Being in a wheelchair, my biggest fear of traveling all the way to Walt Disney World was that I would not be able to ride on any of the attractions. Boy was I wrong! When I was younger it was easier as my parents were able to transfer me, now that I am 17 and tall it has become a little more challenging to get me on some of the attractions. For the most part I have been able to ride on everything that I want to. Two of the exceptions being Space Mountain and Splash Mountain; since I am unable to sit unsupported alone I was not able to get strapped into the vehicle safely – besides, I was a little afraid of those rides.
The most important thing you need to do upon arriving at your first park within WDW is to stop at Guest Services to receive a Disability Access Service (DAS) card. (In 2013, the DAS replaced the Guest Assistance Card). The DAS is not a “go to the front of the line” card, as you still have to wait in line. It’s more like a special FastPass for people with disabilities. Disney has become a little more strict on giving out the cards, but since I am in a wheelchair and have mobility issues, I am able to receive the card. The DAS card is issued to the guest with the disability along with a photo of the guest. The link below will give more details on the DAS rules and regulations. The card is good for the length of your stay at WDW. So once you have your DAS, card head over to your first attraction and stop at the cast member either near the FastPass lane or by the wheelchair symbol. The CM will write down a time for you to return with your immediate party. Just like with FastPass you can only have one attraction time within a given amount of time. In other words, you cannot go from attraction to attraction gathering times before you actually ride the first one. Don’t forget that the cardholder must go to the CM in order to get a return time. This disallows other members of the party from running ahead and getting quicker times.
Now that you have your return time it is a good idea to know how you will need to transfer onto a ride. The Disney Guide for Guests with Disabilities pamphlet lists all of the rides for each park along with what type of transfer is necessary. There are five types of rides within the parks:
1.) May remain in your wheelchair/Electric Conveyance Vehicle (ECV)
2.) Must transfer from your wheelchair/ECV to ride vehicle
3.) Must transfer to standard wheelchair from your ECV
4.) Must transfer from ECV to standard wheelchair and then to ride vehicle
5.) Must be ambulatory. This may sound confusing, but the screenshot and link below has a detailed map of the Magic Kingdom along with all of the symbols and definitions.
I hope this introduction to my series on enjoying attractions has been informative and offered useful links to make your visit to Walt Disney World in a wheelchair a magical experience. Please return next time for my multi-part series where I plan to share detailed information regarding getting on/off attractions from a wheelchair.
Useful Links Around the Web:
(Title image from the author’s personal collection. Disability Access Service Card and Park Map ©Disney)
Andrew is a 17-year-old junior in high school from Ohio. He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. He has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL gold castaway member. If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or look him up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andrew.prince.7161 and on Twitter https://twitter.com/Andrew1arp