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For International Visitors
shares her experiences at the Magic Kingdom
with her Service Dog Gracie
First place we always go is all the stores and shops down Main Street. Gracie's been in every one at least once. The first thing you have to do is keep the dog from picking up "Goodies" from the baskets that are in easy reach. She's never grabbed any goodies out the baskets, although there have been many times that she could. But I keep her nose out of anything that I see like that. I have to keep my eyes on her all the time. If I want to stop and talk to someone, I do it with the person near enough to hear me, but I always keep my eyes on Gracie. That's very important, and it's something that people often forget to do. I've seen her walking around sniffing at other dogs, sniffing at everyone...she's a dog, and she does what all dogs do when left to their own devices. If I keep my eye on her, she's never without someone to tell her not to sniff or poke or try to get things out of a basket, etc. She's been in every store and shop on Main Street, and she's always been great!
After Main Street, we turn left, go past the parent's station that's right next to the restaurant, and head into Adventure Land. There are many rides in this area, some of which Gracie can't do because she's not allowed to.
The Aladdin Flying Carpets is one ride that she can't do. There are no restraints on it for a dog, and she could fall off. But we have no children for her to ride with, so that's a wash!
Tiki Room -- she seems to like a lot. She likes anything where she can lay down in the shade! And it's always cool inside the Tiki Room! She just lays at my feet throughout the whole show (pre-show too!), then she gets up and leads me out. She never has any problem with any of the voices or the talking parrots or the Tiki Heads talking.
Jungle Cruise - she loves! We always get on first because it's a handicapped boat, so I'm always next to the captain. She likes looking at all the animals, she's not worried about the dark cave, she just lays at my feet and laughs with me when we all laugh (and that's fairly often with me in the boat. I LOVE the Jungle Cruise!). Then she waits for everyone to leave, and then she leads me off the boat. We have to enter at the END OF THE RIDE. You have to get on a handicapped accessible boat, and those are loaded BEFORE they get to the entry queue. Just go to the END of the ride; (there's a queue there next to the handicapped sign) and get in the usually very short line. You'll get placed on the next handicapped boat that becomes available. You have to transfer from your wheelchair, but the cast members are there to help in any way possible. The cast members are great about helping you to board, they stow the wheelchair for you until the ride's over, and they've all been very nice to Gracie!
Pirates of the Caribbean - You have to transfer from your wheelchair for this ride too. Gracie leads me to the boarding station, she gets in the boat without coaxing, takes her seat, waits for me to get on the boat, then enjoys the ride! She likes the slide down the hill at the beginning, and she's very good throughout the ride. She likes looking at all the things that there are to see, she likes people watching! The only thing that *I* DON'T like about this ride is that Gracie's not allowed to ride up the ramp at the end of the ride. I know that it's just Disney's way of being careful, but we have to take the little elevator up at the end each time. She's not afraid of the ramp, and she knows how to ride an escalator, but Disney is Disney, and safety is safety, and they say no so we take the elevator up! She's excellent inside the store at the end of the ride too!
Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats is not something that we've done, although we go past them every time we do the Jungle Cruise. Gracie would have no trouble there, although I don't think I would ever like doing this because I would need to stand the whole time. It's a "meant to stand" attraction. But if you can stand up for a while, it could be lots of fun!
Gracie's never done the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, but it's not because she can't, it's because it's too much for me to do. I can't stand up for as long as it takes to go through the tree house. There are a lot of steps and and lots of climbing, and that's just too much for me. Gracie would have no trouble, though. She's very good at attractions with stairs and lots of people. She's very good at going to things and just standing and looking, or at laying down while you're busy.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is not one that Gracie can do. Again, she'd probably have no trouble, but the Disney folks think it would be too dangerous for her to go on, and I have to agree with 'em. (It's too much for me to go on, for sure! It's too much of a rollercoaster for me, anyway!)
Country Bear Jamboree is an excellent attraction and Gracie loves the show. She just lays down in front of me and doesn't budge through the whole thing. Animals coming down from the ceiling and talking from the walls doesn't do anything to her! She just lays in the floor and sleeps. She's learned that if I'm still for a minute or more, it's best to just lay down and snooze, because she's got to be up and moving most of the day. Take any rest you can get, any time you can get it! She's never barked at any talking animals or talking heads. She just goes and sits or lays quietly!
I've never done the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade, but Gracie could do it if I wanted to. The shots would not bother her (although you might have to watch your dog to make sure he/she'll be okay. Gracie's a Search & Rescue dog as well as my service dog, and she's used to loud noises. Any dogs that are noise-sensitive might shy away. Just know your dog and be prepared!
Splash Mountain - This is the most disappointing thing for me. I LOVE Splash Mountain, but you cannot take your dog on it because there is no way to secure it in the vehicle! This is definitely the right decision for the Disney Company to make, but it's heart breaking for me! But you can do a "baby swap" if you have another family member there. They can ride, then they can get off and wait with the dog, and you can ride.
Mike Fink Keelboats are something I've never done with Gracie either. But she could do it. She has no problem riding in or on boats. But if your dog doesn't like water or riding on top of water, don't try it.
Tom Sawyer Island is not something that we go to often either. Before I was in a wheelchair I did it at least once each trip, but since you need to be ambulatory, it's tough. Gracie could do any of it, but I'd never take her there because I couldn't walk it...
Gracie's been to the Hall of Presidents several times [but never with George W. Bush as president]. I've sat in the back row where the handicapped seats are, and I've sat in the front row. Either way, she just lays down and sleeps. She causes no trouble at all.
She also loves the Haunted Mansion. She sits in the Doom Buggy with us. Make sure you're careful when the dog is getting in. When the safety bars come down, you need to make sure the dog doesn't get brained. There's less space on the ride for Gracie (she's about a 47-pound elkhound), but she can make it. You just have to be very careful about the dog when she's getting on and off. But she's never had a problem with any of the "ghosts" or anything spooky in the mansion.
She has no trouble with the Liberty Belle Riverboat, although we haven't ridden it in a couple of years. Just make sure that you watch the dog and don't let it near the outside of the boat. You don't want them to fall out! But Gracie's very good. She's never barked or gotten upset or anything. But she's used to riding in boats (for her search work).
We've not taken her to toon town except to cut through to get somewhere else most of the time. We're just not interested in most of the stuff. But she's never had a problem walking through, she's not afraid of anything there. The one thing that we've done is the Walt Disney World Railroad. She's very good at getting on and off of the train, she's not spooked by the noises it makes or any of the jiggling or moving.
We've never had her on the Astro Orbiter, although she's ridden in a very similar ride at [King's Island in Cincinnati].
We've never had her on Buzz Lightyears's Space Ranger Spin, in the Galaxy Palace Theater, or the Extraterrorestrial Alien Adventure either. I have, and I don't think she'd have a problem with it, though. She's very good at knowing that there machinery or a person inside costumes, and she's never afraid of them.
She can't ride Space Mountain because there's no way to secure her when the ride's running.
She's been in the see the TimeKeeper. You just have to get the dog in a space on the floor and have it lay down and stay there. It should be okay, as long as its stay is very solid.
We've never been to the Tomorrowland Arcade, although a dog could just stand next to its master and do its thing like in Frontierland.
The Tomorrowland Indy Speedway is out. The dog couldn't be restrained in the car and the car is too small for most dogs.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is fine. Gracie does great in the small "people mover" type vehicles. She just gets in and lays down.
She doesn't have any trouble with things like the talking trashcans either. Like I said before, she's a search dog, and her smeller is always working. She knows if there's a person in there or if there's machinery in there. But dogs COULD be frightened if they don't turn their noses on BEFORE they meet the trashcan (or anything else they might run into). It's all a matter of being prepared! But if Gracie (or any other dog) knows there's a person in the costume, it shouldn't bother them at all. If they don't turn the nose on and don't realize it's just a person in a suit, then they could be very frightened.
This is where Gracie's favorite ride in WDW is. She loves it's a small world. She gets on the boat (thank you, search training!), then sits there and stares at everything moving. She doesn't do that on any other ride, just this one! She just sits there very comfortably until we get off. She never tried to get to any of the puppets, she just sits there, watching everything!
She does the stationary rides fine, things like Ariel's Grotto, etc., but she can't do most of the moving rides, like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan's Flight or Snow White's Scary Adventures. She can go into Mickey's PhilharMagic. She just sits there and watches. She seems to like the things that she sees. (Or she just sleeps through it. She's quite the good dog. She's learned that when I sit down, her best bet is to lay down if there's room and go to sleep. If I sit for over 30 seconds or so, she's laying down.)