Over Memorial Day weekend we spent two days at an amusement park. We’ve never taken a family vacation before. We’ve traveled to visit extended family during the holidays, yes. But we’ve never taken a trip, just us, just to have fun.

The girls and I visited Storyland with my sister last summer – it’s perfectly suited for a younger crowd. This year I could not wait for Brandon to experience Rhema and Hope.

To see and feel and never forget Rhema’s uncontainable-missing two front-teeth grin of sheer glee accompanied by a little giggle and a little wiggle just as the roller coaster plummets. (That look on her face is a comfort to me on harder days. I know my girl has known joy.)

To witness the stuff of fairytale dreams and magic shining in Hope’s eyes as she rides in the pumpkin coach up to the castle and hugs Cinderella. Holding her Daddy’s hand, she believes she’s a beautiful princess, too.


I told him about the “Disability Pass”. The one that allows children with disabilities to avoid waiting in long queues. I felt a smidge of guilt using it at times – like we were cutting the line. Brandon pointed out that it was actually called a VIP pass. And that’s about right. The amusement park staff treated us – the whole family – like “Very Important People.”

Maybe I’m romanticizing things a bit, but it almost seemed like an acknowledgement… like they were saying, ‘We get that life can be extra challenging sometimes. But here, well, just have a good time as a family.’

I looked at my Hope and thought of all the big-little sacrifices she makes as the sibling of a special needs child. This time she held her sister’s hand. And got to go first.

It had me thinking about a heavenly VIP pass. One in which the broken, the needy, the disqualified, the guilty and ashamed… are given a pass, invited in. The King Himself takes the hand and puts a ring of grace on my finger. He makes me a daughter – a princess, adorning me in mercy’s robe and sandals for dancing free.

The use of these passes at parks have generated some controversy. I’ve heard some people complain. I’ve heard others have abused the passes. But at that little park on that special day, we were grateful for the VIP status. We made a point of going to the office and saying ‘thank you, you have no idea, we couldn’t have done this day without your help.’

We rode on every ride together, we acquired funny-colored tongues from rainbow snow cones, we inhaled powdered sugar off fried dough, each of us storing up the memories as treasures in the heart.

15 thoughts on “VIPs

  1. Storyland is our happiest place on earth. We go there every year (sometimes twice) for just the reasons you’ve described. When we leave, my son asks how many more sleeps until the next time we go. He asks all winter long. He sleeps with the map. It’s his obsession. And we’re more than happy to indulge him.
    I’m SO glad your visit went well. The smiles on their faces on the balloon ride say it all. Your children are princesses and deserve to be treated as so.

  2. I am so happy for you!! Storyland is so fun. We took Anna years ago but have yet to take the two kids together. I am so glad you were all able to have a great time. Thank God for the VIP pass…there may be abusers out there, but when the staff see families like you and how blessed you were, they know that it’s definitely something that’s needed.

  3. What a beautiful miracle!! Yes, indeed your Hope sounds like my Mae Mae. I actually did not know about these VIP passes. So I thank you for this information! As always your words are beautiful and so full of hope. It is truly a glorious way to start off the week! So thank you!!!

  4. Judith had a terrific post on “Autismville” about feeling that same smidge of guilt when using VIP passes at, I think, Disneyland. I believe it was Andy who pointed out that the families waiting in line had not spent half the time that we have spent waiting at doctors’ offices, clinics, therapy centers, schools, etc over the years. It was a great observation and a terrific post that has eased my own twinge of guilt once or twice – I wish I could find her link! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I don’t know why this made me cry. Afterall it’s not a sad story at all. I guess I’m just so happy for you that you were all able to enjoy the day as a family. I wish you many many more good, happy days.

  6. I know what you mean, we were in Legoland for spring break and we got the pass. Some people were really upset and even walked over to me. I told one person, what this little boy has had to endure the past 6 years because of his ‘disability’, you would not want your child to have to go through. She was just silent. Some people just don’t get it.

    I’m glad you guys had such a good day; don’t feel guilty. And yes, what a treat for the siblings!

  7. Pingback: Es-ca-pades « Autism In a Word

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