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Accessing theme parks for those with disabilities
|Tony Phoenix and Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editors|
Disneyland Resort > Directions
If you are not staying at a local hotel that provides a shuttle, or if you are confined to a wheelchair and cannot use the shuttles, you will need to park in one of the many parking lots. See our Disneyland Information Guide (D-I-G) for more information on the parking situation.
Disabled parking is available in all Disneyland parking lots and at the resort hotels. If you arrive later in the day, spaces may not be available in these sections. If none are available, ask a cast member where you should park.
In order to park in a disabled space anywhere in California, you must have a disabled placard or plate issued a government entity. The placard or plate does not have to be issued by California; you can bring yours from Connecticut or Alberta, for example. A disabled sticker on your window that is not state issued is not acceptable. If you do not have a placard, do not risk parking in these spaces. The little slip that the parking attendant may place on your windshield is not acceptable under state law, and this is an expensive parking ticket to pay.
If you have a disabled placard, the parking attendants should direct you to the correct parking area. For those who have permanently disabled license plates, be sure to ask the parking attendant you pay for a disabled parking slip. It is a little paper that they place under your windshield and helps the parking attendants to direct you where you need to go. Placard holders may also want to request this slip. Unfortunately, because of the volume of cars that park at Disneyland each day, it is not uncommon for the attendants to miss disabled plates or placards on a vehicle.
Getting to the maing ates
There are a few methods for getting from the parking lot to the main gates.
Use the normal seats on the tram
You must climb two 11-inch steps to reach the seat on the trams. Wheelchairs must be folded and placed on the tram for transport.
Use the ramps to remain in the wheelchair/scooter on the tram
Board using the large ramps found at the tram loading area. There are a few challenges with this option. Only the front cars have the tie downs, and only two per car - both tie downs must be used for a scooter. Parking cast member's have been reluctant to evict non-disabled guests who had taken those seats, leading to wheelchair-bound guests waiting at the ramp as tram after tram went by. In addition, the ramps only have a 6" clearance to load wheelchairs. If the tram pulls too for forward, they cannot back up and cannot load you (or unload you - meaning you are stuck!) A warning to guests with limited upper body strength: While the drivers no longer drive the trams as if they were in the Indy 500, it can still require substantial upper-body strength and balance to ride on the trams. If you have any problems in this area, I suggest sticking with the final option, the vans.
Use the guest service vans
My Preference! These minivans, specially equipped with retractable ramps, service all three parking sections. Each van can only accommodate one wheelchair at a time. This can result in a large backup of people, especially at park closing or during a Happy Hearts week. The service can also be very unpredictable. We arrived at the park on a recent Saturday, and learned that two of the three vans were broken down, and would not be operational for several days. However, if they are running, I do recommend using them. Ambulatory guests who do not feel comfortable using the trams may also use these vans. However, van drivers may give preference to waiting guests in wheelchairs.
Special note regarding the vans
An old policy is being reinstated, and requires that guests in wheelchairs must face forward in the vans. Since the vans load from the side, youâll have to turn your chair once youâre inside the van. This can be very problematic, especially for scooters, persons with larger wheelchairs, or people using an extended leg rest. Even if you have a standard wheelchair, you may not be able to maneuver your chair into a forward facing position.
There are a few ways to deal with this. If you are lucky, your chair will fit perfectly. Otherwise, if you are able to transfer from your chair onto the back seat of the van you wonât have to worry about it. Just roll up the ramp, transfer, and youâre set. If you have someone with you who can help to maneuver your chair, they may be able to lift the back of the chair up enough to swing it into place. However, cast members are not allowed to do this. Your third option is to demonstrate that your chair cannot make this turn, and ask the cast member to allow you to stay in a side facing position. IF they are unwilling to do this, and none of the other options will work for you, you can always take the tram. Once you get into the park, be sure to stop by City hall and let them know what you think if the policy.
Why has this been done? Well, from what we were told by several cast members from all levels of the Parking Department, itâs because of the seatbelts. They donât think that they can fasten the seatbelt on you if youâre facing to the side. Even though weâve SHOWN several cast members and Managers exactly how to fasten the seatbelts across the van. So, for now, this is the policy. Enforcement is erratic, so you may not even have this issue. Some days, no one says anything. Other days, the driver will refuse to transport us. We hope the park will come to realize what a challenge this is, and re-think the policy.
Disneyland/Paradise Pier Hotels
To get to the parks from the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels you can either walk via Downtown Disney, or for Disneyland, use the monorail.
The monorail is wheelchair accessible and takes you straight to Disneyland's Tomorrowland. One major warning! The monorail sits about 6 inches above the boarding ramp, so it can be a bit of a challenge. Ask a cast member for the ramp to assist you in boarding. The monorail can only accommodate one wheelchair at a time. Wheelchairs must be 26" wide or smaller in order to access the monorail. You can also fold your chair and take it with you. Wheelchairs and scooters rented at Disneyland may not be taken on the Monorail and must remain at the Disneyland station. Chairs borrowed from the hotel by guests may be taken on the Monorail.
Most of the hotels in the area now provide transportation for disabled guests to the park. Contact your hotel to find out if they do. (If you know what hotels do, please let me know so that I can include that information here.)
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