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Monday, August 17, 2015

Preserving the Magic at Walt Disney World with a Disability Access Service Card


We have our first guest post from mom, Lauren Domitrovits. Lauren's son suffers from a rare genetic disease, ataxia-telangiectasia. As a result, she had been nervous about traveling to Walt Disney World. Traveling with little ones can be daunting on it's own, but add in a physical or emotional limitation, and parents often worry to the point of skipping a family vacation. Lauren recently went on her first family trip to Walt Disney World and was so happy with how truly magical Disney and cast members made it, that she wanted to share her story with other families to inspire them to to put their fears aside and let Disney help you temporarily "forget about your worries and your strife." 

Here is Lauren's story.

In August 2014, our three year old son, Brian was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease, ataxia-telangiectasia.  A-T is a progressive disease that is ultimately terminal.  WHAT IS A-T? Imagine a disease that combines the worst symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiencies, and cancer. Children with A-T are usually confined to wheelchairs by age 10 and often do not survive their teens. Because A-T is a multi-system disease, scientists believe that A-T research will help more prevalent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, AIDS, and cancer. - Learn more at: atcp.org
It became the focus of our family to be sure that Brian is able to have meaningful experiences while he is still mobile and able to move independently; while he is carefree.  Obviously, one of our major goals was to get him to Disney World, Florida!  I had some major concerns for Brian’s stamina at the parks.  Right now, he is mobile and independent, but movement is still difficult…mostly exhausting.  Disney is the magical experience of a lifetime for children, and I didn’t want him to miss a second.  I was worried how we could possible drag him through the parks all day and have him be a part of all the excitement.  
Luckily, Brian’s godmother, Sarah, is a Disney bride who also happens to be a DVC member.  We had a “family” meeting because remember, friends are the family you choose!  We began planning the trip, the group trip of a lifetime!  Sarah mentioned the Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card (DAS), so I quickly started reading about it.  Success!  This was the key to Brian having a magical trip.  The DAS card can be obtained at Guest Services in Walt Disney World.  It allows people with disabilities to avoid waiting on long lines in the hot sun.  It also allowed our stroller to be marked as a wheelchair.  For Brian, this is what I needed!  The DAS card would provide me with a way to preserve his energy and allow him to utilize that energy on fun and excitement!  The website stated that there has been some widespread abuse of the DAS card, and that statement made me nervous because Brian doesn’t “look disabled.”  Unless you are watching him carefully for signs of A-T, you wouldn’t necessarily see it.  My pediatrician (and ultimate support system) helped ease my nerves by giving me a note on her letterhead that stated, “Brian requires the use of a DAS card.”  Phew!  A few clicks later, our DVC points trip was booked, a double BOB stroller would be delivered to our room from Kingdom Strollers, our DAS card note was packed and we were counting down to April!

We arrived at Magic Kingdom for our first stop.  Everyone was giddy with excitement and anxious to begin exploring.  We stopped at Guest Services first.  The staff was welcoming, compassionate and kind.  I showed them my note and explained the quick version of our situation and need. (Happily Ever Disney Note: Legally Disney can not request a Dr.'s note, however if you have one, you may offer to present it, and may ease the process.)  Within 10 minutes or less, our stroller had a wheelchair sticker on it, Brian had been photographed for his DAS card (which looked like a passport) and the total number of people in our group was printed on it.  BOOM!  We were off!  The DAS card worked easily and was similar to a FastPass, when Brian wanted to go on a ride that had a long line, for example, It’s a Small World. We brought the DAS card to the attendant at the front of the line and asked for a return time.  The attendant would check that the DAS holder (Brian) was present (the DAS card may NOT be used without the designated recipient, which I think is more than fair), and they would write a return time on our pass.  The return time was never more than 10 minutes.  We would enter through the Fast Pass line, with the stroller and quickly hop on the ride or join the attraction.  We were always greeted by a smiling Disney attendant who would take the stroller and bring it to the ride exit - I literally didn’t have to worry about ANYTHING.  Brian was always smiling and was able to use his energy effectively.
This pass worked just as smoothly at every park we went to: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.  What I loved most was watching Brian’s smile all day, every day.  Cast members went out of their way to greet him and make him feel special, but they never made him feel different.  Brian experienced every ounce of Disney magic that was available.  He laughed, he played, he smiled, he enjoyed himself, he ran, he jumped, he ate sweets, he shopped, and for those 7 days…our family was A-T free…the joy of that trip carried me for many months, and still does.  There is nothing like watching your child enjoy the sheer magic of Disney.  I can’t wait to go there with him again, and he hasn’t stopped asking to return since he left.  

Looking back, I firmly believe that without the DAS card, our trip would have had many bumps and difficulties.  Brian can’t enjoy things when he is fatigued, he becomes consumed by feeling tired, his speech slurs and the drool becomes significant.  We didn’t experience anything but happiness with that card.  What a gift…a magical gift.  So run!  Don’t walk!  Take your child on the trip of a lifetime .and let the DAS pass ease your mind and allow you to enjoy yourselves and leave all your stresses at home.


Lauren and her family are excited to have the opportunity to travel back to Disney World this Spring when they will visit Give Kids the World Village. Happily Ever Disney is a proud supporter of GKTW thru partner charity Magical Wishes for Kids who we volunteer with. You can learn more about GKTW and how you can help on our website http://www.mwfk.org/how-you-can-help.html

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ataxia-telangiectasia, you may connect with Lauren and others in her facebook group, Hope for Brian

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Breakfast now permanent at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom

Well it's official. Breakfast testing is over and it's here to stay! Booking is now open!

You can read our full write up outlining all the details for breakfast at Be Our Guest including menus and prices in our earlier article here: http://www.happilyeverdisney.com/2015/03/breaking-news-its-official-breakfast-to.html





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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Garden Grill in Epcot to Serve Breakfast and Lunch

This incredibly popular character dinner location has just announced they will begin serving breakfast and lunch starting November 8th, 2015. Now you can enjoy all 3 meals with Chip 'n Dale, Pluto and farmer Mickey Mouse!

The restaurant, located on the upper level of The Land Pavillon, is Disney's only revolving dining local. It slowly revolves a full 360ยบ as guests dine on their meals allowing the scenery of the The Living with the Land boat ride below to change throughout a meal. 

At breakfast guests will enjoy the new Chip 'n Dale's Breakfast Harvest Feast served all you-care-to-enjoy family style. Yummy items will include biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, Mickey waffles, and their signature item, Chip's Sticky Bun Bake. 

At lunch guests can expect a meal very similar to dinner. Served all-you-care-to-enjoy family style, except the ever popular "Living with the Land" Harvest Salad which features ingredients grown in the Land Pavilion's green houses below. Other items include filet of beef, roasted turkey, freshly harvested vegetables, and an array of side dishes. 








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Monday, July 20, 2015

Fall room rate promotion for Walt Disney World announced. Save up to 25%.


Disney has announced it's Fall room rate promotion.
If your trip is already booked, you can have the discount applied. You can only have 1 promotions, so if you have FREE dining, simply call and ask a cast member to determine which is the better deal and they will do the math and give you the best deal. (Usually Free dining, but if you have a small party, or an expensive resort, the room rate may be better for you.) Call 407-827-7180 to speak with a Disney cast member to book or modify your trip. 
The dates included for the Fall promotion are: 
October 4th - November 24th, 2015
November 28th - December 23rd, 2015
Must be booked by August 18th
Traveling before these dates? There is another offer for up to 30% for dates
August 15th - October 3rd (Book by August 7th, 2015) click HERE to view more info.
Here is some info for the Fall promotion from the Walt Disney World website
See the table below for room savings by Resort hotel and date.

Resort CategoryResort Savings

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings is based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Length of stay requirements may apply. Moderate and Deluxe suites may be available at a lesser discount.
The fine print from Disney's website: 
Book Through
September 18, 2015
Valid Travel Dates
October 4 through November 24, 2015 and November 28 through December 23, 2015. 
Important Details
  • The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Savings is based on the non-discounted price for the same room.
  • Additional per adult charges may apply if there are more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Moderate and Deluxe suites may be available at a lesser discount.
Offer Restrictions
  • Length of stay requirements may apply.
  • Offer excludes 3-bedroom villas and campsites.
  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom Reopening July 1st.

After a lengthy refurbishment, Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom is finally reopening this Wednesday, July 1st. This is by far one of our favorite quick service dining locations.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Selfie Sticks to be completely banned from all four Walt Disney World parks.

NOTE: This has been confirmed by a Disney spokesperson. 

My inside sources have revealed that Disney will be banning selfie sticks from it's Walt Disney World parks entirely, not just on rides. You can expect these changes to come into effect very soon. Probably by the  end of this July, 2015

UPDATE: The ban will go into affect June 30th, 2015 and will also include both water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. 

UPDATE: Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure will also have a ban in affect beginning June 30th, 2015.

Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disney will begin a ban on July 1st. No official word about Tokyo Disneyland, although signs are leaning toward a future ban as well. 

Disney had made a huge push to remind guests that selfie stick use was not permitted on rides with new signage around the parks. Cast members have also been reminding guests to store the items while on rides. Either this approach is not working, OR too many people are being selfish and not paying attention when using their selfie sticks throughout the parks. I have often seen people walk right into others as they record themselves walking around Disney. It was also a huge pain the butt to get good pictures on our last visit because of all the selfie sticks in the way. Perhaps selfie sticks finally disrupted the magic enough to have them completely banned all together. 

Security will be checking guests and their bags for selfie sticks upon entering the parks. Guest that have selfie sticks will have the option to return it to their cars or resort or given the opportunity to hand it over where it will be kept be guest relations. Guests will be given a ticket to use to retrieve their selfie sticks once they exit the park. 

So what are your thoughts? Are you happy to see a selfie stick free Disney? Leave your comments below. 



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