Andrew and his wife Jen have been following along with our page for quite some time. They have just returned from a trip to the USA and have shared their experiences in a blog post for us. Andrew runs an exciting drumming program in Australia and full details can be found at the end of the blog.
Andrew writes –As promised, here is my review of places where we stayed, visited, ate at and were transported by on our trip to Anaheim and Hollywood for The NAMM Show (Candomusos was established to become the global voice for challenged musicians throughout the world. Our aim is to promote and assist musicians with any kind of disability by helping them to bridge the gap between talent and limitations; while providing support and access to resources.) at the Anaheim Convention Center.
We flew Delta, and can’t fault them… even on the way back where we had a US Marshall complain a few times about me fidgeting too much.. like after 10 hours into our flight.. I really needed to go to the loo… the staff were so helpful…got me an aisle chair, helped me to the loo, and even told this guy to pull his head in. When we landed at LAX, someone from Delta met us at the gate and walked us down through Customs and out the door to Super Shuttle. Same in reverse when we landed in Sydney. Again I can’t fault them, we will definitely be flying with Delta again.
We got Super Shuttle to take us from LAX to Anaheim. This was a great wheelchair accessible service, but be warned.. the driver may ask if you can transfer to a seat.. so he can have another passenger… Say NO… as an accessible bus is what you booked.
Thank you so much for the recommendation of Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites, we were thrilled with that place. We had room 231, which was a king size bed, with a wheelchair accessible bathroom. Staff were more than helpful and friendly. With an I HOP on one side and Denny’s on the other… with Disney over the road… you can’t do better for the price. The only complaint, the internet wasn’t so reliable and kept dropping out when we were trying to ring home via Skype or use Facebook.
The purpose of the trip was for me to present at The NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center.
It was so easy to get to using an ART bus from Disneyland.
disneyland/california adventure park
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are the most wheelchair accessible parks I have ever seen.
Rides like: It’s A Small World, Jungle Cruise, Toy Story and Little Mermaid.. all fully wheelchair accessible with ramps, hoists and seats that come out to accommodate a wheelchair.
Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure was our favourite, and it was an easy transfer from my chair to the car. Car and chair were similar height… so just a matter of putting my legs over, and climbing down into the car.
The Pixar Parade was pretty special, thought it was sad that me being in my 40s knew every character. Only disappointment was that Muppets 3D had been FROZEN.
knott’s berry farm
Knott’s Berry Farm was really disappointing, as they had advertised on their website how wheelchair friendly they were and how their rides were so easy accessible.
We found this the exact opposite… all of the rides had transfer signs, but you couldn’t actually get the chair up close to them… so therefore had to walk to the ride. The biggest fail of the day, on the railway station there is a sign that says WHEELCHAIR LIFT AVAILABLE….. but when I got to the train I was told I would have to walk up 4 steps to board. So basically I couldn’t even ride a train around the park. Knott’s the park is very well set out, very flat, ramps in all the restaurants… but disappointing as the rides weren’t as friendly as Disney. If you are in a wheelchair and intending to ride… I’d stay away from Knott’s Berry Farm and go an extra day at Disney. We went to Knott’s because it was part of our LA Go Passes.
Eating around Anaheim wasn’t hard either. Next door to the Desert Inn was IHOP on one side, and Denny’s on the other and if you didn’t want those, you could have a short stroll to Downtown Disney which has a heap of different restaurants. The beauty with IHOP and Denny’s is that they are both 24 hour restaurants. So for that late night snack.. perfect! We found the strawberry and banana pancakes at IHOP irresistible… and were frequent in there at midnight… the staff were so friendly and always up for a chat.
Local shopping in Anaheim at Anaheim Plaza.. they have a Wal-Mart. We went to buy a smartphone we could use while in the US.. for $19 we got a T-Mobile with Unlimited Calls, Texts and 500gig Data.. which was perfect for calling taxis… and using facebook for photos while you are out and about.
Speaking of taxis, expect a long wait in Anaheim if you are wanting a wheelchair cab. There are only 2 cabs in the area. I found myself climbing in and out of normal taxis… and Jen taking chair apart. A better alternative are the ART Buses (Anaheim Resort Transportation), they have the main interchange at Disney and take you all over Anaheim on different routes… even Knott’s Berry Farm… although.. don’t expect a bus to turn up at Knott’s when its raining.. as we found out. ART buses are great for wheelchairs, all accessible with hoists and tie downs.
Another hard thing about Anaheim as people need to be aware, there isn’t really much transport from Anaheim to Hollywood… trains aren’t as frequent during the day. We had a friend organise a lift for us. made things so much easier.. as tour bus companies want to charge $200 or more.
Also, I found it amazing… that there are hardly any Unisex disabled toilets in LA or the United States. I found a lot of time going into the women’s toilets with my wife.. which was a little embarrassing when it was crowded.
When we got to Hollywood, we passed by a tour company on Hollywood Boulevard, did a tour of LA and Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and Homes of the movie stars for $20 each. It wasn’t wheelchair accessible at all, but the guys were happy to help lift me up into the van. They stored my chair at a near by store until we got back. The tour went for 2 hours… we were a bit disappointed that it was a bit dark to see some places… but the view from the Mulholland Drive lookout was amazing.
Best place we found to see the Hollywood sign, was either the Hollywood & Highland Shopping Center, or down near Hollywood & Vine near the Capitol Records building.
We did 4 museums in one day… tiring but amazing experience. Started with The Hollywood Museum.. we saw this place on The Treasure King on A&E on Foxtel and wanted to check it out. Best part was Hannibal Lectre’s jail cell… was a heap of old movie props.. photos and other bits of memorabilia in the old Max Factor factory next to Mel’s Drive In on North Highland Avenue.
Next up was Madame Tassauds on Hollywood Boulevard, it was pretty much what you expected.. although the Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop and Gone with the Wind sets were pretty cool.. some of the models were the same as what we have here in Sydney. One staff member said they do have a few which appear in every Madame T all over the world.
Stopped into McDonalds on Hollywood Boulevard for a drink… again no unisex disabled toilets.. but they do have tables with wheelchair logos… which are reserved for people in wheelchairs. We noticed Starbucks do the same… but they had a Unisex loo.
Ripley’s Believe it or not museum was interesting, fully wheelchair accessible with ramps and lifts.. so many weird and odd things to see.. one cool thing was the psychedelic screen with a camera and everything in the room projected on the screen in bright colours.. wheelchair looked incredible
Guinness Book of World Records museum wasn’t as good as the others although it did have some interesting things on the walls… including a plaque about a friend of ours Johnny Rabb.. the world’s fastest drummer
Hollywood Wax Museum was more entertaining and a bit better than Madam T’s. The Pirates of the Caribbean exhibit, even Steve Irwin… Jen got into bed with Hugh Heffner! lol
We bought a combo pass at Ripley’s which included Ripley’s, Guinness World Records and Hollywood Wax Museum.
ACCOMMODATION IN LOS ANGELES
Motel 6 Hollywood.. was a great budget hotel.. only problem we had was the steep driveway to the car park… and pets… dogs barking in the middle of the night… but good value for money and so close to Hollywood Boulevard.
Accessible Tattoo parlour
We even found a tattoo place that was wheelchair accessible. California Tattoos on Hollywood Boulevard… saw they had a wheelie logo on their door.. so Jen says come on lets go… the drum tatt was from the last trip.
Last, but definitely one of the highlights of our trip was Universal Studios.. Universal and Disney have gone so far to make their parks as wheelchair accessible as possible. Jen and I haven’t had so much fun… the trams to get up to Universal City, the studio tour trams are all wheelchair accessible.. with lock downs.. most of the rides are easy for someone who can transfer.
Highly recommend Minions… Transformers.. and The Simpsons…. I tried to get in the Mummy.. but my legs wouldn’t bend enough for the coaster train… Jurassic Park we didn’t try because of the step down into the boat.
ANDREW’S DRUMMING PROGRAM
Sydney based drummer Andrew Hewitt is known globally as “Australia’s Most Inspirational Drummer”. Despite being born with CP, and spending his days in a wheelchair, Andrew has been pushing his way into the music world for the past 20 years. He plays drums in bands and at jam nights around Sydney, travels the country performing, and speaking at conferences.
On top of this Andrew is a drum teacher, teaching people with disabilities of all kinds, and helping them find their own creative voice. Andrew says “It’s not about finding the next best drummer, it’s about helping the student gain confidence, build self esteem and find something “cool” they can do”. The only rule in Andrew’s studio is.. the word CAN’T stays outside the front door.
Andrew also runs an education program which he picked up in the USA in 2013. The Rhythmic Arts Project Down Under or TRAP’D is based on The Rhythmic Arts Project which was founded by Eddie Tuduri in 1997 and has been successful in the USA, Canada and South America since. Andrew is now trying to get his version TRAP’D out to disability centres. During a TRAP’D Session 7 people sit in a half circle, they learn to read, count, spell an use basic life skills by beating numbers and spelling aloud on a variety of hand drums and percussion instruments.
If you didn’t think this was enough, Andrew is also a board member for Can-Do Musos, a global voice for musicians with a disability. So far the Can-Do Musos website has 145 musicians from 18 countries. Recently, Can-Do Musos was presented at The NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, which Andrew and his wife Jennifer attended and presented.
Andrew Hewitt – Drum Lessons and TRAP’D – http://www.drummerstix.com.au
Can-Do Musos – http://www.candomusos.com
A big thank you to Andrew and Jen for taking lots of photos and providing an insight into your travels. It is great to have people willing to share their experiences to help others.
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sonja hickson says
hi jenny we just returned from the USA with our daughters Rebecca 22 and jess with 19 who has CP we have been following you for a while . I am personally pleased to see your family out and about in this amazing world in which we live, With your wonderful always smiling son BJ. our jess just loves travelling we have taken her overseas mainly the USA be so accessible and our motto is. WHAT wheelchair
you seem to be a fantastic mum it would be great to meet up one day in the future cheers sonja from Cairns Qld
Hi Sonja, It is so fantastic to hear of our readers travels. I love your attitude and yes, the US is really accessible. Thanks for your comments and a shame I didn’t know you were keen to meet up when we were in Cairns last year. Julie
Andrew Hewitt says
We were back in Los Angeles again this past January, and we used more public transport… everything in LA is so wheelchair accessible… Sydney has a lot to learn 🙂 especially now you can’t even buy a train or bus ticket without ordering online…. Metro trains are just roll on… roll off.. no need to wait for someone to put a ramp down…. we caught an Amtrak from Anaheim to Union Station (LA), and I didnt have to get out of my chair.. they just folded a seat up and bolted me to the floor. Buses are great…Artic in Anaheim have hoists, and the Metro buses in Hollywood and LA have fold down ramps.. think the buses I went on actually were all automated. :)The only complaint I had… was disabled toilets… they are in the mens and womens… unisex loos are very rare.
Thanks for the update Andrew. Great to hear that using public transport went so well. We found the same in LA. Regarding the disabled toilets, my advice is to seek out stores as they usually have one unisex bathroom. GAP in the Hollywood area has a large one upstairs. They have a key and will open for you. Stores like Target, Walmart, World Market, CVS, Rite-Aid often have one at the back of their store. Old Navy and in The Grove shopping mall Nordstroms has a good one upstairs 1st floor.