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Accessing theme parks for those with disabilities
|Tony Phoenix and Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editors|
Disneyland > Tomorrowland
The new section of the queue is now wheelchair accessible (though I don't believe it is scooter accessible). If the new queue section is open, proceed through the queue to the wheelchair door, which is clearly marked. If it is not open, go directly to the door, to the left of the main building entrance.
You proceed down a hallway to an elevator that you will take to the upper floor. Disabled guests are loaded last, in the front row. Generally, you take your chair down the ramp into the Star Speeder and transfer into your seat. The loading attendant takes your chair back out to the waiting area and hold it there. Once you return from your tour of Endor, the attendant brings your chair back to you. You then exit with everyone else. Closed Captioning is available for the preshow.
Enter through the exit and proceed down the ramp to the left. Depending on the day, there is often a line at the Disabled Entrance to Space Mountain. If this is the case, there will be a cast member there to direct traffic. As Space Mountain can only accommodate one disabled guest at a time, you can figure that the wait will be about 5-10 minutes per group depending on how efficiently they are loading disabled guests.
If there is a line to board, they are generally forming the queue outside the exit of the attraction. There is a bench provided for those who need to sit. This is a huge improvement over previous queue methods the park has used earlier.
If there is a line at the bottom of the monorail ramp, you will need to wait in the line. It is wheelchair accessible. Otherwise, contact the cast member at the base of the ramp. The long-overdue elevator has finally opened to transport you to the loading platform.
There is a 6" difference between the floor of the Monorail and the platform. There is one cabin that is built to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. If you are in a chair or scooter, insist on using the ramp (you generally have to ask for it). I had a really nasty experience with an impatient cast member grabbing my chair and literally yanking me out of the cabin and dropping me those six inches. Without too many details, this incident gave me the (unwanted) opportunity to assess the competence of the Anaheim paramedics firsthand.
Go to the exit ramp found to the left of the entrance. The conductor will provide boarding instructions. Guests confined to wheelchairs or who are unable to climb the steps to board the train may use the new wheelchair loading ramp. Note that only two of the trains are equipped to accommodate wheelchairs at this time. Depending on how many trains are operating, you may have to wait up to 20 minutes to be able to board. If you can leave your wheelchair and climb two steps, you can avoid the wait. In this case, you can fold the chair to take it with you or leave it at the station for a round trip. NOTE: There is no wheelchair access at the Main Street Station. To exit there, you must be able to descend a flight of stairs.
Proceed through the standard queue and wait at the marked gate for boarding instructions. The ride vehicles are very difficult to load and unload, even for those without any physical challenges.
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
Proceed through the standard queue. When you arrive at the reception podium, the cast member will direct you where to wait. Due to limited seating, Guests using wheelchairs and only one additional member of your party may be seated together. Additional members of your party will usually be seated as close as possible. You can remain in your wheelchair for the show, but you will not experience all of the effects. I recommend transferring to a regular seat for the duration of the show.
Proceed through the standard queue until you reach the stairs. From there, take the elevator down and follow the corridor to the elevator up to the boarding platform. Do NOT let them attempt to put you in the last row. It is extremely difficult to negotiate if you have a disability. The third seat back is the easiest to access. Guests using a SA pass should contact a cast member at the start of the line for access instructions.
A lot can be said about Innoventions; both the concept and implementation. Whether or not the presentations there are worthwhile, I leave for you to decide. As for accessibility, there are several issues.
Accessing the building is not easy, especially for those who have difficulty walking. The access platform is the equivalent of stepping onto a record turntable from a nonmoving area. The table is moving at about 6-8 inches a second, which looks deceptively slow, but was enough to knock my feet out from under me the one time I tried walking it. In addition, the peripheral motion of the building can throw off some people's sense of perception. Once inside the building, you will eventually move to the nonmoving center portion of the building, exiting the turntable. This part moves slower and did not cause me any noticeable problems.
The lower exhibit area contains a wide mix of different computers exhibiting software. Only a handful of the machines are wheelchair accessible and are not marked. Also, on one visit, every single wheelchair accessible machine was running the same dress up Barbie software. Not exactly the thing to catch my interest, but if you have a young daughter·.? Movement to the upper level is done via an elevator near the center of the rooms.
The upper exhibit areas are minimally accessible. Wheelchair users cannot reach most of the interactive computer screens, and many of the activities require physical activity not likely for most people in wheelchairs (jumping, climbing, bouncing). Even the SAP exhibit makes it difficult to reach the game controls if you are in a chair. Some of the carpeting is VERY thick and padded, making it as difficult to move across as sand. Before you head out, I do recommend going out to the outside deck of the building. From here you are afforded a wonderful view of Tomorrowland, though you cannot actually exit with a wheelchair this way.
Exiting Innoventions requires going back down stairs (via the elevator) and out a back door that is very well marked.
The main queue is completely wheelchair accessible. You will use an elevator lift to reach the boarding platform.
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