Saturday, July 9, 2011

Doing Disney Parks Handi-Capable

Doing Disney Parks Handi-Capable

       My father was disabled and we went to Disneyland (between one and three times a week), Disney World and on the Disney Cruise (both WDW and the Cruise once for a week each.) with him. From those trips we learned a lot about navigating Disney Handi-Capable.

So you want to go to a Disney park but you feel your limitations will keep you from enjoying. Rethink that!! There is plenty to do if you are interested, ready to try new things, willing to stay within your limits and will not fuss about the things you can’t do.

       First thing you need to do is look at the guide you can get for people with disabilities from Disney. You can call them and ask for a copy before you go or check out the information online. That will tell you what attractions you need to transfer from wheelchairs to ride and if the ride is ruff. Some rides actually accommodate a wheelchair or ECV! Disney tries to make as many attractions as possible accessible to everyone. A good example is Dumbo at DLR. Two new Dumbos were recently added to the ride that have wide doors that make it possible for a mobility limited guest to transfer easier.

       Look at the website for the park(s) you are going to. Here is the link to information on Disneyland Guests with Disabilities services.

Familiarize yourself with the symbols that tell you an attraction Ambulatory Requirements.

Ambulatory Requirements (You will need to walk to do this attraction.)
Wheelchair and ECV Accessible (You stay in/on your ECV or Wheelchair)
Transfer from Wheelchair or ECV (You must transfer to the seat)
Transfer from ECV to Wheelchair
(Not ECV accusable. Wheelchairs ok and will be provided if needed.)

       Before you go look online at the different attractions you wish to ride and see if the ambulatory requirement for rides you wish to ride fit you. If the ride is not appropriate for you don’t plan on going on that attraction. If you need help to transfer make sure someone in your party is willing and able to help. Disney Cast Members are not allowed to lift or carry you. They can offer assistance in giving you balance if needed but not much more. They will also hold your wheelchair while you transfer and place it out of the way until you get off the ride. They will bring the chair back to you at the end of the ride. Some rides have such tight seats it is hard to transfer to the ride from a wheelchair. Some just take more time than for a mobility limited person to get on the ride. Ask if someone can take a look to see if the ride can accommodate you before waiting in line for that ride. Often they will let one of your party walk up the exit to see the seat. Usually you can get a good look at the ride’s vehicle without doing this.

       Once you get to the park stop by City Hall or Guest Services (depending on the park you are in) and get a Guest Assistance Card. You will be asked what assistance you need. If you have trouble with stairs they will give you a GAC that allows you to go around them. If you have major health issues the card may allow you to go up all Fastpass lines without a Fastpass. You can get this card dated for the length of your stay at the park so if you are staying for a week you don’t have to get a new one every day.

You just show the GAC card to a Cast Member before you get in line and they will tell you where to go to get on that ride. Some lines are now ADA approved and wide enough for wheelchairs and ECV’s to go in the regular lines, These lines also don’t have steps that would be a problem for wheeled guests. Some lines you go up the Fastpass line. Others (mostly in Fantasyland at DLR) you go up the exit.

Don’t worry or be ashamed if it takes you a little longer to get on or off a ride. The Cast Members understand and will not rush you. Take the time you need and move safely. Nobody wants you to hurry and hurt yourself because you rushed. Many of the rides either stop or slowdown for people with mobility issues to board and exit. Make sure you tell the Cast Member loading the ride if you need assistance boarding.

       If you can’t do many rides there is still lots of things you can do. There are shows and show like attractions. All shows are wheelchair accessible and have special sections for viewing. Shows like Aladdin the Musical at DCA are a joy for the young and young and heart. There are jokes and physical gags that make the kids giggle and jokes that are there just for the adults. Most of the shows are for everyone. Those that are just for little children are obvious. We often go to DLR just to watch the shows and some visits we don’t ride a single ride.

       If you need medical attention, a place to rest, cool off or quiet to calm your mind head to First Aid. You will find this a quiet location and they do have cots you can rest on if the need is great. The First Aid has A/C and is cool in the summer and warm on cold winter nights. You can find bandaids and emergency medical care if needed. If you need to keep medication cool they will hold it there for you.

       If you have problems with hearing there is assistance for you as well. For attractions with audio they offer various types of devices to help. For those with vision issues some attractions have added audio available in the form of a recording device you can use. Service dogs are allowed in the parks. Some attractions they can go with their person but for other rides, such as roller coasters it is not safe for the dog and someone will have to hold the animal’s leash. For more information on availability of these items stop at Guest Relations at the parks.

       There are wheelchair viewing areas for fireworks and parades at all the parks. I will be honest about DLR. The Fantasmic and Fireworks viewing areas are not good. They are off center and have light poles and or trees blocking your view. If you wish to see these I suggest if you can talk to a guest who goes often about where the good seats are and how to get that spot. There are non wheelchairs spots that a wheelchair can be in that have better views. This is especially true for Fantasmic. If you sit at the back of a section that requires people to sit down for the show you are ok and have a great seat.

       The most important thing to remember about doing Disney Parks Handi-Capable is ask if you need help. Ask before saying no to a ride or attraction. You may be surprised at what you can do and what Disney has done to make it possible.


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