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AREAS / ACTIVITIES

Carol writes:

    1.  Key West, FL - We found Key West a tough place to get around if your disabled.  The streets are very narrow, parking is difficult, sidewalks uneven and dangerous.  Walking or in a wheelchair is difficult.  We took the Conch Train. It was very difficult getting your legs in and the ride was terrible.  It threw you all over the place and you slid along the seat as it turned a corner.  We got off when it first stopped because it felt too unsafe for someone like me who has lost some mobility. This was a day trip for us so we didn't stay anywhere.

    2. Europa Casino Cruises -located near Treasure Island, FL - This was a disaster.  We were told over the phone that this cruise would be totally accessible.  There was a long walk from the parking area to the ship.  The ramp up to the ship had boards spaced apart with other boards on top of one another.  It was hard not to trip on them.  Then there was a high step to get on the ship.  Once in there were tables and chairs and some slot machines in the back.  The main gambling floor was up two flights of steps which took me forever to climb.  It was jammed upstairs with machines.  You could go outside from there onto a very crowded outer deck. I very carefully went back down the steps to eat.  There was nothing else to do and the cruise was six hours to nowhere!  Getting off was again very difficult and the people, including the staff,  were almost running me over trying to get past me.  NOT RECOMMENDED

    3.  Hammond Stadium, Lee County Sports Complex - Ft Myers, FL - very accessible stadium.  Call and request special seating with no steps either for wheelchair or persons with walking difficulties.  Folding chairs are set up next to wheelchairs.  There are ramps and elevators.  $15 for box seats, $3 parking.  You need to get there early as handicap parking fills up fast..

USEFUL INFORMATION

Carol writes:

1.  We learned from Interval International that you can specify "no steps to unit or inside unit" when making your reservations.  This will become a permanent part of your travel itinerary.

 2.  The Auto Train from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL is a great way to travel for the disabled.  We take it every year to Florida.  You can request a wheelchair/handicap accessible car.   The room/car includes a table and booth which convert into bunk beds at nite.   There is a toilet and sink in the room.  They will deliver your meals to you so you never have to leave the room from the time you leave Virginia to the time you arrive in Florida.  I tried walking up the steps to the dining and lounge cars once.  The stairs wind around and are very narrow. It is hard to keep your balance with the train moving and stepping between cars.  It would be easy to fall.  We get a sleeper car now because I am still walking.  The bathroom is down the hall but is small like on an airplane. They will still deliver meals to a sleeper car on request.   When you pull up to the gate of the train station they give you a wheelchair placard which you hang from your mirror.  As you pull up to the station they see the placard and get you a wheelchair, take you into the station and board you before the other passengers.  They pull out a metal ramp to push the wheelchair onto your car and to your room.  Most of the time they are very accomodating to the disabled/elderly and it is a quick way to get to Florida from the North.  You leave at 4PM and arrive at 8:30 AM the next day.  Only thing to add this year is that you need passports or photo ids.  In Lorton our car was videotaped outside and inside.  Security check leaving Sanford was tight. Logan's Roadhouse Restaurant in Sanford is 3 miles from the train and is fully accessible - handicap parking, ramp, friendly staff tables in the middle for wheelchairs.  Please contact me if you have any questions:  mailto:carolpaul@comcast.net

Gayle writes:  For people looking for all terrain chairs, beach wheelchairs (motorized) and also conversion kits that can be used with one's own wheelchair go to http://www.hotshotproducts.org/ .  There are about three companies in the US that make all terrain chairs, but they are very expensive.  The wheel/tires are the big money part of the package, this company uses the same ones.  They made a conversion kit for our daughter's wheelchair three years ago and it has enabled us to take her to the beach.  We could never do that before.  Their new motorized chairs have been bought by the city of San Diego for use at Mission Beach.  Please contact Gayle for any further information at:  Pgksfich@aol.com

 

Carol writes:  In February we cruised on the Grand Princess to the Western Carribean out of Ft. Lauderdale.  We stayed in a Handicapped Stateroom with an outside balcony.  They provided me with a wheelchair to keep in the room the entire cruise.  The room was large with a king size bed.  The room was located right across from the elevator.  We had a roll-in shower with many grab bars.  It stated that most ports were not accessible and discouraged elderly or people with walking difficulties not to debark.  You have to remember ADA regulations do not apply on these ships.  I spoke with a lady who attempted to visit all the ports - she was wheelchair bound.  They had to carry her and the chair.  At one point she said she had to get up and try to walk.  It was very difficult for her.  It is against ADA regulations to pick up a person in a chair in the states.  The ship was very accessible but a lot of walking.  We chose personal choice dining so we could eat anywhere, anytime we wanted.  Room service where we were consisted of a continental breakfast, sandwiches, burgers etc.  You had to go to the dining room for a "real" meal.  There was enough to do even if you just stayed on the ship.  We spent a lot of time on the balcony, shopping, art auctions etc.

Needless to say the airports were a nightmare.  At Philadelphia, my husband juggled luggage and pushing me until we checked our bags.  We were there early and lines were long and people confused.  I was patted down by a lady wearing latex gloves as I sat in the wheelchair.  I never had to get up or take off my shoes.  In the waiting area someone from the airlines pushed me on the plane.  You need to remind the flight attendant before you land that you need a wheelchair or electric cart.  Coming back from Ft Lauderdale we requested a wheelchair at the curb - there were none available.  One of the porters finally got us one and let us go inside.  The lines were so long we paid the porter $20 to check our bags.  Then we were free to go to security.  We were two hours in that line.  Again, I was patted down by a lady who took me behind a screen.  Many people had to be taken out of line and rushed thru security to make their flights.  Hopefully all this is improving since February.

Brenda writes:  When you make your ticket reservations ask them to put a wheelchair request on the tickets, outgoing and return flights.  When you check-in at the airport ask the porter to get the wheelchair or an electric cart (plan to have to wait a bit).  They will take you right to the gate and even for connecting flights you can have them push you in a wheelchair to the next gate.  Sometimes your connecting flight is at the other end of the terminal and after sitting on the plane you'll appreciate the ride to catch the next flight.  If you have any carry on bags you will have to hold them and your handbag on your lap. They will wheel you right on the plane.  I usually ask for a bulkhead seat which is usually reserved for the disabled or people with children.  Sometimes taking a cane helps.  If you need to stand you can lean on it.  People also are more careful if they see you walking with one.  You just need to ask for help and remind them of what your special needs are.  Brenda can be contacted at:  brenalvater@aol.com

Fern writes: 

Some people are unaware that they can use their handicap placards/hangtags in all parts of the country.  Most people who need to know this probably do, but those who are taking their older/elderly mobility impaired parents/friends might not.  In California you can apply for and receive a "temporary/duplicate" so you can place the master plaque in your vehicle (which is still parked at the airport) and still have a plaque to take with you.  Many pay places, like in Las Vegas, will waive the fee if you show them the placard.  At Oakland Airport you can park in the front most "daily" parking lot  and if you show them your plaque you are only charged for parking in the less expensive "weekly" lot.  Please contact Fern for any further information at:  redhead@cybergal.com

 

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