Monday, November 21, 2011

Visiting Disney When You’re On The Spectrum

This post originally appeared on MouseBuzz.

Do you have a family member on the Autism spectrum? Disorders considered as “autistic” include not only classic Autism, but Asperger’s, some forms of ADD, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified). These disabilities can wreak havoc on an otherwise magical vacation if not properly planned for. My stepdaughter is a recently diagnosed “Aspie” with inattentive-type ADD. And if that wasn’t enough … she also has moderate binaural hearing loss. These different-abilities certainly made us think carefully when planning our most recent trip to Disney World.

Luckily, Disney does an amazing job of accommodating those with all sorts of disabilities. The stimulating and inclusive environment allows children of all ages to enjoy a magical vacation. However, if you are not careful, the stimulation may lead to a “meltdown”. Here are some of my tried-and-true meltdown-avoiding tips:
  1. Have a plan. Booking your vacation with a travel agent that understands your needs is important. He or she can assist you with finding the right resort for your family, dining reservations, and touring plan suggestions. Know your family’s needs, don’t be afraid to share them, and be an advocate for them.
  2. Know your family. What are the “triggers” that you face? Waiting in lines? Being hot? Too much sun? Not enough to eat? Understand what can cause drama, and avoid it. Having a solid touring plan will really make a huge difference – you don’t have to be militant about your day, but knowing what to ride and when will make a difference.
  3. Get a GAC. Disney is very accommodating to those with different-abilities, and has ways to make the experience better for those with special needs. This is done by issuing a GAC, or Guest Assistance Card. These cards are not meant to replace a good touring plan or the Fastpass system, but they’re meant to make the visit more enjoyable for everyone involved. My next article will explain the GAC in more detail.
What have you found that has helped out during your trips on the spectrum?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy happy joy joy

Hi there!  Long time, no post.  I've had a lot of exciting things going on, so ... sorry 'bout that.

As I mentioned before, I'm now an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  This has kept me VERY busy, but in a good way.  I never realized just how much I enjoyed making dreams come true.  :)

And now, I have another amazing project. 

I'm a guest blogger on MouseBuzz

I've added the posts to my blog below, and will continue to do so each time I post a new article. 

Love and pixie dust to all!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Signature Dining: Yachtsman Steakhouse

This post was originally featured on MouseBuzz.

On my family’s most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we chose the Deluxe Dining Plan. To make the most of this experience, we chose a few Signature meals.

Signature meals are among Disney’s most delicious – and expensive – options. In fact, for the Plus Dining and Deluxe Dining plans, two table service credits are required to “pay” for your meal. It does seem a bit steep, but in many cases, they are very much worth the expense.

Photo courtesy of Alex4981 on Flickr
My personal vote for a Signature meal? Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Now, I wouldn’t advise anyone that’s averse to meat to go to Yachtsman … because thick, juicy, delicious steaks are their calling card. Quite possibly, Yachtsman cooked up the best steak I’ve ever had. My husband and I are “foodies”, so that’s saying a lot.

Upon arrival, we checked in at the hostess stand. Our table wasn’t quite ready, so we were shown into the Crew’s Cup Lounge. This full bar offered not only the typical bar seating, but several comfortable booth-and-table setups. They also had several flat-screen TVs on the walls for your viewing pleasure.
Our table was ready quickly, and we were escorted to the dining room. There are several “rooms”, with many tables. There was a mix of family tables as well as those clearly on a kid-free night out.

Photo courtesy of Dilbertian on Flickr
We quickly chose our meals, including my daughter who is still a Disney Child (for one more year). The kid’s menu included some steak, so of course she was happy. The server guided us through the menu; including pointing out some of the more adventurous choices, since we had mentioned that we liked to try new foods. He deftly suggested the charcuterie plate, the cheese sampler, and the escargot. My daughter, not nearly as adventurous as the rest of the family, went with the safe-and-tasty chicken noodle soup. For our entrées, each of us ordered steak. My husband, his daughter, and I all ordered the filet mignon; my daughter had the children’s steak meal. For dessert, I chose the crème brulee, my husband had the lemon dessert, and my stepdaughter had a chocolate concoction. However, our desserts all pared in comparison to my daughter’s. She got the Mickey Puzzle … a white chocolate puzzle with a paintbrush and three delicious sauce “paints”. We all had a great time putting the puzzle together, and helping her paint it.

Now that we’re back home, we are still talking about our delicious meal at Yachtsman. It was one of the culinary highlights of our vacation. I highly recommend making reservations at Yachtsman Steakhouse if you have the opportunity – it was delicious!


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