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    • Taylor Strickland

      (IMPORTANT) What's next for our community   03/24/2016

      Today we're excited to announce the start of our new Facebook group: Universal Community by Orlando Informer. We're also announcing we're closing our forums. This is probably the hardest decision I've made so far with Orlando Informer. This week marks the 2nd anniversary of our forums. Monday will mark 2 years from when I first applied to work with Orlando Informer. I was entering a pool of over 50 applicants, didn't meet the requirements, and didn't think the odds were very high that I'd get the position of Forum Moderator. It never even crossed my mind that not only would I get the position, but that position and these forums would be the start of being able to do what I love as a fulltime job. At its core, our forums have always had two goals: A ) Help families receive specific answers to specific questions, feedback from folks who have been in their shoes, and help them maximize their investment into their vacation. B ) Build a community of people who love to visit Universal, with a foundation of respect and tolerance. I can speak for our entire team on our forums (both past and present), especially our Community Manager @Chuck Plagmann, when I say that we have devoted hours of time every day of the year working towards these two goals. We feel that we've made major strides towards both of our goals, but see the opportunity to help a significantly greater amount of people plan their vacation and add on to our established (and amazing) community. Unfortunately, as time goes on, forums like ours have a tendency to slow down and be replaced by social media. It's the cycle of life for forums. We believe that this Facebook group is the logical next step for our community. Our forums and the content within will remain browseable for the foreseeable future, however you will not be able to submit new content. Our Facebook group, Universal Community by Orlando Informer, will be curated by our same team that ran the OI Forums. @Chuck Plagmann and I will be on the group daily to provide insight and help families plan their vacation. @debi will be monitoring for any Special Needs questions. Our (very talented) authors, like @Marc N. Kleinhenz, will be on the group to talk about their latest articles and your feedback. Finally, @Park Beast will even be dropping by from time to time to talk about our weekly podcast. You can access our Facebook group by searching "Universal Community by Orlando Informer" or visiting UOR.community from any webbrowser. We know this is a substantial change from our forums, but are hopeful you'll be willing to give it a shot. Additionally, we're launching a Facebook group for Universal Hollywood: "Universal Community by California Informer" or visit USH.community. This is the end of the forums, but it is just the beginning of our community. One thing we consistently hear from members of our forums is how different our community is from some of the others found online. We are committed to maintaining this reputation in our Facebook group. I have met a countless number of people, many I call friends, from our OI Forums. I know real bonds (and even relationships) have resulted from the time spent on these forums. I'm looking forward to seeing these bonds develop and new ones form on our new outlet. Please know that this decision was not made lightly or without considering the amount of time many of you have spent on here. I fully believe this is the next step forward to growing our community and helping as many people as possible have the best trip to Universal. I'm looking forward to interacting with everyone for many years to come. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with feedback -- taylor [at] orlandoinformer.com See you on the Facebook Group, Taylor P.S., Unlimited likes on Facebook, you can thank me in advance.
debi

Have a disability question for SNAU's debi? Post it here!

87 posts in this topic

Hello!  Just wanted to take this time to welcome you to the Special Needs Are Universal forum! 

 

I'm beginning to receive questions from some of you all over the board, so I decided I to set up one place for new questions.  Some of you who have been following my blog know that I am disabled myself, and the caregiver for my adult special needs daughter.  But, I will do the very best I can to make sure your question is answered as quickly as possible.

 

As others will be able to see your questions and answers, I'm hoping that you might see that your request is similar to another and can find what you are seeking through another post. If you don't, just go to the end of this thread and post your new question.

 

If you need a more private answer, please email me at specialneedsareuniversal@hotmail.com.

 

Thanks so much!

 

Additional resources on our site:

 

Special needs are Universal blog posts

 

Universal\'s Attraction Assistance & Guest Assistance Pass in the OI Universal Center

Edited by debi

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We're going to Universal for three days in June and are all very excited, expect for my 14 year old. He has sensory issues and is thinking there won't be many rides he can enjoy.

 

Here's his requests:

 

- Nothing jumping out at you

- Nothing spraying on you

- No jerking motions

- No sudden drops (so no roller coasters at all)

- No spinning

 

He's agreed to at least try the MIB ride, because of the video game aspect. But, he plans to study it and be well aware of the story line before going in.

 

Any suggestions for shows or other rides? Are there rides with stationary seats he might enjoy? Thanks!

debi likes this

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We're going to Universal for three days in June and are all very excited, expect for my 14 year old. He has sensory issues and is thinking there won't be many rides he can enjoy.

 

Here's his requests:

 

- Nothing jumping out at you

- Nothing spraying on you

- No jerking motions

- No sudden drops (so no roller coasters at all)

- No spinning

 

He's agreed to at least try the MIB ride, because of the video game aspect. But, he plans to study it and be well aware of the story line before going in.

 

Any suggestions for shows or other rides? Are there rides with stationary seats he might enjoy? Thanks!

 

Thanks for your question! Very important for those who do have sensory issues and I'm glad you asked. Question: does he have a problem with 3-D? Heights? Let me know and I'll pop back with my recommendations later!

NC Potter Fan likes this

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Just so you all know - I'm working on an inventory of the rides for NC Potter Fan and all with sensory issues, based on our experience and those mentioned.  I do welcome your thoughts, of course, but I think there needs to be a chart where those with these needs can more quickly check than reading through the entire Rider's Guide. It may not be perfect, but it will be a start! Keep watching!! (Sunday is a holiday - so hopefully it will be done on Monday!)

 

 

Just so you know, Men in Black has a i think 2 spinning moments that go on for about 5 seconds. I'm very fragile with the motion stuff and can just about bear that little bit. The Simpsons i would avoid but E.T. should be fine. Twister should also be fine and i would say Disaster should be ok. It's a little bit jerky but nothing too drastic. I am totally fine on it.

 

If someone knows that hitting the exhaust on your MIB car with their laser will spin it A LOT, over and over again, that is not a good choice for someone who can't spin. As for Disaster, not sure about this one - husband says a little, I say a lot as it jerks my head from side to side. Otherwise, we agree!  :)

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Twister has the surprise ending that may be concerning to someone with anxiety issues.  Just wanted to throw that out there.

That's part of the info I'll be giving; ask to be in the handicapped section in the front or within the yellow lined blocked areas on either side of the entrance/exit. Of course, there was the time that the "rain" malfunctioned, dropping at least a gallon of water right on our daughter, in her wheelchair. She was soaked! Yes, I spoke with the ride supervisor - she assured me it was not usually the case. It was August - helped to cool her down, but sitting in that kind of water is one reason why we don't do water rides anymore. 

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Just so you all know - I'm working on an inventory of the rides for NC Potter Fan and all with sensory issues, based on our experience and those mentioned.  I do welcome your thoughts, of course, but I think there needs to be a chart where those with these needs can more quickly check than reading through the entire Rider's Guide. It may not be perfect, but it will be a start! Keep watching!! (Sunday is a holiday - so hopefully it will be done on Monday!)

 

Update to sensory information: still working on the chart, haven't forgotten! Since we don't ride all the rides, I've sent out some questions to someone who does and am waiting for the reply! Thanks for your understanding!

Dan Hatfield likes this

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Update to sensory information: still working on the chart, haven't forgotten! Since we don't ride all the rides, I've sent out some questions to someone who does and am waiting for the reply! Thanks for your understanding!

 

We're going to Universal for three days in June and are all very excited, expect for my 14 year old. He has sensory issues and is thinking there won't be many rides he can enjoy.

 

Here's his requests:

 

- Nothing jumping out at you

- Nothing spraying on you

- No jerking motions

- No sudden drops (so no roller coasters at all)

- No spinning

 

He's agreed to at least try the MIB ride, because of the video game aspect. But, he plans to study it and be well aware of the story line before going in.

 

Any suggestions for shows or other rides? Are there rides with stationary seats he might enjoy? Thanks!

 

Admin note: we've moved a few things around in an effort to keep the SNAU section of our forums a little better organized. You can now view the answer to this question and the spreadsheet debi created here: http://forums.orlandoinformer.com/topic/1153-snau-blog-post-riders-guide-for-guests-with-sensory-issues/

 

Thanks for your understanding!

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Dan, I think this information can help many more people than just those with sensory issues. It would be helpful to lots of people with other concerns not related to special needs. Maybe put a link to it in another section as an FYI? And, doesn't Debi rock! My son's whole outlook about this trip is taking a huge turn for the positive now.

debi and Dan Hatfield like this

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Dan, I think this information can help many more people than just those with sensory issues. It would be helpful to lots of people with other concerns not related to special needs. Maybe put a link to it in another section as an FYI? And, doesn't Debi rock! My son's whole outlook about this trip is taking a huge turn for the positive now.

 

We agree, debi's spreadsheet would be of interest to many guests outside of the special needs community. We're trying to figure out how to broaden its exposure.

 

And the note about your son is awesome :)

debi likes this

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Here's a new question that one of our reader's posted:

 

What a great resource and a great site overall! Quick question, I will be coming in the fall with my 11 year old son. I have a bad back so I can't go on the thrill rides. He's old enough to go but young enough to be anxious if separated from me the whole time waiting on long queue's with crowds and strangers. Will I be able to wait with him on line and then go wait to meet him when he gets off? Do I need to check with the park or ride attendants on this? I read about child swap, but it sounds different because I want to be on the line but not go on the ride. Ideas?

 

UPDATE: debi posted her answer here.

debi likes this

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Do you get the assistance pass every day, or will one cover you for several days?

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Do you get the assistance pass every day, or will one cover you for several days?

 

You tell them how long you need it for, up to 2 weeks for one pass.

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You tell them how long you need it for, up to 2 weeks for one pass.

The AAP (Attraction Assistance Pass) is written for the length of your stay or 14 days for annual passholders. The GAP, however, is only issued one day at a time. Information regarding both passes can be found here .

 

Don't forget - you can find links to the most frequently asked disability questions by clicking the Universal FAQs - Click here for links to most asked special needs questions link on the main Special Needs Are Universal Forum page!

Edited by debi
updated links

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Hi Debi!

We are heading to Universal in 2 weeks and are so excited. We are staying onsite for 7 days. My daughter (14) has severe social anxiety, panic disorder, sensory disorder, claustaphobia, as well as a few other issues. We plan on rope-drop most days and only stay until it gets hot and crowded, then head back to the hotel for the remainder of the day. We did this last year and were fairly successful. There were a few scenarios where we had to bail because the queues we to cramped and loud. The biggest problem we had was Poseidon's Fury where we were "stuck" and because of her social anxiety she would not allow us to leave because there were too many people around.

My question for you is do you think an AAP/GAP would be helpful or even necessary? We try not to be in the parks during the most crowded times and we make full use of the Express Pass. I don't know if the assistance pass would help in our situation. Plus I know nothing about the queueing for any of the new Harry Potter area b

debi likes this

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Hi Debi!

We are heading to Universal in 2 weeks and are so excited. We are staying onsite for 7 days. My daughter (14) has severe social anxiety, panic disorder, sensory disorder, claustaphobia, as well as a few other issues. We plan on rope-drop most days and only stay until it gets hot and crowded, then head back to the hotel for the remainder of the day. We did this last year and were fairly successful. There were a few scenarios where we had to bail because the queues we to cramped and loud. The biggest problem we had was Poseidon's Fury where we were "stuck" and because of her social anxiety she would not allow us to leave because there were too many people around.

My question for you is do you think an AAP/GAP would be helpful or even necessary? We try not to be in the parks during the most crowded times and we make full use of the Express Pass. I don't know if the assistance pass would help in our situation. Plus I know nothing about the queueing for any of the new Harry Potter area b

If you have express I don't think a AAP would do you too much good other than for the Harry Potter rides, but it maybe a good idea to have it just in case. I would always talk to the TM and ask them about the line and what they think, they should be able to help you especially considering you have express.

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Hi Debi!

 

We are heading to Universal in 2 weeks and are so excited. We are staying onsite for 7 days. My daughter (14) has severe social anxiety, panic disorder, sensory disorder, claustaphobia, as well as a few other issues. We plan on rope-drop most days and only stay until it gets hot and crowded, then head back to the hotel for the remainder of the day. We did this last year and were fairly successful. There were a few scenarios where we had to bail because the queues we to cramped and loud. The biggest problem we had was Poseidon's Fury where we were "stuck" and because of her social anxiety she would not allow us to leave because there were too many people around.

 

My question for you is do you think an AAP/GAP would be helpful or even necessary? We try not to be in the parks during the most crowded times and we make full use of the Express Pass. I don't know if the assistance pass would help in our situation. Plus I know nothing about the queueing for any of the new Harry Potter area b

 

Thanks for your question. I would definitely ask for the Attraction Assistance Pass to enhance the use of the Express Pass. I found that Guest Services is giving the AAP along with the GAP to GAP users. The Guest Assistance Pass (GAP) is essentially the same as the Express Pass and neither allow use on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Pteranodon Flyers (in IOA) or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts or the Hogwarts Express (Universal Studios/IOA). The AAP will allow you and your family to obtain a time to return to those rides without a long wait in the lines and use a separate entrance.

 

I have information about the Diagon Alley rides in this forum topic, Hogwarts Express & Gringotts accessibility info.

 

But, yes, request the AAP. Make sure you take documentation that you can place on the counter when making the request to help back you up in your request. They may or may not read it, but other guests have told me the TMs are at least glancing at it.

 

Hope you have a great time!

Edited by debi
link updated
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My mom is not disabled per social security definition but she has high blood pressure, back injury, hip injury and vertigo. Most of the rides are a no-go for her. My question is can she get AAP (she can't really stand for long periods of time or her back and hip will hurt) and can she use AAP for stuff like Hogwarts Express and the shows? Thanks!

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My mom is not disabled per social security definition but she has high blood pressure, back injury, hip injury and vertigo. Most of the rides are a no-go for her. My question is can she get AAP (she can't really stand for long periods of time or her back and hip will hurt) and can she use AAP for stuff like Hogwarts Express and the shows? Thanks!

UPDATED: There are certain medical conditions/disorders where Team Members are more inclined to give the AAP, but as a general rule, only they can make that determination. Although doctor's notes ARE NOT REQUIRED, medical information is always good to carry with you should an emergency arise. As with all disability passes, they are intended for guests whose disability inhibits them from waiting in a traditional queue situation. The passes are not meant to necessarily reduce wait time but to provide an alternate waiting setting.

 

Will she be using a wheelchair? If so, she will be directed to handicapped seating in shows automatically and will not need the AAP for that. She will also be directed to the elevators she'll need to use on the Hogwarts Express.

 

Make sure you read up on our AAP/GAP information before you go. Thanks for your question. If you have others, you might find what you're looking for at this topic: Universal FAQs - most asked special needs questions.

Edited by debi
*Updated information and links
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Please read what I have said in my 9/3 blog about who can determine which conditions are accepted for an AAP/GAP. There are certain medical conditions/disorders where I know Team Members are more inclined to give the AAP, but as a general rule, only they can make that determination. If her doctor has recommended that she get a disability pass and has the documentation, then by all means request one. As with all disability passes, they are intended for guests whose disability prohibits them from waiting in a traditional queue situation. The passes are not meant to necessarily reduce wait time but to provide an alternate waiting setting.

Will she be using a wheelchair? If so, she will be directed to handicapped seating in shows automatically and will not need the AAP for that. She will also be directed to the elevators she'll need to use on the Hogwarts Express.

Make sure you read up on our AAP/GAP information before you go. Thanks for your question. If you have others, you might find what you're looking for at this topic: http://forums.orlandoinformer.com/topic/814-universal-faqs-click-here-for-links-to-most-asked-special-needs-questions/

I have read all the SNAU articles before I posted my question. My mom is not categorized as legally disabled per ADA definition and she does not need a wheelchair. However, she does have permanent work related injuries and thus have certain restrictions for which she does have a doctor's note for work (e.g. no lifting more than 5 lbs, no standing or walking for long periods, etc). The wait time is not an issue. It's all the standing while waiting in line that is. As long as she's allowed to sit while waiting for an attraction, she'll be fine.

For the most part, the reason I'm asking is because I because I don't know whether to get her and my dad Express Passes. Practically all of the rides at Universal are not recommended for someone with back injuries so getting the EP seems like a waste. Besides, you can't use EP on Hogwarts Express anyway and it's one of the few things she can go on even if it is more of a shuttle service than a ride. AAP will work best for her given her restrictions but I can't find anything on Universal's Accessibility Information page pertaining to guests in my mom's situation.

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My mom is not disabled per social security definition but she has high blood pressure, back injury, hip injury and vertigo. Most of the rides are a no-go for her. My question is can she get AAP (she can't really stand for long periods of time or her back and hip will hurt) and can she use AAP for stuff like Hogwarts Express and the shows? Thanks!

Sounds like getting a wheelchair for the day maybe a great solution as the problem isn't the waiting but the walking and standing. If you go to guest services and tell them your situation I think they may recommend the same and MAY even comp you a wheelchair.
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Sounds like getting a wheelchair for the day maybe a great solution as the problem isn't the waiting but the walking and standing. If you go to guest services and tell them your situation I think they may recommend the same and MAY even comp you a wheelchair.

Great idea. That sounds like the best option for her. A wheelchair would even let her enjoy Poseidon's Fury as I seem to recall reading somewhere that there's no seating for that attraction.

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Great idea. That sounds like the best option for her. A wheelchair would even let her enjoy Poseidon's Fury as I seem to recall reading somewhere that there's no seating for that attraction.

That is correct. Have a great trip!

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