Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney FAITHful and to those of you
who have just hopped aboard. I am the
4th stop on our Magical Blogorail loop.
Thanks for hopping aboard the inaugural run of the Magical
Blogorail Teal! Perhaps this is your first visit to The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin’ Spectrum Mom. If so, please let me introduce myself: I’m
Kathy and I’m a true-blue Walt Disney World Fan! I’m also the mother of two teenagers.
My youngest child is severely developmentally disabled due to his Autism
Spectrum Disorder; thus I am a self-described spectrum mom.
I began blogging in 2009, three years after developing an
addiction to reading and writing trip reports on the trip-planning forums of DisBoards.com.
I enjoyed nothing more than spending an
hour or two curled up with my laptop and a cup of hot tea while poring over a diverse
collection of travelers’ tales. A Disney
trip can supply endless fodder for a good story: the excitement and uncertainty
of travel! The angst of preparing for and battling with the crowds and the
lines inside the parks! The drama of extended family dynamics and the thrill of
those unexpected magical moments! A good trip report can read like a novel -- and
readers said mine always did.
Little did I know that my first report, Adventures in Autism, would grow into a series: An APRIL Adventure in Autism, A HALLOWEEN
Adventure in Autism, etc. Because of
my son, these reports naturally contained many tidbits of information and
advice about special needs touring that I hoped would not only be entertaining,
but helpful for families who were planning to visit The World with a child who
had autism or some similar condition. Nothing was more gratifying than to receive
a message from a reader saying that her family had an amazing Disney trip with
a child on the autism spectrum thanks, in part, to the things she had learned
by reading my reports.
Because of this (and because my friends kept bugging me) I
decided to embark upon an adventure of another sort – the adventure of writing
a book! It’s a rather lofty goal. I’m an
RN by profession and as I’ve said many times, I’m not a professional writer; I
just play one on my blog. In fact, this blog was originally intended as a way
for me to chart my progress while writing about Walt Disney World and Autism. In
recent months I admit that I haven’t made much progress at all! Instead, I find
myself blogging about… well… Walt Disney World and Autism!
Writing is time-consuming and best done when a person has a
reasonable supply of quiet solitude. As a working mother, especially the mother
of a child with special needs, I don’t have very much of that right now. Perhaps it will take years for my book to get written.
In the meantime, I plan on improving my writing by blogging about the things that mean most to me: the
importance of family, an increase in awareness of special needs, and perhaps
most important to all of you, my love of Walt Disney World!
Something you may not know about me: I am writing my first book! (Or trying to, anyway.) I'm not a professional writer... I just play one on my blog!
If you are a newer reader you may not realize that I originally began blogging "The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin' Spectrum Mom" in May of 2009 under a different title: "Adventures in Autism: Walt Disney World!"
I began writing this as a "book blog." However, it has since morphed into a more all-purpose personal blog about planning and reporting my trips to Walt Disney World, my thoughts on "doing" Disney with a child on the Autism Spectrum, and a place to share my interviews with Disney Guests with Special needs, originally posted in WDW Fan Zone.
Now that "Many Adventures..." is joining the Magical Blogorail I will be covering an even greater variety of Disney-related subjects! Blogging is a great way to develop my writing skills and I've met so many amazing and friendly bloggers from both the Disney and Autism communities. Thank you for stopping by!
Follow the Disney Bird Link to continue with the Something About Me Saturday blog hop.
(This interview was originally posted on Walt Disney World Fan Zone)
Last month I revealed to you my growing obsession with reading Disney blogs. Today, I confess to having an equal passion for Disney podcasts. Like potato chips, it seems impossible to stop after listening to just one! The most recent addition to my podcast collection is Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride, hosted by a true Disney fanatic, Mr. Frank Rogers. Frank was gracious enough to share his Disney story with me.
In 2001 Frank, like most of us, was busy leading a hectic life juggling a high-stress career as a stockbroker with the demands of family, friends, and his community. Overweight and under-rested -- admittedly he had been paying less attention to his health than he should have. He received his first wake-up call when he found himself in the Emergency Room of his local hospital. The doctor came in to discuss the results of his blood sugar test: it had come back in the 700s.
“You should be dead right now,” the doctor said, grimly.
And so, newly diagnosed with Diabetes, Frank learned how to give himself insulin shots and began taking a slew of oral medications. He struggled to balance his food intake with his daily activities, but it was a challenge for him. The following year, a bout of difficulty breathing brought him once again to the Emergency Room. This time the diagnosis was equally alarming.
Blood clots in the lungs called Pulmonary Embolisms (PEs) were causing painful shortness of breath. Worse, the clots had the potential to break off and cause a fatal heart attack or stroke. Blood thinners and oxygen therapy were the immediate prescriptions, but a complete change of lifestyle would be necessary if Frank was going to prevent further disability and save his own life.
Reluctantly, Frank accepted his new status as “disabled” and quit his high-stress job. For several years he tried to focus his energy more on improving his health and spending quality time with his wife, but there was a void in his life that begged to be filled with some sort of enjoyable, meaningful activity. Then, in February of 2009, Frank discovered Twitter (@DisneyFrankness) and found that there was a vibrant Disney Fan Community online. He connected with others who shared his passion for all things Disney and eventually began doing “bits” for an online radio program. The most successful of these were his Mousterpiece Theater sketches, in which he re-enacted scenes from famous movies with the roles voiced by Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Eventually this led to the creation of his own podcast, Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Kathy: Frank, you often describe yourself as "a large, disabled man." Yet, you have the heart of a child and the spirit of a poet! Tell me a little about how the Disney Parks have brought magic to your life.
Frank: Born in '64, I was a 70's child. Growing in an atmosphere of a broken home, having witnessed my father hit my mother. That physical action touching more than just she; causing more pain than known…
…Divorce, childhood shattered, emotional whirlwind. I "grew" too fast, didn't enjoy childhood except for trips to my mother's family in California. Specifically, my grandparents in Long Beach. They would always take us to Disneyland.
Kathy: So Disneyland was very therapeutic for you...
Frank: There were no problems there, only joy.
Kathy: I think that's what Mr. Disney intended! What was your favorite childhood memory there?
Frank: My memories of Disneyland: It was huge to this boy. My favorite was 20,000 Leagues Under the sea…When I was married, we honeymooned in Anaheim. My Wife met my grandparents & we spent 2 days at Disneyland…
It was all so magical, I always feel like a kid again at Disney. I think that child inside shines through my poetry and very much through my podcast.
Kathy: Speaking of your poetry, I particularly love your poem "Where Fairies Live."
Where Faries Live
Sun crests upon my eyes
That moment between dusk & dawn
Where fairies & magic lie
Heart beats of life anew
One with Pan, Reality eschewed
Frank: It makes me happy when others receive joy from my projects.
Kathy: [During our last phone conversation] you certainly gave joy to my son, Billy, with your voice impressions of Mickey, Goofy, and Donald! He was smiling from ear to ear!
Frank: I love kids -- was a mall Santa, a clown -- always with love.
Kathy: Did you perform in a circus or was it volunteer work?
Frank: I was part of a Clown Ministry, but did perform in Kansas City at Municipal Auditorium for KC Police Benefit Circus.
Kathy: It must've been a thrill to share the Disney magic with your adopted daughter, this time at Walt Disney World!
Frank: 2006 in WDW with my daughter was priceless. I was the trip planner, making sure she could meet as many characters as we could, especially Princesses!
Kathy: How old was she at the time?
Frank: Three, turning four.
Kathy:Ah, the perfect princess age... I miss that age!
Frank: We were there on my birthday, June__ & on July 4th. Her birthday was coming up on Aug__.
Kathy: How did you manage with the summertime heat, though? It must have been difficult for you.
Frank: Heat can cause stress, breathing challenge, which in turn affects my Diabetes. But with patience, all is well.
Kathy: I know you find the use of an ECV [Electronic Convenience Vehicle] to be helpful.
Frank: Due to my size, use of oxygen & Diabetes, an EVC is necessary to relieve bodily stress. With some further weight loss, I'm hoping future Disney trips won't need EVC. I'm about 75 lbs lighter [now] than this clown photo, maybe closer to 80.
Kathy: Congratulations on your weight loss; that's wonderful! Larger people can often be wary of a Disney Park vacation... fear of not fitting on rides, fear of not fitting through turnstiles, etc. I admit that Space Mountain is a bit of a squeeze for me!
Frank: Funny, in '95, took first WDW trip with my wife. Walked it, was worried I wouldn't fit in Space Mountain ride. Asked a CM, who was cleaning outside; he said take last seat for more room. He was right!!
Kathy: Any other tidbits of advice for larger guests?
Frank: Yes, don't rush! Take time to enjoy the atmosphere, the Sun & fresh air. Be sensible in clothing, shoes. Know that the parks have other attractions than rides. You can stay at WDW a week & still not have seen all nor do all that is available.
Kathy: So true! What about the ECVs? Are they hard to drive? Is it difficult to navigate through crowds?
Frank: #1: Rent an EVC for your stay. Companies such as http://www.scootorlando.com/ will deliver to your resort and explain usage & pickup when you leave. Unfortunately, the parks EVC's go quickly & often to people who don't need them.
#2: Be patient. It can be difficult to maneuver thru crowds & sometimes attractions. CM's are very gracious in assisting
#3: Immediately in Parks, go to Guest Services for an [Guest] Assistance Card.
My last visit, in October 2010, my EVC could go 15 MPH. Gotta know how to use it!
Kathy: That’s speedier than the cars in the Tomorrowland Speedway!
Frank and his "posse" : @BanksLee, @DisneyDean, & @smbonneu
Kathy: What about using oxygen in the parks?
Frank: Oxygen: had to rent from my supplier, Make sure Airline will accept the brand of portable generator. No problem in the parks. Always must be mindful of other guests.
Kathy: You've been a mall Santa and a Clown; I can't help but imagine you as playing a character in one of the parks! If you could choose to play a Disney character, which one would it be and why?
Frank: Easily Mickey, you would give & receive the most hugs!
Kathy: It would be very hard for you to resist doing his voice, though!
Frank: That must be difficult for them all not to talk.
Bret Iwanvo (Voice of MickeyMouse), Frank, Tony Anselmo (Voice of Donald Duck)
Kathy: Okay, Frank, describe your ideal 'Disney Day' from morning ‘til night!
Frank: Breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe, ‘cause we're staying at Wilderness Lodge. Day at Magic Kingdom, lunch at Crystal Palace. Make sure to attend first parade, MUST ride Haunted Mansion & Jungle Cruise. Would love to get a haircut in Main Street USA. Dinner: Liberty Tree Tavern. Attend Wishes Fireworks. (Good thing about EVC: Great parking spot for Parades!) Relax, watch everyone leave. Be last out the gates, in the quiet sweet bliss!
Kathy: That sounds about as perfect as one could get! Frank, I've really enjoyed getting to know you better; I know that our readers have too! Final thoughts?
Frank: Disney is giving a child a warm, tender embrace. Disney is realizing that child is you.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Frank and his co-hosts, Chris (@Chris_Toffer) and Heather (@DisneyBigSis) deliver a healthy dose of “Disney Talk, Mayhem, and Mirth” on http://www.mrfrankswildrides.com via the technical skills of Keith Barrett (@DisneyKeith).
Frank asks that you kindly visit http://www.thankyouwaltdisney.org/ to learn more about the efforts that are being made toward the historical restoration of Laugh-O-Gram, Walt Disney’s first animation studio located in Kansas City, MO.
The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin’ Spectrum Mom is not affiliated with, authorized or endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with, The Walt Disney Company or Disney Enterprises, Inc., or any of their affiliates. All trademarks, service marks, and trade names are proprietary to Disney Enterprises, Inc., its subsidiary, affiliated and related companies, as the case may be. For the official Disney website, visit disneyparks.disney.go.com