I have stated a few times that I now try to focus on the things I CAN do rather than what I can’t. In that spirit, I would like to share with you my observations on one of my favorite subjects: travel. I will be dedicating some entries to accessible travel and will start with one of my favorite places: Walt Disney World. I would like to take you through the accessibility of each area of each park.
Walt Disney World has done a wonderful job with making their parks and resorts extremely accessible to guests with disabilities. The are always making improvements, and as the technology evolves, more and more attractions become accessible or “more” accessible.
Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom. This is written to assist everyone, but I will write it from the point of view of someone who needs to use a wheelchair. Those of you who are still able to walk, but have difficulty with stairs and getting up from a seated position will benefit from this to.
If you drive to the Magic Kingdom and have a disabled parking placard, make sure it is displayed when you go through the toll both, as the next Cast Member you see will take notice and direct you to the “Medical Parking” area. Otherwise you’ll go with the masses to standard parking which may not give you a wide enough area to unload a wheelchair.
If you plan on renting a wheelchair, the disabled parking area should have courtesy wheelchairs available to take you from the parking area to Mickey’s Gift Station where you can pay for a rental wheelchair. You cannot take the courtesy wheelchair any further. You can also rent wheelchairs and ECVs (electric courtesy vehicles) in the park (available on a first come first serve basis – so get there early, especially for ECVs). Mickey’s Gift Station is located to the left of the ticket booths past the Kennel as you arrive from the parking area.
When you arrive at the Ticket and Transportation Center, you can choose to take either the Monorail or the Ferry Boat to the Magic Kingdom. Both are wheelchair accessible, but the ramp to the Monorail is a bit steep. So if you’re in a manual wheelchair you might want to choose the Ferry as that entry ramp is pretty level.
You’ll go through a Security check point with everyone else, so have your bags open to speed up this process. You can then proceed to the turnstile where a Cast Member will help you scan your ticket and then open a gate for you to pass through instead of the turnstile.
If you want to rent a wheelchair or ECV head to your right after you pass through the turnstiles and before you enter the breezeway under the train tracks.
Main Street USA
I would suggest heading to City Hall to obtain Guide Maps for Disabled Guests. This Guide includes information on which attractions you can take your chair on and which ones require you to transfer to a ride vehicle, as well as indicating where the parade viewing areas are for disabled guests. You can get guides for all the parks, not just the Magic Kingdom. Also request a Guest Assistance Card, especially if you are able to walk, but have difficulty climbing stairs or think you’ll need more time to get on and off ride vehicles. These cards ARE NOT a line pass. They simply let disabled guests use alternative loading areas for attractions – wider doorways, a side track, special wheelchair accessible vehicle, etc. Some attractions have stairs in the queue line and this cards allows you to bypass the stairs on rides like Big Thunder Railroad and Dinosaur over at Animal Kingdom. They are good for your entire visit. City Hall is located to the left of Town Square on Main Street.
All the shops and restaurants on Main Street are accessible. However, later in the day, when everyone is shopping the stores can get crowded and become hard to navigate. I would suggest doing your shopping earlier in the day or during one of the parades or popular meal times. Take advantage of Disney’s Package Express so you don’t have to carry your purchases around with you all day. If you are staying at a Disney resort your purchases will be delivered directly to your resort. Otherwise you can pick up your packages on your way out – this service is available throughout all the Disney Parks, not just Main Street.
Main Street Vehicles
With a little help from my friends I can enjoy the Fire Truck on Main Street.
None of the Main Street Vehicles can accommodate wheelchairs, but they do offer curbside loading and unloading and some guests may be able to transfer into a vehicle. The horse drawn carriage and the omnibus are probably the easiest. The omnibus even has room to store up to two manual wheelchairs onboard, if they fold up. Give it a try because you’ll never know unless you do!
The Walt Disney World Railroad: Main Street Train Station
The Walt Disney World Railroad is wheelchair accessible. If you are in an electric wheelchair or scooter you will have to transfer to a manual wheelchair – which they should have on hand for you to borrow for the ride. The train has stations in Frontierland and Toon Town, but if you have transferred to a manual wheelchair you’ll need to go roundtrip, of course, in order to return to your chair or scooter. The ramp is located to the right of the train station.
The end of Main Street brings you to the Hub located in front of Cinderella’s Castle and surrounded by the entrances to Adventureland, Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland.
Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom
We’ll explore more Accessible Disney soon.