Hi! My name is Andrew and I have loved Disney for as long as I can remember! I am seventeen and was born seven weeks early; as a result I have cerebral palsy and can only get around using a wheelchair. Don’t feel sorry for me, as I live a very good life in Ottawa Hills, Ohio. Currently I am a junior in the local high school where I attend all regular classes with many friends that I have known since kindergarten. The first Disney movie I was introduced to was Mary Poppins when I was about six months old. My mom likes to tell the story of how she found a double cassette at a local thrift store that featured the songs and audio version of the movie. She goes on to tell how that is the only thing that would keep me quiet in the long car rides to see my Grandma or to other places. Eventually she decided I should “see” the movie so she purchased Mary Poppins on a VHS – needless to say I watched nothing else for years! Even my little sister will tell you that she thought that Mary Poppins was the only thing she watched while she was little. Eventually, I moved on to other Disney movies and discovered the Disney Channel with shows like “Stanley”, “PB&J”, “Kim Possible” and many more.
In 2003, when I was six, I took my first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando with my parents, two sisters and my Grandma! We drove for two days from northern Ohio and stayed at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I vaguely remember everything I experienced, but riding the Walt Disney World Railroad around the park was something I will never forget. I also remember riding in the front of the monorail (back when you could still do this!). We left my wheelchair at the hotel stop and made a full circle on the monorail! I still have my official card from the conductor.
Since my first trip to WDW, I have been back over eight times, not to mention the times we stayed on property prior to my over eight Disney Cruise Line voyages. In 2013, I was lucky enough to travel to Barcelona, Spain, and embark on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise to Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, Greece and Malta onboard the Disney Magic.
Besides visiting WDW in Orlando I have also been to Disneyland twice, once for a runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in 2012 and the second time for a trip to the D23 Expo in 2013. I met Lou Mongello at the Expo in 2013. Speaking of runDisney and D23, I have experienced several events offered by both. One of my parents usually runs while pushing me in the various runDisney 5k events, and I have been a member of D23 since 2011, traveling to Chicago for a Fanniversary event and to the 2013 Expo in Anaheim.
During a cruise on the DCL Fantasy in 2012, I met and spoke with Chris Beatty, who worked on the re-Imagineering of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. He told me all about the unique roller coaster design of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I have not had the experience yet of riding this attraction, but it is on my list! That same year I did a National History Day project on the multiplane camera, which helped revolutionize animated movies. While writing my report, I was fortunate to meet and Skype with Theo Gluck of Disney Animation Studios restoration team. We remain friends to this day.
So, as you can see I have had many experiences traveling to Disney properties, visiting all of the U.S. parks, cruising on DCL, traveling abroad with DCL, even running with Disney. I look forward to sharing my experiences with all of you and offering advice on traveling on wheels with Disney.
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
Andrew is a 17-year-old junior in high school from Ohio. He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. He has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL gold castaway member. If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at email@example.com or look him up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andrew.prince.7161 and on Twitter https://twitter.com/Andrew1arp