Being a real-life princess isn’t just about glass slippers, braids, and up-dos. A kind heart is the number one attribute and Giselle Evelyn has the greatest. Giselle is from Jacksonville, Florida and was born happy and healthy. Her parents knew prenatally there was a chance for Down Syndrome, but they decided not to risk invasive testing because they would find out when she arrived.
Now at 5 years old, Giselle is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and is the happiest kid on the block, with the best parents out there. At 8 months old she had open-heart surgery. After a wonderful recovery, Giselle and her parents decided to mark this event as a second birthday. They celebrate every year at Giselle’s favorite place—Walt Disney World Resort!
Disney means so much more to Giselle’s family than just a theme park, a character, or a movie. Disney means confidence, social interaction, and making dreams turn into reality. Her family appreciates the DAS (Disability Access Services) System that Disney World provides them with. Their adventures consist of Giselle dressing up as her favorite characters and reuniting with her best buddies. Whether she sits and has a quick chat with Pocahontas, swings by to meet with her bud Gaston, or gives a high five to her pal Tink (or as Giselle calls “Butterfly”), Giselle is one girl you want to hang with.
Giselle’s happy place is sitting and watching the ducks or riding the carousel at Disney World. However, when she wants to ride on the attractions, her and her family use DAS, Fast Passes, and stroller sticker access for their perfect experience at the park. Unlike Disneyland Resort, which has same-day FastPass, Walt Disney World Resort provides guests with advance selection via FastPass+. Disney World has a greater advantage for guests with disabilities with their customized MagicBands.
Her mother explains their process by stating,
Every time we go, Disney is always amazing to us. They provide her with the DAS card, but I usually have all my FP’s lined up. We rarely need the card except on super long, busy days. We wouldn’t be able to manage without the wheelchair/stroller sticker. She is 46 pounds now and carrying her even through a FP line would be unthinkable. When we arrive at the first park of our trip, we head to Guest Services. They ask us what our needs are for the DAS. We explain and they take a picture of Giselle. They scan all the MagicBands in the party so we are linked to her pass. And then we go off and enjoy the park! We definitely try to use the DAS with the Fast Passes, but honestly we don’t ride a ton of stuff. Giselle just likes being there, waving to people, seeing characters, and watching the ducks.
As a mother with a special needs child, Giselle’s mama makes sure to pack all the essential things for their trip. Giselle always has a stuffed animal or doll with her, which usually matches her costume, for comfort. Another comfort technique the family practices is using a calming technique of rubbing tags or plastic. Finally, her favorite snacks are always packed because sometimes she is so overwhelmed she won’t eat real meals, just snacks. Preparations like these are crucial for a perfect trip.
Like I said before, Giselle is a real-life princess so obviously she fits right in with all of the girls—Rapunzel, Ariel, Cinderella…you know, the girls. Meeting with her favorite Disney princesses has exceedingly opened her world. Since Giselle is non-verbal, the interaction helps her bare her warm heart and surprises her parents by being so open.
Giselle flips a switch when we go to Disney. She becomes so much more social and interactive. I think Disney has boosted her confidence and her ability to be outgoing beyond measure. Sometimes she can be shy, but not usually with the characters. She walks right up and sits down next to them, ready to chat and be friends I suppose. It doesn’t matter how long we are away, I truly think she feels like she is reuniting with her friends.
As you can see, Giselle loves to dress up. Her mother sews most of her costumes herself or buys them from the Disney Store. She gets a lot of attention at the park for her chic original pieces. Since her mother is a professional photographer, she is always able to help capture Giselle’s magical princess moments.
Giselle seems to know when she gets a new costume, and she loves them all equally. I think she likes anything that swirls or has fairy wings the most.
Giselle will continue to embrace Disney into her life and meet with her buds at the park. She is an inspiration for young girls everywhere. If you can dream it, you can do it. Let your dreams become your reality. These are the mottos Giselle lives by and you should too. Thank you, Giselle for sharing your story and your princess virtues! If you would like to follow Giselle’s fairytales, follow her @facebook.com/GisellesGarden.
DisneyExaminer will continue to distribute stories about Disney fans with disabilities and their experience at Disneyland. If you have a story that you would like to include, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you missed our first story on Austin and how he does not let his condition with Cerebral Palsy stop him from having a fun time at Disneyland, click HERE.
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