My Disney Divorce.

Breaking up is never easy, but this one really hurts.

I could never imagine me not loving Disney, but, right now, all the happy memories are tainted by my new understanding of just how little my disabled son means to such a major organisation, and I feel bad for loving it so.

Of all the places in the world where love conquers all and magic is possible, I believed in Disney.

But, on Wednesday 9th August 2017, all that changed.

I first wrote to Disney World in 2016 to tell them that my wonderful little boy was a huge fan of Disney World and wanted to return but cannot, simply because he cannot use their restroom facilities. It was a heartfelt letter because I didn’t want to have to say Goodbye to our Disney Dreams.

I asked them to find a way to install toilet facilities with a hoist and changing table, after all, my son is not the only person who needs these facilities. When you can make elephants fly, bring Nemo to life and create the magical world of Pandora, THIS really doesn’t seem that hard to do.

Duffy Bear with a hoist and changing table.
This is really all that needs to be added to a family sized restroom. And it will bring so much magic!

Not all wheelchair users can get up from their chairs on their own. Many need a hoist to lift them from their wheelchair, and a full sized changing table to lay down on to sort clothing and switch to a toileting sling before hoisting to the toilet.

But every day in Disney World disabled people soil themselves because they cannot access such a toilet. Families and carers are laying their loved ones on the toilet floor to get clothes sorted before lifting to the toilet or to change soiled pads.

Disney will allow you to use a first aid room to change pads, but there are no hoists and no toilets in the same room as the changing bed.

The option of a place to clean up might help some but many disabled people, just as able-bodied people, actually prefer to use the toilet to prevent the need to change their underwear and clothes! And to prevent the stares and wrinkled noses of other guests!

When I first wrote to Disney they replied positively – they would look into it and wanted to do it. Time has moved on, but nothing has happened, so I sent an e-mail to Jay Cardinali, Worldwide Accessibility Manager for Disney, re-iterating the need for these facilities and explaining that many families no longer visit due to the restrooms not meeting the needs of those who cannot stand to self transfer.

On Wednesday 9th August a representative rang in response to that e-mail.

In a nutshell, toilet facilities with a hoist and changing table are not in their plans at the moment and IF they decide to do it in the future they will let me know.

IF???

Disney, the “happiest place on earth”, the place “where dreams come true” and “magic happens” are choosing NOT to install toilet facilities which would enable all disabled people to use the toilet safely and with dignity.

When you know something is needed, when you know that children and adults might soil themselves and be mortified, how can you not want to stop that from happening?

Only a harsh and uncaring theme park wouldn’t want to make sure all people could stay all day and remain safe, clean and dignified. And I cannot reconcile in my mind that Disney World, the place I have loved for so long and encouraged my son to love, is actually an uncaring organisation.

Now, every time a Walt Disney World commercial comes on my TV and I hear “a fairytale land where there’s magic round every corner” or “a world of endless magic” and it tells me that an “unforgettable Disney vacation is within my reach” I will know that they are lying. There is no magic in soiling yourself. There are no happy family memories in injuring myself lifting my son to a toilet. And for those who need to be laid somewhere to sort clothes before being lifted to the toilet, there is no magic on a Disney World toilet floor.

People are soiling themselves or being laid on the toilet floor in Disney World and the Walt Disney World Company is okay with that.

Are you?

If not, tell them.

Send an e-mail to the Worldwide Accessibility Manager  (Jay.Cardinali@disney.com) explaining that access is about much more than letting people come in.

It hurts me to know that my love affair with Disney World is over. But I cannot love a place which cares so little for my son. He is worth more than being told to soil himself and then find a first aid room to get cleaned up in.

I hope that, one day, they might realise just how much they are hurting people and maybe then they will change their minds?

It is clearly a bad relationship for me to be in, yet it hurts so much to let go.

And I have no idea how to tell my son that Disney is not magical after all.

Disney Divorce
Disney World, we will miss you but our family values ALL people.

 

 

 

 

41 thoughts on “My Disney Divorce.

  1. This is not the ‘dream come true’ for children with disability how appallingly unfair!
    Could you start a petition you would have so many supporters!
    As well as the emails
    Best Luck

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It is hard to understand that Disney World would not already have the best facilities possible for disabled people.

      But to know it is needed and not have any wish to do it is simply horrendous.

      Like

  2. Thank you for writing this! My daughter is 15 and it has been horrible to have to lay her on the floor to change her. Maybe some journalist on National news could take up this story. The only way Disney will change is to be publicly embarrassed, and while being bombarded with emails is great, nationally shaming them would probably be more effective.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Disgraceful! This is straightforward discrimination and they need to be called out on it. I’ve written a strongly worded email and hope it has an effect!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was there in 2000 with my late husband, who was undergoing chemo for Stage 4 cancer. He was in a wheelchair and greatly weakened in his arms and legs. I had to lift him on my own to help him use toilet facilities, and at times, needed space to clean him up if he had an accident. We actually went back to our motel room off the grounds to take care of him because there was not a decent facility there for me to assist him. Considering the amount of money they spend on all other aspects of the park, it’s just crazy that they cannot use that same urgency to provide these basic facilities for their disabled guests.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading this is heartbreaking. Cancer and its treatment are hard enough without your husband having this kind of awful treatment at “the happiest place on earth”.

      Any one of us can be affected by disability.

      Like

  5. It is appalling that Disney will not provide what is surely a basic human right to have adequate toilet facilities for everyone. I would like to think that the Disney company would want to go above and beyond what is required by law for providing for the needs of the disabled and those suffering illnesses such as cancer. I really hope that your campaign shames them into doing the right thing. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Disneyland Paris is the same. We emailed and got a pretty blunt standard response saying we could use the first aid room. But as you said, there’s no hoist etc. It’s a disgrace. At this moment in time I’m on a campsite in Wem and we have better facilities than in Disneyland Paris.

    Like

    1. I have been told by others that Disney Paris is not great at all for wheelchair users.

      But if a UK campsite can have an accessible bathroom with a hoist and changing table, there is no excuse for Disney not to!

      Like

  7. I was in Disneyland in July 2017 with my 9 yo daughter who has Cerebral palsy and cannot use the toilet and being from a place in the United Kingdom called Dunfermline that fortunately have not 1 but 2 “changing places” facilities that we can use whilst out and about doing stuff , to say that I was shocked that Disney world did not have even 1 facility like this is does not come close. It is not much to ask that you install a facility in each restroom area as the money that Disney generates is astounding, to have children lie on the floor to change or have adults soil themselves or have to cut their day short. It is not much to ask that a changing places facility is installed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, in a similar situation and the same as you I noted the lack of such facilities, I have emailed and will post the response. Thanks

    Like

  9. Will be happy to send them a note. I have a son with a disability but at least he can get on to the toilet from the wheelchair himself. I did recently ask him this month when he went to Disneyland with a camp if they would consider a discount for his 1:1 aide that he requires to assist him in the park. They said no discounts and since they have gotten rid of the disability policy they used to have they went on a total of 6 rides for the day. So $110 for each of them ($220 total for 2 people) for 6 rides in one day. Seems like they could easily afford to upgrade to more accessible facilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I would do anything possible to make his life better. He is the most incredible little boy who brings so much joy.

      Like

  10. I am sorry your family experienced this, however, what is your suggestion to Disney on how they can remodel their restrooms without involving major construction or removing existing stalls? If major construction happens where they take down walls and remodel, they are required to close the entire building. So for example, the restroom in Pinocchio’s Village Hause would take down the quick service restaurant and “It’s a Small World.” The reason the can’t do major construction on Peter Pan is due to the fact they would also have to close Phillharmagic, which seats 500 people every 12 minutes. To close the restrooms over by Toy Story Midway Mainia, they would have to close that attraction till it was done. The other solution would be to take out existing stalls to make room for the bed and hand ceiling handgrips. Disney can’t really do that because most of their restrooms are too small already. To get Disney to change something, you also need to come up with a way for them that won’t cause them to close anything major and won’t have too great and effect on the efficiency of the restrooms. I don’t want you to walk away with this as a negative thing but more of a challenge. Give Disney a solution and it might help your chances of making this happen for your son.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Solutions have been discussed with them. The facilities are actually really easy to install. In a current companion restroom, for example, a ceiling hoist would take a matter of hours to install. A changing table could be free standing and just need to be wheeled in or wall mounted, which is, once again, a relatively small job. I had ceiling hoists installed into three rooms of my home and it only took a day.

      They have concerns about misuse of equipment so another solution has been to install them into the first aid stations as a starting point, just so that they can see that there are no issues. Ideally, they would be across the parks, but even just in one location at each park it would give people a hope of dignity and safety.

      We were last there in 2013 and they went from Halloween to Christmas overnight. This sort of work would not necessarily mean major construction, but it could certainly be done over night. Another solution would be a commitment to install them in the new areas that they are building. A facility could have been included in Animal Kingdom as part of the new Avatar Land. Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land are currently being built so there are further opportunities to include these facilities without closing anything.

      Like

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