Except for a Soviet head of state, everybody is welcome at the Magic Kingdom, right? Wrong! If you are a citizen over 65 and lucky enough to be able to get there, be sure to go from September to June. “Warmer months are only for younger, healthy people,” Disneyland officials tell you when they don’t give you a senior citizen’s discount ticket during the summer.
And what if you are a handicapped person of any age? You will have to be satisfied with “enjoying” the Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World from the outside. Have you ever seen a special ramp or gate for wheelchairs? Did you ever see a sign that read: “This gate for old or handicapped persons who cannot stand in line 30, 60 or more minutes”?
Sidewalk corners in the city had to be reconstructed to allow wheelchair users easier mobility. Public facilities had to be either constructed or adapted for our wheelchair disabled people. Most big corporations and businesses have done the same because everyone has finally realized that we were excluding a large part of our citizens from the simple things that make life more enjoyable.
That is, everyone except Disneyland. Recently, I took my 84-year-old mother-in-law to Disneyland. Because she can barely walk and cannot stand on her feet for more than a few moments, we rented a wheelchair. She was as excited as a child. But, alas! Neither she nor I had suspected that all she would be able to see of the “Submarine” would be the top of it. And so it went all day long. She didn’t complain because she is much too forgiving for that, but I could see in her eyes her disappointment.
I’m sure that I speak for many handicapped people when I tell the officials of the Magic Kingdom to “please, open your hearts and your doors to them, not only figuratively but in reality.”
ANGELA CAMPOS BROUSSARD