Guests With Disabilities Find Increased Accessibility at Walt Disney World Resort

Filed in: Planning & Value, Walt Disney World Resort

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Guests using wheelchairs can soar high over DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or sail down some of Earth’s great rivers on Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Guests with disabilities can also take advantage of many special services and facilities available to them throughout the Vacation Kingdom.

At TriceraTop Spin, Disney Imagineers created a special “dinosaur” with a swing-out side and a drop-down ramp that provides access inside the vehicle for guests using wheelchairs. These unique ride vehicles also allow guests to manipulate the height and pitch movement of their “dinosaur” from their wheelchair as they circle the sky with other riders.

At the world-famous Jungle Cruise, ride engineers created a special lift inside several boats to allow access for guests who previously would have had to transfer from their wheelchairs to the ride seat. Also, so that guests who are hard of hearing don’t miss the Jungle Skipper’s fun-filled dialogue, an Assistive Listening System has been added to the boats. The system uses infrared transmitters to provide amplified audio to lightweight receivers available at Guest Relations. There are also regularly scheduled cruises available with American Sign Language interpretation.

Jungle Cruise and other Walt Disney World attractions also offer Handheld Captioning. This innovative service, which uses a handheld receiver, enables guests to read captions while enjoying specific theme park attractions where captioning previously was impractical or unattainable. To develop the handheld system, Disney engineers looked at the recent advances in wireless communication and took it one step further. This service debuted on Dec. 5, 2001 — the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth — at the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Handheld Captioning is currently available at 28 Walt Disney World attractions.

Wheelchair users who can make lateral transfers to ride seats have many other attraction options throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including the thrill ride Test Track at Epcot. As a special service to guests, Test Track provides a separate “transfer-practice” area for people who use wheelchairs. The practice area allows people to try out the lateral transfer from their wheelchairs to the ride vehicle and to take their time deciding if they wish to ride.

Test Track, which includes 5,246 feet of track, is modeled after General Motors’ Proving Ground, where vehicles are tested and validated. The ride is more than five minutes long and reaches speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.

Other Walt Disney World Resort services tailored to guests with disabilities include:

  • Guidebooks For Guests With Disabilities — The Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities is theme park-specific and provides a detailed overview of services and facilities available for guests with disabilities. This includes information on attraction access that varies from attraction to attraction within the theme parks. Certain attractions require guests to transfer from their wheelchairs to a ride system either by themselves or with the assistance of a member of their party.
  • Resort Access — Walt Disney World resorts offer special equipment and facilities for guests with disabilities. Features vary depending upon the selected resort. For information, please call Walt Disney World Resort Special Reservations at 407/939-7807 (voice) or 407/939-7670 (TTY).
  • Guests With Visual Disabilities — Braille guidebooks, cassette tapes and portable tape players are available to assist guests during their visit to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • Guests With Service Animals — Trained service animals are welcome in most locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort. All service animals must remain on a leash or in a harness at all times. Due to the nature of some attractions, service animals may not be permitted to ride. In those instances, a member of the guest’s party must remain with the animal.
  • Guests With Hearing Disabilities Assistive Listening Systems are available for most theater-type attractions. These systems utilize a lightweight wireless device that receives a signal from overhead transmitters at certain locations in order to amplify sound.
    Reflective Captioning, which provides personal captioning for many theater-type attractions, uses an LED display to project desired captions onto an acrylic panel placed in front of the guest.
    Video Captioning also is available on many caption-ready television monitors designated with a “CC” symbol and can be turned on by remote control. The Handheld Captioning service is a portable captioning system that uses a wireless handheld receiver to display text in attractions where fixed captioning systems are impractical, such as moving ride vehicles.
    Sign Language interpretation is provided for guests at live theme park shows with a minimum of seven days notice. Currently, shows are interpreted on a rotating basis as follows: Sundays and Wednesdays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Mondays and Thursdays at Magic Kingdom; Tuesdays and Fridays at Epcot; and Saturdays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests can request this service by calling Walt Disney World Information at 407/824-4321 (voice) or 407/827-5141 (TTY).
  • Rest Rooms — Most rest rooms throughout Walt Disney World Resort have facilities designed for access by guests using wheelchairs. Companion-assisted rest room facilities are located at all First Aid locations, as well as several locations throughout the parks.
  • Wheelchairs — Guests can bring their own wheelchairs or rent one at any of the parks or at Downtown Disney. A limited number of Electric Convenience Vehicles are available at the theme parks on a first-come, first-served basis. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park offers guests wheelchairs designed for use in the sand. Wheelchairs also are available in limited numbers for Walt Disney World guests at each resort.
  • Parking — Designated parking areas for guests with disabilities are available throughout Walt Disney World Resort. A valid disability parking permit is required. At the four theme parks, guests should inquire at the auto plaza for directions on parking options.
  • Transportation — Many of the transportation systems at Walt Disney World Resort are accessible to guests with disabilities. All bus routes are serviced by buses equipped to accommodate various types of wheelchairs. Watercraft access varies depending on the type of watercraft and the existing water levels and conditions. Also, guests may access the monorail system by proceeding up the entrance ramps, or using the elevators provided at Epcot, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

    Walt Disney World Resort has been recognized with the Chairman’s Award presented by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board for its efforts to increase accessibility for people with disabilities, and it received the 1998 Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. National Access Award.

    To obtain further information about the services for guests with disabilities, visit the Walt Disney World website at or contact Walt Disney World Information at 407/824-4321 (voice) or 407/827-5141 (TTY).