It is a well-known fact that creating magic for Guests is at the heart of everything regarding The Walt Disney Company. This is what makes it the best when it comes to Guest service and experience. It’s also a reason why so many Guests return to the Disney Parks and Resorts time and time again, because of its inclusivity for all.
That being said, Guests who are visiting the Disney Parks for the very first time may feel a little apprehensive, especially if they have a disability. However, you will quickly find that it does not matter what your disability may be, hidden or visible; the Disney Parks and Resorts are well equipped to allow every Guest to have the full Disney experience. Guests are also in the best hands when it comes to Disney Cast Members who help to create and share the Disney magic.
With the help of a friend, we wanted to share with you the ways in which your Walt Disney World vacation can be made magical if you are a Guest with a disability or a user of a wheelchair. We know that when traveling with a wheelchair or if you have a disability, there are many things to consider when planning a vacation. Here are our accessibility tips and things to know to help ensure your vacation is stress-free and filled with Disney magic.
Walt Disney World Resort hotels
Each Disney Resort hotel is beautifully themed to tell a unique story, but with Guest experience and comfort at the very heart. For most Guests, checking into their Resort hotel begins their vacation. Whilst check-in is made easy through the use of the Disney Genie app and reduces the need to visit the Resort Check-In Desk, Guests may need to visit to enquire about accessibility arrangements within their Resort hotel. Disney Resort lobbies have lowered counters to allow easy access for Guests who may need them. There are also lower counters in Disney merchandise locations and quick-service restaurants that are really helpful to Guests using a wheelchair. They allow for easy access to pay for merchandise and order quick-service food without experiencing any height difficulties.
Throughout the Walt Disney Resort, in the theme parks, Disney Springs, and the Resort hotels, each entry and exit doorway has ramp access, making it easy for all Guests to enjoy restaurants, stores, attractions, and more. Additionally, look out for automatic doors that require the press of a button to open. These doors can be heavy to open, but using the push-button means no effort is required to use them.
In terms of Guest rooms, there are several wheelchair-accessible rooms in each Disney Resort. Accessible rooms are slightly bigger than standard Guest rooms, making it easier to move a wheelchair around the room comfortably. There are grab rails in the bathroom to make it easy to use the facilities. Accessible Guest rooms have a couple of options for bathing; you will find either a bathtub or a roll-in shower with grab rails for safety. There are also hearing-accessible rooms available in the Disney Resort hotels. It is worth requesting accessible rooms when booking your Walt Disney World vacation to ensure you have access to the amenities that will make your stay comfortable. If you have individual requirements, be sure to contact The Walt Disney Travel Company and discuss your reservation with a Cast Member who will be happy to assist.
Pool Areas and Water Parks
The Disney Resort pool areas and water parks are well-equipped to allow all Guests to experience them. As well as having Disney lifeguards on duty, several features make them accessible to Guests who use a wheelchair. Pool entry can be assisted by using a hoist that is available at all Disney Resort pools; this includes the quiet pools at the Disney Resorts. Stormalong Bay, located at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, also offers several hoists, allowing Guests of those Resorts to enjoy the gorgeous sand-bottomed pool area on the shores of Crescent Lake. Additionally, each Disney Resort pool has several life vests available for Guests to use, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
When visiting Disney’s Water Park Typhoon Lagoon, Guests can also use the hoist into Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool and Castaway Creek lazy river or alternatively enter using the zero-entry points. There are also a limited number of wheelchairs available to collect from Guest Relations each day that have the larger wheels that are suitable to navigate over the sandy beach; they are available on a first-come, first serve basis, so we would recommend arriving at Typhoon Lagoon at park opening to guarantee use of these complimentary wheelchairs. Guest can also enter the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool using their wheelchair, up to the point where the middle of the rear wheel reaches the water.
Life vests are complimentary to Guests who wish to use one in Typhoon Lagoon; a deposit of a driver’s license or credit card is required to collect a life vest, and it is returned to Guests upon return of the life vest before leaving the Disney Water Park. Regarding the water slides, Crush ’n’ Gusher has elevator access, and up to 3 Guests can ride in a raft. Other slides require Guests to get to the top of each attraction and enter the slide without the help of a Cast Member.
Walt Disney World Transportation
All Guests are welcome to use each method of Disney transportation to navigate around the Walt Disney World Resort. Additionally, all Disney transport options are accessible for all Guests, including those who use a wheelchair.
The Walt Disney World Transportation System buses are very accessible to Guests who use a wheelchair. There is a designated place for wheelchair users to wait for the bus to arrive at each bus station. The driver loads the wheelchair user and their party first before allowing other Guests to board. Wheelchairs are secured into place by the Cast Member using straps; from there, Guests can either transfer to a seat or stay seated in their wheelchair. Once you arrive at your destination, all other Guests will disembark before the Cast Member unloads wheelchairs.
When using the Disney Monorail, wheelchair users can board using a ramp. Cast Members telephone ahead to ensure that someone is available to assist the wheelchair user in disembarking the monorail when they arrive at their destination. Additionally, the Disney Skyliner is accessible for wheelchairs. Larger parties may be required to travel in different gondolas due to space limitations. However, the separate groups can travel in consecutive Skyliner cars.
The use of the Disney watercraft is a relaxing way to travel around the Walt Disney World Resort. Larger boats, such as the Magic Kingdom Ferry Boat, the Sassagoula Riverboats, the FriendShip Boats, and the larger Magic Kingdom water taxis, can be accessed by wheelchairs using a ramp. Smaller water taxis that travel across Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake will require Guests to transfer from their wheelchairs to a seat. In these cases, it may be more suitable to use other modes of Disney transport, such as the Disney Monorail or the Walt Disney World Transportation System Buses.
Regarding using a car in and around Lake Buena Vista, be sure to bring your permit to display if you intend to use an accessible parking space. You will need to display a permit when parking to ensure that you aren’t issued a fine. If you are an international Guest, check with Guest Services at your Disney Resort hotel and when visiting the parking booths at the Disney theme parks to ensure the permit that you use at home will be accepted. Accessible parking bays are available towards the front of each parking area in Walt Disney World; this is especially helpful to avoid using the parking trams at the Disney Parks, which will require a transfer from a wheelchair to board.
Disability Access Services
The Walt Disney Company can provide a pass to Guests with a disability that will provide easier access to the rides, attractions, and experiences around the Walt Disney World Resort. Known as the Disability Access Service (DAS) pass, it is issued by Guest Services Cast Members to your Disney Park ticket or Magic Band. This system is available for Guests with hidden and physical disabilities. It is particularly helpful to Guests who will find it difficult to wait in a standby line for longer periods of time. Guests who require the use of the DAS pass should visit Guest Relations on the first day of their Walt Disney World vacation. Although it is not a requirement, you may find it helpful to present a letter from your doctor or disabled permit to a Cast Member to allow them to add information to your Disney account that can help with access arrangements at Disney attractions.
The Disability Access Service Pass is a system that allows Guests with a disability and their party to make a Lightning Lane reservation at each attraction that they wish to experience. A Cast Member will provide a DAS pass return time, in line with the attraction stand-by wait time at that time. Upon return time, Guests can return to and experience the attraction. Up to 6 Guests are allowed to experience each attraction with a Guest who is using the DAS pass system, who must be present when visiting the attraction at a return time. Guests can experience other Disney theme park attractions and experiences whilst they are waiting for their return time to an attraction. Guests are welcome to use a DAS advance selection alongside Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane experiences. If you are unsure about the accessibility of attractions, be sure to speak to a Cast Member at the entrance to each ride. Some attractions will also offer model ride vehicles at the entrance to allow Guests to check their accessibility before choosing to ride.
Accessible areas are available when viewing Disney nighttime spectaculars, such as Harmonious in EPCOT and Disney Enchantment in Magic Kingdom. Guests and the rest of their party can secure a spot in the designated wheelchair areas to ensure Guests get to experience the Disney fireworks shows fully.
Should you wish to rent a wheelchair when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, Guest Services in any of the Disney theme parks is the place to visit. Wheelchair rental is available for $12 per day. Alternatively, Guests can rent a wheelchair for the length of their stay and will be able to take advantage of a discounted price of $10 per day. Wheelchair rental is transferrable between all locations around Lake Buena Vista; Guests will just need to return a wheelchair when exiting one location and pick another up when entering another location on Disney property.
ScooterBug is a Disney Feature Provider that also provides scooter and wheelchair rental around Central Florida. This may be a more suitable alternative to renting a wheelchair from Disney Guest Services, as it will provide Guests with a constantly accessible vehicle for their entire vacation.
Guests with visual disabilities can access several services in the Walt Disney World Resort, including audio descriptions and Braille guidebooks. There are also services available for Guests with hearing disabilities, such as sign language interpretation and video captioning. Be sure to visit Guest Relations in a Disney Park or Guest Services in your Resort hotel and ask a Cast Member about the services available to find the one that is most suitable for you and your party.
Guests who feel unwell or require medical assistance during their time at Walt Disney World should visit the first aid centers. During theme park opening hours, they can provide medication and first-aid, as well as access to emergency services if required. If you need to take prescribed medication throughout your day, it can be stored in a fridge; be sure to visit the Medical Center if this is something that you require access to.
Guests are very welcome to be assisted by Service Animals throughout their visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. Whilst they may not be able to join Guests in some attractions and experiences, Ride Switch is available to use, and a portable kennel may be something that you can consider the use of as well. Service Animal relief areas are available in each of the Disney Parks, and Cast Members at Guest Relations will be able to provide more information about these locations. Alternatively, check the Disney Parks website here.
Disney Cast Members are the best people to stop by and ask questions if you have any. You will find that they are friendly, helpful, and inclusive, ensuring that all Guests are provided with the highest level of Guest service during their Walt Disney World vacation. Cast Members are likely to have experience with different disabilities and will be able to offer advice, answer questions and find solutions to any difficulties that you may be experiencing.
We hope that you’re feeling a little more reassured about your upcoming Disney vacation and have found answers to your questions. We’re sure that you’ll have the most magical vacation when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. Be sure to enjoy every moment and ask for assistance if and when you need it.