Walt Disney World truly does embrace the highest level of guest service standards, especially when it comes to their disabled guests. I was able to enjoy the parks as much as possible without being uncomfortable or in pain – for the most part.
All the parks, restaurants, shops, transportation and many of the attractions can accommodate me. Yeah!
Disney is so ahead of the curve when in comes to anticipating needs that when I requested a coach with a lift to take us to and from the airport the reservation agent suggested he place us in a hotel room close to the elevator!
All the busses that travel between the resort, parks and Downtown Disney are ADA accessible. However, please note: the Disney Transportation busses are an older fleet of vehicles. If you are traveling in your own personal mobility scooter or chair, some of the lifts are only designed to carry 350 pounds as they were designed for standard wheelchairs only. If you are using one of these vehicles, I would suggest boarding only busses that have the ramp rather than the ones who have a lift. Also, if you are in one of these vehicles a lot of attractions require you to transfer to a standard wheelchair or in some cases a ride vehicle. You can ask for a Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities at Guest Relations in any of the parks – very helpful.
The first day we went to Disney MGM Studios (soon to be renamed Walt Disney Studios or something like that). It is a fairly small and flat park so I opted to just walk on foot. Most of the attractions are shows so it was easy enough. I did however stop into Guest Relations (located just off the main entrance and to the left) and picked up a guest assistance card. This came in handy when it came to boarding “tricky” ride vehicles like the backlot tour bus or Tower of Terror. The pass is good for your entire stay and is accepted at all of the parks. The pass is not a “bypass the line for free” kind of deal – it is really designed to help you avoid stairs and other obstacles. And with only two people in our party, Cast Members were more than willing to help us out.
The second day was a little tougher. We went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This is the largest of all the parks and oh yes, there are HILLS. Since I did so well at MGM I thought I could tough it out at AK. Bad idea. Between the distance, the rain and the hills, by mid-afternoon I was in pain, wet and fairly miserable. We went back to the resort I took some anti-inflammatory pills and hooked myself up to my EMS machine. A few hours later I was ready to conquer the Magic Kingdom – but not without a wheelchair. They are not that expensive to rent – only $10 a day the first day and $6 a day each day after that. If you have someone willing to push you around the parks it makes for a much more enjoyable visit. They do rent those mobility scooters, they are a bit more expensive, $35, I think. I would suggest renting one at Animal Kingdom, unless whomever you are traveling with is up for a good workout.
The resorts have wheelchairs you can borrow for free and even Downtown Disney has wheelchairs that can be borrowed.
They tell you to get a fast pass whenever one is offered, but often if the line wasn’t long the Cast Members would just direct us to the wheelchair loading area and let us ride immediately.
I was very surprised there were so many attractions that let you stay in your wheelchair. You expect most of the shows to let you just wheel on up, but rides like the Jungle Cruise, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, It’s a Small World and even Buzzlight year all have special vehicles that don’t force you out of your wheelchair.
Disney even sets aside special viewing areas for their parades and other shows, like Illuminations at Epcot and Fastasmic at MGM. Please note that they sometimes limit the amount of guests you can take with you into these special viewing areas and through the disabled entrance to attractions. This is to keep these options available to people who really need them and to discourage large parties from just trying to bypass the line.
All in all a great visit and I can’t wait to go back and now, with no fear of what I can and can’t do!