Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are discussing how planning a trip to Disneyland is different than planning a visit to Walt Disney World.
We have been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World and both have been excellent in terms of wheelchair access. Things are never perfect but I think Disney does a great job of making almost everything accessible. There really is much more than I can do than I can’t and there really aren’t that many places that make me feel that way. Here are the basics to help you start planning a trip to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. While both offer great accessibility there are a few differences.
Disney’s Disability Access Card
One thing is the same at both, if the only accommodation you need is wheelchair or scooter access you do not need to stop by guest services to get a Disability Access Card (DAS). If you are using a wheelchair or scooter and you need additional accommodations make sure to stop by and talk to a Cast Member to see if you do. You can also look over the official FAQ fro Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World for more information.
There are special guidemaps for guests with disabilities at each park. Make sure to pick one up not only to see which attractions have an alternate entrance but also which attractions require you to transfer and to see where companion restrooms are located. Walt Disney World has them at the entrance of each park but Disneyland still requires you to stop by guest relations to ask for one. You can also look them over online.
- Disney California Adventure
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Alternate Entrances for Guests in Wheelchairs
There are a few attractions that have an alternate entrance for guests using wheelchairs. Each one is listed on the guide maps. There are far fewer of these types of attractions at all Walt Disney World parks and Disney California Adventure. Disneyland is a different story which is why the DAS and return times are important. The biggest advice I have is to get to Disneyland EARLY. On both of our trips we entered Disneyland right at opening and headed straight to Fantasyland. Since it’s usually less crowded in the mornings we were able to ride everything without getting a return time. If you visit when it’s busy expect to get a return time at pretty much every attraction. Early arrival means less of a wait for everyone.
Since there are attractions with an alternate entrance that are also FastPass attractions, you can take that into account when you are planning a trip. This is especially true at FastPass+ attractions at Walt Disney World since FastPass+ is utilized pretty much everywhere. I wouldn’t use a FastPass+ selection on Big Thunder Mountain because they are going to send me to the alternate entrance anyway. If the wait time is low a Cast Member will send you straight through to the loading area. If not you’ll get a return time that is basically the same as a FastPass. But for something like Toy Story Mania or Kilimanjaro Safaris where you enter the standard queue but load in a separate area a FastPass+ return time is useful.
There are far fewer attractions at Disneyland Resort that utilize the FastPass service and but there are more attractions in Disneyland that use an alternate entrance. DLR Prep School has a good post with the basics of the FastPass system but basically you can’t have a lot of FastPasses at once (there is a time printed on the FastPass to let you know when you can pull another) so there is some planning required. The alternate entrance/FastPass issue comes does come into play again but since there are fewer attractions offering FastPasses you should utilize them when you can so you can minimize your wait as much as possible. You won’t have any issues at Disney California Adventure. Grab a FastPass for whatever attraction you can. Especially for Radiator Springs Racers.
Attraction Access Categories
Each attraction is put into a category to help you understand the physical requirements.
- Must Be Ambulatory – Basically walking is necessary. This usually means it’s older and/or stairs are required. There are a few attractions like the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through that offer an alternative experience.
- May Remain in Wheelchair/ECV – My favorite. 🙂 It means no transfer is required.
- Transfer from ECV to Wheelchair – If you are using a manual wheelchair you are not required to do anything. Electric wheelchairs are usually okay too depending on size. But if you are in an ECV you must transfer to an available wheelchair since it will not fit on the attraction’s ride vehicle. There are also a few attractions that require a transfer from the ECV to get through the queue.
- Must Transfer from Wheelchair/ECV – Once you get to the attraction you’ll have to transfer to the ride vehicle. Many attractions have special transfer access vehicles that make getting in and out a lot easier.
To see what attractions fit into each category, you can visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s official pages. Our wheelchair accessibility page also has some attraction reviews and photos of some of the attraction ride vehicles.
This post was meant to be a brief overview but after writing it I realized there is so much information that I need to add about both parks. So to keep this one shorter I am currently working on comprehensive wheelchair guides for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World with printables to help you plan. In the meantime you can look at the attractions I have already covered on our wheelchair accessibility page.
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | How Planning a Trip to Disneyland is Different Loop:
- 1st Stop – Saving Up for Disney | Important Advice to Know About Transportation at the Disneyland Resort
- 2nd Stop – This Roller Coaster Called Life | Disneyland Resorts & the Distance to the Parks
- 3rd Stop – Rolling with the Magic | Wheelchair Access at Disneyland & Walt Disney World
- 4th Stop – Trips with Tykes | Value & Convenience of Off-Property Hotels at Disneyland