Each year thousands of guests with a disability visit Walt Disney World. Disney has many different ways it can accommodate guests with all types of disabilities. Read on to find nine tips for visiting Walt Disney World with a disability.
1 – Know Your Limits
The most important thing, not just while traveling but in your everyday life, is to know your limits. No one knows what they are better than you do. Walt Disney World can be extremely hot during most of the year if heat affects your condition, be sure to take care of yourself accordingly by drinking extra fluids and taking breaks indoors frequently. Try to keep to your regular schedule in regards to meals and sleeping and take breaks as needed. If you begin to feel ill or your condition worsens, and you think you need medical attention, find the nearest Cast Member for assistance.
2 – Pick up a Guide Map for Guests With Disabilities
Each of the Walt Disney World theme parks has a unique guide map for guests with disabilities. These maps can be picked up at Guest Relations, ticketing windows or you can ask for them at your resort front desk. These maps have information about specific attraction specifications, such as restrictions, whether guests must transfer from a wheelchair, if service animals are permitted to ride and if closed captioning is available.
3 – Visit Guest Relations
Guest Relations can assist with the needs of many different disabilities. Guests can receive a handheld closed captioning device or audio tracks for shows and attractions. These devices are free but require a deposit, returned upon return of the device. Guest Relations will also have schedules for sign language interpreters for the park shows. Guest Relations can also assist with guests who do not have mobility-related disabilities with their “Disability Access Service”. This service is designed for guests who cannot wait in the traditional queue line.
DAS doesn’t provide immediate access to experiences, but rather allows Guests to request a return time for a specific experience that is comparable to the current standby wait. This allows the Guest using DAS to enjoy other experiences in the park instead of physically waiting in the standby line.
Note that this service has recently been updated with pre-arrival approval options and guests now have the ability to choose return windows without having to go to the attraction. Click here to learn more about Disability Access Service.
Be aware that this service is not for mobility-related issues such as not being able to walk or stand for long periods. Guest Relations will advise the use of a courtesy wheelchair at the attraction as the queues at most of the rides are accessible.
4 – Consider a Mobility Device
You may not require the use of a wheelchair or ECV in your everyday life, but at Walt, Disney World guests walk 8 to 10 miles each day! Combine that with the heat, and you may find it very difficult for you to walk or stand for this extended time. Wheelchairs and ECVs are rented at each of the theme parks on a first come first serve basis. They cannot be taken outside the park, but if you are park hopping, you can show your receipt for your rental at another park on the same day. Several outside companies will rent wheelchairs or ECV to you for the length of your stay. These companies will deliver to your resort, and if you are staying on property, all forms of transportation can accommodate these devices.
5 – Using a Stroller as a Wheelchair for Disabled Children
If you have a young child who is disabled, you may find it easy to keep them in their stroller for the majority of the time. However, strollers are not permitted inside attraction queues or shows. Speak with Guest Relations about obtaining a unique tag for your stroller. This will enable you to use your stroller as a wheelchair and utilize it in the shows and queue line just as someone in a wheelchair would.
6 – Utilize Lighting Lane
While it’s not right for everyone, you may want to consider paying for Lightning Lane access if you have a family member with a disability, in addition to the DAS service mentioned above. The new service has replaced the FastPass entrance. There are two Lightning Lane paid options that include different attractions. First, you can purchase Disney Genie+ for the day of your visit. This costs anywhere from $15-$22 per day, per person, depending on the day you visit. With Genie+, you can access the Lightning Lane at select attractions at each park. A second option for purchasing Lightning Lane is the a la carte method. There are attractions at each park that are NOT included with your Genie+ purchase and must be purchased separately. Keep in mind that you do not have to purchase either of these options to enjoy these attractions. The standby queue is available for all attractions. However, if you want to guarantee access to certain attractions, this may be a good option for you and your family. For more details, including how to purchase Lightning Lane access, click here.
7 – Take Breaks During the Day
You can take breaks throughout the day in many places in each park. Some examples would be indoor shows such as the Festival of the Lion King, attractions such as 3D movies, or the Hall of Presidents. These shows and attractions will allow you to sit and relax in the air conditioning. Grabbing something to eat or drink inside a restaurant is also an option. Many guests will return to their hotel during the afternoon. They start their day early at park opening, return to the hotel during the hottest part of the day to rest, relax, and head back out before dinner.
8 – Notate Dietary Restrictions on Dining Reservations
Disney is very accommodating if you require specific dietary restrictions or have food allergies. Be sure to note your needs on your reservation, and let the host know when checking into the restaurant. At table service locations, a chef will come out and speak with you about your restrictions or show you what is safe to eat on the buffet. At a quick service location, let the cashier know that you have special dietary restrictions, and a chef or a manager will come out to speak with you and take your order. For more information on dietary restrictions at Disney World, click here.
9 – Visit First Aid
The First Aid locations at the theme parks can greatly help guests with disabilities. If you have medication that requires refrigeration, first aid can assist with this. There are also private rooms where you can rest and take medication or treatments. A Registered Nurse onsite can help with questions or concerns. If you need medical assistance but are not near first aid, find the nearest Cast Member who can assist you. Paramedics can be dispatched to any Disney location, and they can help you determine the level of care you need.
Walt Disney World can be stressful even for guests who do not have disabilities, but Disney does its best to make sure that everyone can experience and enjoy its parks. Follow these tips, and with some planning, you will surely enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation!
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.