There is nothing quite like Disney World. It truly is a magical place. It also is a truly gigantic place which can present some unique challenges for families with a wheelchair user. Here are my tips to make Disney World a bit more doable with wheels.
Plan to do only one park a day-There are 4 main parks in Disney World, 2 Water Parks and Downtown Disney. Animal Kingdom and Epcot are a bit lower key than Hollywood Studios or the Magic Kingdom. Alternating between a low key and high energy park is a good idea. If my family, including two boys 12 and 15, was staying for a 5 day vacation, I would go to the areas in this order: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney (don’t miss Disney Quest), Magic Kingdom and finally Epcot. If it were water park season, I would choose Typhoon Lagoon over Blizzard Beach and probably skip Magic Kingdom. That being said, the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios is not-to-be missed so we probably would adjust that order to make sure we were able to see it.
Rent a car- Yes, Disney offers wheelchair accessible transportation between all the areas. But not all trams, boats, etc. can accommodate a chair. There is nothing worse than waiting in a line for a tram to finally have it come and be told that the next one will be able to accommodate your chair. Trust me, I have been there! Being a guest at any of the Disney resorts will enable you to park for free in each area. There is ample, close handicapped parking in each area. Be aware: some people rave about the shuttles accessibility. Disabled and Productive was very pleased with it. If you decide not to rent and want to take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express to get from the airport to the parks, make sure you request a wheelchair lift bus be available and follow up a day before.
Secure a Guest Assistance Pass for your visit-go to Guest Services the first day to obtain a Guest Assistance Pass. This will help Cast Members to accommodate any special needs you may have-such as waiting in the shade, or needing a ride car that accommodates your chair. If your family member has a disability that makes waiting in long lines, or being in the sometimes claustrophobic queues, is a problem make sure you tell them this when getting your pass. There is a special code that differs from being a wheelchair user and they need to mark your card accordingly.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate-Florida is humid and many of the medications wheelchair users take make heat a problem. You can bring in sealed bottles of water. Load up the chairs under carriage basket with it and drink, drink, drink.
Use the Restrooms in the First Aid Areas-These areas make taking care of necessary evils much more comfortable. They are happy to accommodate and very respectful of these special needs! If you don’t want to trek back to the First Aid area, there are several ‘companion’ bathrooms in each of the parks.
Wheelchair Accessible Viewing Spots-Most of the time Disney ropes off prime seating for wheelchair users. You still need to get there early because they fill up quickly. Ask a cast member where these areas are. They will keep other people from standing in front of you!
Disney World really does strive to make the park as easy as possible for wheelchair users and will do what they can to help accommodate any special needs. Hopefully, the above tips from someone who has been there with a chair will help. There are many more official tips available on the Mobility Disabilities page. What tips can you give me? Please share in the comments below!