In support of the recent campaign by Laura Moore AKA Mum On A Mission to get Walt Disney World/Disneyland resorts to see the dire need of 'Changing Places' toilet facilities in their parks, I wrote an open letter to Disney explaining the sad reality behind exactly why my children will Never get to experience the magic like every other kid does in their childhood.
Mum On A Mission in the Media;
Mum SLAMS Disney after having to change severely disabled son on toilet floor
My name is Fi and I'm a 29yr old Mum of two little girls who absolutely adore anything Disney. Abbigail 5 and Ava 2 are the proud owners of the entire 7 dwarves plush toy collection from your official stores, add two new Disney films from Santa every Christmas and pick a Disney classic every day after school and nursery from your handy Disney Life app which we love! They also have many pj sets, bedding and a Spotify play list they can self activate thanks to Amazon Echo's Alexa that play all their favourite Disney songs.
Here's Abbie when she was in her Snow White phase. She wore this dressing up dress for a fortnight straight everyday after school. It made her feel like a real Princess!
Most recently as Ava fights bedtimes most nights, she chooses to watch her favourite Disney film - Moana over and over. Particularly loving the part where she's a baby before she heads out on her ocean voyage in search of Mowie and the heart of Te Fiti ! Also see photo of Ava trying to shake of her shadow after going through a Peter Pan phase, really believing her shadow had a mind of its own...
Whilst you've given my girls such precious childhood memories already through your films and merchandise, the sad fact is that is ALL the magic my girls will ever get to experience of Disney. Despite my eldest has been asking to go to Disneyland Paris since she was a toddler and we made plans via the charity POPSY (Parents of Partially-Sighted Youngsters) back in 2016. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to withdraw our booking with the charity after researching the parks accessibility as far as toilets were concerned, I discovered that you don't have even 1 Changing Places (in the US they're refered to as Changing Spaces) toilet in ANY of your parks worldwide!
We didn't make the decision to cancel lightly or in haste. I actually shed many a tear over it.
How would I tell the children? How would they possibly understand at their age why we couldn't go?
Worst of all, I blamed myself. If I wasn't as profoundly disabled that I need more than what a standard disabled toilet provides (a grab rail or two and an emergency pull cord) then my children wouldn't be missing out on a trip of a lifetime.
I even tried to figure out a way around it. I knew you had a first aid room that you offer to parents of disabled children to change incontinence pads and such. But I'm not incontinent. I have full bladder and bowel control and can use a toilet, with the help of two pieces of essential equipment; a hoist and an adult size changing table. So although I could sort clothing in your first aid room, where would I go to the toilet? There isn't a toilet in your first aid room because it wasn't meant for this purpose. So I had THREE options if we were to try and make a trip to Disney work...
1. I wear adult nappies and have to explain to my children why I'm not a "big" girl using the toilet as they're too young to understand why their Mother would choose to wear a nappy which in their innocent minds are meant for babies. In which using your first aid room I'd experience the humiliation of my impressionable small children watching me be cleaned up because staying in it for hours on end to enjoy 'the magic' of Disney would result in high-risk pressure sores.
2. I restrict fluid intake significantly, despite the hot weather and hope I can hold it in long enough for our family to get at least 4-5hrs in the park. Risking dehydration and being miserable with thirst and urgency. Only for us to eventually have to call it quits and leave the park after just 4-5hrs (max) when anybody knows you need a FULL day or TWO to experience all there is to experience of Disney resorts and parks. Dragging away two imaginabily upset little girls, who don't 'get' why they're being punished by leaving the most magical place on earth just because Mummy needs a wee!
3. Wipe away the tears and put my childrens happiness over us going as a family, by asking another relative to take them instead. Then at least I wouldn't ruin it and they'd get to experience everything.
What would you pick if you were a disabled Mum with young children wanting to go on a family holiday to WDW/Disneyland? What kind of choices are these? Don't I deserve to be treated with dignity, care and compassion as a human being?
You really think you go above and beyond for people with disabilities just because you offer wristbands to fast track us on the rides, most of which are inaccessible if you cannot get up and walk a few steps and get into the ride. You don't even offer a discount for your disabled customers despite half the rides being unsuitable and no suitable toilet facilities other than the "minimum requirement" by the ADA. I bet if you ask families with disabilities they'd vote for a Changing Place toilet, even just ONE per park, over that fast-track pass...
In the end we chose option FOUR. We just don't take them. Yes, it's not fair that they miss out but it is not MY fault. I would move heaven and earth for my kids. Heck, I was never supposed to live long enough to have children! I am a former Make-A-Wish kid, but I didn't choose Disney to visit at the time. I'm glad I didn't, looking back because as a Disabled child I STILL needed a Changing Place facility with overhead hoist and adult size changing table. And I refuse to put myself through the emotional trauma of wearing an adult nappy when I'm not incontinent, or dragging my kids from the most fun they've had probably in their whole lives because I need to rush back to the hotel to have a wee. THAT'S not fair on them. In fact none of this is fair on people with severe disabilities.
There are an estimated 250,000 individuals in the UK alone who need Changing Places toilets and without them they become increasingly isolated from society. I can't even imagine how much bigger that figure is for America.
Changing Places Campaigners asked you time and time again to please consider putting in these vital facilities in your parks over the past several years, you point blank refuse. You state the first aid room is adequate when it isn't and you give yourself a pat on the back for "all" you do. I say you can do MORE! It's not even about money, as Mum On A Mission concurred you made 55 MILLION on profits last year alone. It takes only $4000 to put equipment in an existing room in your park to turn it into a proper Changing Place toilet facility.
So, this is where the magic ends for us. Rather than tell my girls the truth, we now tell them we simply don't have enough money. When they're older I'll tell them that a multi-million dollar corporation wouldn't spend what is a drop in the ocean to them so I could come, as any Mother should and enjoy a magic filled holiday with my kids.
A very heart broken Mum with a life-limiting condition who just wants to make memories with her kids.
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