Disneyland may be regarded by many as a place where childhood dreams come true, but for one unfortunate lady and her poor family, their long awaited trip to Disneyland Paris almost turned into a hellish nightmare.
When British woman Justine Sharples managed to get enough money together to take her desperately ill son Matthew and the rest of her family to Disneyland, she had no reason to believe the four-day holiday would be anything but the dream Disney trip that so many families across the world save hard and plan patiently for.
Initially, Justine was told that the trip would cost $7,573. However, because her three-year-old son Matthew needs 24-hour-care and a fridge to store his essential food and medicines in, Justine asked if Disneyland could provide a fridge in her room.
Disney agreed, but only if Justine would pay $56,477 instead of the initial $7,573.
Matthew’s mother was mortified at Disney’s lack of understanding. To her, a fridge was not a luxury, but an essential practicality which was vitally important to her son’s well-being.
Matthew suffers from a congenital anomaly causing a blockage in the urethra with the added complications of acute renal failure and a damaged bladder and colon.
Because of his condition, Matthew is unable to eat normally and survives on baby milk pumped directly into his stomach through a tube.
He relies on a 12-times-daily cocktail of drugs, which must be refrigerated, and his mother has to catheterize him every two hours.
Justine told the Mail on Sunday:
“Disney insisted the cost was high because the only accommodation at the resort with a fridge was their Sleeping Beauty suite, ‘used by celebrities.’ I was offered the use of the fridge in the Disneyland Hotel’s reception but explained this was impractical as I had to get up three times nightly to administer drugs and catheterise Matthew.”
Justine offered to provide her own fridge or pay extra for one to be fitted in a standard room, but her solution was refused because it was ‘against hotel policy.’
Justine was devastated and explained:
“Disney is everything Matthew loves. He so wants to see Buzz Lightyear and the other characters. We don’t know how long we’ve got him for because his condition, called PUV, is life threatening.”
This story, however, does have a happy ending. When The Mail on Sunday contacted Disney, a spokesperson said there had been a ‘misunderstanding’ with hotel booking staff.
The spokesperson told The Mail:
“Mrs Sharples has booked two rooms with Disneyland Paris. One will come with a portable fridge to accommodate medicine for her son Matthew. We sincerely regret any misunderstanding that occurred. Disneyland Paris works with around 80 different wish-giving associations across Europe and we warmly welcome children who require special care.”
As a result of the ‘misunderstanding,’ the Sharples family have also been provided with complimentary VIP tickets.