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Disneyland Article
Wagon Ban Triggers Online Protests By Families With Kids With Autism Special Needs And Medical Issues

ID:TMS-4137
Source:Mercury News
Author:Brady Macdonald
Dateline:April 03, 2019
Posted:April 13, 2019
 
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A Disneyland wagon ban has triggered an online petition and social media protests by families with children with autism, special needs and medical issues who rely on the pull carts as a safe haven for their kids amid the often kinetic and chaotic atmosphere of the Anaheim theme park.

The online protests follow an announcement that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will strictly enforce an existing ban on push-or-pull wagons beginning May 1 to help improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the theme parks. Disney World parks in Florida will also enforce the wagon ban.

Parents say Disneyland can be an overwhelming place for kids with special needs or developmental disabilities who are sensitive to noise and visual stimulation. Families say the stroller wagons provide a "quiet space" for their children.

Disney theme parks make special accommodations for visitors with autism, special needs, noise and light sensitivity, dietary requirements and cognitive, physical, visual and hearing disabilities.

Meeting the needs of visitors with disabilities is extremely important and the parks will continue to make accommodations to meet the needs of those with autism, special needs or medical issues, Disneyland officials said. Visitors can contact Disneyland guest relations for questions about quieter places in the parks and special needs stroller sizes.

"Nothing has changed about how we make accommodations for guests with disabilities," Disneyland officials said in a prepared statement. "Meeting their needs is extremely important to us."

Ashley Colvin wrote on Facebook that her 7-year-old daughter Payton has difficulty walking in crowded places and trouble focusing in a busy environment like Disneyland.

"Mix the autism with OCD and sensory processing disorder as well as being a known "runner,'" Colvin wrote on Facebook. "Disney would be a hard thing to accomplish without assistance."

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, mother wrote that Payton depends on her wagon as her "own space" during visits to Disneyland.

"Being disappointed in Disney is an understatement," Colvin wrote. "They are alienating a large community with kids just like Payton."

Janette Gaunt expressed her disappointment with the Disney wagon ban on the Facebook page for Autism at the Parks, an information site for families navigating theme parks with children with autism and other disabilities.

"I'm bummed because my son's stroller wagon is a lifesaver for us and he can block out all visual stimulation with the canopy panels when he gets overwhelmed," Gaunt wrote. "He's too big for a regular stroller. Not sure what we're going to do now."

Joleen Carmona uses a stroller wagon for her twin boys who each have a congenital heart defect and have undergone open-heart surgeries due to the condition, she wrote on Facebook.

"They are unable to stand and walk for long durations of time, especially when the weather is warm," wrote Carmona, who lives in Acton near the Antelope Valley. "I'm a single mother and can not manage two strollers by myself. I'm extremely disappointed that Disneyland can not accommodate our family with special needs as they have in the past."

Stay-at-home mother Elizabeth Hernandez, who blogs as the Disney Mom, uses a stroller wagon when her family visits Walt Disney World and is unhappy with the ban.

"I have two special needs children and I used a stroller wagon our last trip," Hernandez wrote on Facebook. "They were both able to sit together and pull the sides down when they needed some quiet space."

An online petition posted on change.org opposing the wagon ban at Disney theme parks has garnered more than 4,100 online signatures.

Beginning May 1, visitors will be informed of the wagon ban at security areas near the Disneyland parking lots and garages as well as the Harbor Boulevard esplanade entrance.

Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and the Disney parks in Florida will also limit the size of strollers to 31 by 52 inches beginning May 1. Strollers are currently restricted to 36 by 52 inches at the Anaheim parks.

The wagon and stroller policies are part of a Disneyland initiative dubbed Project Stardust, which seeks to relieve pedestrian pinch points throughout the park ahead of the massive crowds expected to descend on Galaxy's Edge starting May 31.

Project Stardust - a mash-up of Star Wars and pixie dust - takes a comprehensive park-wide look at operations, infrastructure and crowd management with an eye toward improving efficiency, traffic flow and access.

As part of the Project Stardust initiative, the park recently announced new smoking bans, dry ice prohibitions, parking improvements and queue re-entry bathroom passes.
 

 
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