OK, so I titled this blog facetiously, because really, there isn’t an upside to having to wear a stiff, itchy cast to the happiest place on earth. Even worse when the wearer is a rambunctious 2 year old. But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade right? So here’s my positive spin on the situation and a few pointer for traveling to Disney when your child has an injury.
Buster is a mobile kid. He started walking at 9 months old. The day he got his full leg cast he was trying to stand on it. There’s no stopping him. So with him having cabin fever and in good spirits, I figured there was no reason to stop our regular visits to Walt Disney World.
My primary concern at the parks was having to hold Buster in the lines. He’s not that heavy but the cast is hard, making it a bit unmanageable to hold him for long periods. That, and that Buster thinks it’s hilarious to bang the cast against things, including me. He has a wheelchair, but it’s tiny and I have to stoop to push it. I had seen others use strollers in line, so I wanted to do that too.
I went to customer service as soon as we entered the Magic Kingdom to see if they could offer some guidance on using strollers as wheelchairs. Customer service is located in the circular entrance to Main Street on the left side, next to the restrooms. A cast member kindly gave us a nifty red sticker allowing us to use his stroller as a wheelchair. He had a full leg cast so his need was very obvious and they gave us a sticker, no questions asked (other than how long we wanted the sticker to be valid). I’m unsure whether they would need additional information, such as a doctors note, if the injury was not so apparent. Also, I did not ask, but my guess is that the park’s rental strollers are too large to be used in lines for this purpose. So if you think you might want to use this option instead of using a wheelchair, bring an lightweight umbrella stroller or the like.
We did get stopped a few times by cast members while getting in line, but generally it wasn’t an issue. I just pointed to the tag and they let us through. We had to wait in the same lines as everyone else, with exception to It’s a Small World. Some areas were more self explanatory then others. For example, at Pirates, they tell you to put it over ‘there’. Where ‘there’ is, I’m not exactly sure as it is not delineated. I just pushed it to the side and they figured it out.
The worst by far was Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. I had a mini breakdown there. Right before boarding, they pulled us aside to park the stroller. At the very end of the wheelchair holding area was a sign that instructed guests to wait for an attendant. Unfortunately, we parked at the other side of the holding area and didn’t see the sign. So we waited on the wrong side for about a minute. Then I went back to the original cast member, who said she would not let us through the main entry and that we had to go back and wait to enter at the handicapped entry. So we went back and waited. We still did not realize we were at the wrong end. At this point the kids were getting upset. So we went back to the cast member who told us to go back and wait again. As I started to insist that we be allowed to board, a second cast member finally came to get us. She said she had been watching us the whole time waiting on the wrong side of the wheelchair pen but could not leave her assigned spot near the controls get our attention. So instead she let us sit there confused with the kids in tears. Yeah. Disney should really invest in a second sign, instructing guests to continue all the way through the wheelchair holding area. The handicap ride entrance is not readily apparent from the opposite side. So that’s my one gripe. Other than that, utilizing a stroller in the queue line has been a positive experience.
The one cool thing about having a cast while at Disney is that the characters will sign your cast! Don’t worry if you forget a pen. The character ‘wranglers’ (the guys in blue shirts and khakis that hang with characters) have a little bag full of pens. Buster got so many signatures during our last visit to Epcot, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip and Dale. Since our visit, Buster has had his long cast removed and is now sporting a short cast below the knee. I hope to post photos soon of him having that cast signed as well!