Trips to Disney World or Disneyland are often seen as a once in a lifetime event. Many families going through major life events like cancer treatments see Disney trips as a celebration of life. Cancer treatments are designed to kill the cancerous cells that ravage our bodies and take over our lives. Several years ago, I underwent a series of Cytoxin chemotherapy treatments. During the treatments I sat in a comfy chair and relaxed while the medicine dripped through an IV into my arm. After each treatment I was exhausted for the next 24 hours.
Cancer treatments, while they save lives, take a major toll on a person’s health and energy levels. Taking a trip to the Disney Parks after cancer treatments requires using different touring strategies than one taken prior to a cancer diagnosis, especially if the celebratory trip is very soon after the conclusion of cancer treatments.
I myself and a “pseudo-commando” style tourist at the Disney Parks. My family and I get to the parks as soon as we can, and we stay for as late as we can. Often, we will park hop to another park with Extra Magic Hours. We make up a list of specific attractions that we feel we must visit in each park. If we are able to hit more attractions than what is on our list, then we are happy to have extra fun. Other Passporter members are “commando” style tourists and will open and close the parks each day. They will hit every attraction in each park as many times as possible during the day. If I had visited Walt Disney World within the first year after my chemotherapy treatments, I would not have been able to tour the parks as much as I did in my last few trips.
For people visiting Disney Parks after cancer treatments the best advice I can offer is: take it easy. Slow down and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the parks. Take a break in the middle of the day to go back to your resort and relax by the pool or in your room. Plan a relaxing meal at one of the wonderful table service restaurants that the Disney Parks have to offer.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments take a toll on a person’s body. Rest is the best way to allow your body to recover. Visiting the Disney Parks requires a tremendous amount of walking. Even if you have to benefits of an electric scooter (ECV) or a wheelchair, there are often times where you will need to leave your wheelchair or ECV behind while you wait in an attraction queue. Pirates of the Caribbean is one such attraction. My daughter had to leave her wheelchair behind near the entrance to the attraction and walk the entire way through the queue area. In instances like this, a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) is invaluable. At the beginning of your first park visit, stop in at Guest Services and ask for a GAC. Explain that you tire easily while standing and need to have a place to rest while waiting your turn to experience the attraction.
Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of visiting Disneyland, so the following advice I offer is specific to Walt Disney World. In all the parks, be sure to stay hydrated. This is key, especially after a cancer diagnosis and treatment. There are certain attractions that will allow you a bit of a rest, while allowing you to stay in the parks.
Enjoy a relaxing ride on the People Mover, the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority ride. This attraction is a leisurely ride through Tomorrowland and some of its major attractions like Space Mountain. Learn a little history in the Hall of Presidents. I have read where some Passporters feel this is a great attraction for a nap. LOL At the very least it is a nice air conditioned place to sit for a while.
In Future World there are benches and ledges where you can sit and people watch for a little while. In World Showcase, you have more options for restful spots. Most of the eleven country pavilions have some sort of attraction where you can sit and relax. Canada pavilion had the “O Canada” movie. There is also and area to sit and listen to the music of Off Kilter. China pavilion has “Reflections of China,” a Circle-Vision movie. These are just two of the options in World Showcase. The American Adventure has an (in my opinion) interesting show about the American Dream throughout history. If you are lucky, while you wait in the air conditioned lobby for the theater to open, you can listen to the Voices of Liberty.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The American Idol Experience allows you to rest while you listen to (hopefully) good music. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is a half hour (approximately) show where you can sit and learn how some of the stunts are created in your favorite action movies. This attraction can be extremely warm, however, especially in the warmer months since it is outside. The Magic of Disney Animation offers a short respite from the heat while you learn how Disney animators work through the process of creating beloved animated characters.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Festival of the Lion King offers semi air conditioned bench seating while you enjoy a lively, colorful show inspired by the animated movie and Broadway show. This is a large and rather loud venue, so be prepared. Finding Nemo, The Musical is another enjoyable show that gives you a chance to sit and relax. This park has the least amount of shade and is the hottest of all the parks.
If you have visited the Disney Parks before and after a cancer diagnosis and treatment, please leave a comment about how your touring plan changed, if it did. For more tips on visiting the Disney Parks after a cancer diagnosis check out the Passporters Open Mouse to Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line.