It only goes to say, since disabilities come in all shapes and sizes.
What works for those with mental health and cognitive disabilities will require very different changes to the environment than those of us with mobility issues. Therefore companies, governments, and public venues have a lot to address to make their spaces fully accessible to everyone.
As I’ve said before and you’re probably getting sick of hearing it, Walt Disney World does everything possible to do just that.
They have disability specific accommodations for all the major disability categories. They may not be able to accommodate ever single need for every single Guest — they try. And if you need something else just ask. They may not be able to fulfill the need but there’s no harm in asking. The key word is asking. Asking politely and thanking the cast members graciously even when they can’t.
This Blog will look at the specific accommodations Disney provides for thosewith various disabilities.
Disability Specific accommodation at Walt Disney World
Guests with Cognitive, Developmental, and Mental Health Disabilities
This category is broad and encompasses many different and varied disorders: autism, developmental delays, depression, anxiety disorders, dementia.
Guests in this category may have difficulty with
- crowds and close contact with others,
- over sensory stimulation from bright lights, loud noises, strong smells,
- strange new environments,
- new unknown experiences,
- strange foods,
- altercations among guests around them,
- unknown expectations,
- stressful situations and environments.
I know. I know. All of the above are a definition of a visit to WDW. But there are ways to reduce the stress and prevent a melt-down. Disney has gone out of their way to make this as easy as possible for these guests and their companions.
Som, but not all, accommodations for Guests with cognitive disabilities:
1. Break Areas There are dozens of areas available throughout the Parks where, when a Guest with a cognitive disability becomes over-stimulated or needs some down-time, can “take a break.” To locate the nearest area, please ask a Cast Member for assistance. A full list can be found in the WDW Cognitive Guide.
2. Disability Assisstive Service –– DAS The DAS program is primarily intended for individuals in this category.
he Disability Access Service (DAS) is a program for Guests who are unable to tolerate long waits in the regular queue environment due to a disability. The DAS program is primarily intended for Guests with cognitive, mental health, visual, or chronic health issues that make waiting in crowded, close, noisy, poorly or inconsistently lit areas for long periods of time.
(I will be disvussing this service completely in a future Blog.
3. Companion Restrooms
Companion restrooms are larger which can be helpful if a Guest needs assistance or requires that someone accompany him or her.
Please note many of our restrooms use automatic toilet flushing equipment which may be loud nd disturbing to these individuals.
5 Helpful Guides
Many attractions at Walt Disney World Resort feature a variety of special effects including scents, flashing lights, loud noises and periods of darkness. Some of these may be disturbing to guests with cognitive disabilities. Knowing what to expect is important to deciding which rides or attractions are appropriate for the Guest. For more information on experiences in Walt Disney World Resort, download Attraction Details for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities or our more general Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities and
Guests with Hearing Disabilities
Walt Disney World Resort offers a variety of services to help Guests with hearing disabilities enjoy the Resort.
- Guest Room Amenities
- Assistive Listening
- Handheld Captioning
- Video Captioning
- Sign Language Interpretation
Guest Room Amenities
Guest Rooms at Walt Disney World Resort hotels can be equipped with door knock and phone alerts, phone amplifiers, bed shaker notification, a strobe light smoke detector and a Text Typewriter (TTY) telephone.
For more information or to request a Room Communication Kit, please call Walt Disney World Resort Information at (407) 824–4321.
Walt Disney World has various ways for those with hearing impairments to experience some shows and attractions. Handheld Devices offer Assistive Listening, Handheld Captioning, and Video Captioning. Each works only at specific attractions.
All the theme parks have Disney’s Handheld Devices available at Guest Relations on a first-come, first-serve basis for a fully-refundable $25 daily deposit.
Handheld Captioning displays on-screen text in 29 attractions, most attractions that involve spoken word.
Video Captioning is available at select locations in queue areas for attractions have video screens throughout that give exposition for the attraction’s story. With most o for use in queues with videos. Video Cptioning on Disney’s Handheld Device is available for 15 attractions, most of which are shows or mild attractions that rely on a video screen.
To access lists of which attractions have these accessible options, go to this page of the Walt Disney World website.
American Sign Language
Some attractions have American sign language interpretation on certain days of the week. Disney’s PDF guide lists which days. You will need to arrive at an attraction 15–25 minutes early to request an interpreter or be seated in the appropriate section to see the interpreter.
A few Cast Members can communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) and will have this indicated in a golden box under nametag. If you have a serious emergency, ask Guest Relations or another Cast Member to call one in.
Guests with Visual Disabilities
Walt Disney World Resort has a variety of services for Guests with visual disabilities. These services include:
- Audio Description
- Braille Guidebooks
- Portable Tactile Map Booklets
- Stationary Braille Maps
- Information About Service Animals
For more information, please contact Disability Services at (407) 560–2547 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disney Handheld Devices provide audio description of visual elements of an attraction. Available at all four theme parks at Guest Relations on a first-come, first-serve basis and a fully refundable $25 deposit.
Guidebooks for people with visual disabilities.Audio description is available for most shows and slow-moving rides. You can find the full list of attractions with audio description service on Disney’s website.
There are two Guidebooks, Both are available at Guest Relations on a first-come, first-serve basis with a refundable $25 deposit.
Braille guidebooks are printed in large text and Braille and have descriptions of attractions, restaurants, and stores.
Portable tactile map booklets are maps of the park with tactile outlines of buildings, walkways, and landmarks.
Visit Guest Relations first thing as you arrive in the park as you cannot reserve these items.
Stationary braille maps
Stationary braille maps are located throughout the parks. One at every Guest Relations in each of the Parks. You usually have to ask a Cast Member for additional locations.
The stationary braille maps indicate the location of attractions, service animal relief areas, restrooms and companion restrooms, Guest Relations, and First Aid.
Select table-service restaurants offer menus in Braille — ask a Cast Member about availability
Guests with Lighting Sensitivity
Walt Disney World Resort uses specialty lighting effects and other visual effects throughout many shows and attractions. This is something to be aware of if you or a member of your party have a photosensitivity or seizure disorder. Consult the signage posted at our attractions — which includes height requirements, health and safety advisories, and accessibility guidelines. Restrictions and advisories are also listed on individual attraction pages on disneyworld.com.
Guests with Mobility Disabilities
Helpful services and access options are available throughout Walt Disney World Resort for Guests with mobility disabilities. For more information, please contact Disability Services at (407) 560–2547 or email email@example.com.
Attraction Access You can view the list of rides and attractions in each park in each category at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/mobility-disabilities/
Walt Disney World attractions offer access for Guests with mobility disabilities in the following categories:
1. Must Be Ambulatory: These attractions require Guests to walk by themselves or be assisted by members of their party. There are just a few of these in the four parks.
2. Must Transfer from Wheelchair/ECV to Ride Vehicle These attractions require Guests to transfer from their wheelchair or ECV — by themselves or with assistance from their party — to a ride vehicle.
3. Must Transfer from ECV to Wheelchair from Wheelchair to Ride Vehicle Guests must transfer to a wheelchair provided at the attraction. At some attractions, the transfer will occur at the entrance, while at other attractions, the transfer will occur within the building or queue.
4. May Remain in Wheelchair/ECV These attractions allow Guests to remain in their wheelchair or Electric Conveyance Vehicle (ECV) during the experience.
Wheelchair and ECV Accessibility with Walt Disney World Transportation
All of the transportation systems at the Walt Disney World Resort are accessible to Guests with disabilities. The only exception to this are the smaller ferry boats.
All buses are equipped to accommodate various types of wheelchairs and ECVs/. The mobility device must fit the lift without being forced. Most buses can hold up to 2 mobility devices.
Guests using canes, walkers, crutches or who have difficulty walking can board via the rear door.
Watercraft access varies depending on the type of watercraft and the existing water levels and conditions. Boats and ferries are boarded via a ramp and devices must be parked in designated areas.
Monorail Access need for elevators or ramps at the Transportation and Ticket Center, Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Notify cast member as monorail approaches the station that you will be in need of a ramp.
Guests may remain in their vehicle during transport.
Theme Park Disability Parking Lots
Guests with mobility disabilities — including those traveling with personal wheelchairs, electric scooters or other mobility devices — should park in our Disability Parking Lots, located a short distance from the main entrance to each of the 4 theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort. Courtesy trams do not stop at these locations.
Guests with the ability to walk short distances and step onto courtesy trams should park in the main parking lots of Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. If necessary, Guests may ask for a space at the end of a row closest to the courtesy tram pick-up/drop-off location. Courtesy trams will then transport Guests to each theme park’s Main Entrance.
Guests with chronic illnesses
Guests with chronic illnesses may have individual and specific needs and limitations. Disney does whatever they can to accommodate these diverse needs.
It is recommended that you contact the D Disability Services before your visit. please contact Disability Services at (407) 560–2547 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case something goes wrong while you’re at Disney World, it’s good to know where to seek medical care when needed
First aid stations located in each of the Parks. You can find where they are on the individual Park Guide Maps or aks any cast member for directions.
- Magic Kingdom, First Aid is located between The Crystal Palace and Casey’s Corner, as you’re walking towards Adventureland.
- In EPCOT, find First Aid in the Odyssey Center between Future World and the World Showcase, near the Mexico Pavilion.
- At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, First Aid is in the guest relations building on Hollywood Boulevard, right near the park entrance.
- nimal Kingdom has a First Aid station on Discovery Island right next to Creature Comforts.
Baby care stations these also are lcated in each of the parks and marked on Guide Maps. They ar enot just for babies. Older children and adults are welcome as well. These air-conditioned spaces are quiet with places to sit, relax, and recoop. there are large companion bathrooms with large changing tables.
AdventHealth is the official health care provider at Walt Disney World Resort, offering a network of services to Guests — including urgent care, doctor visits, prescription delivery, equipment delivery and more.
Guests with Special dietary needs, restrictions r allergies
Most Disney Dining locations are able to accommodate many special dietary needs, such as diabetes, gluten or dairy intolerance, vegan or vegetarian preferences, with no advanced notice..
Walt Disney World Resort, we take great pride in providing choice and variety for Guests with special dietary requests. You can request to speak with a chef or a special diets-trained Cast Member at most table-service and select quick-service restaurants. In most cases, no advance arrangements are needed. While restaurants take reasonable efforts to accommodate dietary requests, we cannot guarantee that they will be able to meet all requests.
Most quick service locations have and allergy friendly menus available for the asking
Most small kiosks and food carts may not have a listing of allergy friendly items. You can ask the cast member for this information however if your allergy is severe I would recommend going elsewhere.
Mobile ordering now includes many allergy friendly items though this may not include all of the items available at the location
Sit down restaurants have allergy friendly menus for the most common categories if you have another allergy or intolerance or more specific request ask to speak with the chef they will be happy to accommodate your needs whenever possible.
Buffets Most buffets have allergy friendly item marked at the buffet. If you have an uncommon allergy or another special request ask to speak with a chef. They will be happy to come and walk you through the buffet tables to point out those item that are appropriate for you.
All of the Theme Parks, resorts, and most other areas within the greater Walt Disney World Resort are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Walt Disney World is one of the top wheelchair-accessible vacation destinations kn the world. At least that’s my opinion.
I am currently planning my next trip to the Magic.