We all want to be able to take a fun vacation with our loved ones. For many that means a Disney Parks vacation. For all visitors a Disney Parks vacation means a lot of time standing, walking, and waiting in lines. That presents a special challenge to those with a range of mobility concerns, or those with emotional concerns such as autism, and others who need special accomodations. In this blog I am going to present an overview of services and support that the Disney Parks provide to serve these guests. Disney prides itself on being inclusive to all guests no matter their abilities so they do go the extra mile to provide assistance.
All Disney resorts include booking options for rooms that are wheelchair accessible, the largest change here is in the restrooms. As well as rooms that are hearing accessible, with additional TTY equipment available by request at check in.
If you are in need of medical equipment for your room such as a hospital bed for your room you can arrange rental through AdventHealth World of Wellness the official healthcare provider of Disney World. Find them at the link below.
If lots of noise or loud-ness is a concern for a guest you can request being placed on a higher floor, and avoid pool view rooms when booking. I would suggest working with a travel agent (like me) to determine the best room location for you at each resort.
Let’s start with getting to the parks. If you will be arriving at a Disney resort or park by car and need handicap parking, and have a handicap parking tag there is ample handicap parking in all parking lots. Keep in mind though that there is likely still a decent distance from your parking space to your room, or the theme park.
At Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT the handicap parking location will remove the need for you to ride a parking lot tram. At Magic Kingdom you will still have to take either the monorail or ferryboat from the parking area to the park gates, both are handicap accessible and can accommodate wheelchairs and Electric Scooters (ECVs). If you are worried about space I would suggest the ferryboat over the monorail.
At Disneyland and California Adventure the distance from the parking structure to the theme parks is significant a parking tram is available but larger wheelchairs and ECVs will not fit. However you can utilize the wheelchair or ECV on the pathway to the parks.
If you are staying at a Disney Resort and utilizing Disney transportation to the parks all of these are able to accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. All Disney busses have a chair lift to assist with boarding if needed. One thing to keep in mind is that only so many ECVs or wheelchairs can fit on each bus so if you are arriving or departing at a busy time you may not get on the first bus if a few ECVs or chairs are ahead of you. The Skyliner has handicap accessible units. The monorail, and ferryboats are handicap accessible as well. Simply alert a transportation cast member is you are in need of handicap access.
ECV Scooter Rental and Wheelchair Rental
You are welcome to bring with you any wheelchair or ECV scooter that you may have traveled with but have several rental options as well.
Wheelchair rental and ECV rental from Disney is available near the entrance to each theme park. These can be rented for the day or you can get a length of stay rental at a slight daily discount. This would mean you pick up a new wheelchair or ECV daily at the parks.
While this is a great service there are several things to keep in mind.
- You can not take these vehicles out of the theme park. Meaning if you are staying at a Disney Resort you can not take these back to your room or even to the theme park parking lot.
- These are rented on a first come first serve basis and can sell out. If you are arriving to the parks in the morning you should be fine but if you are arriving mid-day or later you run the risk of the vehicles being sold out.
These are some pretty significant draw back is you are not traveling with your own chair or ECV and you will need to utilize one throughout your stay not just within the theme park gates. But don’t fear this is a simple fix. Orlando and Anaheim are home to many private companies who rent ECVs and wheelchairs. A google search will show you many options for this service. Many will drop the vehicle off at your resort and teach you how to use it. With a private rental you can take the vehicle with you all over the Disney Parks, and resorts for the length of your vacation. You can charge them in your hotel room. If you are in need of a rental this is the way to go in my opinion.
Restrooms & In Park First Aid
Each restroom in the park includes facilities for those with mobility concerns. For additional space there are also several companion restroom areas throughout each park. These are notated on the park maps separately from general restrooms.
In each theme park there is a first aid location near the entrance. In additional to basic first aid materials these facilities have additional space and privacy for individuals who may need assistance from a member of their party with their personal care needs. These locations also provide free ice if you have medications that need to stay cold. Bring your own cooler to fill with the ice and be aware that while you can bring cold packs or bagged ice in your cooler into the parks you can’t bring lose ice. So bring some baggies to fill at the hotel ice machine.
Health Emergencies, Prescriptions Delivery, Medial Equipment Rental
AdventHealth World of Wellness the official healthcare provider of Disney World.
If you are in need of a doctors appointment while at Disney World you can set up a virtual appointment with them. You can also have prescriptions delivered to your Disney resort. There are additionally several pharmacies located near Disney World and easily accessed by cab or ride share if you don’t have a vehicle. Over the counter medications can be found at Disney first aid centers and Disney Resort gift shops for purchase. Additionally grocery delivery services and Amazon Prime Now offer some personal care items and will delivery to your Disney resort.
Additionally you can rent medical equipment to your resort. Excluding wheelchairs and ECVs as discussed above.
If you are in need of an urgent care facility you can arrange for transportation from any Disney resort or park to the AdventistHealth urgent care at Flamingo Crossing which is on Disney property. Call 407-938-0605 to arrange transportation.
For all the details about all of these services visit:
Disability Access Service – Rides / Attractions
The Disability Access Service (DAS) is Disney’s service that accommodates those who would find it challenging physically, cognitively, or emotionally to wait in a traditional line. To utilize the service visit the park’s guest relations on the first day or your visit. You will be able to use the service for the duration of your stay so you will not need to visit guest relations daily. The service can not be signed up for in advance.
Direct from the Disney site DAS is described as:
“DAS is intended for Guests whose disability prevents them from waiting in a conventional queue environment. This service allows Guests to schedule a return time that is comparable to the current queue wait for the given attraction. Once a return time is issued, Guests are free to enjoy other theme park offerings such as meeting a Character, grabbing a bite to eat, enjoying entertainment or even visiting another attraction until their listed return time. Return times are valid until redeemed prior to park closing.
Guests can only have one active return time at a time. As soon as an outstanding attraction return time is redeemed, Guests can receive a return time for the same or a different attraction.
This service can be used in addition to Disney FastPass+ Service.”
Note that when you return to ride your entire party may ride with you. Some attractions can accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. Theatre style attractions include handicap seating areas that can accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. But at many rides transferring from the chair into the ride vehicle is necessary, either under the person’s own power or with the assistance of a member of their own party. If transferring from a wheelchair or ECV is of concern take note on the parks website ahead of time which rides require this, it is noted on the ride page for each attraction.
As far a who qualifies for the use of DAS this is a good faith system. No documentation or proof is needed to prove that someone qualifies.
For step by step details check out Disney’s guide to DAS found at the links at the bottom.
Those traveling with children with special needs (or any child at all for that matter) can also take advantage of the Ridder Switch system at select attractions. Ask a cast member at the attraction to see if ridder swap is available at that attraction during your visit.
Here’s how it works:
“With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again!”
There are several accommodations available in the parks for those with hearing imparments. All of these can be obtained by visiting guest relations at each park.
One option is assistive listening which amplifies sound through headphones at specific theme park attractions. Recommended for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss. There is a refundable $25 deposit for the device and it is recommended that you bring your own headphones.
Handheld captioning is also available this is a portable captioning system which displays on-screen text in locations at select theaters and attractions. There is a refundable $25 deposit for the unit. Reflective captioning is offered as an alternative at some theatre style attractions Video captioning is available with open captioning in many pre-show and exhibit areas, these are marked by a “CC” on the maps and you can also check the website ahead of time. Video captioning can also be activated using the assistive listening devices.
Sign language interpretation at live shows is provided on select days and you can obtain the specific show schedule for your visit by contacting WDPRsignlanguageservices@disney.com.
You can also request special scheduled sign language interpretation at select shows and tours, Hoop-Dee-Doo Review, Spriti of Aloha, and the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. Contact (407) 824-4321 at least 14 days in advance of the show to request.
Sign language interpretation is typically offered at these parks on these days of the week.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom park: Tuesdays and Saturdays
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Sundays and Wednesdays
- Epcot: Fridays
- Magic Kingdom park: Mondays and Thursdays
When meeting characters it is possible that you may encounter one that signs, some are able to interact with some simple sign language but this is luck of the draw unfortunately. If you are with a deaf child it is worth telling the character and or their handler, or making it clear to them that the child is deaf as it may prompt them to sign to the child. It is also worth asking at guest relation if they know of any characters at the park today who sign.
Keep your eye on the cast member’s name tags as well as the tag will indicate if they speak another language besides English including American Sign Language.
See the hotel section to see what accommodations are available for hotel rooms.
The Disney Parks offer a wide range of assistive services for those who have visually impairments. These include braille guidebooks, and hand-outs of tactile park maps, as well as signage maps throughout the park that include braille. Some table service restaurants also offer Braille menus.
Audio description is also available via handheld device which will describe many of the parks attractions as you experience them. There is a refundable $25 deposit and it is recommended that you bring your own headphones.
All of these can be obtained by visiting guest relations at each park.
Disney classifies a service animal as a “dog or miniature horse that is trained to do work or perform tasks for, and to assist, an individual with a disability”. The animal must be under the control of the owner at all times and remain leashed. They are welcome in most locations throughout the theme parks and resorts.
There are service animal relief stations located through the parks and resorts, their locations are notated on the maps.
Service animals are not allowed on most rides and attractions. You can utilize Rider Switch between members of your party. In this process part of your party would ride the attraction while the other part has the service animal. Then you would switch places but the second part of the party would not have to wait in the full length of the line. Ask an attraction cast member for help with the rider switch process.
Light & Sound Sensitivity
If you have a photosensitivity or seizer disorder Disney advises that you get very specific instructions from your doctor before visiting. Lighting including strobe, flash, and other effects are throughout the park in shows, night-time spectaculars, and rides. On the parks website you can see the warning labels on each attraction’s page that will indicate if strobe and flashing lights are precent on each ride.
If you have a child with either light or sound sensitivity for emotional reasons you will want to research attractions and shows before you visit to avoid anything that might be triggering. YouTube is a great resource to see ride through videos or videos of shows. Noise canceling or large headphones are also a great option during fireworks for and sound sensitive guests.
I hope this has been helpful and I hope that this has made everyone feel that they can have a safe, comfortable and fun visit to Disney theme parks.
For more details, rental pricing, and printable “guides for guests with disabilities” for each theme park head to”
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