This past fall, we headed out to Halloween on the High Seas aboard the Disney Dream. It was an absolutely magical experience that was surprisingly accessible for all of us. For this trip, we had a VI child, Peanut, and a mobility-impaired adult, Peanut’s grandfather. Everyone had an amazing time.
There is SO MUCH to do on a Disney cruise that we weren’t able to even come close to doing it all. For that reason, I’m just going to highlight the activities we participated in here.
If you’re able to stay at a resort before/after your cruise, I highly recommend it simply for the convenience. We checked our bags here in Kansas City before we boarded our flight; Disney took care of everything else until the bags arrived at our door. We left our bags out the next morning before we left for Port Canaveral; the bags appeared in front of our state rooms later that day.
We stayed at the resort the day we came back from our cruise as well. We were able to check our bags at the resort, then head to the airport. We didn’t have to worry about checked luggage until we got back to KC. Even if you’re not travelling with someone with a disability, this was a HUGE CONVENIENCE. We didn’t have to shuffle bags and kids. I cannot recommend it enough.
The Art of Animation Resort
The Art of Animation Resort is absolutely amazing–you can get more information about it here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/art-of-animation-resort/. The best part from the perspective of a parent of a blind child? Enormous, tactile statues of Disney characters. If you’re looking for a place to get a feel for Disney, this is it.
The best characters, as far as my kids were concerned, were the ones from Cars. There are life-sized statues of all of the characters from the first Cars movie, most of them in front of life-sized “sets” that also appeared in Radiator Springs. Peanut and Sprout climbed on every single character, and Peanut got a good ‘feel’ for what each car looks like. It was a major hit.
If you go to the main pool, you’ll find a Finding Nemo theme; the playground behind the pool continues the theme as a large coral reef. There are also areas designed after The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, all featuring large tactile creatures. You can feel the statue of Prince Eric and play in the elephant graveyard.
There’s a video arcade in the main building that the kids fell in love with. It has massage chairs that my father and I enjoyed, and a whack-a-mole game that both kids took a thwack at.
What ensorcelled them both, however, was the World’s Largest Pac-Man. I can honestly say it was large enough that my VI son was able to play.
The paths here are nice and wide, so are fairly easy to navigate. Depending on the part of the hotel you’re in, be prepared for some serious walking–it was quite a ways to the Little Mermaid rooms where we stayed.
Graycliff Chocolatier–The Art of Chocolate Making and Factory Tour
For our shore excursion in Nassau, we went to Graycliff Chocolatier. It’s a fairly affordable excursion ($60-$68 a person when I last checked), and you get to make your own chocolate!
Although this tour worked well for us, I would not recommend it for people with mobility issues. There are narrow stone steps to get into the facility, and the bulk of the tour is through an artisan factory: think a large meeting room full of tables and chocolate equipment. We were able to guide Peanut fairly well, but I don’t think it’s a space that’s made for independent VI travel–it’s narrow and cluttered, and you’re going to hit a LOT of stuff with your cane.
There were elements that were fantastic for our VI kid, however, if you’ve got a friend to go sighted guide with you:
- We got to feel and taste raw cocoa beans (WOW are they bitter!).
- We got to sample all sorts of in-process chocolate straight from the mixers.
- We got to make our own chocolate: we made a chocolate bar, dipped fruit, and a few other items. It’s hands-on and delicious.