Los Angeles, CA:
L.A. L.A. L.A.! If you have never been, it is time to catch the next flight there. Stop that, reverse it. Los Angeles, CA is my home city! No flight necessary but I want to fill you in on transportation in Los Angeles. How am I going to do this, you ask? Well I have no clue because I am very fortunate here. I have my own fully equipped wheelchair accessible van. My van has room for all the friends and family I want to join in the fun. When I need to go somewhere, I just hop in my wheelchair accessible van, and head to anywhere I need to go. Handicap accessible parking is easy to find. So I have very little knowledge about wheelchair transportation in LA. However, there are a couple experiences I have to share. The first experience was with Yellow Cab. My assistant couldn’t find the keys to my ride and we were running late to my play practice. Yes, play practice, I am a man of many talents. So she contacted my manager. My manager tells her she’s going to call for a wheelchair-accessible taxi. My assistant and I were standing outside waiting for this Yellow Cab. Ten minutes, nothing. Twenty minutes, nothing. The cab NEVER came. Yellow Cab is not the best option when traveling around LA if you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle. It will not show. The second experience I have with transportation is using Dial-A-Ride. My high school class goes to Target each week and we use Dial-A-Ride. Dial-A-Ride is basically a public bus system that people use to get around town. They accommodate individuals in wheelchairs. All you do is call and they come and pick you up. The ride is a little bumpy but it is always safe. My manager was unable to find any accessible rental vans through the regular big-name rental agencies, but she did have success with a smaller rental agency. It is an odd operation though as you have to pick up and drop off at house near LAX. However, the van worked great and was priced reasonable. Also Uber has some wheelchair accessible vehicles but I have never used them yet. A few links are below for further information.
Now, because Los Angeles is my hometown, you might be asking yourself how is he going to do accommodations? Well, I am an expert when it comes to the best places to stay. Even if I am local, I love staying at hotels and resorts. Here in Los Angeles there is an old cruise ship docked permanently right down in the Long Beach Harbor, called the Queen Mary. It is quite the site. Queen Mary isn’t an everyday cruise ship. She is a main attraction! Staying aboard the Queen Mary, as well as exploring some history, is a true Los Angeles experience.
Let’s dive deeper into some accessible parts of this beauty. Most of the time on the Queen Mary you’ll spend in the hallways. Why? Because what the Queen Mary is best known for is IT’S HAUNTED. You didn’t see that coming did you? Well before I tell you some of the Queen Mary ghost stories let’s start with accessibility. The halls are really long and wide, perfect for wheeling. The rooms are spacious and easy to wheel around. But I have to tell you late at night if you are scared “wheel easily.” See what I did there? LOL. Funny? No? Ok! This part might not be for you. There are lights but they are dimmed throughout the ship to set the mood. The Queen Mary offers haunted tours and it is a must do for everyone!! Unfortunately, the entire tour is not wheelchair accessible. I recommend wandering the halls while googling Queen Mary ghost stories which are, let me tell you, heart pounding.
Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel
Aw, Disneyland, one of my favorite places to go. And plus! It’s only a few hours from my house. But where do we go when we stay too late? Well, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel of course! Since we are Cali residents, we don’t bother valet’ing, we don’t bring a lot, and the handicap parking is right there in front. When we enter, there is a nice big wide path up to the reception desk. The check-in staff was super friendly and even offered to have us view the room first to see if it would meet our needs. A tip: if you need to rent a wheelchair to use during your visit, the staff at the hotel will help you. Next, we go up to the room. So, it’s basically a standard Disney hotel room. You enter into a narrow hall with a closet on the right, and on the left, a bathroom. The bathroom has space for a decent sized wheelchair and has an accessible shower. Then there’s a living/kitchen/bedroom area all in one. This may be a tight squeeze for an electronic wheelchair. Mine is just a simple Quickie (no pun intended), so it fits through just perfectly. This area has two queen sized beds, a dresser with a Minnie Fridge (no, not really. It’s plain black, but funny joke, right?), a couple Disney pictures and then some rooms have balconies. I have never had a room with a balcony so I can’t speak from there. Let’s go explore some other parts of this hotel! When we stay overnight, we always eat at PCH Bar and Grill. It has a character breakfast featuring Mickey and Friends. Paradise Pier has a Hawaiian theme so all the characters are in their vacation gear. It’s pretty cute, and a great atmosphere too. They have several wheelchair accessible tables which are easy to eat at, and to get to! My chair could not get under so you might want to have that in mind. The restaurant is themed to be a “Hawaiian bar” which Donald Duck has taken over, and invited all of his friends INCLUDING US to have a beach party!!! While you are partying, you see his pals like Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Daisy, and the Goof! Donald has some good cooks because he serves yummy pancakes, eggs, bacon, and healthy drinks! Oh, I almost forgot. I have a secret I wanted to tell you. If you want to go to the rooftop floor, and all the way down the hall, you’ll find a door that seems to lead onto the roof??? And no, I am not about to teach you to break into the Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, but.. you open the door and 3..2..1! You are on the World of Color viewing platform! It is honestly the ultimate best seat in the house. My first tip of the blog. Get there early and stake out a good spot.
To The Streets-
Hermosa Beach Pier and Beach
Ahhhhh, the beach, a place that is very beautiful but not too wheelchair-friendly. There are beach wheelchairs you can check out for the day from the lifeguards, if you want to hit the sand. I have attached a link below. Along all of Hermosa Beach, there’s a long piece of just pavement called “The Strand” which is literally right next to the beach that is perfect for a wheelchair, biking, skateboarding, and strolling! It’s five miles from start to finish. There is also a nice long wheelchair friendly pier that you can roll out to the end and look for dolphins. If you want to have a picnic and don’t want to deal with the sand. I know just the spot for you. There is a big (not Central Park big) grassy park, Noble Park, that has paths run through it. There are benches and grassy hills all throughout it. It is a great spot for the ocean breeze and ocean views outside without sand. If you prefer restaurants there are several restaurants literally right on the Strand to choose from. My favorite is a little restaurant called Scotty’s on the Strand. First off I thought I would mention there’s a nice-sized handicap parking spot right in front of their back door. The more casual part of the restaurant is all windows and nice space between all tables. They have a formal dining room on the opposite side that is more cramped. Pick the casual side, it will not disappoint. Even if you are on a date, I recommend the more casual room, it has wonderful views of the sunset.
The iconic haunted cruise ship here in Los Angeles. I discussed the hotel above but now it is time for the “main attraction” scary story time! So grab some popcorn and a blanket and be prepared to be frightened! This story is called “Accessibility on the Queen Mary”. Once upon a time, a boy was staying on the Queen Mary to see how wheelchair accessible it was. He got to the room (and before anyone asks, no it was not Room B340! Google that if you don’t know what I’m talking about.). So, the room was like the size of two standard roadside hotel rooms. There were three of us so we were very spoiled! The room had two king sized beds, a fair sized bathroom with a roll-in shower, and when the door was closed, the room was very quiet…. almost too quiet. The rest of the boat, however, was not as accessible; which, this isn’t a new cruise ship, so keep that in mind, but the hallways you could roll around. That night they went down to the restaurant. They wanted to sit by the huge windows with the views of the water, but there were steps and no ramp, so they were seated by the bar. The ship was still very silent. Making you wonder even in the restaurant if there were ghosts lurking nearby. The boy saw two strapping men and asked them for a “lift” since they did not have a ramp so they could have a better view of the water during dinner. They were in luck. The men provided the much needed transportation. The dinner was very nice and the food was delicious. Then they retreated back to the hall to journey back to their room. The family was never seen again… Whahahahahah… just kidding, but had to keep you on your toes. Be sure to take the haunted tour on the Queen Mary, it’s frightening!
A day at Disneyland sounds nice doesn’t it? Well guess what? It is a magical place, even if you are in a wheelchair and is a day well spent in Los Angeles! First tip, if you are in a wheelchair, you need to get a DAS Pass, but please note it may take an hour to get the pass upon arrival at Disneyland. Let me tell you about a DAS Pass. It is D disability A access S service pass. The card helps you get to the front of the line quicker if you have health issues that prevent you from waiting in line for long periods of time. Basically the DAS is like a fast pass, and you are provided a return time, in addition to being guaranteed a wheelchair car. When you arrive at Disneyland, head straight to Guest Services. Like I said before the line can take up to an hour, so try to get there right at the opening. When you get the card they will ask you to select your first three rides and their times. I have to be honest, top three rides: Small World, Jungle Cruise, and Buzz Lightyear! You have to try!! Then it is off to start your magical day! First area you will wheel through is Main Street USA. It is full of shops and the sweet treat stores. Easy to wheel around and there are usually characters walking around to say hello and greet you. When you arrive at your first ride show the operator your DAS Pass. They will point you in the direction for Fast Pass and get you set up with your wheelchair accessible ride car. I have to warn you though, wheelchair cars at Disneyland can take forever. Finally our boat arrives. The ride operator will help you wheel on and away you go! If you are looking for a place to eat, you must stop at The Red Rose Tavern. It is themed to my favorite Disney movie Beauty and the Beast! I think they take walk-ups so it’s a must go! There are great views of characters, like Beauty and the Beast, and the food is great too. After eating you may find it is time to use a restroom. Disneyland has a medical facility right on site that you can go and use if you are in a wheelchair and need to use the restroom and/or adult-size changing table. It is a great spot to store any medicines that need to be refrigerated, as well as topping off your g-tube feeding bag. It is located right by Main Street USA and the staff are very helpful and friendly. A day at Disneyland will not disappoint!
Yes, I’m going to admit it, right here, right now, I’m addicted to musical theater and luckily Los Angeles and Hollywood have pretty great venues. I’m going to start with my favorite. Yep, you heard me, I have a favorite venue. The Pantages to be exact. So on with the show! The Pantages Theatre is one of those theaters you pass by and the outside facade looks like it would be very little. But it actually seats 2,703 guests and has plenty of wheelchairs accessible spots. There are about 37 real fairly good-sized wheelchair spots. I usually sit on the, sorry, you don’t get to know the Remember the Ramp seat! Just know, I can see the whole stage. And no, there isn’t a plaque on that space. I don’t want to share where I usually sit, in case you want to buy a ticket the same night. I need my favorite seat in the house. This theater is really cool though. There are balcony seats, which have great views too. There is an open section, again, great views. The theater is art deco style. To anyone that enjoys theater in New York, it is kind of the little brother of the New Amsterdam Theater in NYC. The Pantages has one wheelchair accessible bathroom, so be ready to get in line. I have seen many productions there and they have all been wonderful, but I’d have to say my favorite has been Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of the best parts of seeing a show here is the Stage Door where the actors/actresses come out and meet audience members and sign programs! The only downside is it’s pretty sloped so PARK YOUR BRAKES! Whatever the show, the Pantages is one of those places you cannot miss when you’re rolling through Hollywood, USA! Be sure to make a night of it in Hollywood!