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The new Disability Access program at WDW and the MSEP

A couple of weeks ago I had emailed the good folks at Walt Disney World with a bit of a query.  On our last trip, in spite of the fact that members of our group have several disabilities, we avoided using the Access program.  I believe one should do what they can to avoid any misuse of equal access programs, and while we certainly qualified to use it, if we could do without, it’s what I’d prefer.  I don’t want my daughter or much younger sister growing up thinking they deserve special privileges simply because they face different challenges than others.  And with the old program, anyone with an access card skips to the front of the line – which is clearly not about equality but about special privileges (which is why it was so abused).  Anyway…

I had emailed the people at WDW to ask about seating for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  This was one time when I desperately wished we had requested assistance on our last trip.  The wait resulted in a lot of anxiety for two members of our party, a melt down for one, and a whole lot of pain for two.  Sitting on the concrete for over an hour trying to hold a spot was not good for any of us.  I was hoping there would be some kind of reserved seating available.  Turns out not… they only have special seating for those guests who are non-ambulatory.  She did give me some tips for the parade though, so hopefully that will help.  Because in spite of the pain (both physical and mental) the MSEP remains on our must do list.

So while that wasn’t great news, she did fill me on on the NEW Disability Access program at Disney World – and that is something I’m excited about.  She encouraged me to participate on our upcoming trip, because the new program addresses the concerns I had with the old program.  Now, instead of ushering people to the front of the line, offering special privileges and inviting misuse, it now works more like the old Fast Passes.

Individuals with special needs request a special card, and instead of hoping into line, get it stamped at the entry to the queue.  It is stamped with the time they are to return, so they are waiting for the same amount of time as everyone else in the line.  But instead of having to stand there (and cause anxiety or pain flare-ups or what-have-you) they can then go sit down, eat, run in circles, meditate, draw, go pee… whatever they need to do to mitigate their symptoms, returning for the time on their card.  At which point they rejoin the queue at the place they would have been standing when their card was stamped.  Now, that doesn’t mean they won’t have to stand in line at all, but it does reduce the time in the line without removing the wait.

I love this new accessibility program.  It ensures those with special needs are able to have equal access to the rides, shows, character meetings, etc without granting an advantage and inviting misuse or program abuse.  And I do think this is a much better idea, and is a change I’m looking forward to experiencing.  Granted it doesn’t help with the MSEP, but hopefully by lessening the stress throughout the day (both physically and emotionally) it will be a little easier too…  because it really cannot be missed!  😉

The Henri Cartier-Bresson Award

My work on the Power of SHe project has been nominated for a HCB Award!

For all the details please stop by http://tdphotography.me/2013/the-henri-cartier-bresson-award/ – it also includes a big THANK YOU to the Avenue Community Center for believing in me and my work as a photographer.

The Power of SHe on FB

As of yesterday afternoon, my Power of SHe project has made it’s way onto facebook.  This?  This is your official invitation.  🙂

For those of you who’ve been following this blog for some time know all about the Power of SHe, for those who don’t, here’s the press bio for my little art instillation:  The Power of SHe is about how we, as self-identified Women, define ourselves in light of how society and the media seek to define and confine us.

I’ve been working on the Power of SHe for some time now.  It’s been exhibited twice, and continues to grow.  I believe it is a very important body of work, and something we desperately need.  So I hope you’ll join us as the journey continues.  The more the merrier.  Let’s force a shift from art project to movement.  We can make change happen!

http://facebook.com/PowerofSHe

Misadventures of a snowbound photographer

Tonight I have to direct you towards another url.  As I’ve already chronicled this particular misadventure on my photography website.  I do promise though, the many photographs of our frosty day are well worth the visit.  I know you’ll laugh as much as we did as we battled the environment to get these important shots.

http://tdphotography.me/2013/an-unexpected-snow-filled-adventure/

Hip deep, completely stuck, immobilized in the snow and ice.

Hip deep, completely stuck, immobilized by the snow and ice.

 

And a big thank you to Jamie for not only volunteering as my assistant today, but for capturing the entire thing with her iPhone.  LMAO

The Art of Drag – TNG

I’ve posted before about the glorious art form that is DRAG, so consider this post The Art of Drag – The Next Generation.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being the official photographer at a rather phenomenal event here in Saskatoon.  It was the True Colours Drag Show hosted by the Avenue Community Center.  All sorts of performers, from current Drag Superstars to those who are the future of the art, all performing together in a grand spectacle.  It really was a brilliant night, and I am so thrilled to have played a part – even just a small one.  So here are a few names to remember:

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Downtown Disney

I have to admit… after listening to folk rave about Downtown Disney, I found the shopping district to be a HUGE letdown.  Most of what you find there are your typical stores that you can find at any mall in any city.  I’m shopping at Downtown Disney because I want to find DISNEY stuff.  So while yeah, you’ll find things at Downtown Disney that you won’t find at any of the Disney parks it’s because it’s not Disney related.

Lily-Ann loved the princess store.  She bought herself a purse and gloves set (courtesy of Karla Amaya, our travel agent, who gave the girl some Disney Dollars to spend), and I bought her a tiara.  We also found a thank you gift for my sister and her girlfriend who watched over our furry and feathered family members while we were gone – a very cool mad hatter tea pot and tea set.  Seriously, if we could have afforded two of them, I’d have got one for myself.  LOL

The other cool shop was the Lego store.  It really was neat to see that many sets all in one place – and I loved the create your own figures center as well as the bulk lego pieces.  That was pretty awesome.  And I adored the amazing lego dragon they had built out front.  It was seriously incredible!

Other than that, there were little bits and pieces here and there…  but overall?  It was a pretty underwhelming experience.  We were glad when we decided to head back to our resort.  It was a MUCH cooler place to spend the remainder of our last day.  🙂

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The last of the four Walt Disney World parks is Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I realize it’s cliched to say it, but while it’s the last it’s not the least.  Hollywood Studios is AMAZING!  I’ve already shared the photos from the girl’s Jedi Training School experience, which was totally incredible and jealousy inducing, but that was just one small part of our day.

There are just a TON of character meets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the lines were minimal compared to many of the other parks.  There’s a bunch to do, yet this park doesn’t feel quite as overwhelming as the others (of course, by this point we had our system pretty much perfected – which really helps).  And it’s not totally kid-centric either, which was great.  This park definitely had the broadest appeal, with everything from Star Wars to the Muppets to Phineas and Ferb to Pixar’s greatest hits to classic Disney as well.  We loved everything about this one.  It was fabulous!

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

This truly is THE park.  When people who have never been to Walt Disney World talk about Disney World, THIS is the park they are usually talking about.  It really is quintessential Disney.

When you are planning your WDW vacation plant to spend at least two days at the Magic Kingdom.  There is so much here that really shouldn’t be missed, and even with two days devoted to this park there are things you’ll have to skip.  I promise to go into the rides and shows in more detail on another post – listing the must dos and the must avoids.  But for now?  After such a long day?  I’m going to jump right into the photos.  After all, that’s really what you want to see, isn’t it?  😉

Seek no more

On Thursday, February 28th I felt a sudden need to light a candle and to send love out into the universe.  I didn’t know why I needed to, I just knew that I had to.  So at 4:30 I let my daughter choose a candle and we lit it together.  Shortly after that things became all to clear.

Bran Everseeking, who was known to some as Thomas Dunbar, was a treasured friend.  At 4:15 his wife, Naomi, had posted to FB that he was having a heart attack.  It wasn’t until later that evening I would learn of it…  after seeing another post she made at 6:04.  Bran had left this world for the next.  Gratefully I didn’t learn the news until after Lily-Ann had gone to sleep as with it came a slurry of tears.  It honestly felt like some cruel joke.

The last couple of days have been absolutely draining, and I really have no words – which is why this post is more dry facts than anything else.  I’m simply trying to relay information without breaking down again.  For now all I can share are images, something I believe Bran (as a fellow photographer) would appreciate.

The candle I lit at about 4:30 on Thursday, burned until 4:54 Saturday morning.  I know this, because the change in light woke me from a troubled sleep and I saw the last ember go out.

Goodnight my dear, dear friend.  Know that love follows you from this life into the next.  Seek no more.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

When we sat down to plan our trip, we decided to spend six days visiting Disney parks.  Two days for Magic Kingdom, one for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, and one spare day to go back wherever we felt needed an extra day of exploring and fun.  Well…  that extra day ended up with us back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  We absolutely LOVED this park.

For those who have never been, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is like a zoo and an amusement park all rolled into one.  And as far as it’s zoo aspect goes, it’s one like no other.  While there are lots of areas where the animals have their own private enclosures, there are also a plethora of spaces where the animals are free to wander around with a multitude of species all sharing beautifully sculpted landscapes.  It really is quite impressive.  And while I promise to share lots of animal photos at a later date, here are a few of us just taking advantage of some cool photo-ops at the park:

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