Friday, 5 Mar 2021

Boy with autism will be ‘heartbroken’ if coronavirus cancels Disney trip

An autistic boy's family fear he will be "heartbroken" if their holiday to Disneyland Paris is cancelled because of the coronavirus.

Kevin Chapman, a YouTuber from Peterborough, took his 15-year-old son Andy to Disneyland last year.

He enjoyed it so much they rebooked for 2020 immediately on returning home.

But Mr Chapman is now worried this year's trip will be cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

"His natural habitat is self-isolation, we have to bribe him out of the house with things like Disney," Mr Chapman, 37, told the PA news agency.

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"My big concern as a parent who is self-employed in a very volatile industry is how I fit work around him if we're all stuck at home for an extended period of time.

"If we have school long term school closures and advertising money on YouTube starts to dry up, going on holiday will become the least of our worries."

Disney is offering free refunds and the family is deciding whether or not to cancel the trip in May.

Mr Chapman said: "They're (Disney) offering free refunds or cancellations but we have to decide by April 15, over a month before we're due to travel.

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"If we don't go in May, Andy will be heartbroken and won't understand why he can't go.

"But if we refuse the refund, there's a chance we won't be able to go anyway if things get even worse, and then we risk losing some or all of our money."

Mr Chapman added: "The circumstances obviously can't be helped and it feels very selfish to be worrying about a holiday when there's much bigger things to worry about.

"But on the flip side of that, it's cost us a lot of money, we've saved for a year and our son has his heart set on it so it's an incredibly difficult decision for us to make.

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"We haven't explained it to him yet. He wouldn't understand. As and when we have to cancel, we'll need to be able to give him the new date immediately, and it'll take a while for it sink in that the date has changed.

"He'll find it very difficult. I'm sure I'll be up most of the night trying to work out what the right thing to do is."

Disneyland Paris said while its theme park will be closing, its hotels will remain open.

A spokeswoman for the Walt Disney Company said: "In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month.

"If you hold a reservation at a Disney Hotel for arrivals until June 1, 2020, we have waived all modification and cancellation fees until April 15.

"We will continue to stay in close contact with appropriate officials and health experts."

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