Lolo Spencer: An Accessible Journey Through Kissimmee
Tag along and listen to Lolo Spencer tell her story in the third episode of Experience Kissimmee's hit show.
A destination known for over-the-top family fun might not immediately come to mind for accessible travel. However, the attractions in and around Kissimmee, Florida have come a long way in making activities fun for as many as possible, no matter their circumstance. Whether it’s joining friends for bowling in Disney Springs or braving the waist-deep water to meet a dolphin, Lolo Spencer’s episode of The Kissimmee Experience will convince you to give it a try.
Lauren "Lolo" Spencer
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The Hampton Social
To start their journey, Lolo met up with the show host Jen Bonner for a delicious coastal-inspired lunch. They chose The Hampton Social, one of the many restaurants at Pointe Orlando, a walkable entertainment district not far from Kissimmee. The New England clam chowder and shrimp tacos were big hits, but the crew favorite was the spinach dip, an unassuming appetizer with an unexpected delightful twist in the flavor profile—parmesan and garlic.
The Hampton Social is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Monday through Friday they open at 11:00 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday they add an additional brunch menu, available until 3:00 p.m.
An Afternoon of Bowling
Living with mobility challenges makes most normal daily chores difficult, and other activities seemingly impossible. For example, before visiting Splitsville Luxury Lanes, a hip bowling alley in Disney Springs, Lolo had never participated in bowling. The venue itself could seem daunting with multiple levels, however the elevators and wide ramps allowed her to navigate easily. The staff provided a bowling assist ramp, which she used to aim and push her bowling ball down the lane, for the very first time.
Splitsville is known for its upscale experience taking place in 50,000 square feet of bowling, billiards, and entertainment. Their menu is a combination of familiar and elevated dishes, including an impressive sushi list. Parking and admission is always free at Disney Springs, and there are many activities to pass the time before and after a game of bowling.
At the bowling alley, Lolo sat down with Jen for an enlightening conversation that inspired the whole crew. She explained the tenets of universal design, a design and development practice that encourages makers of all sorts to consider everyone when fabricating their products. After all, a product, garment, or tourism experience that is easily experienced by someone with a handicap is also a naturally friendly product for everyone else. The question then becomes—shouldn’t all our products be designed with everyone in mind?
My overall experience was amazing. The city is very welcoming and everyone was incredibly kind. And the level of accessibility made me feel safe and comfortable which is the best feeling while traveling as a person with a disability.
— Lolo Spencer
Another must-do for anyone nervous about stability during water activities is the dolphin encounter at Discovery Cove. The venue’s friendly and efficient staff provided a beach-friendly wheelchair that rolled halfway into the water, and Lolo took the last few steps herself with the help of her friend Kelly and Jen. According to the staff, the dolphins that participate in the meet-and-greet are accustomed to interacting with folks with all types of unique needs, and they are naturally empathetic creatures.
The dolphin trainer guided Lolo and Jen through the interaction, using hand signals to encourage the dolphin to wave with its fin, pose with its tail up, or swim out into the lagoon and jump into the air.
My favorite part was with the beautiful dolphins. I never expected myself to be so adventurous and get in the water with dolphins, but Discovery Cove brings the joy of adventure out of you.
— Lolo Spencer
There are many other activities to enjoy at Discovery Cove, such as small animal encounters like sloths, small anteaters, or various birds. The animal expert brought out one of their sloths to meet Lolo and Jen, a truly unique experience! They also ventured into the aviary where they fed colorful and exotic birds.
Despite my overwhelming nervousness around the birds at Discovery Cove, I had a blast. I’m just happy I challenged myself to do something new and conquer it.
— Lolo Spencer
Discovery Cove is truly a one-of-a-kind park. Besides special excursions, the admission ticket is the only thing you’ll pay for, since parking, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), and food (including breakfast, lunch, and snacks) are all complimentary.
Plan Your Own Accessible Experience in Kissimmee
Besides the activities Lolo enjoyed, folks with accessible needs can find many other attractions with a wide range of offerings. LEGOLAND is a Certified Autism Center with kid-friendly activities and a brand new Peppa Pig Theme Park on the property. After learning about gators and other unique animals, you can ride the only wheelchair-accessible zip line in the world at Gatorland. Speaking of wheelchair accessibility, many vacation home mansions in the Jeeves Florida Rentals portfolio have full elevators leading to each floor of the home.
Episode Three Locations
Check out the locations of Lolo's itinerary for the third episode of The Kissimmee Experience.