Saturday, February 26, 2011

Disney Vacation

It's been a while since my last post and that's partly because we went away on a family vacation (YEAH!) and partly because coming home to reality took quite a bit of adjustment and I figured I'd wait until the adjustment was complete before writing a bit.

We took a family trip to Orlando to enjoy some sun, swimming, Walt Disney World magic, and participate in the Cochlear Celebration 2011 (gather of people with the same implants Emma uses to hear).  I can sum up our vacation in one word:  Magical.  

Let me just say that visiting Disneyworld with little girls aged 5 and 3 really is AMAZING!  There is the magic that unfolds when they meet their favorite princesses and characters and the joy they radiate with all the rides, shows and junk food!  The highlight of the week was when ate lunch with the Princesses and the girls participated in a princess parade, had their photo taken with Belle, and had all the princesses autograph their book.  Of course, the girls wore their Cinderella Wedding Gown costumes for the lunch, so everyone kept asking them if Cinderella was their favorite but Julia told everyone she loved all the princesses!  We bought an autograph book just before the lunch and it was a huge hit.  Julia kept going through the autograph book each day and talked about meeting all the princesses and the characters.  Other highlights included our Safari ride and the Lion King show in the Animal Kingdom and the Dreams Come True show and fireworks show in Magic Kingdom.

We had been told about how accessible Disney is for guests with disabilities, but it still humbled me how accommodating they were.  For the first time ever I felt like accessibility was a priority instead of an afterthought and it really made me - as a parent of a child with a disability - feel the Disney magic.  It was just so amazing not to have to worry about accessibility, long waits, appropriate food options, etc.  And, the characters spent extra quality time with Emma and we were really able to see her come alive with the characters because of the extra time - Emma was able to get her muscles moving a bit more to reach out and touch them, open her mouth to try and talk with them, have enough time to really look them up and down and not startle when they reached out to her.  Emma had a particularly moving encounter with Marie from the Aristocats where Marie was scheduled to go on break but met with Julia and Emma before the break and spent about 10 minutes with Emma and how she responded to Marie really touched me and Chris and Marie's handler.  I wish I had a video of it, but I didn't think of taking one in the moment.  

The magic continued outside of Disney.  We stayed in a 2 bedroom condo about 5 minutes outside of the Disney resorts.  The property had 7 different pools, a kids activity center and a 30' inflatable water slide.  Couple all this with afternoon temperatures in the 80s, happy hour drink specials, and comfy pool chairs and you'll know why we didn't feel the need to head over to Disney each day.  The girls even loved bath time that included a whirlpool tub in the master bedroom!  

The reason for our trip was to attend the Cochlear Celebration and we did participate in several of the events.  There was the ice cream welcome social where we met a few people and enjoyed the sand and hammocks at the Coronado Springs hotel where the celebration was held.  I attended the Keynote session where there was a very inspiring speech given my Tom Sullivan (blind since birth, he graduated from Harvard, had reoccurring acting roles on TV, participates in triathlons, etc.).  We also attended the Expo where there were various centers/tables set up to learn more about the equipment and accessories.  We found the Expo helpful, but a bit overwhelming due to the large number of attendees and the lines at some of the tables.  The final event we attended was the Celebration Party at Hollywood Studios that included a buffet dinner, entertainment, face painting, fireworks show, after-hours access to a couple of rides and a street dance party.  We all had a blast at the party but ended up leaving a bit before it was over because Julia was beyond tired.  Emma, however, was buzzing with energy as she was in her element of lots of people and loads of dancing, but she took the early departure in stride.

It was a long time since we had a family vacation that lasted more than a couple of days and we really needed this time away to spend together as a family.  During our long drive home from Orlando, Chris and I started brainstorming vacation spots we want to visit in the future and we came up with some really great places.  Here's to hoping our future holds more magical vacation memories.  

5 Comments from readers:

Josh said...

I came across your site the other day. My wife and I have two sons one with special needs due to a variety of issues. (feel free to check out my blog)

Your post about Disney could not have come at a better time. Our youngest has been granted a wish from Make a wish and we are going to Disney World in a few weeks. Great Post!

Angela said...

oh my gosh I love the looks on the girls faces they look so happy...I am glad so glad you guys had a great time.

Kristina you look beautiful in the pics you are in!!

Karen Owens said...

Love the photos!!! Brings back so many memories!

Michelle said...

So glad that you had a great time!! Disney is certainly on our list for the future...glad to hear that it is as accessible and accomodating as I have heard.....

The Hull Munchkins said...

I just came across your blog... your girls are so precious!! They look like twins. What sweet smiles too.

I am a micro preemie mom and was wondering where you got the cute bibs. Did you make them or buy?

My dd is 7 and it's hard to find bibs that will fit her.