problems due to the accident, including scaring, and pain. Says Darlene:

I am one of those people who looks normal, but will need to rent a scooter to get around Disney World. I really would like to ride some of the rides with my 9 year old granddaughter, and am wondering if you could give me any advice which would help me decide which ones are okay for me.

Darlene continued to say that she’s taking a February trip to Disney World with her son, daughter-in-law, and nine-year old granddaughter. They’ll also be meeting up with some other relatives who are staying off site.  They’ll be staying in a two-bedroom Bay Lake Tower with a view of Bay Lake.  It sounds like Darlene has already done some good research; she’s staying at the newest, most convenient property on site.

My first thought was “We need to make sure Darlene has the best trip ever!”  That is a long time to wait and I’m so happy that she’s finally going.  In the next few posts, I want to talk about three things, which I’ll add links to as they’re put up:

1.  Tips for first-timers, including a short list of dos and don’ts.

2.  Issues concerning people with disabilities.

3.  Tips for traveling with a larger group. 

Please leave a comment if you have any ideas or tips for Darlene.  Thanks!


  1. There are plenty of people who “look” normal but need help getting around the parks. Get a note from your doctor, go to the first park and get a Guest Assistance Pass. Where there are wheelchair entrances you can enter, there are a variety of strategies you can use during your trip and getting the assistance pass should be number one. Next, you didn’t say if Darlene could walk onto and off a moving platform, if not, be prepared to be adamant you cannot walk off a moving platform. I wasn’t assertive enough once and toppled into a CM at the end of the platform, I just couldn’t make any step. Not a good idea. Be prepared to wait longer for some rides depending how many wheelchairs or scooters are ahead of you. Sometimes these can go quickly, but other times it’s not so quick. On the other hand, some rides you’ll get through much quicker. Only Darlene knows what she can comfortably take as far as motion, Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain are two rides that feel quite bumpy and if you have pain are not perhaps the best rides to go on. Likewise, if you can’t take a large step down, Pirates of the Carribean may be impossible to climb into. It’s definitely worth asking about particular rides if you have a question about them.

  2. Hi Chris & Darlene,

    Like Chris G. said without knowing your specific mobility limitations I would give you this bit of advice-speak to the cast members at each ride. Although we don’t have mobility issues in our family-we definitely have fear issues 😉 So we always would have a chat with the CM to make sure it was a ride my daughter could handle. They are really great about describing the ride and giving you an idea what it entails.

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