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Family Vacation: Survived, Conquered, and… Enjoyed!!!

Our ten-day whirlwind road trip covering about 2900 miles has come to an end. We celebrated my Mom’s 60th birthday, our 12th anniversary, and Christmas in Disneyland. Due to Eddie’s special needs, we put this trip off longer than intended, and still weren’t sure how it would all turn out.

In relation to Eddie’s visual impairment, we really had no concerns. Disneyland, and any vacation, typically have something for all the senses, and his lack of vision was not going to hinder his enjoyment. However, his needs related to sensory processing issues had us standing on end. How would he handle so many hours in the car? How would Disneyland affect him? What would it be like staying in hotels night after night?

Let me address that last question first…the hotel stays were very difficult. Most often, all of us were in one room, and Eddie rarely slept past 2:30am. This required me or his Dad to be awake with him. We tried to keep him quiet and entertained so the other occupants in the room, and the rooms around us, could simply sleep. Therefore, we spent most of the trip living on fumes and LOTS of Starbucks. Eddie rarely was exhausted, but his parents definitely were.

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That being said, that was really the ONLY aspect of our journey that was negative. Eddie did great in the car, and so did his sisters. We kept the car moving, and we stopped for many sights driving down the coast. Everyone piled in and out with ease, and rarely groaned when it was time to move on. My husband and I’s ongoing car banter almost drove my mother to a plane ticket…but overall, she put up with us very well.

As for Disneyland, it was amazing. All my fears were unfounded. As corny as it sounds, I spent the first day in tears multiple times, because I was so happy. All three of my children were enjoying the park, and all at the same level. The disability services for Eddie worked perfect for our group. The longest we had to wait for any ride was 10 minutes, which was rare.

Some children with special needs can handle waiting…but, not Eddie. Even 10 minutes caused a giant tantrum, with the claws coming out, and the enjoyment factor dropping as fast as the log on Splash Mountain. I wanted to shout, “SEE! This is why we need assistance!” Nobody could handle three days of screaming, pinching, and scratching. Due to their assistance program, we didn’t have to endure it much at all.

Eddie loved the rides the best. He went on every roller coaster, and screamed with joy and laughter every time. The system had us get a “ride time” and we often had to return to rides after a specific amount of time. This was no biggie, killing time in Disneyland is a piece of cake. Then, when we returned, we often were put right on. Eddie also needed breaks, and having our hotel right across the street provided easy access to a quiet space and a swimming pool.

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I didn’t feel guilty at all as we were moved past the growing crowds towards the front of the line. This system is in place for families like ours, and kids like Eddie. We deserve to enjoy Disneyland, too, and thanks to the efforts of the park and its employees…we truly did have a fantastic time…all of us.

There are many small stories to share, and memories locked away, and Eddie anecdotes that made our trip. Most importantly, we had a family tradition we wanted to uphold…one Disneyland road trip…and we went for it. Most often our ideas for family traditions don’t pay off, but this one did, and I’m so grateful we tried. Eddie’s smile on the rides, which was mirrored by the rest of his family every day, was our best souvenir.