In October 2015, I had the privilege to visit Walt Disney World with my family. We were only there for a few days, so we only visited the Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Last year, I wrote about accessible attractions, and I would like to update some of the information on the attractions that I was able to ride on this trip.
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom – Part 3 of 3
The Magic Kingdom is a hub and spoke theme park with Cinderella’s Castle located in the center. Everyone enters the park and must walk down Main Street USA which is based on Marceline, Missouri, a small town where Walt Disney lived as a child. There are four “lands” that surround the castle; Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Adventureland.
In this post I would like to share my personal experience in riding attractions at the Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party, and Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean is located in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom and is a slow, dark ride in a boat with a few drops during the ride. There is not an accessible boat like on “it’s a small world, which would allow a direct roll-on in a wheelchair. If you are in a wheelchair or on a scooter or ECV (electric controlled vehicle), you will need to be able to transfer directly into the boat vehicle for this attraction. After going through the regular queue or FastPass+ line the wheelchair party is directed to a handicap holding area as the Cast Members usually allow only one party that needs transferring per boat to expedite the loading and unloading process. Since I cannot walk at all, my Dad picks me up out of my wheelchair and carries me onto the boat. It can be very tricky as it is not a direct walk on, he has to step over the side of the boat, onto the seat and then down onto the floor before placing me in the seat. Once the adventure with all of the pirates is over, I have to be unloaded by being picked up, a step up onto the seat and then out again over the boat’s side. The boats are stable during this process, so there is no fear of the boat rocking or tipping. I have a feeling that I may not be going on this attraction too many more times as it is hard for non-ambulatory adult guests to get on and off the ride.
Mad Tea Party
The Mad Tea Party is a classic Magic Kingdom attraction based on the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland and it is located in Fantasyland. This is also an attraction that requires all guests to transfer from their wheelchair or ECV directly into the teacups. To access this ride, there is a handicap entrance located near the ride’s control booth. A Cast Member will come over and ask if you can transfer and what kind of device you may need for transferring. There are 18 teacups that rotate and spin during the ride. There is one teacup that is accessible, with a section of the teacup side that opens wider for easy access. If you can transfer by yourself they do have a slide board, which is very sturdy. In my case, my Dad picks me up from my chair and carries me over to the teacup and places me inside on the seat. The CM will take your wheelchair over to the side to keep it safe during your ride. Once the attraction starts, you can make your teacup spin in either direction by using the wheel in the center that lets you control the direction and speed of your spin. After the ride has come to a complete stop, the CM will unlock the wider door to allow you to transfer back into your wheelchair of ECV. During our trip, we had an unexpected delay in one of our rides on Mad Tea Party. I wrote about this in a group blog post entitled “Which piece of Walt Disney World would you like to take home?”
“I wish I could have all of the master keys to my favorite Walt Disney World attractions. Let me take you back to Saturday, October 3, 2015. As you may remember from my posts, I need to be transferred from my wheelchair to get into the Mad Tea Party teacups. This requires opening a special door on one of the tea cups. After I was all loaded in and ready to spin, the Cast Member accidently broke the key off in the little door! Apparently, it is the same key that operates the Mad Tea Party control board for the attraction. Fortunately, my Dad was able to pull out the little broken stem of the key so that a new key could be inserted. The Fantasyland team manager was called who came over quickly, and then, she called maintenance. It seems that only one person had access to the master keys, and he was on break! So, my Dad unloaded me from the teacup and we were given a FastPass for another attraction since this process had taken so long. We returned to the Mad Tea Party about two hours later and the same CM told us they had just started the attraction back up a short while ago. He showed us the new key, which he said felt much stiffer than the one that had broken off earlier. We were all vying for the coveted broken key, but the team manager kept it. I felt bad for all of the people who were standing in line for so long and were told they would have to come back later. My family did enjoy spinning in the Mad Tea Party that day several times in a row!”
Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train is a new rollercoaster attraction located in the New Fantasyland which opened in 2014. Again, for this attraction, you must transfer from your wheelchair or ECV to enjoy this fun-filled ride. There are signs that will direct you as to where to enter this attraction in a wheelchair or ECV. We had a FastPass+, so that is the entrance we used. Once through the queue, there is a handicap waiting area near where you enter the coaster. The roller coaster cars look like large split logs pulled by a mining train. The last cart on the train has a small door which opens up to allow for more room to enter into the cart seat. My Dad had to carry me over to the cart and place me into the seat. A lap restraint will secure you into the cart, so there is no need to worry about falling out. The train will wind you up and over a small mountain, into the Dwarf’s jewel mine and eventually back to a scene of their cottage. The Disney patented carts have the ability to rock from side to side while you are riding through the mine and in other places. Once the train comes to a complete stop the CM will open the small side door where you can exit the cart and get back into your wheelchair. I really enjoy this new roller coaster. During a 2012 cruise on the Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy we met Imagineer Chris Beatty who gave a presentation on the New Fantasyland and the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train. Afterwards, I could not wait for the attraction to open, so I could experience this new technology for myself. Here is an interesting bit of information on the carts used in this attraction: “The innovative, patented ride system for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is an original design developed at Walt Disney Imagineering. It features five-car trains designed to swing independently from side to side as they move along the track. This newly patented design provides a one-of-a-kind ride experience.” From Walt Disney World News article – see more Fun Facts on this attraction.
Me with Disney Imagineer Chris Beatty onboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy summer 2012.
I hope you enjoyed my experience on these final three accessible attractions at the Magic Kingdom. Please follow my posts on the Blog for more updates on accessibility at Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line in years to come.
List of parks already covered: Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom
Epcot Part 1
Epcot Part 2
Magic Kingdom Part 1
Magic Kingdom Part 2
(Magic Kingdom logo and map © Disney, Disney on Wheels logo and all other photos and videos are from Andrew Prince’s personal collection.)
Andrew is an 18-year-old high school graduate 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 Club 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