AUsome Disney Magical Memory Cosmic Ray's Welcome

AUsome Disney Magical Memory: Cosmic Ray’s Welcome

By Melody Grewal – Before my non-speaking autistic son mastered his way of reliable communication and before we had passed some years in therapies easing the effects of anxiety on his sensory system, we toured Disney World ritualistically. One night four years ago, we were in the middle of his own very unique MK Touring Plan.

Our plan involved only the front right side of Magic Kingdom:  Walk up the right side of Main Street toward Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.  Watch Monsters Inc. from the first row (centre seat, left side).  Go to Cosmic Ray’s and sit in the back area.  Look out the window at Cinderella’s Castle.  Eat a snack packed from our resort room, which had been brought from home in checked luggage.

And that’s it. That’s how we toured Magic Kingdom every time we went for two years. Usually, it all worked out fine. But on one particular night in September 2015, the back section was already roped off and closed, being cleaned for the night. I stood by the ropes, trying to convince myself tonight would be a good time to try to train my son’s flexibility. As I tried to calm myself, holding back tears, dreading the upset that would result from a routine snag, two Cast Members approached and asked “Can we help you?” I explained my worry and they said, “That’s no problem! He can sit back here!” and moved the rope for us. I was so relieved and promised to keep our area as clean as we found it. So off we went to sit by the window, look at Cinderella’s Castle and enjoy a snack. Happy guy! Happy parents!

After we had been sitting a bit, a whole bunch of Cast Members came by to present him with a tray of signed place mat and goodies!

They told him how welcome he was and how happy they were that Cosmic Ray’s was one of his favorite places and that he should visit them as often as he wanted any time of the day. He would always be able to sit in “his” area.

My son, Iz, smiled from ear-to-ear at their welcome. Such a relief and joy for us as parents to know that not only were we not trouble to these lovely cast members, but treasured guests. And that night, for the first time, Iz was successful drinking from a straw! A huge deal for a kid who has had to work hard to gain new motor planning skills related to meals!

Looking back, it was the welcome we received that night that bolstered our entire family’s confidence to try to eat in a restaurant together. At that time, we had never eaten in a restaurant as a family because it caused Iz so much anxiety. But that night those cast members told us with their actions that Disney was where we would be safe to try, no matter how much time Iz needed to ease his anxiety, or how slowly or differently than other guests we had to proceed, it was ok. We were welcome. And I’m so thankful to report that Iz did successfully eat his first ever meal ordered off a menu at Mama Melrose’s in Hollywood Studios two years later!

And fast forward to today, Iz has mastered all the motor planning for table service restaurant dining from start to finish – able to order off a menu and enjoy his meal like a gentleman. He can do it anywhere now, not just at Disney World; but it was because we had Disney restaurants to practice in, that he can. Here’s my fave pic from one of our latest trips, taken in Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom.

I’m typing this memory up now four years after that night at Cosmic Ray’s, but I’m still tearing up and smiling just the same. Sometimes people wonder how we can go back to Disney year after year. It’s memories like this one engraved into our hearts that made Disney “home” for us. To us, we’re not going to Disney, we’re going to our vacation home.

Do you have a Magical Memory as a disabled person or about your disabled loved one? Please comment and let us all share the smiles!

Melody Tien Grewal is a loyal Character Locator subscriber, Annual Pass holder, and Disney Vacation Club member. She has been flying to Walt Disney World 2-3 times a year for over 10 years with her husband and non-speaking autistic son.

17 thoughts on “AUsome Disney Magical Memory: Cosmic Ray’s Welcome”

  1. My son with Aspergers dressed as a prince to eat at 1900. I quietly told the server we ordered a specialty cake so he could bring it out after dinner. When the cake arrived my son asked the server if Lady Tremaine sent it over. Without skipping a beat he said yes. She then came and inquired which of her daughters he would marry. Everyone played along and the sister got in a “fight” over him. I had to excuse myself to cry in the bathroom. He told everyone who would listen that the sisters wanted him to be their husband. It was beautiful and above and beyond. I love Disney Cast Members °o°

  2. I think it is AUsome that you are doing this blog. I have a non verbal 5 year old grandson that we are taking to Disney World in November. He had a total melt down this morning because we opened the garage door out of his normal order. Hoping it doesn’t happen while a Disney, but he loves small world and we try to use that for back up.
    I noticed your son is wearing covers to block noise. How did you manage to get him to wear them? How long did you have to work o the process?

    1. Hi there, Izzy’s dad here. We quietly introduced the headphones at a moment it was noisy, which showed him what a difference the headphones make. As you can imagine we were carrying them around for a while until the occasion arose. The big mistake a lot of parents can make is to take a good thing and apply it outside of its proper context. Like us, our kids need to see how useful something is in any needed situation. Hope that helps.

  3. Last year we spent our first Christmas at Disney. Our daughter who has multiple handicaps, loves all characters. While waiting in line at Akershus to meet Belle, my husband and I were talking to the photo pass guy. We mentioned that we had done Disneyland that in July and had not seen any princesses due to the extreme heat. Nothing else was said. We met Belle and was seated at our table. Half way through our meal the photo pass guy came to our table with our waitress and asked us to come with them. They made it clear our food and table would still be there. As we are following him, he tells me oh you might want to bring your camera. The room they led us too had not 1 , but all the princesses gathered to meet our daughter.
    My husband and I cried that that this man had arranged such a wonderful surprise for our Katie. We still cry when telling someone about this special magic that happened to our family that day.
    ( I can’t figure out how to add the picture)

  4. Disney World is such a special place for people with disabilities of all kinds. I’m a 42 year old woman in a wheelchair and while at Akershus this past September, I told Aurora that she’d been my favorite princess for 40 years. She actually sat on the ground next to me so she could be eye to eye with me and spent a few minutes with me talking about her story. I nearly teared up then and am misty-eyed as I type this. The cast members there are remarkable and go out of their way to make sure everyone feels comfortable. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story!

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