Thursday, March 31, 2011

National Mall and Memorial Parks: Lincoln Memorial

Date of Visit: March 19, 2011

Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is the first memorial we visited as part of our visiting the memorials on the National Mall.  It is a logical starting or ending point with it being the west end of the National Mall.

There really is not a nearby Metro, though, which means walking a ways from Foggy-Bottom GWU (Blue and Orange Lines) or even walking across the bridge from Arlington National Cemetery (Blue Line).  The Washington Monument (East End of the main memorial part of National Mall), however, is near Smithsonian (Blue and Orange lines, I do not like this elevator wise, as it is actually on the Mall like the escalator entrance and can be hard to find if you do not know the area) as is Federal Triangle (Blue and Orange lines, elevator is more obvious than escalator entrance) and Archives-Navy Memorial is only a little further away (Yellow and Blue lines, elevator quite near escalator entrance).  We did notice there are some wheelchair spots near the Lincoln Memorial, but they seem to easily fill, as it was not even that crowded when we visited, especially compared to how bad it can get in late Spring and the summer months.

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial might appear to not be accessible from photos, but when you walk up to it from either side it is quite obvious that there are ramps up to an elevator, which is also where there are restrooms (not very accessible according to Mik's experience when with Mom).  There is also a little exhibit area here, that I honestly never knew about until I first went with Mik to the Lincoln Memorial in 2006.

Lincoln Memorial

The ramp up is not bad, but when you get to the top their are doors that do not have an automatic button.  That is not the appalling part, though.  The real annoying part is that they actually have a handicap symbol on them, which usually signifies it can be operated automatically somehow.  However, no such luck and it just is an extra unnecessary symbol to tell you are going the right way for the elevator or at least that is the only thing I can think it means.  Not too big of a deal, as Mom was with us, but it was still tough with there being a second door after a small entryway.  Sure, if there are people around they tend to be helpful, but there is easily no one going this way on low crowd days/off season like we were on the tail end of.

Lincoln Memorial

Mik was impressed with the elevator.  It is not all that amazing, as it did not line up properly at the top and we had to tilt his front wheels up to get in.  However, it is gold colored inside and sure seems fancy.  It is a little odd that the doors are on adjacent walls, but it works about as efficiently as front and back doors in that you do not have to try and turn around inside the elevator if you roll in properly.

We did not stay long up top at the Lincoln Memorial.  We tried to go in the gift shop, but quickly aborted that, as it is extremely small.  We knew that, but this time there were only a few people and we thought we would give it a shot, as Mik likes looking at all the books they have.  However, it really only takes only one other person to make it too crowded for a wheelchair to be able to turn around to just get out.  Unfortunately, this is also where you need to go to get the Lincoln Memorial stamp as well as stamps for other nearby memorials such as Korean and Vietnam Memorials.  I ended up just going in and doing the stamps leaving Mik in the wide open main area of the Lincoln Memorial.

Overall the Lincoln Memorial is pretty cool to see up close and it is accessible.  However, it has some wheelchair accessibility issues.  The gift shop is not too big a deal, as it basically seems an afterthought and there is not anyway to make it bigger without messing with the memorial unless they put it in the exhibit area by the elevators and exhibit space is way more important.  However, it would be nice if the stamp could be gotten at a little station right outside the shop or something like that.  Also, it makes no sense at all for the doors into where the elevator and exhibit are to not have a button to open them automatically.

Photos by Mik and Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Lincoln Memorial National Memorial
Lincoln Memorial Circle
Washington, DC 20037

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

National Museum of American History

Starting today at the National Museum of American History. We might also hit the Natural History Museum.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hyatt Regency Crystal City Wheelchair Shuttle Bus

Date of Visit: March 18, 2011

Hyatt Crystal City Shuttle BusWe varied from the tried and efficient DC Metro and ended up attempting the shuttle bus on this visit to DC.  I used to live in Crystal City, so taking the Metro from Washington Reagan Airport one stop to Crystal City is something we have done before.  Mik's new wheelchair does not allow for pushing him and having any bag on the back, though, so going on the Metro with luggage did not seem as easy.  Not to mention the front wheels are so hard to tip up for the boarding and unloading (they also get stuck easier than old chair, hence have to tilt them up for bumps the old chair's front wheels would have gone over) and do not need any extra weight on it to make it harder.

Anyways, the Hyatt said they had a wheelchair accessible shuttle.  We just had to call and request it when we arrived.  Well, the shuttle definitely does have a lift, but it was not a good experience at all.  First, off the lift ramp flap did not come down all the way and the driver was telling us to go on oblivious to it not being already down all the way.  I noticed, though, and he pushed it down.

Once on board we were standing just inside of the lift and he was ready to go.  Then he reconsidered and had a passenger move to actually lift up the seat that makes room for the chair to be behind the driver.  Then off we went.  No tie downs or anything.  And this was a shuttle bus that actually had buckles on the regular seats.  The ride is not even a mile, but there are a lot of stops and turns in that short distance.  Mik hates buses and was freaked out the whole time.  Usually he just overreacts, but this time he had a reason to fear, as even though I was holding his chair down at one turn his right wheel actually left the ground.

From now on, we are sticking to the Metro or maybe a taxi for the airport.  Sure, there are no tie downs on the Metro, but the ride is smooth enough to not be a problem.  Only problem we ever run into is elevators being down, but this trip there are very few throughout the system that are out and the one that ended up being where we wanted to get on was only two blocks from the next station.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Hyatt Regency Crystal City
2799 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202

Disney's California Adventure: World of Color

Date of Visit: March 10, 2011

World of ColorThe World of Color show was the main reason we went to Disneyland on March 10.  We got Fastpasses as part of the D23 2nd Anniversary event, so we did not have to worry about getting over to the park when it opened.  It is definitely a good idea to get over to Disney's California Adventure first thing for fastpasses, as they were supposedly gone by 11:30am that day and it was not quite the peak season, yet.

Mik often does not care for the shows (he still has never seen Fantasmic) other than the indoor theater ones (Aladdin, Great Moments with Lincoln, etc.).  However, we have both been looking forward to this show since we have seen the area under remodel back in 2009.  It opened last summer, but we visited in April last year.

World of ColorWe got to the Fastpass area around 7:15pm (show started at 8:15pm) and it was already quite full.  We were in the yellow area, but when we got there they directed us to go to the next area to get to the ramp.  We got over there and the cast member taking the Fastpasses for that area (Red?) was ready to send us back to yellow, but another cast member knew that we were sent there for the ramp and escorted us down.  He did not quite know where he was going, but he was very friendly and did make sure we got down to a good wheelchair seating area.

World of ColorThe wheelchair sections are manned to make sure other people do not crowd it.  There is a row of benches in the front for those that need them.   The area is not right in front, as there is a lower area right by the water, but the area is raised above the lower area, so there is no problem with people standing in front and getting in the way of enjoying the show.

Mik and I both loved the World of Color show.  It was awesome how the video is projected on the water screens and the other lighting and flame effects.  The end Tron scene is really awesome.

World of ColorMik thought the wheelchair section was good, except that you get some of the spray depending on the wind.  His pants ended up wet along with his top because he was sitting in his wheelchair compared to those standing only getting wet on top.  He said next time he wants to bring a blanket for the show for that to get wet instead of him.  At least that means he is willing to see it again, though, as it is pretty awesome.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's Wheelchair Accessibility Input

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure

1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Verizon Center: Nets @ Wizards

Mik's goal since the ballpark road trip is to slowly get to all the NBA Stadiums. Verizon Center, home of the Washington Wizards, is his 2nd NBA stadium, as the only other stadium he has been to before today is the one in Phoenix. He's a Lakers fan, but today he is rooting for the Wizards.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Collecting Stamps and Seeing Memorials on the National Mall

Date of Adventure: March 19, 2011

National Park StampsThis morning we got a slower start than I wanted, but we did at least still get in almost all of the National Mall and Memorials we wanted to see this DC trip.  The only memorial we skipped was the Washington Monument because we did not want to deal with getting the tickets if they even had any to give out, as online showed none available.

We started by taking the Metro to Foggy Bottom-GWU.  There really is not any Metro close to start on the Lincoln end and on the Washington Monument end has several close options, so it made more sense to start from the far end and work our way to the Washington Monument end and the nearby Federal Triangle station.  The Smithsonian Station is also near there, but the elevator entrance is an extra few blocks away and the Federal Triangle elevator entrance is actually closer than the main escalator entrance.
Veitnam Women's Memorial

We ended up start our walk around the National Mall near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  We did not walk right by the wall, as we have done that many times before and it was kind of crowded.  We did stop at the Women's Vietnam Memorial for some photos, though.

Lincoln Memorial
From the Vietnam Memorial we went to the Lincoln Memorial.  Here we actually spent some time and went up through the Memorial.  We visited the bookstore here, although Mik only went in very briefly because it is so small and hard to move around in his wheelchair even with only a few other people in it.  We had forgotten our National Park Passports at the hotel and ended up buying new ones because they had special 25th Anniversary of the National Park Passports versions.  They also had a special Lincoln Memorial stamp for the 25th Anniversary.  Additionally, they had some stamps for nearby memorials that did not have their own shops, such as Korean Memorial, Constitution Gardens (did not get this one, since we skipped this), and Vietnam Veterans Memorial as well as general National Mall and National Mall and Memorial Parks ones.
Korean War Veterans Memorial

After the Lincoln Memorial we stopped for a quick lunch at a nearby refreshment stand.  Then we went to the Korean War Veterans Memorial.  After this we ditched Mom and Mik and I headed over to the Tidal Basin area.

The Tidal Basin was confusing with part of it closed off for the construction of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.  We ended up going almost to the World War II Memorial to get over to go around the Tidal Basin because the old signage has you cross right where the new memorial is and nothing tells you to cross over earlier.  No big deal, as we did not mind having to walk a little extra, as we still got to see the stuff we wanted.

Jefferson Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial also has a bunch of construction around it with them updating the levee area.  It just ruins the outside aspect, but you can still go inside it and see the statue.  Of course, all kinds of barricades make it hard to get to the sidewalk area that you can access the memorial without having to squeeze between concrete barricades and walk/roll across a grassy area.  The was only because we approached from the East, though, as leaving to the West was where we ended up entering after walking all the way around.

At the Jefferson Memorial, Mik finally got a DC miniature for his miniature collection.  He got a White House pencil sharpener.  We also got some more stamps in our National Park Passports including the Jefferson Memorial, a 25th Passport Anniversary Jefferson Memorial, and George Mason Memorial.
George Mason Memorial

From the Jefferson Memorial we headed over to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.  Along the way we stopped at the George Mason Memorial, which Mik had never seem before and is easily skipped.  It is actually a pretty cool memorial and his legacy is quite interesting.  At the FDR Memorial we got a few more stamps for our National Park Passports: FDR Memorial, 25th Passport Anniversary FDR Memorial, World War II Memorial, and DC World War Memorial (this memorial is under renovation, but we went up to it as close as you can right now).  It was fun collecting the stamps and we already have almost 2 pages full of the passports.

World War II Memorial
The last memorial we hit was the World War II Memorial.  Did not spend much time here, as it was almost 5pm and Mik was tired.  Thus we did not even end up walking up and around the Washington Monument like we thought we would.  We figure we can easily do that when we go to the National Museum of American History in a few days.

Photos by Kjersti, Mik, and Mom
Text by Kjersti with Mik's Wheelchair Accessibility Input

Destination Info:
National Mall and Memorial Parks
Washington, DC

Related Wheelchair Accessibility Reviews:

Lincoln Memorial

We are walking around the National Mall today. We started at the Lincoln Memorial, where we got a 25th anniversary National Parks Passport to get stamped because we left our regular ones back at the hotel.

Sent from my iPhone

Update: Read our Lincoln Memorial Wheelchair Accessibility Review here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Disney's California Adventure: Blue Sky Cellar

Date of Visit: March 10, 2011

Blue Sky Cellar - Little Mermaid RideThe Blue Sky Cellar is one place we like to quickly check out every time we visit Disney's California Adventure.  It is just a small building, but it is totally worth visiting as it has exhibits and a short movie about upcoming new attractions at the park.  This time the main exhibit area was about the new Little Mermaid ride opening on June 3, 2011, and the movie also showed the Test Track like ride that will be in the new Cars Land opening in 2012.

Blue Sky Cellar - Little Mermaid RideI liked seeing the model of the ride track for The Little Mermaid ride.  The clam shaped vehicles are almost exactly like the Doom Buggies in The Haunted Mansion over in Disneyland.  While the track model most definitely does not show a wheelchair accessible vehicle, we are pretty sure there will be one because it is a tame ride and no reason there cannot be.  Plus, the architectural drawing of the ride shows a wheelchair queue.  Of course, if they figure out how to do this ride with a wheelchair vehicle than I for one really hope they add an accessible Doom Buggy to the ride track the next time they shut it down for the holiday changeover.  We can at least dream on that!

We are still unsure about the whole Cars Land.  So far the only ride we have seen anything about is the Test Track like thing and obviously that cannot be a wheelchair accessible ride.  That is still a ways off and not too much details, yet, though.

Besides the information on the upcoming attractions, there are also some touch screen monitors that you can play Disney trivia on and see how well you know your Disney stuff.  Mik has no problem playing these from his wheelchair, as some if not all are down more at kid height than adult height.

The inside of building is wheelchair accessible, but the exit is a manual door.  We went out with me rolling Mik backwards through it, but then there is little room to turn back around once you get out.  It would be easier to just go back out the entrance if you do not have someone to open and hold the door open for you, which was not an option for us since there was no one else inside the Blue Sky Cellar at the time.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's Wheelchair Accessibility Input

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure

1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Disney's California Adventure: Toy Story Mania

Date of Visit: March 10, 2011

Toy Story ManiaToy Story Mania is definitely our favorite ride in Disney's California Adventure.  In fact, this trip it was the only ride we went on in this park.  You go in the regular line until you get to the boarding area.  The cast member here will then direct you to go straight ahead to the wheelchair boarding area.

They have a wheelchair accessible vehicle here that is off the regular ride track, so the ride continues to operate normally until the vehicle is loaded and added to the regular ride track.  They load all physical disabilities and sometimes other GAC groups in this vehicle.  This means that the wait time after you get through the normal queue can be awhile, although since we have been going in the off season the past few times we have not noticed that much of a delay.  The first summer it was open, though, we would wait another 30 plus minutes after the regular queue.  Totally worth it for this ride, though.

Toy Story ManiaThe take a seat out of the vehicle for the wheelchair to fit.  The person riding next to the wheelchair has to go in first and sits to the left of the wheelchair.  The cast member (or another person in the group) then rolls in the wheelchair if the user cannot roll themselves in.  They use a seat belt around the passenger instead of a lap bar coming down.  They then lower the blaster and make sure it is at a comfortable height for the wheelchair user.

Toy Story ManiaThe blaster for the wheelchair spot is for the most part like everyone else's.  It has a string to pull to shoot, but it also has an alternative method of shooting.  This alternative is a button on top.  This is easier to use than the string pull method.  Mik prefers the string method for most of the game, but he uses the button to quickly rack up points at the last bonus part where you are hitting the single non-moving target as much as you can before time runs out.

Note that the ride vehicles quickly rotate between the games.  Mik's upper body control is good when he wants it to be, but he still often ends up flopping to the side on this because the movement happens so quickly and it is hard to prepare for it due to the ride often stopping for extra time at the games when the loading process gets backed up and then suddenly moving you to the next game with little warning.   At least once Mik has said he wished he had a chest strap like on his first chair just for this ride and he totally hated that strap!

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Disneyland: Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Date of Visit: March 10, 2011

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandThis trip was the first time in my memory of every going to Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland, although I probably went when I was little.  It is definitely the first time Mik has ever been to the island.  We have always avoided it because we had heard that once you get there there is no where for wheelchairs to go and do anything.  Well, we finally decided to check it out for ourselves and discovered this was an overgeneralization.

It is true that for the most part wheelchairs cannot enjoy the island, but there is still some things they can access.  I have no idea exactly how much we really missed out on because the wheelchair could not fit in most of the cave openings or there were stairs up to the bridges, but there was still plenty to do to waste an hour on the island.  There is even a companion bathroom by the fort.

To get to Tom Sawyer Island you ride on a raft.  The raft is not exactly even with the loading dock, so we had to tip the front wheels of Mik's wheelchair off the ground to safely get on board.  Not too big an issue, but his new wheelchair is really hard to do that with because it is meant to avoid all the flipping over accidents Mik has ended up in at school.  Good for his usual daily wheelchair use, not so good for adventuring.  At least we did not have the tippers on, so did not have to stop to flip those up just to get on raft.

On the island there certainly are places a wheelchair can go from the start.  Sure, you cannot go to the left, but to the right is a rather level path.  Yes, the path is dirt, but it is hard packed and very easy to roll on.  We followed the path and found an area where there was a wheel that you can turn to lift a treasure chest with a skeleton out of the water.  Mik was able to easily do this by himself and found it fun to do.  There is also a little area where you can pump water, which we tried to do, but stunk and we notices two really in shape guys did not do any better when they tried after us.  This area was overall quite accessible, although the part by the waterfall was a tight squeeze.  Also, there was a rolling bridge of barrels that the wheelchair could not go on.

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandPirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandPirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

After this little area of pirate activities we continued on towards the fort.  There was one cave near the hill/lift up to the fort/restrooms that was plenty wide enough to go in with a wheelchair.  There was not much of interest inside, but it was cool to see Mik's new wheelchair glow in there and actually get a picture of it glowing.

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandPirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island


The hill up to the front of the fort is very steep.  The one around the back near the treasure area is not much better.  We just went up the steep on in front because Mik had to go to the bathroom and we knew they were up at the fort.  We felt pretty stupid when we go to the bathrooms and right next to them is a wheelchair lift that gets you up to them.  I do not know if you can just operate it or you need to find a cast member to do it, though.  Either way better than dangerously trying to go up the steep hill.

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandPirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island


Up at the top of the hill behind the fort is a little graveyard and getting around the fort and the graveyard area is relatively level, although the path is almost too narrow for a wheelchair at parts.  Not really any reason to go up here other than the bathrooms, but the companion bathroom up there is great.

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandPirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island


Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer IslandOne other fun little part we found is that near one of the areas with stairs up to stuff there is a pirate ship wheel.  Mik rolled up to it to see that a wheelchair person could play with it, although it seemed to kiddie for him.  There are also little microphones to talk into and talk with people up on top, which could be fun for groups with those that want to climb up and those that cannot.

Overall we had a lot of fun on Tom Sawyer Island.  Sure, there is a lot wheelchairs cannot access or do, but there is still some fun stuff.  Plus, you at least get a raft ride as part of it.

Photos by Mik
Text by Kjersti with Mik's Wheelchair Accessibility Input

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Disneyland: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Date of Visit: March 10, 2011

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is our all time favorite ride at Disneyland.  We have been enjoying it since they were soft testing it and officially opened it during our March 2005 trip.  It is the first ride we ever went on with Mik staying in his wheelchair, as back then Mik was still not that big and Dad would always transfer him to whatever rides we wanted to go on.  At first Mik liked to go on this as a transfer, but he soon discovered that the wheelchair vehicle is much better as he does not have to try to sit up in the ride vehicle and instead can focus on trying to get a good score.

As a newer ride, the whole Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters queue is wheelchair accessible.  Right before you get to the normal loading area there is a door with a wheelchair logo sign.  I have noticed there is an automatic button next to it, but I always just push Mik into the door and open it that way.  There is always a cast member there to tell you to go through there and often a cast member at the start of the line to make sure you know how to get to the wheelchair boarding area (really the unloading area).  Note that the door into it from the line opens right into the path of people exiting the ride, so open it slowly to avoid hitting or running into people exiting the ride.

Sometimes you have to wait awhile for the wheelchair vehicle to get around again, but even in busy times we have never had to wait longer than for it to get around.  This is because even when their are other wheelchairs it is often people who can or choose to transfer out and they are loaded pretty much as they get there (they still can slow or stop the moving sidewalk/ride for those transferring).

For the wheelchair vehicle they stop the ride and the back of the vehicle folds down to form with the space behind it that unfolds into a ramp to roll into the vehicle.  I have heard some say the turn to get in is tight and can be hard, but we have never had a problem.  The wheelchair can ride by themselves or to the left side with another person riding on the right.  The other person sits on a little seat that folds down.  It is somewhat of a tight spot, but it has never bothered me.  It certainly would not work to have someone ride with those with wider wheelchairs or bigger companions, but you can always ride in the vehicle behind the wheelchair one instead.

Since the ride has to stop to unload the wheelchair, they often ask if we want to go around a second time if no one else is waiting for the wheelchair vehicle.  We love doing this, but it is usually just Mik and I or just people in the one vehicle behind us.  I certainly doubt they would do this for those in larger groups taking up multiple regular vehicles.  Also, it is always up to the cast member and we certainly do not mind getting off and having to get back in line to do it again, as Mik's hands get tired after about one and a half times through in a row.  Plus, you sometimes miss being able to find your first photo at the end if you go around again.

Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Disneyland: "it's a small world"

Date of Visit: March 10, 2011

"it's a small world"For years we would skip "it's a small world," but a few years ago I took Mik to Disneyland for the first time by myself and since I cannot transfer him we decided to go on it.  Now we always go on at least once per Disneyland trip.  This time it ended up being our first ride, as Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (our typical first ride since we were there when they were soft opening and officially opened it in March 2005) was closed for mechanical difficulties when Disneyland first opened.

Mik does not like "it's a small world" much, but he likes it enough to not mind going on it once per trip.  Usually, though, we pick it for later in the day when we are bored and want to kill some time actually being in a line, as the wheelchair queue can often get longer than the regular queue or at least about the same.  However, going first thing we did not have to wait at all and not even for the wheelchair boat to get around, as we got there just as it pulled up.

We consider the "it's a small world" accessible vehicle one of the coolest, although Jungle Cruise is similar (heard that one is under repair right now, though).  A ramp rolls up to the vehicle, so the wheelchair can roll onto a turntable lift that then lowers the wheelchair down into the boat.  Mik likes that he gets a higher up view of "it's a small world" from his wheelchair rather than being down low in the boat rows.  Plus you get the whole boat to yourself.  We even got to go around twice in a row because there was no one else waiting to go on the wheelchair boat, although Mik usually declines to do that on this particular ride.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Sunday, March 13, 2011

D23 2nd Anniversary Mixer and Meeting Bob Gurr

On March 10, 2011, I took Mik as my guest to the 2nd Anniversary D23 Mixer at Disneyland.  Last year I took Dad, as it was only a special after hours Fantasyland experience and I could only have one guest.  This year I could still only have one guest, but the only in park experience was World of Color in California Adventure, which is a show, so totally accessible unlike Fantasyland mostly not wheelchair accessible rides.

The mixer was at ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney.  I did not expect to like this part of the event, but other than the crappy service from the ESPN staff it was pretty good.  Each of us got $10 game cards for free.  Mik was playing an 1990s baseball video game machine he could actually roll up to and reach the controls when a guy came up to him and asked if he wanted his coupon for the game card.  Of course, Mik said yes and he actually gave us 2 vouchers.  The really cool part though was this just was not a totally random guy, but a Disney Legend Bob Gurr.

I knew Bob Gurr was there, but did not expect to actually meet him.  So it was really cool that he came up to us.  That is not the coolest part, though.  The coolest part was as we were leaving to go to California Adventure for the World of Color show, Bob Gurr stopped us and asked us if we had gotten to use the cards.  Totally a cool experience from the mixer considering we really only did the event for the World of Color part and because I went to the 1st anniversary party it seemed fitting to try to keep going every year that I can and they do something.  Without the meeting Bob Gurr experience the whole mixer part would have been worse than expected due to the poor service.

The Color of Wonder was totally awesome and glad to finally see it.  Giving it its own post when I get around to doing the posts about each attraction we visited on this Disneyland trip, as we spent the day in the parks before the mixer.

Text by Kjersti

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cabrillo National Monument

Date of Visit: February 26, 2011

Cabrillo National MonumentMik did not want to go to Cabrillo National Monument, but he decided it was better than hanging out at the apartment by himself for a few hours.  Once there, though, he actually enjoyed it, except for when Dad kept lagging behind taking photos at the lookout area.  Although, he saw enough at the visitor's center and did not care to trek up to the lighthouse (he cannot actually go up this anyways due to it being historical and only stairs, but there is still an accessible exhibit and audio/video tour alternative according to their website.).

Cabrillo National MonumentThe parking lot was kind of confusing, as they seemed to have just repainted it.  There were not blue parking spots or handicap signs.  They did have handicap spots, but they were only marked with white paint that had small HC markings and nothing about fines and such, so there were several spots filled with cars with no handicap placards/plates.  There was still several spots, though, as there were not many people there anyways.  Besides it definitely seems they are just restriping and a temporary thing that might have even been fixed by now.

Cabrillo National MonumentMik really enjoyed the one little room in the visitor's center that had an exhibit about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew's exploration of the California coast in the 1500s.  He liked the ship diagram that lit up the location of different parts of the ship.

Cabrillo National MonumentAt the gift shop I got my National Park passport stamped and Mik finally decided to get one of his own, especially since we plan to go to the Klondike National Park in Alaska in July.  The gift shop was good accessibility wise for the most part, but the automatic doors were closed off and you had to go through the other doors, which were a really tight squeeze if you did not open both.

Cabrillo National MonumentThe observation area outside the visitor center has a ramped and step entryway.  Mik did not like this part, though, because it was windy and cold.  Hence, mainly why he did not want to then go up to the lighthouse.

By the way Cabrillo National Monument is a pay per car type National Park, so those with Golden Access Passports get their whole vehicle in free

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input



Destination Info:
Cabrillo National Monument
Accessibility Info on Their Website

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Its a small world instead of Buzz first

We ended up having to skip our favorite first ride at Disneyland because it was broken down.  'its a small world' is cool accessibility wise, but sure is not as fun as Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Especially, since we want to see Mik's new wheelchair glow in Buzz.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, March 4, 2011

Botanical Building at Balboa Park, San Diego

Date of Visit: February 25, 2011

EntranceThe Botanical Building is a nice garden inside an interesting lath structure building.  We enjoyed walking around it and photographing the flowers.  The garden is accessible with the pathways all being wide enough and the doors to the building were propped open.

Pathway to itMik had one minor complaint as we approached the building from the lily pond out front.  It was that there were two steps up before you got to the building and he did not think there was a ramp.  Both sides of the pond have the steps and both sides have a ramp off to the side of where the steps are.  It is pretty obvious once you get to the steps.  I noticed the ramp a ways off, but apparently from Mik's position in his wheelchair it was not obvious until we got much closer.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Botanical Building at Balboa Park's website
1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Date of Visit: February 25, 2011

San Diego Model Railroad MuseumAfter visiting the San Diego Automotive Museum, we walked over to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, which is also in Balboa Park.  It was kind of cool to see the model trains, but Mik did not like it at all.  He had several complaints related to the accessibility.

San Diego Model Railroad MuseumFor one, he did not like that they have railroad tie looking plaques in the middle of the walkway through the museum.  It made it bumpy to roll on it and since it was narrow one wheel would be on it and the other not, yet there was not enough room to either side to totally avoid it in most parts.  That was a minor complaint, though, as it still a cool feature.

San Diego Model Railroad MuseumThe more major issue is that most of the exhibits were too high to be seen from his wheelchair.  I get they cannot be too low for the people building them to work on them, but one of them were so high that even Dad could not really see it without going up the step areas (I think it was the Tehachapi Pass one).

San Diego Model Railroad MuseumAt least the Toy Train Gallery is in a separate room that the ramp goes down into, so you started at a high enough point to view everything.  However, when we went all the way down into the room it got kind of hard for Mik to see much.  This room, though, also had windows overlooking it from the main pathway, so it could be enjoyed from a wheelchair pretty well.

He also did not like that we started with the path to the left of the entrance and as we followed it up we ended up at a dead end of stairs.  There is another exhibit continuing on from there, but it is not open yet.  Basically, you have to backtrack through that path to then go do the other area.  Of course, this is the path that leads to the separate room that was the only worthwhile part of the museum to Mik.

San Diego Model Railroad MuseumThe main area to the right of entrance/bottom of stairs from top path has a few different train models.  They were not as high as the main one on the first path we went on.  One of them (Pacific Desert Line?) was actually low enough he could see most of it, but by the time we got there he was frustrated (and ready for lunch!), so he did not really care.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Automotive Museum

Date of Visit: February 25, 2011

I did not realize Mik really enjoyed the San Diego Automotive Museum when we went back in 2009 during our All the Ballparks road trip, but apparently he did.  He has been asking to go every time we have been to San Diego the past six months.  Finally, on our Rodeo Weekend trip we got around to going along with other San Diego museums, as we could go half price with the Museum Month deal.

CarMik enjoyed it, but not as much as the first time.  The cars were partially different than before, which was kind of a good thing because it was some new things to see.  However, Mik's favorite from last time, a Lambourgini, was one of the cars no longer there. He also had fun playing with the drawing mode on his new camera.

Automated DoorAccessibility wise it is pretty good.  Mik loved that not only did it have buttons for opening the entrance/exit, but they easily worked.  The entrance and exit to the exhibit area is turnstile like, but they are accessible metal gates that can easily be pushed forward as you roll through.

Gate EntranceIt is pretty much just a giant warehouse room with cars.  The cars are all spaced with plenty of room in between along with them being roped off.  The motorcycle area seemed a little tight, but we really only seemed that way because someone was photographing them with a tripod when we were there.

Photos by Mik and Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
San Diego Automotive Museum
2080 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101

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