It was so hard, to be honest.
The first day at Disney World out of my 3wk roadie with my family, I requested the most pictures, mostly staying in my chair. I was comfortable, in considerably less pain, and happy to be where I was. As the day passed and eyes lingered on me longer than I would've liked, and I kept getting cut off in crowds/lineups, the emotional toll began to kick in.
By the end of our 9 days at Disney, I wasn't as confident being in my chair because I knew what it led to. It led to being completely ignored in lines and skipped in front of, it led to parents getting mad at their children for staring, and it led to judgmental glares when I would suddenly get up from my chair to stretch or move around. It led to me breaking down on the inside. It led to strength I forgot I had, as I confronted and tried to teach each fellow human, each stranger, who did me wrong that what they were doing wasn't okay. I can't count how many times I said to strangers, looking up at them from my chair, "I'm still a person too." By the end of my time there, I felt so detached from myself that I didn't feel like a person anymore, but an object to be overlooked.
Of course, these are just the strangers of the crowd. 98% of the Disney staff went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable, accepted, and welcomed on attractions and in stores. In the Haunted Mansion ride, the crew called my chair a carriage, and I thought it was the most awesome thing.
My wheelchair, as you may notice, is bright, neon pink. I chose this when I was 14. Some of the time I regret how girly it looks, but almost all of the time I'm thinking how rad it is that 14 year old me wanted to push the boundaries of what an assistive device looks like.
Getting into my children's lit course, I'm learning about what it means to read a text and get a moral message from it. Inevitably, that's what this piece might do. But all I'm really trying to do is share some of my experiences to better equip the next person with disabilities going on vacation, to remind them that they aren't alone.
Travelling, like everyday life, is harder for us than the average person, but it can still be done.✨