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Accessibility Guide for the Orlando Parks

    A holiday in Orlando where you can experience all the magical attractions that the parks offer is something that should be accessible to all. Visiting the Orlando parks when you require additional mobility aids or deal with other disabilities where you or a family member require additional support can be an anxious time. The volume of people in the parks, coupled with the uncertainly of accessibility information can be overwhelming, however most parks in Orlando now offer alternative ways for you to experience the parks, allowing you to have a magical holiday!

    Below you will find a guide to each Orlando park along with accessibility information, helpful links, and general tips on visiting the Orlando parks.

    General Tips

    • Try to plan your ride-route in advance. This seems like an obvious tip, however, planning which parks, attractions, and rides you want to see and when will be a big help – especially if the park you’re in is busy and you are waiting for your return times.
    • Avoid peak times - due to the way most attraction passes work, during these times you may still be faced with a lot of waiting.
    • Buy your attraction tickets in advance. Queuing or at least waiting is, unfortunately, inevitable to some extent within the Orlando parks, so don’t waste even more time on queuing to purchase your tickets.
    • Consider purchasing Express Passes where possible. These are incredibly helpful if you cannot avoid visiting the parks during peak times. As you approach a ride, show the ride attendant your pass, and once it’s been scanned you will be able to enter the (almost always) shorter and faster Express Pass queue.
    • If your child needs to stay in their pushchair (stroller in the US) for queuing - for their own wellbeing or safety for example - there is an option to acquire a ‘stroller as wheelchair’ pass.
    • Keep your Disability Passes for each park in a plastic wallet – this will keep them dry if you go on a wet ride and will also protect them from being torn or otherwise damaged. 

     

    Walt Disney World Resort

     

    Walt Disney World accesibility

    Accessibility at Walt Disney World Resort

    General accessibility at Walt Disney World is very good. Disney provide additional accommodations such as sign language interpretation, assistive listening systems, and Braille guidebooks. Access to rides is based upon the return times principle, meaning you won’t have to queue for a ride, you will be given a time to return to the ride when you will be able to come back and go straight onto it.

    There are certain restrictions in place for service animals, as there are areas where they are not allowed. See here for the full information. The blog Wheelchair Travel Adventures has a vast number of posts detailing trips to Walt Disney World in a wheelchair, so check the blog out for first-hand tips and reviews of almost every Disney park!

    Pass you will need: Disability Access Service Card (DAS)

    About the pass

    Unlike other Orlando parks, Disney’s DAS is an electronic system. This was upgraded from a paper system in April 2015. Disney’s DAS system’s purpose is to alleviate the stress of queuing for its guests. This does not mean you will have skip-the-line access, however, it does mean you will be able to wait in a setting of your choosing before joining the ride, rather than waiting in a queue. DAS cards will not usually be provided for guests whose disability is based on the need of a wheelchair or scooter. However, guests who use a wheelchair or a scooter can receive a return time, alleviating the need to wait in line.

    The DAS card can be used in all four Disney Parks (not the water parks).

    How to get the pass

    You will need to arrange your DAS once you have entered the park. This means you must already have purchased your Disney tickets in advance, as you’ll need to show it to the cast member at Guest Relations (and will need it to enter the park). You may also be required to show a form of ID, such as a passport.

     A top tip: Using "labels" (e.g. my child has autism) is not as effective as describing your family member's needs (e.g. my child cannot wait for long periods of time in a queue or they will start to display inappropriate behaviours and may get very upset).

    For a fully comprehensive guide on acquiring a DAS, see this post from Autism at the Parks.

    After a short talk with a Cast member, you will be issued your DAS. You or the guest that requires the DAS will need their photo taken – a parent or guardian can do this in their place.

    Additional passes that will be helpful: Fastpass+

    A Disney Fastpass+ allows you to reserve and pre-book up to 3 selected attractions, shows, and character experiences per day before you arrive at the park. Every Disney ticket purchased through Attraction Tickets Direct includes Fastpass+

    Further information

    Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    The Guest Relations Lobby is near the main entrance

    Disney’s Hollywood Studios

    The Guest Relations Lobby is near the main entrance

    Epcot

    The Guest Relations Lobby is near Spaceship Earth

    Magic Kingdom

    The Guest Relations Lobby is in City Hall

    Universal Orlando Resort

    Accessibility at Universal Orlando Resort

    All shopping and dining areas at Universal Orlando Resort are wheelchair accessible, and the outdoor stages have areas that are designated for wheelchair users. Almost all rides have queue areas that accessible for wheelchairs, the one exception is Pteranodon Flyers. Service animals are welcome throughout the majority of the park.

    Pass you will need: Universal Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP) or Express Guest Assistance Pass (GAP)

    About the passes

    Both passes will cover a disabled guest plus up to five members of the party. Additional accommodations can be made if your party is larger but will need to be dealt with directly with Guest Services. The AAP is usually the pass required if you or one of your party has additional mobility needs, such as being wheelchair bound, or if you are registered blind. The GAP pass is usually required if you or someone in your party lives with a severe learning difficulty or sensory condition such as autism whereby standing in crowds or following instructions is difficult, upsetting, or impossible.

    How to get the pass

    You will need to arrange your AAP or GAP once you get to Universal Orlando Resort. Once you’ve entered the park of your choice, head to the designated Guest Services office (each park has its own office). There are details about where Guest Services is in each park below.

    Guest Services can issue both AAP and GAP passes. You are not legally required to bring any documentation of a disability or condition however it is recommended if you are comfortable doing so, as this helps Guest Services to understand yours and your party’s additional needs./p>

    Additional passes that will be helpful: Universal Express Pass

    These passes allow you to skip the regular ride lines to use a special ‘Express Pass’ line. These passes work at most of the attractions at the two Universal Orlando Resort parks. You will still have to wait in line, but these lines will be significantly shorter than the main lines. In some cases, your AAP will grant you access to the Express Pass lines. For a fully comprehensive guide to Universal Express Passes, read this guide from Orlando Informer.

    Further information

    Islands of Adventure

    The Guest Services Lobby is to the right of the main entrance turnstiles.

    Rides where a UEP cannot be used:

    • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
    • The Hogwarts Express
    • Pteranodon Flyers

    Universal Studios Florida

    At Universal Studios Florida Guest Services is located to right of the main entrance turnstiles. There is also a Guest Services area before you enter the park but it’s usually very crowded.

    Rides where a UEP cannot be used:

    • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
    • The Hogwarts Express

    SeaWorld Orlando

    Accessibility at SeaWorld Orlando

    General accessibility at SeaWorld Orlando is very good. All restrooms are wheelchair accessible and all restaurants offer a service for those who are unable to wait in line, due to the buffet-style dining. Service animals are allowed throughout the park and are also permitted on certain rides – although this is discouraged by SeaWorld.

    Pass you will need: SeaWorld Orlando Ride Assistance Pass (RAP)

    About the pass

    Similar to the AAP from Universal Orlando Resort, this is a paper pass and should be kept safe in a water-resistant pouch if possible. The RAP will accommodate the disabled guest plus 5 additional guests’ access from your party. If you require more, you will need to arrange this directly with Guest Relations.

    Once you have your RAP, you will see that the rides and attractions at SeaWorld are split into two groups: those that you will need a return time for, and those that have alternative entrances for disabled access.

    Rides with return times

    • Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin
    • Manta
    • Kraken
    • Journey to Atlantis
    • Wild Arctic
    • Sky Tower
    • Mako

    How to get the pass

    You will need to arrange your RAP after you have entered the park, so will need to have already purchased your SeaWorld Orlando tickets. After you have entered the park head straight to Guest Relations which is around the corner to the right of the entrance, and is in the row of buildings you will see on the left-hand side.

    The process of obtaining your RAP is very much like the other two parks. You will be required to explain to Guest Relations that you or your child have difficulty waiting for long periods of time.

    Additional passes that will be helpful: Quick Queue Unlimited

    If the park is extremely busy and you would rather not be given return times, it may be helpful to buy a Quick Queue Unlimited Ticket. These tickets are valid for only one day and provide you with skip-the-line access to the most popular rides:

    • Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin
    • Manta
    • Kraken
    • Journey to Atlantis
    • Wild Arctic
    • Sky Tower
    • Mako
    • Wild Arctic

    Further information

    LEGOLAND Florida

     

     

    Accessibility at LEGOLAND Florida

    All shops, restaurants, show venues, and almost all attractions at LEGOLAND Florida are accessible to wheelchairs or those who require special assistance. Assistance and service animals are welcome throughout the park.

    There are four rides where queue areas are not wheelchair accessible. For these rides, the guest in a wheelchair will need to wait in a separate area:

    • Safari Trek
    • Coastersaurus
    • The Dragon
    • AQUAZONE Wave Racers

    Pass you will need: Hero Pass (Assisted Access Pass)

    About the pass

    LEGOLAND’s HERO Pass will allow the disabled guest and 5 others in the party a return time for every ride in order to alleviate the need for queuing. You will also be granted immediate boarding on your first ride of the day. For rides where separate or immediate access is granted, you will only be allowed to go with one helper.

    How to get the pass

    To get your HERO pass, you will need to stop into Guest Services once you have entered the parks, which is located in The Beginning. To save time waiting, buy your LEGOLAND Florida tickets in advance.

    Further information

    Kennedy Space Center

    Accessibility at Kennedy Space Center

    Accessibility at this attraction is excellent. All tour buses are equipped with wheelchair and scooter lifts and service animals are welcome throughout the park. All theatres are accessible via a ground-floor entrance, and there are also wheelchair lifts for the upper floors. The Shuttle Launch Experience is aslo accessible to wheelchair users, and has additional accommodations for those who are hearing impaired.

    Sign language interpreters are available with at least 2 weeks’ notice.

    Further Information

    Gatorland

    Accessibility at Gatorland

    Accessibility at the park is good. All show areas have viewing stations that are reserved for wheelchair users and the Gatorland Express Train Ride has wheelchair access on the train cars. Whilst there are areas of the park that are not accessible to wheelchairs, such as the sand pits, the park staff do make every effort to accommodate those with additional needs. During animal experiences, staff will bring animals closer to those in wheelchairs so that they can experience the same up-close encounter those in the sand pit have.

     In 2016, Gatorland also introduced the Gator Gauntlet Zip Line, an accessible attraction that is inclusive to guests that have mobility difficulties or other disabilities that require them to use a wheelchair or scooter.

    Further Information