Plus, pushing him and his girlfriend around the other night actually took a lot of strain off my aching ankle -- I'd stumbled during our APE lesson on Friday -- so having something to stabilize me and prevent me from being boneheaded and clumsy and attempt to break my ankle again will be good.
And, yes, we could have rented one, but there are advantages to having your own, not the least of which will be not having to pay the daily deposit at Disney only to have it re-credited to your account. (Also, Disney's are old, decrepit, and poorly balanced, which makes pushing a larger gentleman uncomfortable. Plus, the hand brakes will be very useful -- having spent about 45 minutes keeping Chaline from rolling down various ramps the other night.)
I noticed when Patrick took a few turns in Chaline's transport chair (she's had one ever since she had brain surgery a few years ago) that his whole demeanor changed. We'd gotten there at the height of the day's crowd, and had to maneuver through some pretty intense mobs.
It's long been my opinion that one of the things that sends Patrick into overload and wanting to go home is his poor eyesight -- his left eye is very lazy, and has a reduced field of vision. As near as his optometrist can tell, he essentially ignores the input from that eye because it's so confusing. This means that he's essentially blind in one eye -- and therefore has no depth perception.
Imagine a mob of people in front of you -- a see of faces -- that your already-slow-to-process-things brain has to turn into meaningful information so you don't bump into people. (This is exacerbated from spending 5 years in high school being yelled at for bumping into people you couldn't see in the first place.)
Imagine, also, that because you have no depth perception, you have no real reliable way to tell how far away these people are. Someone whose brain processes things faster may be able to take cues from relative size (e.g., that guy is getting smaller, so he must be moving away from me), but your brain just doesn't work that fast.
When Chaline offered him a turn to sit down, a whole load of tension went out of his body -- he became more communicative, for one thing (he was tired and not talkative), and he just seemed happier. And this was at Disneyland, which he could probably navigate blindfolded.
It's my hope that being able to wheel it, at least part of the day, will relieve a lot of that "oh, my God, who are are all those people, where are they, and are they going to run me over" thing.
It also eliminates my lingering concern over whether they will give him a Guest Assistance Card. My mom was assured on the phone that they would -- specifically, that if she went in with him and asked for a card that requested that he not wait in the outside portions of the queue for health reasons -- grant one without question, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
A lot of this trip is being planned with Patrick's stamina -- both physical and mental -- in mind.
I was 7 the first time we went, and we ended up missing a day in the parks because I was just too exhausted. We planned this in, when we went when I was 12, and Patrick was just kind of along for the ride then.
We're planning to upgrade our 8 day tickets to annual passes (somewhere around $150 more) so that if Patrick just can't make it one day, we're not feeling like we're wasting money by not using a day's admission -- the Magic Your Way packages don't allow for what we did last time, which was stay 8 days but only go in the parks 7.
The idea is to fly this summer, then drive back before the annual passes expire for a few more days -- using the lack of expense for tickets and the fact that we won't have to ship them to buy souvenirs, since Patrick will want mostly books. We'll probably also stay somewhere much cheaper, since we'll have a car and not be reliant on Disney transportation to get Patrick back to a hotel if he is having heat exhaustion issues.
When we went before, when Patrick was 3, it obviously wasn't as much of a concern. We had strollers, his ticket was still free ('cause he looked 2), and until I got my 2nd degree sunburn, my friend Amie and I could always carry him if he got tuckered.
Post sunburn, even wearing clothes hurt, so Amie (bless her) did most of the 'heavy lifting.'
Today, of course, I can still lift him, but only for about 2 seconds.
He has the issues with dehydration and heat, which is one of the reasons I sprang for the Contemporary Resort (aside from the fact that I have always wanted to stay there) -- we all assume that we will spend most of our time at EPCOT (for me) and the Magic Kingdom (for Patrick).
Our mom will probably go to Animal Kingdom one day without us; while Patrick (who's not a zoo type) will be content to ride a few rides and maybe see Festival of the Lion King, she will want to do the early morning safari and really walk around the animal exhibits.
And MGM Studios only has a few rides -- he's not into shows -- but we'll probably make a couple extra stops to eat there. (He's a big I Love Lucy fan, and wants to eat the the Hollywood Brown Derby, and I'm a nerd, and want to eat at the Sci-Fi Drive in restaurant.)
We're also staying on the concierge level (when you're paying what the Contemporary costs, what's 30 more a day, when they feed you 2 meals and 2 snacks a day?) so that we can have a microwave and fridge in the room, which we'd otherwise have to pay for -- because he needs a steady supply of liquids to replenish the buckets of...well, you know.
If anyone who has read this far is interested in other Disney World planning information for people with disabilities or other special needs, I highly recommend the PassPorter's Walt Disney World For Your Special Needs Guidebook. Far beyond the standard mobility information, DHH information, and information in Braille and tactile guidebooks that Disney itself provides, this covers ADHD, the autism spectrum, traveling while ill (e.g. Make A Wish), intellectual disabilities, and even information for people of large size.
As the trip approaches, I'll probably talk some more about the special planning (e.g. how to get a young man who finds bass painful onto a plane where the engine thruuuuummmms for 5 hours straight) that I've been spearheading to make this trip as fun for Patrick as possible.
'Cause, you know, the more fun he has, the more he'll tolerate me wandering World Showcase (which I found only mildly interesting last time, and which I'm really excited to explore)! :-)