People who aren’t disabled see disabled people as tragic. If the odds are ever going to get better in the full-inclusion sweepstakes, our vast community has to figure out a way of driving a sharp wedge between the word “disability” and the perceived connotations of heartbreak, pain, suffering, weakness, humiliation, flesh eating bacteria, and there-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I looks at the mall. Sure, all of those things happen from time to time, but they are only a small part of a much bigger, full-color snapshot. They don’t show the exuberant, light-hearted side of our lives.
What better way to do that than a disability-centric theme park?
Welcome to DISLAND.
Knott’s Berry Farm took a working berry farm and made it into a destination vacation. The Holy Land Amusement Park in Orlando, Fla., is the Bible in dazzling papier mâché, with exhibits like an illuminated cross and a visit to Calvary’s Garden Tomb. We have the demographics to go toe to toe with either. One out of two people in America knows a relative or close friend with a disability and would love to treat them to an entertainment experience of a lifetime. Disland could be anywhere where the land is cheap, maybe way outside of Vegas, and anywhere you can get to by an Access Van. It’s got to be big to draw the crowds.
As you walk into the entrance of this fully-accessible wonderland, you encounter a 20-foot high animatronic of FDR in his customized chair, an awe-inspiring behemoth who both speechifies — “The only fear we have …” — and artfully directs you to the restrooms and gift shop.
Before the big fun, there is a quasi-educational pavilion displaying things like the history of the wheelchair — “Look, Mommy, that one is m