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Tips For People with Disabilities

The theme parks have many amenities and services for people with mobility issues or vision or hearing impairments. Park information centers can answer specific questions and dispense general information about this. Both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios offer free online or printed guidebooks that detail amenities and services (allow six weeks for delivery or pick one up at the front entrance).

Most hotels have been renovated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Outside Disney properties, however, the definition of accessibility may differ from hotel to hotel. Some places may be fully accessible by ADA standards for people with mobility problems—with things like roll-in showers or wheelchair-accessible buffets—but not for people with hearing or vision impairments, for example.

In most properties only elevators and room-number plaques are Braille-equipped, though some employees are trained in assisting guests with visual impairments. Flashing or vibrating phones and alarms and closed-captioning are more common.

Mobility Concerns

Many theme-park attractions are accessible to guests with mobility problems. Note that in some you may be required to transfer to a wheelchair if you use an electronic convenience vehicle (ECV). In others, you must transfer from your wheelchair or ECV to the ride vehicle and must have a traveling companion who can assist you, if needed, as park staff are not allowed to do so.

Probably the most comfortable course is to bring your wheelchair from home. If your chair is wider than 24½ inches and longer than 32 inches (44 inches for ECVs), consult theme-park-attraction hosts and hostesses before getting in line. Also note that thefts of wheelchairs while their owners are inside attractions are rare but have been known to occur. Take the precautions you would in any public place.

Wheelchair rentals are available from area medical-supply companies, most of which will deliver to your hotel. You can also rent by the day in major theme parks.

Vision and Hearing Impairments

Attractions in the parks typically have both a visual element that makes them appealing without sound and an audio element that conveys the charm even without the visuals.

Many attractions are equipped for assisted-listening, handheld-captioning, and other devices, which you can pick up (for a deposit but no fee) at Guest Relations (aka Guest Services) stations at park entrances. Some rides or shows also have closed-caption TV monitors and/or sign-language interpreters, though the latter are available only on certain days (check schedules at Guest Relations).

Service animals are permitted, unless a ride or special effect could spook or traumatize them. Large Braille maps are posted at centralized areas.

Updated: 2013-09-10

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Fodor's Walt Disney World with Kids 2015

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