Disney (and other Parks) – With Disabilities

UPDATED – 8TH JANUARY 2017 – Chair Hire and new DAS system

As someone with a mobility issue I have always when in Orlando walked as much as I can using my crutches. However this past visit I really struggled, I don’t know if it was the extreme heat (Orlando in August is soooooooooooo hot) or just that I’m getting older and nothing is working as well as it used to. Whatever the reason this past trip I ended up hiring a scooter. And I have to say it made a HUGE difference to the holiday.

For any future trips I will be organizing the scooter before I go and there are loads of companies outside the parks that will hire for the duration of your trip for a fraction of the cost of hiring in the park. If you hire on a daily basis within them you’re looking at around $70 a day plus a refundable deposit of $100. You can get a 2 week rental for less than $200.

Apple Scooter Rental are one of the best priced and most of their scooters are able to be taken apart and fit in the boot of the car. They don’t have a lot of choice of scooters though but if you want a basic one for a low cost they’re good. They will drop them off at your hotel/resort and pick up on your last day as well. www.applescooter.com

Sun Mobility have more choice of scooters and the prices are the same. Again they offer pick up and drop off www.sunmobilityrentals.com

Walt Disney World itself is over 40 square miles which is HUGE. That’s a lot of walking for anyone let alone someone who has problems walking. I have always been adamant that I would walk but after having this scooter I realized how much easy it made my trip, not just for me but for my family as well who didn’t have to walk at a snails pace round the parks and stop every time I had a muscle spasm cos my body was telling me to stop.

Top Tip Number One! – Get a Scooter (or ECV as they call them) not only do they make for less walking they’re also handy for holding bags and carrying children!!

DCIM107GOPRO

Most of the info below is correct of the ‘new’ DAS card at Disney. I found it easy to use and perfect for my needs. I was allowed to ride instantly on rides with a low wait time and given a return time for those with a longer wait to reflect that particular wait time. You can’t get another return time for a subsequent ride until you’ve been on the one you have a return time for.

However, you do still have 3 Fastpasses you can use so my tip is to book those 3 fastpasses in advance for the bigger rides and spread them throughout the day and then use your DAS card in between ride times.

For example, knowing I was going to Magic Kingdom for the day I booked a 9am fast pass for Space Mountain, an 11am for Seven Dwaves Mine Train and then a 2pm for Splash Mountain. I was able to ride other less busy rides in each of lands in between those times.

Don’t forget with the free Wifi in the parks you are able to use your My Disney Experience app to show you current wait times etc of things that are near you allowing you to fill the time between rides with other things to do.

Planning is the key!!

DAS cards can also be used for character meets in the same way.

All of the shows have accessible seating, a large amount you can stay in your chair or transfer to a standard chair if in an ECV. You are also taken in an accessible entrance for all shows. Spaces are limited so it’s worth getting to the shows early to account for that.

All in all the new DAS card is really good. So don’t be put off by some of the reviews online.

I did have one issue at Epcot when I went to Guest Services to get my card, having had many many conversations by email with Disney regarding the pass I was well aware of the name of it and how it works. I also work for a ticket reseller in the UK so I talk about Disney as part of my job and advise many of my customers with regards to this. On asking the, also disabled, cast member at Epcot for my card he told me that they just ‘don’t exist’!! However on going to guest services later on at Magic Kingdom I was issued with my card with no problems, proving that they do exist and I had just come into contact with the only non helpful Disney Cast Member I had ever met.


I didn’t know I could get this info online but this gives you a bit more info on how the DAS card works

DAS Info

Look for this sign in my reviews of the parks that shows you all the access info you need and where to find Guest Services and ECV/Chair Hire

disability-parking-sign-at-disney

Disney’s Disability access changes quite a lot, I know things are a lot different than on my first visit when I was pretty much handed an access card as soon as I limped in the park (had this not happened I would have had no idea they existed). I know the latest policy, the DAS card has come under fire quite a lot having not yet used it I can’t comment but I’ve spoken to a few people at guest services and I think I’ve figured out how it works…

The Disney policy is to not ask for proof of a guests issues, unfortunately I think this does leave them open for any policy they adopt to be abused and that is why it changes so much. I think this is the wrong approach to take really as any person with a genuine disability would have no problem at all providing proof it’s those who haven’t that will argue. That’s just my opinion (and that of every person I know who would need to use the DAS card)

Currently the way the card works is that you would be issued with a return time for the rides in accordance with the current wait time. If its a 90 minute wait then your return time will be in 90 minutes. As far as I’m currently aware if it’s a short wait time then you may just get taken right on the ride. Access is generally through the FP queue although I’m not entirely sure how that works for those of us who are ambulant but are unable to stand still for long periods. I know that there have been wheelchair users who have just been told to get in the regular line.

What you might not be aware of is that the DAS card doesn’t just work for rides. There is also dedicated viewing for parades (although these are mostly for wheelchair users and seating is not available – well it wasn’t on my last visit anyway), you can also use it for shows and some character meetings.

Wheelchair hire both electric and standard is available in the parks but can be quite costly. ECV is $50 per day plus a refundable deposit of $20 and regular wheelchairs are $12 per day (although you can get a discount if you rent for a few days) they are available free to those staying on resort but a refundable deposit will be taken and is dependent on availability. You can however hire these from places like Walmart for the duration of your stay which is a lot cheaper.

Disney has extensive help for all disabilities and most rides have assistance for the hard of hearing and there are also provisions for service animals and AED machines all over the parks.

In my opinion it seems there are a few flaws – although I guess I will find out all about it on my next trip – however I would advise taking a letter from your Dr if you can get one, explaining how your condition affects you. If there are particular things that would cause you distress then mention it to guest services. If you know exactly what help you would need or what they can provide that would make your day easier for you then tell them. If you’re not satisfied with what assistance you’re given, ask to speak to a manager.

Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld etc have a similar policy with cards for access. However they WILL ask you how your condition affects you and will provide you with whatever assistance you need. I found doing these parks a lot less stressful than Disney. They do again both have the ability to hire chairs if you need them. For those who are ambulant but struggle to walk long distances I would recommend hiring a chair for SeaWorld. I found this the hardest park for getting around. There is quite long distances between attractions and if you’re wanting to watch any of the shows because of the timings of them you often end up walking backwards and forwards across the park to make sure you see them. Busch Gardens is also a lot of walking.

I’ll publish an extensive list of the rides and what access is like later on in the year, if you have any specific questions you would like answered then let me know.

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