Visiting a theme park can be an exhilarating, exhausting experience, and that’s if you’re able-bodied. Visiting with a disability can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge. But theme parks like Disney World Orlando and Universal Studios, mentioned in my other article, Visiting Universal Studios With A Disability, go out of their way to make dream vacations possible for everyone, no matter their level of health ability. In this article, in particular, Disney World Orlando incorporates standards, policies, and accommodations for those with disabilities. Knowing about these accommodations and policies will help make your vacation less stressful and easier to enjoy. So like the other article, I will discuss accommodations and policies.
Knowing what to prepare for before heading to a theme park can completely alter your experience. It can be the difference between an enjoyable experience and an agonizing, stressful, and painful one. Learning the facts and familiarizing yourself with these guidelines will only make your trip all the more enjoyable.
Once inside the gates, ECVs (Electric Convenience Vehicles) are available for rent for a monetary fee plus a deposit. Also available are manual wheelchairs. Both are available on a first-come, first-served basis and have limited quantities at all four parks. At each attraction, there are symbol guides, also located on your map and the app, which show the accessibility of each ride. Some may allow you to ride your ECV or wheelchair on a ride/attraction. Others may require you to leave it and transfer to the actual ride itself. And some may yet still make you leave your ECV or wheelchair a the entrance and walk in line to the ride itself. This kind of ride usually has manual wheelchairs available to borrow while in line if you cannot walk or stand n line for long periods of time. Also, if you cannot wait, stand or walk long periods in line due to limitations, Disney has a program, the Disability Access Service (DAS), which allows you to check into a ride and receive a return time equable to the wait time you would normally spend in line. This way you don’t have to actually stand in line, you can return at your appointed time and check in and proceed to ride. This is for those who cannot stand in line whether it be for physical or cognitive disabilities.
For those with hearing disabilities, Disney World offers handheld and video captioning, assistive listening, and sign language interpreting. These accommodations are available at various attractions and can be accessed by asking a cast member or guest services.
Service animals are welcome at Disney. They must be on a leash or harness at all times and under control. Cast members cannot take control of animals. Animals may not be able to ride all rides, if not, then Rider Switch can be used. Rider Switch allows one person to ride while the other person waits with a service animal or child and then the adults swap, allowing the other adult to enter the ride without standing through the line. See cast members for questions or help. Service animals are not allowed in water features or attractions. Relief areas are located in specific areas throughout the park. Some attractions have limited or no access to service animals. For more detailed info see the link: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/service-animals/
Disney also has aids for those with visual disabilities, Audio descriptions, braille handbooks, portable tactile maps booklets, stationary braille maps, and information about service animals mentioned beforehand. Guests with photosensitivity and seizures should consult their doctor before visiting due to the nature of the special effects and lighting used in the attractions.
For guests with cognitive disabilities, Disney offers several services. Advanced ticket purchasing, companion bathrooms, stroller/wheelchair rental, stroller as wheelchair rental, Rider Switch, accessing attractions, break areas and dietary accommodations It is recommended that you check with your doctor before visiting and check on Disney’s Know Before You Go to be aware of current health protocols. Disney’s website has detailed plans on planning your visit, planning what to bring, and tips such as planning a visual schedule, practicing waiting in line, watching videos, studying location maps, and choosing a meeting location. They also suggest you bring a nametag or bracelet, earplugs, headphones, a favorite item or activity, reinforcers for good behavior, and a sensory toy.
Handicapped parking is available at each park conveniently located near the entrance of the park. AdventHealth provides guest health services for urgent care, video visits, and first aid.
For any aid with disabilities, see any cast member or guest services. Handicapped spaces, wheelchairs, ECVs, strollers, and strollers to wheelchairs are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Service Animals cannot be controlled by cast members and must be leashed and harnessed and under control at all times.
A trip to Disney World can be a dream come true for anyone, even those with disabilities. It is not an impossible dream for you either, despite your disability. Consulting your doctor, doing your research, and following your plans will help make sure your vacation trip is as easy and stress-free as possible. Disney World offers several solutions for their consumer with disabilities, to ensure that they have the most enjoyable visit possible. With their many accommodations, services, policies, and well-trained cast members, they put the maximum effort into making a visit to Disney World enjoyable for all.
Check out our other articles in this series helping you navigate all the Florida theme parks with a disability:
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