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Larry and I in front of Cinderella’s Castle on our first day in Disney

You may have read my recent blog post on how airport security can be a traumatizing experience for cochlear implant recipients. That was a bit of a preview for this post, since I was traveling to Disney, after all.

You may also be wondering how Disney World compares to Six Flags, which I also recently wrote about, in terms of deaf-friendliness. To say it simply: it’s awesome. It’s so awesome. I liked Six Flags, but Disney was so much better.

I went to Disney World 7 years ago on my high school senior trip. However, the trip wasn’t very enjoyable since it was over 100 degrees every day of the trip. I got very overheated, dehydrated, and down-right sick. I also didn’t have my cochlear implant at the time. This trip was totally different, and I mean that in the best way possible.

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My first day in Disney on my senior trip 7 years ago before I go thoroughly sick. Can you find me?

I went on the trip with my boyfriend and his family. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 8 months now. You guys have heard quite a bit about him. He’s been amazing to me and very supportive of both my general hearing loss and my cochlear implant. He’s also a truck driver so he’s on the road a lot. Having an entire a week together is more time for us together than we usually get in 2 months. It was a very exciting time for us. Also, my 25th birthday also fell during the trip, so it was a very exciting time for us.

Disney is very deaf-friendly. It’s very friendly, period. And there is SO MUCH stuff to hear. In Magic Kingdom, there is always some kind of a parade going on. With a lot of music. Which I could actually hear and understand. Other parks like Epcot had a lot of bands that would play music out in the street/sidewalks. Larry and I were constantly humming/singing along, and snapping our fingers and even dancing along to the music. It was so much fun especially for me since I knew it was something I never could’ve done prior to getting my cochlear.

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Minnie Mouse and King Louie from one of the first parades we saw in Magic Kingdom on our first day at Disney. Minutes later we were greeted by a cast member who sang/danced with us and gave us all special pins. I got a birthday pin, Larry got a celebration/first visit pin, and Alyssa and Brayerton got engagement pins.

There were also many shows that we went to. We went to everything from The Lion King Festival of Life:

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To a dolphin show at Epcot:

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To shows about The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Rio, a comedy show from the characters of Monsters, Inc., and everything in between. I did see a few shows when I went on my senior trip 7 years ago, but not nearly as many and I really couldn’t hear or understand a word that was said. Now with my cochlear I was able to hear and understand just about every single word! Certainly made for more enjoyable shows for me!

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Larry and I in Animal Kingdom

Another thing that was cool that we did on this trip that we didn’t do on my senior trip is go to Animal Kingdom. Ever since I got my implant I really wanted to go to the zoo to hear all of the animals. This is something that Larry and I wanted to do for like our third date going back to September, but it never actually happened. Well, we didn’t go to the zoo exactly, but we did go on Animal safari, so close enough right?

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A real-life version of Pumba

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I can never remember what these things are called…

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Real-life version of Dumbo

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Fat Unicorn

Unfortunately, the animals didn’t make as much noise as I thought they would. There wasn’t much to hear from them except for the birds. Some of them got loud but it was less annoying than usual since I heard the noise they really make, which sounds much better than they distorted sounds I heard prior to getting my cochlear.

Another thing I really liked about Disney is that I was able to keep my cochlear on for about 90% of the rides. This definitely made it more enjoyable since so many of the rides are interactive. I was able to hear what was being said or what was happening on most of the rides and still converse with my boyfriend.

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This was one of my favorite rides when I went on my senior trip 7 years ago. I don’t remember what it’s called, but it has Buzz Lightyear and you get a gun to shoot at things. I loved it much more this time around since I was able to hear everything!

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This is from the Mexican boat ride in Epcot. It was one of my favorite rides since it was so romantic. They played a bit of music and since I had my cochlear and was able to keep it on, I was able to hear it!

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On my birthday we took the ferry to get from Epcot to Magic Kingdom. Upon seeing my birthday pin, a guy went on the loud speaker and said “Happy Birthday, Kimberly!” it was so cool! I never would’ve been able to hear it prior to getting my cochlear.

There were a few rides that I had to take my cochlear off for, but even then it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have to worry about needing a locker or leaving my cochlear/hearing aid with someone else who wasn’t going on the ride. All I had to do was put them all in the case, put the case in my bag, and keep my bag on the floor of the ride. Way easier than Six Flags, that’s for sure. It made it so that Larry and I could still talk while waiting in line. Some of those conversations while we were waiting in line ended up being my favorite part of the trip!

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Sometimes we talked while waiting in line. Other times we played games. Then there were the times when Larry narrowly avoided being eaten by a dinosaur and his girlfriend took pictures instead of helping him…

The only ride where I really wish I could’ve kept my cochlear on for is Rocking Roller Coaster. This is one of my top 5 favorite rides. I love roller coasters and I like Aerosmith. This rollercoaster plays Aerosmith music. However, it’s too extreme for me to leave my hearing aid and cochlear on for. So I had to take it out and wasn’t able to hear the music. It didn’t change the fact that the roller coaster is still pretty awesome though. I can’t complain too much.

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Larry and I in front of Rocking Roller Coaster. This old guy definitely photobombed us. There’s actually two pictures…and he photobombed us in both of them. 😦

My Disney vacation was absolutely incredible and I believe that my cochlear definitely helped to enhance the experience for me. Disney definitely gets an A+ for deaf friendliness. Although I enjoyed Six Flags, I think they could learn a thing or two from Disney when it comes to accessibility and deaf friendliness.

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