Guest Author: Zac Wilson
Disney vacations are our family tradition. I proposed marriage to my now wife at Walt Disney World inside Cinderella’s Castle in 2001. Our son Alexander received his first haircut in the Magic Kingdom at the barbershop on Main Street USA. Our other son also loves Disney and sometimes extended family members join us on our trips. Most of our vacations are in Walt Disney World in Florida where I was once a Cast Member, but this year we ventured to Disneyland in California.
This year our annual family Disney vacation was more complicated. My mom injured her knee prior to the trip, which made walking or standing for long periods of time very painful. Disneyland park boasts 85 acres and the California Adventure Park is 72 acres, and when you add Downtown Disney and the 3 resort properties to the equation, getting around might seem impossible for an individual with a mobility issue.
Fortunately, we found Disneyland to be accessible for an individual with a disability. We found manual wheelchairs available to rent for $12.00/day and Electronic Convenience Vehicles (ECV’s) for $50.00/day. Mom opted for the ECV.
Handicapped parking is available, and access ramps are plentiful to allow for wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive devices. Aisles inside stores are spaced adequately for the wider needs of a wheelchair or ECV. The stage shows offer reserved seating areas for groups with a family member in a chair. Cast members are kind and helpful.
Thirty-six rides are available that allow you to stay in a wheelchair and lots more that require only the ability to transfer from the chair into the ride, though sometimes a few steps are necessary. If able to do so, rest assured your assistive device will be waiting for you at the end of the ride.
Many of the rides have accessible queue lines where you can wait in line with your family. However, the rides built before the ADA rules came into effect do not offer an easy way to wait in line with your family. In these cases, the Disney staff provides a service that takes you a different route to bring you to the front of the line.
Designated areas are located near each ride to park wheelchairs and EVC’s for those who prefer to watch while others enjoy the ride. I recommend you devise a plan based on the ambulatory requirements for each ride before embarking on your Disney Journey. Learn more about the accessibility services available at Services for Guests with Mobility Disabilities.
1. The rental facility is located to the right of the turnstiles to enter Disneyland Park on the outside of the park. Do not enter the park until you have your vehicle.
2. You may use your ECV anywhere in Disneyland Park, California Adventure Park or Downtown Disney. That’s nearly 300 acres!
3. For security purposes (metal detectors) ECV’s must be parked outside the hotels for those able to walk short distances. Disney will accommodate guests dependent on the wheelchair/ECV for mobility. The hotels are very accessible inside with ramps, elevators, special rooms with roll-in showers, and more.
4. The restaurants at Downtown Disney meet ADA requirements, but are generally crowded. It was more comfortable for my mom to park outside and walk inside to the table. Speak to a staff member if you do not have this option to help clear a path for your vehicle.
As someone who does not normally deal with mobility issues, I was nervous about taking this vacation with my mom. I was grateful to find wonderful accessibility accommodations which made the trip much easier and more enjoyable than anticipated. My mom loved being able to experience this adventure at Disneyland with her grandsons.
Zac Wilson is a Disney Fanatic who fell in love with the theme park when working as a cast member and award winning performer at Walt Disney World from 1996-2000. He is a Disney College Program Alumni and Disney University graduate who creates magical vacations for families across the nation. Learn more at www.FlatZacWilson.com.
image source (mickey and friend): medicaldaily.com