The Joys of Disney Vacation

One of my happy places is Disney World. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise when it’s called the “happiest place on Earth!” I have to credit my husband Richard as I learned to love it by traveling there with him.

I went to Disney World as a child of about 10 and remember having a great time. But hadn’t been there since until my husband suggested we go there together. Sure—I agreed to go, but I was skeptical that a cranky lady then in her late 30s with severe rheumatoid arthritis would find much to do.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

A welcome place for everyone, including those with RA

We whirled between four very different theme parks and I loved them all. The shows were fabulous, the music toe-tapping, the food mouthwatering, and the rides fun and (mostly) accessible to my physical limitations. The only problem was my fatigue! Otherwise, I could have played my way through Disney World without a care.

Years later, we’re annual visitors and Disney World is deeply ingrained in our life. It’s become a place where we go together to have fun and get away from our daily cares.

I know Disney isn’t for everyone and I totally respect that. But for me it is both comfortable because of its accessibility, options that seem to address many interests and preferences, and because it’s meant as a place of escape. When I’m at Disney, my RA comes with us, but it also isn’t the center of our day. I can put worries aside and just have fun.

We’ve gotten in the habit of going to Disney every September, so even begin planning (just a little bit, like looking at dates) for the next trip before we go. This means it’s an entire year of fun because we meticulously discuss new attractions, trying different restaurants, researching tours, and looking at hotels. Just the thought of going becomes a fun activity because we’re daydreaming and researching.

The anticipation of a fun vacation

In the last few days leading up to our trip, I start getting energized thinking about how we’ll enjoy all of our plans but also the many spontaneous moments that just happen. Like the time Richard dropped his Mickey Mouse ice cream bar (which I will forever call the saddest day in the world) and the other time we met Tigger and Pooh—and got pictures of us bouncing with Tigger! On the one hand, we have a lot of fun planned, but there will also be magic moments that just happen.

One thing I continue to appreciate about Disney is the parks’ accessibility. There are lots of parking options for my wheelchair when we go to the many different shows. Some of the rides I can board with my wheelchair, while others have options for making transferring into the vehicles possible. It really feels considerate that they thought of people with mobility (and other kinds of) disabilities to be as inclusive as possible. While some of the older rides are too difficult for me to manage, I don’t feel left out because it’s impossible to have enough time to do every attraction anyway.

If we’re honest with ourselves, everyone has a little kid inside them. I’m lucky that I get to channel my kid and give her some joy when I visit Disney World and there’s no better partner in these theme park adventures than my intrepid husband, Richard. While we continue to travel to many places, Disney will always be high on the list as one of our happy getaway places. I’ll always look forward to the next time we go!

Where’s your happy place and why is it so good for you?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (10)
  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator
    5 months ago

    I’m not familiar with the DAS pass. However, I have gone to several parks and reserved electric scooter/wheelchairs so that I can minimize the trauma to my feet. It allowed me to stay in the park much longer and have significantly less pain.
    Mary Sophia

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 months ago

    That’s great Mary! Glad you have used some of those useful accessibility features. Very cool! Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • lhope1010
    5 months ago

    I have a trip to Disneyworld planned in September 2019 and was wondering if you have ever had to use the DAS pass? I absolutely hate the idea but I also know some days I have limitations on what I can and cannot do and was wondering if it is an option for people with RA or autoimmune disease? Not sure even if it is an option or not. Thanks for the info.

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    5 months ago

    @lhope1010 I have not used the DAS pass, I was one of the last to have old system, which was fine until people started abusing it. I heard the new DAS pass is like sort of like fastpass, although you can supposedly use fastpass and DAS in tandem. Keep on keepin’ on DPM

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    6 months ago

    @Kelly_Mack I visited Disney when I was 13 and my parents put me in a wheelchair. That was awful, I won’t lie, especially since I was just starting the whole girls-boys thing. Then, just a few years ago, when we went back again, I got a motorized scooter and registered for disability access. It was much better and the lines weren’t an issue. Unfortunately it seems that Disney no longer does disability line access becuase some unscrupulous people in Manhattan were hiring disabled nannies to go with them to Disney to make sure their kids got to cut all lines. I know, gross. Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi Daniel, thanks for your comment! I have found with Fastpasses and planning, the lines are manageable. Having a wheelchair to help get around helps too! 🙂 Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • jonette
    6 months ago

    Wish I would have read this before our recenr trip. Having JRA you would think by 64 yo I would know my limitations. Nope! As my daughter informed me, a scooter or
    Whelchair will be top of list next time. I have now been going on 2 weeks of fatigue and a flare, I will
    Learn from this experience as not done traveling!!

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi jonette, glad this article was helpful! I absolutely love to travel! Managing fatigue is part of my planning–always thinking about how I can save energy so that I can enjoy the trip. Keep on traveling! Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Piplover
    6 months ago

    I love Disney World. The last time I went I had to use my cane, but I never felt like it was a big deal. The shops were very helpful without being overbearing, and I was able to go on the rides without problems. I can’t wait to go back one day.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    6 months ago

    That’s wonderful Piplover! 🙂 Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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