Sunday, March 11, 2012

Disney Day One

Sunday we drove from Vegas to Anaheim with Megan and Kiefer (Zak's sister and her husband). That night we put the kids to bed and about 45 minutes after they fell asleep, Jakson rolled out of bed and smacked his head on the side table. He was so exhausted that he did not even wake up! I had to check several times to make sure that he was indeed still breathing.

As a solution, we created pseudo bed rails on both sides of the bed with the chairs in the room and a couple of pillows. I know, genius.


The next morning we met up with Melissa and had our traditional First Day breakfast at Mimi's Cafe. BOGO coupons and Mickey Mouse pancakes.


Because we are all about predictability, I had written out a schedule for the day. We had discussed it with the kids and had even watched it ride by ride in order. Like I said before, I was almost sick of some of the rides by the time we arrived.

We ended up getting into California Adventure before the park actually opened, but they had already started taking people on the new Ariel attraction. Despite the fact that the Ariel ride was second on our agenda, we decided to ride it anyway. Cue Jakson's first meltdown at Disney. Oh, what fun. Finally we convinced him that Ariel was not going to come alive in the middle of the ride and do whatever horrible Princesses do, he went with us. A little dragging may have been involved. Storey was in mermaid heaven.

Once we finished that ride, the rest of the park was open and we were able to go on the originally intended first ride: Toy Story Mania. A crowd favorite.

Everyone wearing their 3D glasses. I think Jakson was still mad. I got a thumbs up, but he wouldn't look at me.

After that we stuck to our regularly scheduled program, so Jak was happy.

Jak and Aunt Melissa on Jumpin' Jellyfish.

We also spent some time getting autographs and posing for pictures along the Boardwalk.


Then we hung out with Hip Hop Mickey.



The rest of this story will come later, but after finishing up at California Adventure, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom where we met with some Princesses. Not Jakson's favorite moment.

But first we had our picture taken in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Can you believe of all the times we have been, we've never done that?!? It's like Disney blasphemy.


After the Princess meetup, Jak had a tough time. His anxiety level was high and he was overstimulated. Our biggest mistake of the trip was to get in line for Space Mountain at this point. Sometimes parents do dumb things. This is the incident known to all on our trip as Spacegate 2012.

Jakson has been talking about Space Mountain for MONTHS. And when I say months, I mean basically since our last trip. He told everyone that Space Mountain was his favorite ride. So of course it was on our agenda the first day. We stood in line for no more than 10 minutes, but the closer we got to the front, the more anxious Jakson got. Now anyone who knows Jakson's anxiety well knows that it is both unpredictable and irrational. Last year, after riding Buzz Lightyear at least 10 times, he suddenly decided that the aliens on the ride were going to eat him and refused to go on it again. Not willing to let his irrational fears rob him of fun, Zak and I dragged him screaming and kicking on the ride. Half way through he stopped screaming, grabbed a laser gun and never looked back. Lest you think we are terrible parents for inflicting such a thing on him, if we avoided things because of Jakson's fears, we would never do or go ANYWHERE. His fears have to be faced. Which was our rationale when we chose to go through with Space Mountain. Zak sat him down in the seat (he was screaming) and the ride began to go, but instead of the usual direction, our car was rerouted to a holding area and we were told to get out.

Please know that I love Disney. And this is probably their policy. The cast members were following protocol. I also completely understand that no one else will ever completely understand what we deal with as parents of Jakson. I'm sure to an outsider it looked as if we were forcing our perfectly normal child on a ride against his will. And frankly, it was against his will. But again, we would never do anything if we catered everything to his will. We would not even watch a new DVD (he is scared of any new movie) like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which he informed us after throwing a 20 minute fit and then watching, is his new favorite show.

I think the most upsetting part was that he was calm by the time our car pulled around the corner and probably would have had an enjoyable ride.

It really is a parenting conundrum for us. One I wish we had all of the answers for, but are trying to do our best with.* In the end, Jakson did not ride Space Mountain (though he still swears it is his favorite ride) and I cried through the entire roller coaster. So, Melissa, I'm sorry if my tears splattered you.

Not exactly the most delightful ending for our first day at the park, but we did try to redeem it with some pin trading and rides for the adults. Between fast passes and baby switch, we were able to ride all of the big attractions on the first day.

That night we attempted to go to World of Color but there were technical difficulties due to the rain (and it was freezing!!) so we opted to head back to the hotel instead. Overall, we had a very good day. I was determined not to let one incident ruin the trip.

*There is a something I wish I could say to everyone who sat in that Space Mountain car with us. And every adult who has ever shot a look of "terrible parent" in my direction during a public meltdown. Casting judgement on parents is often not accurate. 1 in every 110 children and 1 in every 60 boys has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. That is a lot. You don't know if the "bad" kid you are seeing falls into these statistics. Please have compassion. Autism is known as the invisible disability. There is nothing obvious or physical that screams "I have autism!" Dirty looks and whispered commentary are not helpful. Incidents like this are embarrassing, horrifying, and incredibly emotional for the parents involved. You do not understand and for your sake, I hope you never do. The best way you can help a parent in this situation is to hold your judgment.

The other lesson I have learned is to carry autism cards like this one. I think I will print some off and keep them in my purse all the time.


Erin Caballero said...

From what I've read on your blog you all are amazing parents! J is so lucky to have parents who help him face his fears instead of make excuses for him! I teach First grade and often have kiddos on the spectrum. Some diagnosed and others not diagnosed until after they are in my class. I am also a parent of two little girls. I can't imagine the amount of patience it takes! I admire all parents of children with exeptionalities!

Immeasurably More Mama said...

Sorry about the stares. :( You and Zak are amazing parents and most importantly God chose YOU for Jak and Storey. He knows what He's doing and it is always good. :)

Catherine said...

Your blog is so much fun to read Beth. I love the Autism card. People can be so cruel. I can't imagine what you and Jakson go through. Tough. You don't let anything stop you! You guys do so much fun stuff!

Lucinda said...

I have to say that I LOVE your blog! Thank you so much for sharing so much information about your family vacations and family in general! I have a son on the Autism Spectrum and can understand many of your experiences. We are currently planning our first trip to Disneyland with our family. With children ages 6, 4, & 2 including one with Special Needs, I have found your blog to be so helpful. Thank you so very much!

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