Accessible Vacations: Walt Disney World

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 11, 2017 # Mobility, Travel

So you’ve decided to take a vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The good news is that WDW is very accessible – right from the moment you arrive.

If you are staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and you arrive by plane to Orlando International Airport you can take free accessible motorcoach transportation from the airport to your hotel (and back again at the end of your trip!) The service is called Disney’s Magical Express. Most domestic travelers can even skip baggage claim and go right to the bus. Your checked luggage will be picked up at the airport and delivered to your room later. Please note that you should not leave medication, medical equipment or important papers in your checked luggage since it may not arrive at your room until a few hours after you do. Guest Services at Disney can provide you with more in depth details about booking Magical Express Transportation.

Now that the transportation has been arranged the next option is where should you stay? Walt Disney World Resort hotels offer wheelchair accessible hotel rooms so your possibilities are endless. You can choose to stay at the deluxe Grand Floridian, the more affordable Pop Century or some place in between like Disney’s Port Orleans. Larger travel parties can opt to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation which offers accessible Family Suites. Wherever you choose to stay rest assured that all Disney Resort hotels have accessible paths to travel from arrival to the lobby area, along with accessible shops, restaurants, pools, exercise facilities, laundry rooms, meeting rooms, and business centers.

All checked in and settled into your resort you are now ready to visit the four theme parks that make up Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you do not have your own vehicle you can take Disney’s transportation to any of the parks. Depending on where you are going you can travel by bus, boat or monorail. If you do have a vehicle with you and choose to drive to the parks Disney has Disability Parking Lots. They are located a short distance from the main entrance to each of Disney’s theme parks. For additional information on parking, contact Guest Services at (407) 939-5277. Please note that parking at the theme parks is not free; however Disney provides its own free transportation – by bus, boat or monorail. You can self-park your vehicle at your resort for free and then use Disney’s transportation to get around--saving you the daily parking fee.

Once you decide which of the theme parks you are going to visit, you can pick up a theme park guide for guests with disabilities for each park. It has information for individuals with visual, auditory and mobility disabilities. It will include the most up to date information on shows and attractions. It includes information on which attractions can be accessed from a wheelchair and which require transfer. Don’t forget to pick up a schedule for parades and live shows at each park. The park maps also have information on accessible restrooms and companion restrooms.

For more information on attraction accessibility, visit: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/mobility-disabilities/

Service animals (dogs and miniature horses) are permitted in the parks, although they are not permitted on certain attractions. Each of the parks also has designated areas for animal relief which are indicated on the park maps. If a service animal is in need of water, guests can request a free cup of water at Quick Service dining locations.

More information for guest with disabilities can be found here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/

Additionally the Paralysis Resource Center’s Lending Library has books on accessible travel including books on navigating Walt Disney World with a wheelchair. The library’s online catalog can be accessed here: http://www.ChristopherReeve.org/Library. Books are mailed to your home with return postage so there is no cost to you.

By Beth Eisenbud. Beth is an Associate Information Specialist for the Reeve Foundation’s Paralysis Resource Center and a long time Disney enthusiast.