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Important Things to Consider When You Are Planning A Disney Trip with Mobility Concerns

Important Things to Consider When You Are Planning A Disney Trip with Mobility Concerns

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be stressful under any circumstance but when you have to factor in a physical disability, it can seem overwhelming. There are a lot of extra variables you might need to consider that others don’t have to worry about. That doesn’t mean you can’t ensure your whole family has a magical vacation. With these pre-planning tips, you will be well-equipped to navigate the challenges of Walt Disney World with ease!

Disney World with Disabilities

Credit: KtP

There are lots of different types of disabilities, both visible and invisible to the outside world. Depending on your family’s unique situation, you may have to tweak these tips to best suit your needs. For those who struggle with non-mobility disabilities, we highly encourage you to read more about the DAS pass system HERE to see if you might benefit from its services.

Since disabilities that can be accommodated by wheelchairs or ECV scooters do not qualify for the DAS system, we have compiled a list of things to consider that will help alleviate the stress of planning your Disney vacation.

Getting to Disney from Orlando International Airport

Credit: Monica

Unfortunately, getting from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World used to be a lot easier. It was a breeze to use to the Magical Express shuttles and take advantage of Disney’s luggage transport system. Now, you have to grab your bags and drag them through the airport to the car rental area or shuttle pick-ups.

It can also be a very lengthy distance from your airplane gate to your pick-up destination. If someone in your travel party is highly affected by mobility issues, you should consider arranging for a wheelchair transfer at your gate.

For more information on available airport shuttle services to get you to Disney World click HERE.

Where Should You Stay?

Credit: Monica

There are many debates between Disney fans regarding resort accommodations. The largest is whether to stay on property or off property. While a legitimate argument can be made in favor of both, factoring in a mobility concern may make you want to consider staying on property.

Staying at a Disney resort provides many benefits, especially for those with mobility concerns. If you answer yes to any of the below scenarios, you should absolutely consider booking at a Walt Disney World hotel:

  • You can’t drive to and from the parks on your own
  • You can’t easily board and unload Disney parking lot trams or navigate easily from the handicapped parking areas
  • You need to rent an off-site scooter for more than just inside park use

If your party is mostly able to maneuver around the rest of the Walt Disney World Resort, an off-property stay could be plausible. However, if you or your loved ones need more help, you will want to have the convenience of Disney accessibility accommodations at your disposal.

What Disney Resort Do I Choose? Does it Matter?

Credit: Kate

The short answer is YES. It does matter which resort you choose. Not all Disney resorts offer the same amenities or accommodations. You will need to consider your party’s unique situation when deciding on where to stay.

A few things to consider when deciding where to stay:

  • Do you want to be closer to a specific park?
  • Does the resort offer multiple types of accessible transportation?
  • How large is the resort? Is it difficult to navigate?
  • Does the resort have a large number of internal bus stops?

For more help on deciding which resort is best for your travel party, check out these best and worst Disney resorts for mobility concerns!

Mobility Devices

Credit: Katie P.

Depending on your travel party’s needs there are a few key things to consider regarding mobility devices. If you only need mobility assistance to navigate long days in the parks, then renting a Disney-owned ECV or wheelchair might be for you. It will alleviate the consideration of accessibility of your Disney resort and transportation logistics.

If your party requires a mobility device at all times, you will need to rent an off-site scooter or wheelchair. Renting from a third-party company can save you quite a bit of money and allows you to take your mobility device around non-park areas, also.

Credit: Katie P.

My family has members with multiple joint replacements and circulation issues that require the need for an ECV everywhere we go. Renting through Disney’s approved third-party rental company, ScooterBug, allows us to pick up and drop off our rental at the concierge desk at our convenience rather than scheduling a specific time to meet a delivery with other local rental companies.

It’s important to keep in mind that walking around non-park areas can be just as tiring as the theme parks themselves. It’s better to have and not need a mobility device than need and not have. If you suspect your travel party might need more constant mobility assistance, go with the off-site rental. You’ll be glad you did!!

Ride Vehicle Transfers and Low Seats

Credit: Kenny

It may be an obvious thought to consider resort and transportation needs, but sometimes thinking about ride accessibility isn’t at the forefront of guests’ minds when planning their vacations. Disney has gone a long way to make their rides as disability accessible as possible.

Most ride queues can accommodate scooters and wheelchairs and many rides also offer accessible ride vehicles for guests who cannot transfer out of their mobility device. For those guests who can transfer out of their devices, there may be a secondary consideration regarding ride vehicles. These include:

  • The position in which you sit to ride the ride. (Awkward rides like Tron could be difficult even for those with mild physical concerns)
  • How low is the seat? Do you need a lot of strength in your knees and hips to get up? (Rides that have boats such as Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world, Living with the Land and Frozen Ever After require getting up from a low-seated position in a fairly quick manner)
Credit: KtP Writer Christina
  • Does the ride have a fast-moving walkway? (Rides such as Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Peter Pan’s Flight, Journey Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid and The Haunted Mansion all have moving walkways that you use to enter and exit the ride vehicle). If the speed of the conveyer belt is a concern, be sure to nicely ask a cast member to slow it down.
  • Is the ride vehicle a tight squeeze? (some ride vehicles may be tight squeezes and require side step shuffles to enter/exit or contain tiny doors to enter through such as The Mad Tea Party, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Toy Story Midway Mania).

Disney Transportation

Credit: Disney

There are many different types of transportation to take guests to and from the theme parks and Disney Springs. However, not all are created equal when factoring in mobility concerns.

If you plan to rent your mobility device daily at the Disney theme parks, you won’t have to worry about taking your scooter or wheelchair on and off Disney transportation. If you rent through an off-site rental company, however, you will want to think about the easiest way to get to your resort from the parks.

Some important tips to know about Disney resort transportation:

  • Boats heading from the Magic Kingdom to the Magic Kingdom resorts do not have ramps for scooters. You are at the mercy of a free-floating vessel and how even the captain can get to the dock. Be prepared to potentially have to lift your scooter or wheelchair an inch or two up onto the dock.
  • Monorails and the Skyliner may require you to unload backward
  • Pick resorts that have fewer bus stops. It is easier to disembark with no one on board than to try to drive a scooter or wheelchair off with guests packed in at the end of the night. Bigger resorts also increase the likelihood of having to wait for multiple buses that have a scooter space.

Click HERE to see which form of Disney Transporation guests’ think is the best!

Swimming & Water Parks

Credit: Disney

One of the perks of taking a Walt Disney World vacation is that it is usually warm enough to swim most times of the year. Depending on your specific situation, it may be wise to consider opting to enjoy your resort hotel pool rather than visiting the water parks.

Many of the attractions at both Disney water parks require strong legs to swim and withstand currents. I know from my own family’s personal experience that water parks are out of the question for our travel party.

While enjoying your resort’s amazing pool amenities is the safer choice, keep in mind that some areas around the pool itself can still be slick. You may want to consider wearing a pair of water shoes or sandals to provide more stability and traction as you walk around.

There are many things to consider when factoring in a mobility concern on your Disney World vacation. We hope these tips will help make the stress of planning just a little bit easier. You can also continue your research on Character Locator and read up on every single attraction in the parks for mobility access and other information before you ride.

It may also help your party to watch ride-along videos on YouTube so there are no surprises when you board an attraction. This can be useful not only for those with mobility concerns but to determine if a ride might be too scary or intense for your children.

What do you think of these tips and tricks for planning your next Disney vacation? Are there other things you consider when planning around a mobility issue? Let us know in the comments below and check out more helpful vacation planning tools HERE!

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