On King Triton's Carousel
*The "cast members" will know how to accommodate your dog. They have to ride laying down at your feet for most rides. If you are planning on going on a ride that is on the list, which your dog can not go on, you will need to have someone with you that is able to hold your dog while you are on the ride. The Disney staff can not watch your dog for you. We did this on Soarin' Over California, which Cole really loved and went on 3 times.*Know that you are going to get a lot of attention directed towards you with your dog. Slugger is going to show up in a lot of peoples pictures. It was like the paparazzi when they recognized that he was actually riding the rides. People will ask to pet your dog, some won't even ask. It REALLY helped us to have this vest. We have "Seizure Alert Service Dog" and "Working Dog Do Not Pet" patches on both sides. Many parents would see them and tell their children that the dog was working so they could not touch it. Also, it saved a lot of questions of "Why do you have a dog in Disneyland?" This vest is lightweight and it was easy for Slugger to wear all day long. You are still going to have the random comments and the assumption that your child is blind. That happens in a regular public situation anyway. You can print out cards to hand out to people that have more detailed questions, explaining about service dogs and your child's condition. It helps to not get stuck in a 20 minute conversation when you are trying to focus on your child.
*For the record, Slugger's favorite ride was It's A Small World. He was really interested in all of the little people :) He struggled with what to do on the first few rides and I actually had to lift him in to the first one, but by the end he was working like a pro. He immediately knew what to do. Hop in, lay down, stay still. I was so proud of him-especially one night when it was shoulder to shoulder on Main street trying to get out of the park and I was certain that he was going to get trampled because he was so low to the ground and it was dark. He weaved in and out like a champ and I kept praising him the entire time! I am so glad that we practiced in crowded public places before we left.
*Disney has a kennel where you can leave your dog if you feel like they are slowing you down, or they are getting tired. You just need to bring their shot records. It costs to leave them there, but if you are going for more than a couple of days it might be nice to give them a break. I know that Slugger was exhausted by the end of the day. He had probably never walked that much in his life, even with all of our breaks.*You WILL find that parents will come up to you and want to know how they can get a service dog for their child. We gave out 4 Paws for Ability information 5 separate times to parents who had desperate looks in their eyes and a glimmer of hope that maybe someday their child could come to Disneyland with their dog. It was very satisfying to have those kinds of conversations and spread awareness. We never even dreamed it was possible for us before Slugger. We were grateful to be proving ourselves wrong. There were times when I could tell that Cole was getting overstimulated and he would just crawl under the table and lay on Slugger. It made me so grateful that we brought him with us the entire time.
*You will get random people who bring their kids up to play with your dog, or others who make snide remarks. Just remember that you are always an ambassador for other people who have service animals. I think that my favorite comment was, "I think that is the saddest thing I have ever seen! I feel so bad for that dog!" Uh, did you notice that he is at Disneyland? Plus, this dog LOVES his job. His life is not one of sadness! It made me chuckle. We actually saw another dog there who was barking and jumping up on their owner, while they were frantically trying to keep it quiet and tell it to get down. Slugger behaved like a professional the entire time.
*Make sure that you have bottled water, enough treats and everything else you need when your dog is in public. We also carried a serving of food in our backpack since we did not know when we were going to be leaving the park. We just fed him when we started eating and then he rested while we were having our meal.
We are really glad that Slugger was able to come with us and think that with his help, we might even try something like this again!
*I wrote about how to take your special needs child to Disney, here,