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MousePlanet Mailbag for August 18, 2005

Compiled by Stephanie Wien, Mailbag editor

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers. Do you have any comments or questions? Contact us at the Mailbag here.

Feedback for Adrienne Krock

Parenting in the Parks (link) editor Adrienne Krock answers some letters about car seat rentals and visiting Walt Disney World with a special needs child:

Heather Lake writes:

Hi Adrienne. I just found your website and I was wondering if you had any advice. I'm traveling to Seattle for the weekend with my 11 month old (alone) and don't have enough hands for the car seat. I wanted to rent one once up there but because we are not renting a car (a friend is picking us up) I can't use a car rental agency. Do you have any other suggestions where I might rent one?

Hi, Heather – Many large cities (and even small cities) have companies that rent baby equipment including portable cribs, strollers, car seats, etc. I found this website (link), which lists Kid Equip, LLC (877-467-0453) in Seattle. I'm assuming you are staying with your friend rather than in a hotel but another option would be to call some hotels in the Seattle area and ask them for a recommendation.

If you're flying, how do you plan to have your baby on the plane? One of my soapbox issues is to have a seat for your baby because lap-sitting babies are a safety concern when you're flying through strong turbulence. Flight attendants regularly refer to lap sitting babies as “footballs” in turbulence. If the baby has his/her own seat, you'll need the car seat on the airplane anyway. If the baby doesn't have a seat, I'd strongly encourage you to contact your airlines and ask about a baby ticket. They usually cost less than a regular adult fare.

Another option is a car seat cover. Many baby supply stores carry covers that have straps on them so you can carry the car seat over your shoulder when you're not using it. If you gate-check your stroller, your stroller will be with you to the gate when you board, and then as you de-board at your destination. You'll be able to hang bags on the stroller, put bags on your shoulder, and push the stroller. You can check the car seat as luggage in a car-seat bag, if you do not need to use it on the plane. Then you could rent a luggage cart to carry your luggage and car seat. If you have a baby carrier like a Baby Bjorn or Snuggly, then your hands would be free to push the luggage cart.

Have a great time!

Larae Nevills writes:

My name is Larae Nevills and we will be making our first trip to Disney World at the end of May. We have two daughters—ages 10 & 7—but the youngest has several special needs that we will have to plan around. She has hypotonia due to CP and therefore has endurance issues although she is mobile. She also has mental retardation, some sensory issues, is non-verbal, and has a peanut allergy. Any information that someone could pass on to me about dealing with wheelchair rental, character dinners, meals in general, and whether the special guest card I have read about is worth my time. She probably won't ride that many rides so my husband & I will take turns riding with the 10 year old. Is the guest assistance card I have read about really worth trying to obtain? We know we will have to take things at a lot slower pace because of her special needs, but is there any specific information out there that can help us give her a fun vacation at such a large place?

Hi, Larae – I know you're going to have a fantastic vacation. I consulted with my friend Margaret who frequently takes children with special needs to theme parks and with MousePlanet's Mark Goldhaber who has more Walt Disney World (WDW) knowledge than I have. Here's what I've put together:

First of all, you might be surprised how many rides your daughter can enjoy at Walt Disney World. She can rest while you and your older daughter ride the faster rides so you might want to plan to ride family rides and faster rides alternatively to pace yourselves.

I would recommend going ahead and ask about a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) on the first day of your visit. The Guest Relations Cast Members will be able to tell you if you will need a GAC or if having a wheelchair will suffice. The card will be good for the length of your entire stay so you won't need to get a new one every day. Stopping your first day for a few minutes may make it easier to meet your daughter's needs throughout the trip.

If you have a stroller that is comfortable for your daughter, possibly more comfortable than a wheelchair, you can bring that and use it as a wheelchair. You will need to get a Guest Assistance Card on your first day to allow you to bring that stroller into lines with you. It may be a more affordable alternative to a wheelchair rental, and more comfortable for her, too.

If your daughter has her own wheelchair, you may consider bringing it instead because it will be easier on your budget and would fit your daughter best. The parks rent chairs but you cannot take them out of the parks: They must remain inside and you won't be able to take the chair back to your resort with you when you leave the parks. Alternatively, there are several companies in the Orlando area that will rent you a wheelchair for the length of your stay, delivering it to your hotel and picking it up, even. Three of these services are:

CARE Medical Equipment (link); Walker Mobility Products (link); and All About Kids (link), which specializes in children's sized equipment.

As far as eating, I have two suggestions. The first is to plan ahead for where you want to eat and to arrange Priority Seatings when possible. You can call those restaurants at least 72-hours in advance to speak with the chefs and they will be very accommodating to prepare meals that address your daughter's allergy needs. The phone number to make these arrangements is; (407)-WDW-DINE. If you're eating at a counter-service restaurant, you can request a list of ingredients for the menu items. Don't be shy, they're happy to provide them.

Finally, you can call WDW (407-939-7807) and request a set of "Guides for Guests with Disabilities" to get the most current guides available to help plan your trip. In the meantime, there is some information available from the Official WDW website (link)

Here are some links to undated guides on the Official WDW website, too: Magic Kingdom (PDF link) Epcot (PDF link) Animal Kingdom (PDF link)

Hope that helps!

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne here.

Feedback for Lani Teshima

Lani Teshima answers some letters about her series (link) on the Walt Disney World marathon and half-marathon:

Mary K. writes:

Hi Lani,

I am signing up for the half marathon to volunteer. I want to be in the Magic Kingdom, but the only water stops left to sign up for are #1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, and 12. Food Stops #1 and #2 are available also.

Which one would be the place to be closest to the Magic Kingdom? I tried to download the map, but I can't download it for some reason.

Thanks for any information you are able to help me with. I walked the half marathon in 2001 and it was awesome!

Hi Mary – You're in luck! If you haven't had a chance to visit MousePlanet today, my Marathon article (link) is devoted specifically to volunteering. I, too, was not quite clear about how the aid stations were numbered. But according to the Disney Sports volunteer coordinator, the numbers are not sequentially numbered according to the number of aid stations, but instead denote the nearest mile marker. So for example, aid station #4 is near mile marker 4, aid station #10 is near mile marker 10, and so on.

I also ran into an error when I tried to just click on the course map PDF link at their Web site. However, I right-clicked on the link to pop up the menu, and saved the file onto my computer. Once it downloaded, I opened the Adobe Acrobat Reader software program. From inside Acrobat, I opened the file and it opened just fine. Hopefully you can get yours to work, as well.

Based on the course map for the 2006 Half-Marathon, the aid station located inside the Magic Kingdom appears to be aid station #6, located in Frontierland. Aid station #5 is near the Contemporary Resort, and #7 is near the Grand Floridian. Since the race organizers have changed the course for next year, I can't tell you exactly where those aid stations will be located.

Thank you so much for volunteering. As I mentioned in the article, the volunteers provide lots of cheer and good spirits (not to mention water and Powerade) to the thundering masses, and it is very appreciated!

A follow-up email from Mary:

Thanks I signed up for water station #6. Sure hope it is in the Magic Kingdom! I think 6 should be a great place to volunteer, even if it is around or close to MK.

Mary – According to the new half-marathon map for 2006, aid station #6 will put you inside the Magic Kingdom around Frontierland. If it's anything like in the past, it is an area that includes background Disney music as well as cheering cast members and maybe even some characters you can see doing meet-and-greets.

Looks like the volunteer sign-up schedule for the half has considerably more slots available than for the full; looking at the full, the stop around Magic Kingdom (which is at mile 11) looks to be closed already.

I hope you have a wonderful and rewarding experience!

Alma Neifeld writes:

Is the half-marathon exclusively for runners or can walkers register for the half marathon if they are able complete it in 3 hours plus? Many thanks.

Hi Alma – The only requirement that Disney has is that participants be able to maintain a 16-minute-mile pace, and to not take more than 3.5 hours to finish the half marathon. If you can walk faster than that, you are welcome! That said, do be aware that with the crowded conditions near the start, it is often the case that walkers get delayed several minutes before they cross the starting line. And although they will mark your net time on your official record (the actual amount of time taken from when your foot crosses the starting line, to when it crosses the finish line), the pacing requirement can be based on the official starting time of the event. That means for all intents and purposes you probably want to train for no slower than a 15-minute-mile pace, if not quicker. This will give you some padding for when you need to go on a potty break and so on.

Rene McWilliams writes:

Hello, I ran the Disney marathon this past January. I purchased a sweatshirt and unfortunately it was ruined. Is there any way I can purchase any type of clothing from the marathon? I would love to be able to wear something.

Hi Rene – Thank you for taking the time to write. I'm sorry to hear your sweatshirt was ruined. If Disney does the same thing they did last year, you should be able to purchase some event merchandise online later this fall. I will try to remember to mention it in the marathon guide when I find out.

Charles writes:

Great article! It's amazing as I was asked by my nephew what he needed purchase so he could train for the half. I started naming off all these high-tech clothes and other things then thought a moment and said good shoes, shorts and a shirt.

Quick comments…

New Balance produces ChubRub shorts, that is a pair of shorts with compression pants built in.

A hint for sunglass purchases: to keep from fogging, make sure the lenses do not contact the face (thatŐs how the wrap-arounds were originally designed). Fat cheeked kids like me have to look hard to find glasses that will not fog while running. Also sports sunglasses are easily scratched. Make sure to either wear the glasses or put them in a protective case. When they get scratched, Murphy's law states the scratch will be in direct line of sight of the wearer.

Again, good article. You planning on running some training articles? This time of year, hydration is the biggest concern I have in my classes. I have folks come into class with no water at all. Also, this is the time of year I need to remind folks around here that this is not the time to feel the need for speed. I had a response ready for a newbie walker on the Penguin Board who was already worried about her slow pace. I wanted to push her into a general fitness direction and tell her not to worry about pace this time of year; rather, she should be focusing on pushing mid- to upper-aerobic workouts on her walks. Sadly, as I read my response it could have been taken the wrong way, as though I was singling her out. I never really want to do that as I have been singled out in a group more than once in my life.

Keep up the good work.

Hi Charles – Thanks for your great comments! I'll go check out the ChubRub shorts.

Hydration… yes, that's an important one. Probably enough to warrant its own article, even (how to deal with heat, maybe?). I'll have to do some research. Any tips you want to share?

Bob Catinazzo writes:

Just wanted to drop you a quick e-mail stating how informative your marathon primer piece was. I was registered for this past marathon and needed to skip it due to lingering knee issues.

I'm going to start training ever so lightly this weekend and continue to do so until I feel I can run the race properly. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for your kind words, Bob. Hope you feel good enough to register for next year. Do you plan on signing up for the full or the half? I still have issues with my right knee. For last year's half-marathon, I ended up seeing a physical therapist for four months.

Bob replies:

I had my ACL replaced a few years back. I played hockey and ran regularly in some discomfort but didn't know the extent of the damage until it was too late.

Currently, I'm reasonably pain free and I'm going to take a quick 3/4 mile jog Saturday. Hell, it's a start. I was up to 10-12 miles on my long run days but I think I overdid it.

A torn ACL is nasty. Did you get it playing hockey?

I assume you have a sports physician you work with? Coming back from knee surgery is always a serious challenge. At the very least, I'm thinking you want to have a very good stretching regimen and resistance training to make sure your muscles develop correctly and don't pull your various leg muscles off balance.

Also, don't forget that you don't necessarily have to grind out those miles to train for a half-marathon. You can cross-train with things like cycling… you can still develop your leg muscles, and compliment it with a regular cardio workout to get in solid shape without just running mile after mile.

Eileen Druckenmiller writes:

Just one point of clarification. Mark neglected to mention that while he beat both of us, his sisters, in his first marathon, we both racewalk. That was during a year while they still had an official racewalk competition with judges. We were not able to switch between walking and running like he did! Thanks for a great article!

That's funny! Although I didn't include all the replies he emailed me, he failed to mention that.

I am amazed that he can do this. All the best of luck for him doing the double next January. I'm assuming he's otherwise a very fit fellow, yes? Thanks for writing, Eileen!

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani here.


Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who can try to help answer your questions.


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