Let’s hear it for vacation! A time to relax and get away from it all. To enjoy time together with family and friends. But let’s face it, between the planning beforehand, all of the events during, and the return trip home, it can be quite the undertaking. And that’s even for the most physically-abled person.
There is the long walk in the parking lots to the actual park, sometimes standing in line just to get into the park, walking around the massive acreage of the parks themselves, and waiting and standing in the sometimes extensive lines for rides.
For someone like me, with mobility limitations and disabilities, it can be particularly challenging. I cannot stand, sit, or walk long distances, for a few examples of my limitations. So wanting and planning to go to a giant amusement park, such as Universal Studios Orlando, Islands of Adventure, or any of the Disney parks can be daunting, even discouraging when you consider the amount of standing in line and walking that you have to do.
Fortunately, these parks are great about working with guests with disabilities and accommodating them to ensure they, too, can have a wonderful, magical vacation. This article will discuss Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure’s policies and accommodations and accessibility at their parks for the disabled, especially for those with mobility disabilities like me.
Accommodation, policies, and accessibility are the basic categories I’ll go over here in this article. I’ll discuss how Universal goes out of its way to assist and make every visit enjoyable, even for the physically abled challenged. These three categories will overlap a great deal as well, as they are all related to the same topic: guests with disabilities.
Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure want to make sure that every guest has a great visit, no matter what their degree of mobility/physical ability is. They have several accommodations for guests with disabilities. This may include those with mobility disabilities, hearing/vision disabilities, prosthetics, service animals, cognitive disabilities, or oxygen tanks and devices. There are symbols on every attraction, indicating height requirements, but did you know they also show recommendations for whether you can ride with your service animal or remain in your wheelchair, or if you have had recent surgery or illness or back and neck problems, that you should not ride?
There is also an Attraction Assistance Pass, where if you cannot wait in a long line, you can check in and get a return time for a comparable time to the current wait time then return and ride the attraction without having to stand in line.
If you need a wheelchair they are located near the parking and transportation areas and the front of each gate for a fee and deposit. ECVs (Electronic Convenience Vehicles) are available to rent just beyond the gates’ entrances for a fee plus a deposit. Feel free to bring your own electronic motorized scooter as well. ECVs are not accommodated on any rides, save the Hogwarts Express, but you can ride it into Poseidon’s Fury. Wheelchairs are accommodated on a few rides- look for the symbols! If you use an ECV and cannot stand or walk in the long lines, they have wheelchairs available for line use only but you must be able to transfer to and from the ride itself.
For those with hearing and vision disabilities, some rides/attractions include open captioning, large print or braille, and/or American Sign Language interpreters. If you require the use of a white cane it must be able to be folded and secured out of the way during the ride.
For those with prostheses, it may be required for you to remove your prostheses before riding certain rides and maintaining a certain amount of limb for bracing for certain rides. For more details on each ride’s specific requirements, check out the link on Universal Orlando’s own webpage: https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/plan-your-visit/accessibility-information#prostheses
Cognitive disabilities are challenged at times just because of the sheer overstimulation from all the noise, scenery, attractions, crowds, and rides. For this reason, Universal has provided a Quiet Room, which is low-stimulation, quiet and peaceful for those who need and require it. It has rubber tiles, two tunnels, and dimming lights. It is located in Guest Services-Production Central and reservations are not needed, but it is requested that you wait until the room is empty before you use it. Also, please keep room time limited to thirty minutes at a time.
Oxygen tanks are allowed only on certain rides. Oxygen concentrators and other related equipment are allowed on rides only if they can be secured.
Trained service animals are welcome at Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. They must remain leashed, tethered, or harnessed unless they interfere with their work, and then they must be under voice, signal, or other controls. Some rides and attractions may allow your service animal, some may provide a kennel outside for them at certain locations. Relief areas are also available throughout the park.
All bathrooms at both parks are wheelchair accessible, There are plenty of places with stroller parking to park your ECV. All shopping and dining are wheelchair accessible. ECVs must be operated at a safe speed. Remove the key and power off the unit whenever not in use or walking away from the vehicle. Powered vehicles are not allowed on escalators. The park is not responsible for any damages vehicles may cause. You are responsible for any damages you may cause.
So hopefully, this article has given you the background on the accommodations, policies, and accessibility at Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. As you can tell, they go out of their way to make sure your visit here can be enjoyed by everyone who visits, no matter their physical or mental ability. I enjoy myself immensely whenever I visit Universal, and though exhausted by the end of the day, I would never be able to do it all without the accommodations by Universal. They make an impossible vacation seem possible for even me, the mobility disabled.
If you have any questions or need any accommodation or accessibility help while visiting Universal Studios Orlando or Islands of Adventure, feel free to ask a guest attendant. Happy vacation!
Check out the other articles in this series helping you to navigate all the Florida theme parks with a disability:
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!