A Quick Guide for Visiting SeaWorld With a Disability

Going on vacation should be a relaxing, enjoyable time for everyone. Even for those with disabilities. Having a disability is no reason that you shouldn’t have just as much fun as anyone else.  Though this may seem like an intimidating, even impossible, undertaking. There is absolutely no reason that the disabled person cannot visit theme parks and enjoy them as well as any other able-bodied person.  Fortunately, the major theme parks of Florida have considered this. As mentioned in the other articles about visiting Disney and Universal Studios with a Disability, SeaWorld Orlando happily goes out of its way to accommodate those differently abled. SeaWorld is yet another one of the wondrous, expansive parks available for your enjoyment in the Orlando, Florida area.  A trip here can add to an already enjoyable vacation, but like the other parks, it requires proper planning and preparation, especially if you have a disability.  This theme park and the marine zoological park also include the neighboring Aquatica and Discovery Cove and local, neighboring hotels- and are the 10th most visited attraction in the United States. So a trip here can be quite the undertaking. Fortunately, SeaWorld has several accommodations and policies, which we will inform you about here, to make this stop, even with a disability, fun for everyone.

Enjoy your vacation. Go in prepared and understand what your limitations and permissions are for your abilities. Pace yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The SeaWorld Ambassadors are trained to assist you and see to your special needs. We will discuss some of the accommodations and policies:

  • Mobility
  • Service Animals
  • Certified Autism Center
  • Food Allergens          

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For those with mobility or physical disabilities, simply getting around to the rides and around the park itself can be difficult.  SeaWorld’s Ride Accessibility Program (RAP) provides a guideline to make sure even those differently abled can enjoy the facilities to their fullest. SeaWorld offers ECVs (Electronic Convenience Vehicles) and wheelchairs for rental on a first-come-first-served basis; reservations are recommended. Segways are not permitted but you are allowed to bring your own ECV, wheelchair, or stroller.  Patrons must be able to transfer to ride by themselves or with aid of a family member, SeaWorld Ambassadors are not permitted to assist in the transfer from a wheelchair. Some rides are restricted by height or size, signs located at front of the ride will inform you of any such restrictions, and some rides offer test seats, so you can see if you can fit comfortably within the restraints.  Anyone with heart problems, pregnancy, neck or back problems, recent surgery, high blood pressure, motion sickness, headache, nausea, or sensitivity to lights should not ride. Those with prostheses or amputations should be able to brace themselves or secure prostheses based on each ride’s requirements. Guests with casts, walking boots, etc. may be restricted from certain rides, check Individual Ride Information on each ride. Oxygen tanks are not permitted on any ride except SkyTower.

Service Animals

Service animals are welcome at SeaWorld, but are limited to dogs and miniature horses that are task trained to mitigate a specific disability. They must be under handler control at all times on leash or harness and be housebroken. There is a Relief Area at the Pet Care Center at the Front Gate. Service animals are not allowed on most rides. They are only allowed on SkyTower, Paddle Boats, Sunny Day Carousel, Slimy’s Slider, Abby’s Flower Tower, and Elmo’s Choo Choo Train. If at any time your service animal is out of control, you will be asked to remove it from the premises.

Certified Autism Center

Sesame Street Land at Orlando and SeaWorld have worked together with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards to designate it as a Certified Autism Center. All Ambassadors receive extra training to make sure they have the knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise needed to deal with all children, especially those with special needs. Their training focuses on sensory awareness, motor skills, autism overview, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness.

There is a Child Care Facility in Sesame Street Land that has The Quiet Room, which provides a break from sensory stimulation if needed. It offers private/occupied status on a first-come-filrst-served basis. An area that is less stimulating is between Turtle Trek and Dolphin Cove. There are family and companion-assist restrooms and all restrooms are wheelchair accessible. For more details by Sesame Street Land and SeaWorld on autism and sensory travel planning with young children, check out the resources here: https://seaworld.com/orlando/help/certified-autism-center/

Food Allergens

Sometimes, your challenge isn’t just mobility or cognitive related, but in every bite you eat. SeaWorld and Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) have worked together to train their Ambassadors working in the food centers to meet your needs here as well. Each staff member there is well-trained in allergen management for your safety.  It is recommended that once you select someplace to eat, check with the supervisor on duty, explain your allergen or dietary restriction, and select your meal from their suggestions. Don’t forget to have them explain about cross-contamination as well. SeaWorld’s Designated Allergen Friendly Location is the Sharks Underwater Grill. It has been selected as the most allergen-fit restaurant in the park, with full-service dining and trained chefs at hand for your needs. If you go to one of the other restaurants, try to go during the slow times, so you have time to talk to the supervisor about your dietary needs.

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Going on vacation can be daunting, a challenge even under the best of circumstances. But if you have a disability or a child with a disability, it may seem impossible, or hardly worth the effort.  Trust me, these parks are not to be missed and are worth the extra planning and effort it may take to visit! Each park has gone out of its way to make your visit enjoyable and as effortless as possible, no matter what your abilities. SeaWorld Orlando has several accommodations for the physically and mobility challenged, as well as the cognitively challenged and even those with food allergens. Their hard work has paid off and has made it possible for you to have an enjoyable trip to SeaWorld Orlando, even with a disability. Have a great vacation!

Be sure to check out these other articles about accessibility at theme parks:

BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! To make the most out of your next Florida vacation as a family, check out these passes from Groupon which allow you to have the most amount of fun for the least amount of money!

Be sure also to check out our BEST DEALS AND ATTRACTION TICKETS page for a full list of the best prices on all of the top Florida theme parks and attractions.

Linda Aiken

Retired soccer mom; Mom of "the boy" (Gabriel); SAHM; and mom to one furbaby, Leo, who rules the house!

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