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Our Trip To Eurodisney
Bags packed, mum and dad waiting on the edge of the bed at 6 a.m. on a cold June 2007 morning, waiting for daughters Bethan and Megan to wake up. We had been looking forward to this for months and when we dragged sleepy, reluctant children out of bed, it was clear who was the most excited!
Bethan Edwards was born in April 2004, having been diagnosed with HLHS. All children with severe heart conditions have difficult times ahead for themselves and their families however Bethan had had a particularly difficult first year - 5 months in hospital, 3 major open heart surgeries, 2 bouts of septaecemia and several cardiac arrests. That morning, it was all behind us as Bethan, now 3 and a bit, was being taken to Eurodisney for the very first time by her 13 year old sister, mum and dad (Mandy and Bryan).
We planned the trip as a 2 night break, and treated ourselves to a stay in the relatively grand surroundings of the Hotel Newport Bay, just a short courtesy bus ride away from the 2 parks. We also had to ensure that we could keep her Captopril medicine cool - so a fridge in the room was essential. Getting travel insurance for Bethan was easy with a range of different insurance companies catering for disabled people. We eventually chose Tesco’s with the policy being around £40.
The trip over to France on Eurostar was uneventful and on time. We didn't need to pay for Bethan because she's under 4, and as she's relatively small for her age, she easily tucked between two of us on a double train seat. The train took us straight to Eurodisney from London Waterloo, so there was no time to be lost that Friday afternoon - we explored the vast hotel and the 2 theme parks.
As Bethan is registered disabled, our paediatrician at Worcester hospital had already advised us to go straight to the Visitor's Centre at Eurodisney, as they could supply a pass for the whole family to get priority treatment on the rides, so we did not need to queue. This turned out to be really useful as over the 3 days we were there, we worked out that it saved us around 7 hours in queuing time!
Also, on most of the rides, the entry points for disabled people were very discrete, so that if there was a chance that you felt guilty about 'jumping the queue' (having a severe heart condition is not something that makes one 'visibly' disabled), then it made it a lot easier.
Something else that we found useful was that the Visitors Centre gave us a special information pack for disabled guests. This explained what rides were suitable for different categories of disablement. Bethan was disappointed that she couldn't go on the tea cups ride. Even though it didn't appear to go very fast, it was designated not suitable for those with a heart condition.
Bethan continues to have a severe speech delay and so, at the time, she only had a small handful of words that she could say, but the joy and excitement in her face, together with the animated hand gestures, told us that she could have stayed on the children's rides all day. Her favourite ride was Buzz Light Year and the Horse Carousel, for which Megan, 13, Mandy and I took it in turns to take her on. Our photographs with Buzz on his ride have pride of place at home.
Bethan didn't take so well to the Disney characters. They were okay when they were several metres away, but we never did get a picture of Bethan and the characters together. On the movie camera, I have a wonderful scene of Snow White signing autographs for others, and then pan down to reveal Bethan cowering around my legs, face buried in my knees, hanging on for grim life!
Eurodisney is a wonderful place for children. It's well run, friendly and we have some very happy picture memories to remember the trip by. Perhaps next time we can get breakfast with Mickey!
Bryan and Mandy Edwards