Dear Mickey Mouse,
I’m writing to you today as I cuddle on the couch with my two youngest children, Beau and Bitty, while watching you and your friends entertain us at your “Clubhouse”. Your show is a staple around here, probably because it reminds us of our favorite place on earth – your home, Disney World. We’ve been visiting you there for over a decade now and every time we go, we leave wanting more. Which is pretty uncommon in our family because most of the time when we go somewhere, it’s challenging to say the least. Challenging, because these two sweet children curled up on the couch next to me, both have Down syndrome. And while we face challenges on a daily basis, we feel extraordinarily blessed.
I’m reaching out to you today because I understand you’ve decided to make some policy changes that will directly affect not only Beau and Bitty’s experience at Disney World, but also the estimated 4.6 million people in our country that are living with an intellectual or developmental disability. I know you have a special place in your heart for all of these special people, because for as long as I can remember, you have gone above and beyond to make your home not only accessible but enjoyable for everyone. This is a model that I wish every organization in the world would try to emulate. As parents of children with special needs we seek these kinds of experiences for our children, their siblings and our entire family. We seek them, because most of the time, most of the world is just not built for our children. No matter what obstacles our loved ones face, we as family members, are constantly working to meet their needs, helping them navigate circumstances and advocating for their acceptance and inclusion. I want to commend you, because for years, you made all of this so easy. You recognized that their needs are far greater and more complex than typically developing people and you created a climate of respect that made our visits to your Kingdom glorious.
While everyone’s needs vary, there is a common thread that connects people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are all remarkable human beings that work hard every day to overcome obstacles and misconceptions. I can’t speak for the millions of others that will be affected by your policy change, but I can tell you that the obstacles this new policy presents will most likely prohibit Beau and Bitty from being able to visit you any day soon. Without going into extensive details, I can tell you that waiting in any sort of a line is not within their capabilities at this stage in their lives and the concept of approaching a ride only to obtain a pass to come back at a later time, would be very confusing and upsetting to them.
I know there are people out there that have taken advantage of your policies in the past, which has prompted you to make these changes. I can honestly say that I feel sorry for them. I believe that if they spent one day walking in Beau or Bitty’s shoes, they would realize that the accommodations you offered for people living with disabilities was more than a courtesy, it was a necessity.
I have always believed that change starts with one voice. I’m sure you’re aware that there is a chorus of voices imploring you to please reconsider this policy change.
For all of us that love someone with a disability and long to share the magic of Disney with them, please make this one wish come true.
Very truly yours,