Touring the Parks with Disabled
Dotti Saroufim, who has written several excellent trip reports
that appear in the WDW Trip Reports section of the "Disney Trip Planning
Resource Net", gave me permission to include this post that Dotti
wrote to rec.arts.disney.parks back in June, 1996.
Date: 3 Jun 1996 13:10:46 -0400
Lynn M. Slattery (email@example.com) writes:
We are taking our first family trip to WDW in Aug. Our 9
yr. old uses a motorized wheelchair. I have the official Guidebook for
Guests with Disabilities, so I know about procedures for rides, accessibility
of restaurants, etc. I would like first-hand information from someone
who uses a wheelchair or someone who has accompanied some one who uses
Is the guidebook accurate? How's the transportation? (We're
staying at the Poly) Any tips or insight will be much appreciated.
I was at WDW in December with my family (husband, 3 kids)
and my mom and aunt. My mother has chronic bronchitis so used a wheelchair
for most of the trip. We found the guidebook very accurate and handy.
Here are a few things that come to mind:
If you are planning on seeing parades or fireworks,
grab your spot early. Although there is a good size area set aside
for wheelchairs (ask any CM where they are), they do fill up early.
Most attractions will accommodate the wheelchair on
the ride but some do not. For example, on The Jungle Cruise you need
to be able to walk a few steps and then take another step into the
boat. (The few steps were ok for my mom, but the step down into the
boat was impossible.).
If your son can take a few steps, they will encourage
it because they will not have to stop the attraction to get the wheelchair
on. On some of these (I remember the World of Motion in particular),
the few steps that you must take are on a moving platform which they
slow down to almost stationary but not quite. That "not quite"
was again too much for mom. (But, of course, I'm dealing with a dizzy
old woman here, not a 9 year old boy!).
Although most rides have a separate entrance for wheelchairs
(usually the exit), some, such as Alien Encounter, just have you wait
in the regular queue. This is no hardship by any means, but don't
expect to be able to walk on to everything without a wait. The Voyage
of the Little Mermaid had a separate waiting area for wheelchairs
but plan to get there early as they only allow so many per show.
All the restaurants were wonderful and very accommodating.
Bus transportation was easy but not all buses are handicapped
accessible so you may have to wait for one to arrive. On the monorail,
they have a portable ramp which they will put down for access on and
Please e-mail me if you have any specific questions -
I'd be happy to help!
Don't forget to check out Dotti's trip report. It provides
a specific description of her trip which provides a great deal of insight
for travelling to WDW with disabled guests.
Another user of this site, Beth Floro, provided some additional
insight that might be helpful:
"I returned last night from a wonderful trip, the
ninth, to Disney World. We were there for nine days and thoroughly enjoyed
the experience as usual.
However, I did learn one bit of information that I think
people need to know. There has been a very obvious abuse of wheelchair
lines by people who don't need them and Disney is responding to the
problem by eliminating them over the next few months. I learned this
was happening as I waited for my husband to get another wheelchair for
me as the one I had been using was taken while I was on one of the rides.
I have MS and while there are tremendous differences in
individual experiences with the disease the one constant source of decreased
mobility and increased symptoms is heat. Something as simple as a hot
bath or shower can increase muscle weakness, so the heat of Florida
Disney has always been a favorite summer vacation spot
because the shorter lines for wheelchair visitors has allowed me to
be out of the sun and has helped to conserve my energy, another problem
for MSers. For example, we stay at the Yacht Club where a wheelchair
is made available for the length of our stay. The wheelchair gets me
to both Epcot and MGM where I then rent an electric vehicle for use
in the park. The hotel chair is held for me until I am ready to leave
the park. If I walked from the Yacht Club to Epcot I would not be able
to do anything else for the day.
I don't want to run on about this but I am certain that
there are many other people out there, such as heart patients, whose
symptoms are invisible but are not less debilitating for not being obvious.
I realize that Disney is in a bind with this one, and the only suggestions
I can think to offer would be politically incorrect in the current environment.
Disney has always been an innovator and I feel that if enough people
expressed their concern about this, WDW would find a way to continue
to serve all the people who come to share the magic.
Thanks for being a recipient of this diatribe."
I share Beth's concern, and if anyone has thoughts about
how to address this issue, I'd be most happy to post those suggestions.
Marlene Bellisle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
wrote to ask me this:
Hi Brian I have a couple of questions for you that I have been
unable to find answers to.
Can you rent motorized wheelchairs to be picked up at ypur
hotel and used for the duration of your stay. This would of course
be at a hotel in thw WDW resort.
Some attractions say you must transfer from your motorized wheelchair
to a regular wheelchair for the attraction. Do they have
these manual wheelchairs at each of these attractions? Hope you can
help me out.
To which I responded,
I don't have a lot of information on rental of electric
scooters. The three I've found by surfing the net are:
Care Medical, 1-800-741-2282, www.caremedicalequipment.com
Walker Mobility 1-888-726-6837, www.walkermobility.com
Randy's Mobility 407-855-6562
I can only suggest that you call those folks and see what
arrangements you can make.
Generally, the attractions
do NOT have wheelchairs available. However, depending on the attraction,
you may be able to get quite close to the loading area in your cart.
For example, on It's a Small World, you can ride your cart right down
to the boat load area without a problem. On most of the dark rides,
though, you'll not find it convenient or easy to load if the disabled
guest is not able to walk to at least some degree.