How we planned Josie’s dream holiday to disability-friendly Disneyland
Josie* spent her 30th birthday in Disneyland with her sister and two support workers. Hear from both of them on how they planned the holiday, and overcame the barriers people with disabilities face when travelling.
Josie went on holiday to Disneyland Paris to celebrate her 30th birthday. It took a few months of planning and organising which was done by Josie’s parents and her sister, Lisa. We were all very excited about the trip.
Josie loves Disney but she especially loves Mickey Mouse. As one of Josie’s support workers, I get to see her personality most days. I would describe her as happy, cheeky, funny, but also quite an emotional person. We stayed in a beautiful hotel on the Disneyland site, and we had two large bedrooms for the four of us. Josie loved sleeping in a big double bed, she was very relaxed and slept well.
She was overwhelmed with it all, so much excitement for her
I did notice that whilst on holiday Josie did seem very tearful. I felt that she was overwhelmed with it all, so much excitement for her.
We had five very fun-filled days going on the rides – the interactive ones were great. Josie met lots of different Disney characters and had her photo taken with them. She also collected lots of autographs.
I would say the only difficulty that we experienced was Josie’s behaviour towards Lisa at times, because Josie has lived away from home for a number of years now and isn’t used to being looked after or cared for by her sister so she did get a bit unsettled at times. A bit of sibling differences between the two girls. But in general the holiday ran very smoothly for everyone involved.
I’m very much looking forward to our next adventure.
Written by Sally, Josie’s Support Worker
As a family we decided that we would like for my sister Josie to go on holiday to Disneyland Paris for her 30th Birthday, and I was really keen to join her and her two carers from the bungalow where she lives. Josie had previously visited Disneyland three times and absolutely loves it, especially seeing her favourite character Mickey Mouse.
The planning of the holiday was not too complex, there were plenty of volunteers for the two carer spaces from the team who support Josie on a day to day basis. It was booked through our local travel agent, making sure that we requested a disabled room in the Disneyland hotel. I booked the flights separately with an airline who were very helpful, and booking the special assistance required for Josie was done through their website.
Staff at the train stations were great making sure Josie travelled comfortably
To get to the park from the airport and back again we took the high speed train. This was the bit that I was most worried about, however, the staff at the train stations were great making sure Josie got on the train and travelled comfortably. The only other thing that we had to organise was a mobile hoist for Josie, which was done through a UK-based company who can get you medical equipment anywhere in the world, and organise a local company to provide it. This was seamless, the equipment was in Josie’s room when we arrived.
Whilst at Disney we got up to all sorts of different things. We watched the fireworks on the evening, visited both parks, went on as many accessible rides as possible and saw plenty of characters including at breakfast and dinner – there was no escape!
Disney is great as a disabled person
Disney is great as a disabled person can get a fast track access card, which means that you can jump the queues for the rides and book time slots with the characters so that you don’t have to queue. Some of the rides have wheelchair cars so that Josie could stay in her wheelchair. The Disney staff are fantastic and can’t do enough to help, making sure Josie had the most fantastic time and nothing is too much trouble. The parks are also wheelchair friendly so we didn’t think twice about whether we could go somewhere or not.
Josie’s two carers from United Response, Carol and Sally, were fantastic, making sure that all her care needs were met and that she had a brilliant holiday – it’s safe to say that they also had a fab time too. Personally for me they made something that most able-bodied people take for granted happen for us, and allowed us to just be two sisters on holiday together.
Needless to say Josie had a fantastic time away on holiday, and made the most of being in Disney. She was very tired when we came home, as we all were. Day to day she is a happy, bubbly person, but whilst we were at Disney she was even more happy and bubbly if that is possible!
Just do it!
For any other families, or support workers out there who are thinking about taking someone away, my advice would be just do it! It can seem quite daunting, with lots of things to plan and organise, but it is well worth the smiles and the memories that you make. Most things are possible, and you will not be the first person to have made the trip with a disabled person, trust me!
Josie is having a UK-based activity holiday to the Calvert Trust later this year, but we are starting to think about a possible trip to Disney next year, as this year was such a success, fingers crossed it happens.
Written by Lisa, Josie’s sister
*Some names have been changed to protect identities