Walt Disney World is one of the top wheelchair-accessible vacation destinations because almost every aspect of Disney World is at least somewhat accessible, giving all guests the opportunity to ride the rides, enjoy the shows, and travel via on-site transportation from park to park.
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Here are seven aspects of Walt Disney World in Florida that make it a fantastic destination for wheelchair users.
Accessible rides in all 4 parks
Some of the major draws to Walt Disney World are the rides, and there are wheelchair-accessible rides at all four of Disney’s theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Each of these parks has rides in which someone can remain in their own wheelchair throughout the duration of the ride. This is a great feature of the parks, as wheelchair users can board the ride in their manual or motorized wheelchair and enjoy it without having to transfer onto the ride and leave the wheelchair at the loading and unloading zone.
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Some of the most popular and fan-favorite wheelchair-accessible rides include Jungle Cruise, Toy Story Mania, Kilimanjaro Safari, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and It’s A Small World.
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The Walt Disney World website also makes it very easy to look up the accessibility of each ride, giving wheelchair users an opportunity to learn about the types of accessibility the rides provide before entering the park. This makes it easier to plan ahead and make choices during your day in the park.
Accessible shows throughout the parks
In addition to the rides, many people want to go to Walt Disney World for the magical atmosphere, which isn’t complete without a show or four.
Most of the Disney shows, both inside and out, are wheelchair accessible with designated spaces to give wheelchair users a proper vantage point to view the show. This goes for the parades and street shows as well. With a little planning and getting a good spot, the shows and parades are a great way to enjoy the magic of Disney.
The accessibility of these shows extends beyond physical access: the parks offer options for audio and visual accessibility or assistance as well. Shows are specific to the theme park you’re visiting and are typically welcome for all ages.
Accessible modes of transportation
Wheelchair users may know that when they’re traveling, public transportation is often a very wheelchair accessible option compared to finding accessible taxis or rental cars, and Walt Disney World follows a similar approach.
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The modes of transportation Disney provides include the Monorail, buses, ferries, and the Skyliner, all of which are wheelchair accessible. All of these modes of transportation are easy to access for wheelchair users, with an almost seamless boarding process, allowing wheelchair users to remain in their wheelchair throughout the duration of the ride.
This is great because it gives everyone the same space to navigate across parks, to and from a vehicle or resort, and makes it easy for families and groups to travel together throughout the day.
Video: First Dive | Epcot DiveQuest | Walt Disney World (INSIDER)
Accessible Disney resorts
Beyond the parks, Disney resorts are noteworthy because they extend the magical experience from the park directly to your room. Offering more on-site fun, from the pools and dining to scavenger hunts and other activities, Disney resorts, in general, have fantastic accessibility — whether you want to splurge and stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort or stay at one of the more budget-friendly resorts, like Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
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Wheelchair users consistently find that Disney resorts deliver an excellent experience. Pool access lifts are available at resorts, giving wheelchair users a way to enter and enjoy the pool quickly. The rooms themselves have accessible amenities like roll-in showers and easy-to-navigate floor space with smart layouts, making it simple to enjoy your stay and have room for your luggage, guests, and at-home necessities.
Related: 7 of the best national parks for wheelchair users
Companion care restrooms throughout the parks
Everybody needs to take a break at some point and Walt Disney World offers a host of restrooms throughout the parks, both standard restrooms and companion care restrooms.
Companion care restrooms are placed throughout the parks and offer a more private and larger space to take care of your needs, either as an individual or with a caregiver, family member, or friend. This feature throughout each of the four theme parks makes Disney optimal for wheelchair users, as it’s fairly easy to locate a restroom to take care of your needs no matter where or when you’re in the park.
Disability Access Service for ride queues
Another reason why Walt Disney World is a great wheelchair-accessible destination is because of their Disability Access Service (DAS). This service is for guests who cannot tolerate long lines and gives them the option to visit an attraction at a later time. This service is a very specific option that is not solely tied to the guest’s need for a wheelchair or mobility device, as some wheelchair-using guests can tolerate the standard ride queue.
To use DAS, guests must visit Guest Relations at the main entrance of the park on the day of your park visit to register for the service. Guests who use DAS are given a time or appointment with a ride, which takes the current wait time into consideration, giving them the opportunity to explore the park and take a turn on the ride without waiting in the ride line.
Related: Your guide to visiting Disney World with a child on the autism spectrum
This is a great service because it allows all guests the opportunity to enjoy the rides in the park and works with guests to offer an alternative to the sometimes long and hot lines.
For those who are driving to the parks, either with a rental vehicle or their own personal vehicle, Walt Disney World does offer accessible parking at each theme park.
Disney has specific Disability Parking Lots, which are a short distance from the main entrances of each park. This provides wheelchair users with a parking spot closer to the entrance for a shorter distance to cover between the car and the park itself. The courtesy tram does not stop at these parking lots, as the tram requires guests to step on and off, and the tram is not wheelchair accessible.
To park in the disability parking lot, the vehicle must have a valid disability parking permit and the standard parking rate applies to these lots as well.
Choosing to park in these specific lots gives wheelchair users access to conveniently located parking for easy use of paved pathways, elevators, and security checkpoints. This is a great option to reduce the time it takes to enter the park, giving you more time inside for fun.
Related: 5 tips for going on a cruise as a wheelchair user
Related: 10 wheelchair-accessible tour companies that are changing the travel industry
Related: The most wheelchair-accessible beach destinations in the U.S.
All images courtesy of the author.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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