Friday, April 25, 2014

Disney World and Diabetes - 2014 Update

Annually, we try to take the kids to Walt Disney World.  To me, this is truly the Happiest Place on Earth and ever since, Type 1 Diabetes entered our lives, one of the only places where we all relax and jump into the fun without overly worrying about T1D Management.

This year, there was a lot of internet talk of the new Disney Access Service called the 'DAS'.  Because Disney had only recently unveiled this new card, we weren't sure of what to expect.  I started with a hefty bit of googling and came back with the Disney Parks DAS Overview.

From their own official website, here is the DAS in a nutshell:

Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experiences for guests.
Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program, which provides access to attractions for guests with disabilities, so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. It will also help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.
The new Disability Access Service (DAS) Card will allow Guests with disabilities at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort to receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. Guests Relations at the front of each park will continue to assist Guests and provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.

At first that seemed fine.  However, later I read that the DAS required someone to process your claim, decide if it was an acceptable need, take a picture of the person requesting it and then, hand you a card where if you wanted to, you could take to a ride area and receive a time to come back.

I am not being cynical but that is a ton of work and full of potentially damaging comments from a cast member that is NOT an expert in our particular need.  I have said this before, but my girls are old enough to know when someone is being unpleasant about T1D and if I can help avoid it, I try to.  These little people hear and see EVERYTHING!

After much family discussion, we decided that even though we could, we were not going to try to obtain one.  It almost felt like a challenge to T1D - no way was it going to stop us from having fun!

On the morning of our arrival to Magic Kingdom, our oldest daughter suffered one of the worst low blood sugars that she has ever had.  It happened in less than two hours after eating, driving into the parking lot, riding the tram to go into the park, watching the morning park opening ceremony and then, walking only as far as to the magic castle - when suddenly, she turned to me and told me that she thought she was going to pass out.

Quick blood sugar check and she was 41mg/dl.

That's her on the right and when the danger had passed to the point where we were just waiting for her to feel in control again, I snapped this picture.  She sat in that spot for almost an hour, trying to recover.  I even gave youngest daughter a package of Minnie Mouse tatoos to play with during the long wait.

Not a great moment in our world of blood sugars.

However, a DAS would not have helped us in that moment.  Even if we had a DAS card, this had nothing to do with trying to get on a ride or standing in line.  We were simply caught in the middle of the park with a low bg.  Yes, it was no fun and yes, I wanted to cry because it is absolutely heartbreaking to see my daughter in misery.   But a DAS would not have helped or fixed our situation.  Only glucose, some crackeers and a lot of time could help us.

The rest of the day proved to be better.  Oldest daughter forgot about her low and we pretended to.  Isn't that the way it goes, sometimes?

We did utilize the Disney Magic Bands and Fast Pass + extensively.  We also used My Disney Experience, a free APP, to check wait times at rides and shows.  If we didn't have a fast pass available, we checked to see which ride was less crowded and headed over there.

More than anything, it helped to stop, rest in the shade, check blood sugars frequently and enjoy snacks and regular meals while at the parks.  We also took advantage of making advanced dining reservations for times when we knew the kids would normally be eating.  For me in particular, I found that Disney was great about offering customized gluten free choices.  All I had to do was to speak up and a chef was brought right out to me to take an order.  Truly a wonderful service.

Even more importantly, for the first time on our many years of going to WDW, we also did not go to the parks every single day.  The very next day, we planned as a poolside recovery day.  The kids swam, mom and dad napped and everyone felt relaxed and rested.

Most of all, we can't wait to go back again next year!

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