Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed about travelling to Las Vegas and Disneyland. On April 1, 2014, my dream finally became reality at the age of 39. A 16-hour flight with Qantas Airlines took me from Melbourne, Australia to Los Angeles, California.
I wanted to drive down the historic Route 66. Since the people I traveled with are all from Australia, they did not feel comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road in unfamiliar surroundings. I hired a mini-bus from Roadrunner Shuttle and Limousine Service and was lucky to meet a wonderful driver named Hector. He became our permanent driver for our remaining time in the USA. Unfortunately, it was an expensive way to travel around the USA.
We left the Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel in Anaheim, California to take the long trip to the biggest Party City in the world. The drive was incredible – I had never seen so many cacti and so much desert. My partner and mum fell asleep due to boredom. I took in every moment as though it was my last.
We arrived at our hotel in Las Vegas, the Bellagio. Hustle and bustle, water falls, bright lights and hotels everywhere! I was in awe, and couldn’t believe I had finally made it.
When booking the hotel from my home country Australia, I was looking for the best wheelchair accessible room available. I was blown away when I received an e-mail reply from the Bellagio with photos of the accessible room. No way… It had a ceiling hoist! My country needs to wake-up; our government needs to regulate accessible rooms based on the example of the Bellagio Hotel.
The weather seemed odd to me – it was autumn in Melbourne, but in America it was spring! Flowers, ponds and butterflies… just mind blowing! We checked-in and unpacked in our room, on the 29th floor. I remember when my partner opened our room door, my reaction was WOW! A ceiling hoist over the beds and in the bathroom. The bathroom was huge – there was plenty of room for me, my wheelchair, shower chair and change bench. The accessible features included a roll-in shower with hand held hose and spa bath, electric blinds, light switches low enough to reach and a long length mirror I could sit in front off. I felt like the room was designed just for me.
It was time to explore Las Vegas. WOW again – not much more came out of my mouth. Every hotel was accessible. Each hotel and casino had a different theme, from Ancient Rome to Paris and New York City!
We went to see the amazing show “O” by Cirque Du Soleil. Mischievous and visually stunning show. It was a fantastic world of bewilderment and awe with beautiful acrobatics surrounded by air, fire and prominently water. We were given super star treatment, escorted to our dress circle seats – a simply amazing view. They took professional photos of my group, which were to be collected after the show. I was lucky enough to be given some at no charge. We were certainly looked after.
We also had to see Las Vegas for what it is known for: glamour, glitz and lights. We decided to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. We were escorted directly in and out of the lift, no waiting time was required. I was allowed to stay on the top deck for as long as I wished. It was breathtaking. I was with my loved ones and I wanted the moment to last forever.
We often went for a ride on the tram from Bellagio to the Monte Carlo, along the Las Vegas Strip. It was accessible, handy and a great way to see parts of Las Vegas. There was also a Monorail on the MGM Hotel side of The Strip which was wheelchair friendly and another great way to see different parts of the city. The roads were also accessible. Whenever there was a bridge or elevated walkway to cross a road there was a lift. Often a couple of the lifts were out of order but there was always one available at the next bridge. There was no issue with a wheelchair user accessing the entire Las Vegas Strip.
I was a child in a candy shop when it came to shopping. I loved shopping at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets. The Bellagio Hotel arranged for me to be picked up in an accessible taxi. The only downside to Vegas was the taxi service. We found the taxis to be extremely tiny and unclean. If the Belliago hotel arranged the booking, there was never an issue in reaching our destination however the return trip was always an issue. We had to wait up to 2 hours and often the Taxi Company would send a non accessible taxi by mistake. I often wondered if it was because people found it hard to understand the Aussie accent and that is what caused the confusion. When meeting people, everyone loved our accents, and would deliberately started conversations just to hear our Aussie accent!
The casinos were mind blowing: lights, sparkly and glamour! Poker machines and gaming tables were all around. Waitresses appeared like in the Roaring 20’s. The Poker and slot machines were low – I could reach almost all of them from my wheelchair. I was in heaven.
I didn’t want to leave Las Vegas, but after 11 nights it was time to say goodbye and begin our next adventure in Santa Monica.