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Accessing theme parks for those with disabilities
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Tony Phoenix and Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editors

Disney's California Adventure > Getting Around

Mobility Disabilities

Unlike Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure as built all of their attraction queues to be 100% accessible. While the park has issued a Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities, its utility is pretty minimal, especially for mobility impaired guests. Most entries can be summed up as "enter through the standard queue and contact a cast member for boarding instructions."

Special Assistance Passes (SAPs) are not offered at DCA in the same way they are at Disneyland. The entire policy regarding SAPs is under review at both parks, but here is the current DCA version.

Guests using wheelchairs can use the regular line at every attraction, and thus don't need a special pass. Mobility-impaired guests who do not normally use wheelchairs are encouraged to rent them. A note from the Guidebook: "Some Guests may be concerned that they do not have the stamina to wait in our queues. We strongly suggest these guests consider using a wheelchair... as the distance between our attractions is often greater than the length of our queues." 

If you were to read this, it looks like you need to rent a wheelchair at $7 per day (or an Electric Convenience Vehicle for $20), or you are out of luck. There are a few issues with this. Many people with mobility impairments refuse to use wheelchairs. "I may walk slowly, but at least I can still walk" is a common battle cry. To many people even within the disabled community, there is a stigma attached to using a wheelchair. 

Also, the distance walked is irrelevant. For many people, the distance is not the challenge. Rather, it is the time spent standing. It may only take five minutes to walk from one attraction to the next, but you can easily spend an hour or more standing in line.

Finally, I also object to requiring persons to pay additional money to be able to access the park, on top of their admission. I understand that there are only so many wheelchairs. If they were free, they would all be gone within minutes of the park opening. Unfortunately for many guests, renting a wheelchair makes visiting the park more of a burden on the wallet. Guest Relations may be able to assist you with wheelchair rental in the case of special circumstances.

There are many reasons aside from a mobility impairment that someone might need a Special Assistance Pass. Parents of special-needs children often request an SAP when visiting the parks. Any child can become impatient if the line is long, but an autistic child may not be able to bear anything more than a few minutes. Some people are sensitive to sunlight, and can not wait in an unshaded queue. The reasons are as varied as the Guests, and they are mostly valid concerns. 

Having talked with a few Guest Relations cast members, here are some comments and suggestions. First, Special Assistance Passes are available, but  are generally only issued to guests with non-mobility impairments. Again, Guest Relations will suggest that guests with mobility impairments rent a wheelchair. If you feel that you need an SAP, go to Guest Relations and discuss your need with the Host or Hostess. You don't need to divulge your entire medical history. Just tell them what accommodation you need, such as: "I can walk unaided, but I cannot stand for more than 20 minutes." This allows the cast member to better meet your specific needs.

Also, be sure to take advantage of the Fastpass system. Guests with SAPs will be using the Fastpass entrance at most attractions anyway, so you can achieve the same result by obtaining Fastpass tickets to the attractions you want to ride.

Wheelchair Rental

A limited number of electric scooters and wheelchairs are available for rental at the park. They can be rented at the stroller/wheelchair rental on your far right as you enter the park. Guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels can borrow them from the hotels for no charge. Contact the front desk for additional information.

The following are the rental prices for chairs as of April 2, 2000:

  • Wheelchair: $7/day + $20 refundable deposit
  • Electric Cart (Scooter) $35/day + $20 refundable deposit

Third Party Rentals

Scoot-Around North America offers third party rentals in the Anaheim and is delivered directly to you at your hotel or home. For some people, this may be more advantageous when you keep in mind that you cannot take wheelchairs or scooters rented at Disneyland out of the park. Delivery and pickup is free to any address in Anaheim and to Disneyland. They can be reached toll free at 1 (888) 441-7575 or at Scootaround.

Service Animals

Service animals are welcome throughout the park but must be leashed at all times. The following attractions do not permit service animals to ride; however, a cast member will wait with your service animal while you are on the ride.

  • California Screamin'
  • Golden Zephyr
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Jumpin' Jellyfish
  • Maliboomer
  • Mulholland Madness
  • Orange Stinger
  • Soarin' Over California
  • Sun Wheel

Disneyland recommends that service animals not ride on the following attractions though they may accompany you if you choose. If you leave them at the boarding area, a cast member will wait with them. Your companion will probably do fine on the Carousel, but I do have to agree with Disney about It's Tough to be a Bug! Let a cast member wait with your companion outside of the attraction. You'll both be happier.

  • It's Tough to be a Bug!
  • King Triton's Carousel

Visual Disabilities

Braille guidebooks and audiotape tours are available at city hall. You may be required to leave a deposit.

Hearing Disabilities

TTY phones can be found in the Guest Relations Lobby, in Golden State, near Golden Dreams, and in Paradise Pier, next to King Triton's Carousel. All phones can be amplified by pressing the # key or by using the special volume button found on some phones.

Assistive listening devices can be borrowed from Guest Relations (with a deposit) and work with the following attractions:

  • Disney Animation
  • Golden Dreams
  • Hyperion Theater
  • It's Tough to be a Bug!
  • Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3D
  • Ahwahnee Camp Circle

Other offerings for people with hearing disabilities include:

Written Aids: Guest Assistance Packets containing attraction dialogue, and narration, flashlight, and pencil and paper are available for many attractions and shows. A listing of these attractions can be obtained from Guest Relations.

The narration is printed in easy-to-read 24 point type. Below is a picture of one of the packets.

Sign Language Interpretation: ASL interpretation will be provided free of charge at the Hyperion Theater and Drawn to Animation (and certain special programs) with at least one week's notice. Contact Guest Relations at (714) 781-4560 (TTY 714-781-4569) to request this service.

Reflective Captioning: LED displays at the back of select locations reflect the dialogue on an acrylic panel, or ĪReader Boardā, set in front of you. This is similar to a teleprompter.

  • Animation Screening Room
  • It's Tough to be a Bug!
  • Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3D
  • Golden Dreams
  • Seasons of the Vine

Below is a picture of the reader board with a simulated projection. (Unfortunately, our camera was having trouble getting a good picture of the text.)

Video Captioning: The preshows in Disney Animation, MuppetVision 3D, Soarin' Over California, and Superstar Limo provide video captioning. To activate these systems, request an activator from Guest Relations. A deposit is required.


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Hollywood Pictures Backlot

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