Disney with Special Needs: 2016 Trip Report Part Two

wp_20161028_16_16_42_proThanksgiving was just last week (and by the way I’m super thankful for the joy that Disney has brought my extra special family and for you for coming along on the ride with me!) but in our timeline here we are still back in October, journeying on in my trip. When last we left our intrepid travelers, the little one and I had just successfully enjoyed our first morning and early afternoon together in the parks and had returned to the hotel to find the hubster and the mommy so we could venture into Disney Springs for the evening. That’s where we’ll pick up…

Day One Evening….or It Tasted Fine When She Ate It

I’m going to go ahead and throw in a disclaimer here and say that this is so not a restaurant review and that if it was it would have a much different tone because with a pretty obvious exception, it was a really awesome experience. Moving on…

My little one loves dinosaurs. Not just in the “big lizards are cool” kind of way, but in the “my parents are both artists so clearly I’m going to be born with an affinity and passion for science” kind of way. So obviously what does any mother do when planning another trip to Disney World? —- I made a dinner reservation for T-Rex Café. It is hard to resist that fabulous skeleton when roaming Disney Springs and murmurings of a mysterious meteor shower are pretty much irresistible. When I hopped on the Disney reservation site to make my reservations, though, I couldn’t get in. On a whim, I had the hubs call the restaurant directly and he got us in with no problem. Lesson #1 – T-Rex Café and its brother Rainforest are not owned by Disney and only a few of their tables are allocated to the Disney site. Call them directly for a better chance of getting a table.

We rode my beloved Disney transportation to Disney Springs for our reservation. This was the first time that we had taken the bus to Disney Springs and we were excited to see all of the new shops and restaurants that have popped up even since our last trip. It was a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop to T-Rex ad we enjoyed the chance to explore the new neighborhood. When we got to the restaurant we checked in and headed right for the Build-a-Dino in the back corner so that Avalon could…build a dino. She wasn’t even finished yet when our table was ready. We had requested the undersea room and she was delighted to get it. This is a very busy, rather loud restaurant, so plan to go during an off-peak time to trim down on the stress. I, personally, loved the atmosphere, but I was well-prepared. Lesson #2 – Consider visiting Build-a-Dino or the gift shop before making a reservation to eat here. This will give you a chance to experience the atmosphere, including the meteor shower, and determine if you can handle it or if it would be too much for you.

As soon as our (delightful) waiter came to the table we mentioned that we were using the Disney Dining Plan (which I cannot recommend enough, but that’s a whole other conversation) and that I’m vegan. There’s only one thing on the menu that I can eat (other than sides) and that’s a chopped salad. I was already prepared for that and had eaten a protein bar, so I was good. Avalon was not feeling regular food (I think we were both still pretty full from our fancy, fancy breakfast – which included some awesome vegan pastries) and just wanted some fries. The waiter immediately told us that he could bring her two big bowls of waffle fries and a drink, count them as her meal so that we could use the Dining Plan, and give me one of the bowls so I could snack if I wanted to. It was so perfect. Lesson #3 –Tell your waiter when you are having trouble finding something that you want on the menu. There’s no guarantee that they will be able to work around you in any specific way, but they can’t do something for you if you don’t give them a chance to come up with it.

So here’s where things go downhill a little bit. We finished eating, took Avalon’s new dinosaur, and went off to explore Disney Springs. I wanted to stop by World of Disney and Basin, and scope out the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique so that we knew where to find it the next day for Avalon’s appointment. We had only visited World of Disney, though, when badness struck. I’m going to spare you the details, but we’ll just leave it at my mother got very familiar with five of the bathrooms throughout the shopping district before we could make it back to the bus. She then got to see the beautiful pink Ariel bathroom in the lobby and then made close friends with the bathroom in our resort room. It was not cute. I was really worried about her, but I was also worried about anyone else who might have come into contact with whatever had gotten her at T-Rex. With the supportive husband at my side, I went down to the front desk to tell them what was going on. I explained that I wasn’t complaining and wasn’t angry, I was just concerned. Food poisoning is unpleasant, but it can also be extremely dangerous. Someone vulnerable like a sick elderly person or a young child could suffer very serious consequences from being as sick as Mommy was. They immediately jumped on the phone and made sure that the restaurant and the manager of the Art of Animation knew what was happening. Then they gave us back our dining credits and sprinkled a little pixie dust on us for the next day. Lesson #4 – If something goes wrong while you are on vacation, speak up. Not only did the resort make sure that Mommy had everything that she needed and tried to help us make the most out of that night and the next day, but they also took steps to protect other people as well. It’s important to look out for each other — and Mickey would want you to.

After all of the…um…excitement of the evening, we were pretty much ready to call it a night by the time we got back to the resort. Avalon was already asleep curled up with the patient in the “magic bed” (the awesome Murphy bed in the AoA suites) so hubby and I set up the sofa bed and settled in to watch the Cubbies play in the World Series. This brings up to 4:30 in the morning when Mommy woke me up to tell me that my brother and his girlfriend had finally gotten there – but their MagicBands wouldn’t open the doors to the building. They had brought their old MagicBands from a prior trip, so I figured that was the problem. I grabbed their new bands and scurried down to meet them. Fun Fact: That was not the problem. The next day I brought the bands to the desk to have them activated, only to find out that they were definitely activated and would have opened the door – if we had already used them to open the room. Lesson #5 – As a security measure, the doors to the resort buildings lock at night and must be unlocked with a MagicBand for access. For further security, you have to have already used that band to go into your resort room in order for it to work to open that door. I’m not sure how this works out for people who get there in the middle of the night, but sure as anything, once we used their bands to open the room, they opened the doors at night. Make sure to ask about little details like this if you think that they might apply to you. It can save you some nervousness – and a 4:30 AM run through the resort in your pajamas to rescue wayward family members.

We’ve made it through the first day! It was quite the adventure, wasn’t it? At least we learned a few things. Next time we’ll head into the next couple of days and I’ll give you a glimpse of celebrating my anniversary, clue you in on some more vegan goodies, and tell you exactly how I feel about the controversy surrounding the extra security in the parks these days. See you then!

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.

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