Probably the single most important qualification needed for writing any book on Disneyland is … Disneyland. One needs to have a passion for the park and the experience. Stu Haasis was born in 1954 – about the time the park was being built – and entered the park with his family the first time in 1957. Ever since, he has had an enduring passion for Disneyland as well as a respect for what has become an American institution. As he grew, got married and had a family of his own, he took his own kids. Just recently he has began taking his grandkids.
But over the years, access to this experience gradually became more challenging. Stu has a form of Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that gradually weakens muscles. His enjoyment of the Disneyland experience changed over the years as his declining status meant participating in less and less of the attractions. He sought access and brought his own sense of adaptability. He began to take notes. Though the Disney Company made great efforts to make much of the park accessible, Stu found the published materials were lacking in enough information to make the most out of his visits. The notes he took after each visit eventually developed into this book, “The Disabled Person’s Guide to Disneyland”.
With a Master’s Degree in Psychology, Stu also brings something else to the table; an insight into why so many people – disabled or not – want to go to this magical place. Why is it that so many Make a Wish recipients want to go to Disneyland? Why is it that when we celebrate a great achievement, we proclaim, “I’m going to Disneyland!”? What makes Disneyland the “Happiest Place on Earth?” These very qualities of the experience motivated Stu to write this book so that the experience was accessible to all.
Stu lives with his wife, Linda, in Tempe, Arizona. His children, Amy, Steven, and Sara have all been to Disneyland more times than they can count. As of this writing, his granddaughters, Addison and Riley (age 3), have been 5 times. They already now know that Disneyland was built by Walt Disney, that he had a dream, and that dreams can come true.