Disney World in Orlando is one of the most magical destinations in the world, welcoming 58 million visitors a year. If you have mobility requirements, you may be wondering whether or not a theme park on such a massive scale as Disney World has taken the necessary steps to ensure all of its visitors can experience everything the park has to offer.
Disney World is actually considered to be one of the top vacation spots for wheelchair accessibility, and it puts lots of thought and effort into ensuring its parks are welcoming to all. Not only are the streets themselves easy to navigate for wheelchair and ECV/mobility scooter users, as well as those who require the use of canes, walkers and crutches, but plenty of rides are also equipped to ensure everyone can enjoy the thrills of Disney to the absolute maximum.
We have scoured through the Disney World FAQs to pull together all the information you might need about the wheelchair and mobility accessibility of the parks, and this guide will give you a thorough look into what you can expect, how you can get around, and which rides you can look forward to enjoying. Let’s get started.
The Disability Access Pass at Disney World
Before we get into it, first, let’s talk about the Disability Access Pass available at Disney World.
The Disability Access Pass, also known as the DAS pass, is available to all of those who may have difficulty using the standard queuing areas at Disney World. Some queuing areas can involve navigating around tight corners, as well as descending and ascending steps, which is often not feasible for those in wheelchairs and with other mobility concerns. With the DAS, you can select which ride you would like to visit. You will then be given a visit time, during which you can approach the front of the line via the lightning lane, and either get onto the ride yourself, or be given the assistance you require to board.
The wait time you will be given will be similar to that of the queue length. So, for example, if the queue length of the ride you are hoping to try is 60 minutes, you will be given an arrival slot of 60 minutes from the moment you select it, in which to present yourself. Every member of the group you are traveling with would be able to also use the same DAS pass, even if they themselves don’t have mobility requirements, so that you will all be able to enjoy the rides together.
More recently, the DAS service has been given a fantastic new upgrade to make it even more efficient and easy to use. Where once you needed to present yourself to staff at the front of the queue in order to request a return time, now the DAS service has been combined to be used with the My Disney Experience app. Which means you can book your slots in advance without going to the ride first, and you will also be called forward for your arrival slot. However, if you do prefer to do it the old fashioned way and don’t want to register for DAS on the app, you can still approach staff at the front of the queues via the lightning lanes to request a return time, or head to Guest Relations located within each individual park. Find out where they are here https://www.disneyworld.co.uk/guest-services/guest-relations/
If you want to use the virtual DAS service, you can pre-register for it ahead of your visit, and you will be invited to a video chat with a member of the Disney team. You will also get your first few return bookings in. Once those are booked, you can continue to make selections whilst you are actually on your vacation.
Disney World wheelchair accessible review and information
Let’s get into the wheelchair accessibility of the Disney World theme parks. This guide will cover details about the wheelchair and ECV rentals available at Disney, what rides are wheelchair accessible and to what extent, and how easy it is for those in wheelchairs to use Disney’s public transport.
Wheelchair and ECV rental
Disney World wheelchair rental
If you are visiting Disney World as a wheelchair user, you are able to bring and use your own if you would feel more comfortable doing so. There is nothing you need to do ahead of your visit.
If you would like to rent a wheelchair, it is possible to do so at Disney World. However, there are a few things to consider beforehand. Firstly, it is a paid service, which means you will need to pay a non-refundable fee of $12 per day for the use of a wheelchair for the whole day, and at the water parks and Disney Springs, you will also need to provide a $100 dollar refundable security deposit.
To reduce the overall charge for renting a wheelchair, you can hire it on a multi-day basis, which lowers the daily charge to $10 dollars. Therefore, if you hire a wheelchair day-by-day, a five day wheelchair rental would cost $60 dollars. If you hire a wheelchair on a Length of Stay rate, you can pre-pay a lump sum on the first day, at a total of $50 dollars for a five day visit.
Unfortunately, the wheelchairs cannot be removed from the locations you hired them from. So if you have a Park Hopper ticket for example, and have hired a wheelchair for the day, you won’t be able to take it to the next park. You will need to present your receipt to try and rent another, if it is available. Even if you have paid for a Length of Stay rental, the chair needs to be deposited when you leave, and you can get another the next morning at the park you have chosen to visit by showing your receipt.
Some things to note when considering renting a wheelchair at Disney World are;
- Wheelchairs are provided on a first come, first serve basis so if you are visiting Disney World on a particularly busy day, you may struggle to rent one, which could cause complications for the rest of your visit.
- You also cannot reserve your wheelchair ahead of time. With these two things considered, you may need to think about visiting the park as early as you can to give yourself the best chance of renting an available chair.
- A Length of Stay payment for your wheelchair doesn’t guarantee you one the next day. If you arrive late and all of the wheelchairs are already taken, this may cause difficulties.
- You also have to be 18 with ID in order to rent a chair at the parks.
However, you also have the option to use another wheelchair rental company, in which your equipment will be delivered to the resort you are staying in ahead of time. Any equipment you rent from the resorts for your vacation, can be kept hold of throughout your stay, and you can take it to and from the parks. This may be a more convenient option than renting within the parks themselves.
Disney World ECV rental
Renting a mobility scooter, or ECV, is very similar to the process of renting a wheelchair at Disney World, with a few notable differences.
The rental charge for an ECV is a little higher, at a rate of $50 a day. You also need to give a $20 refundable deposit. At Disney Springs and the water parks, the refundable deposit increases to $100.
Unlike wheelchair rentals, you cannot pay for Length of Stay, and instead need to pay on a day-by-day basis. You will need to hire your ECV at each park, every morning. However, if you are already in a park, and want to leave and then come back, your ECV can be held for you.
Like with wheelchairs, the ECVs cannot leave the location from which they were rented. If you are heading to a different park, for example, with the Park Hopper ticket, you can request a new ECV at that location by presenting your receipt. However, just like the wheelchairs, they are offered on a first come, first served basis, and reservations are not possible. so it is not a guarantee that they will be available.
What rides at Disney World are wheelchair accessible?
The main event at Disney World is of course the rides and attractions. But, as a wheelchair user, it may be difficult to plan ahead if you aren’t certain which rides you can easily access, and what you might need to do in order to board.
Disney World has divided its accessible rides into several categories; may remain in wheelchair/ECV and must transfer from wheelchair/ECV into the ride’s vehicle. For some rides, you may also need to transfer from an ECV into a wheelchair, which can then be taken onto the ride, or you may need to transfer from an ECV into a wheelchair, and then transfer into the ride, which you may find uncomfortable.
May remain in wheelchair/ECV
For those who don’t want to worry about transferring in and out of their wheelchair or ECV, there are plenty of rides, experiences and attractions in which you can enter whilst remaining in your chair or ECV. At the time of writing, Disney World counts 74 attractions in which you can visit easily and smoothly. Here are some of our highlights:
- Country Bear Jamboree: Located in the Grizzly Hall Theater in Frontierland, Magic Kingdom, the Country Bear Jamboree is a charming animatronic performance offering catchy country and western tunes from an all-star cast of hilarious bears and other woodland creatures.
- Discovery Island Trails: On Discovery Island, nestled at the heart of Animal Kingdom, you will find the soaring, breathtaking Tree of Life sculpture absolutely dominating the skyline. In the surrounding area you can find some beautiful trails your wheelchair or ECV will easily fit through, offering stunning greenery, wistful landscapes, and even some little creatures such as tortoises and lemurs.
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!: Nestled inside the incredible Tree of Life, you will also find the theater showing a captivating 3D film based on the movie ‘A Bug’s Life’. Experience life as an insect struggling for freedom as you dodge termites and tarantulas, and learn what it takes to survive as a bug.
- Jungle Cruise: A globetrotter’s paradise – on the Jungle Cruise located at Adventureland in Magic Kingdom, you will explore the treacherous depths of the world’s most dangerous waterways in South America, the Congo, the Nile and the Mekong river, avoiding the hungry jaws of the sleepy hippos and avoiding the eye of the unpredictable gorillas. This is a slow, gentle ride filled with humor, excitement, and beautiful surroundings.
- Liberty Square Riverboat: Another riverboat ride, this time at Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom, don’t expect to see any wild animals lashing out at you here. Instead, you will be treated to a scenic cruise along shimmering waters, in a colonial-style, multi-deck boat as you listen to musings about Mark Twain and his memories of the Mississippi.
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress: This delightful show takes you across four generations of incredible technological progress in America, beginning with gas lamps and hand-cranked washing machines, all the way up to the present day. The seating area revolves across several beautifully set stages, where you can both learn some fascinating facts, and have a great time.
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy: A speedy, high-adrenaline show that throws you straight into the middle of the Cars universe, you will join Lightning McQueen as he prepares for his next race. Featuring a racing simulator and wrap-around-screen, this immersive experience on Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is certain to get your heart pounding.
Must transfer from wheelchair/ECV into ride vehicle
There are some fabulous rides and attractions on offer for those happy to transfer from their wheelchair or ECV into the ride’s vehicle. If you can transfer yourself, or have a member of your group who will help you, then check out our highlights and the recommended rides you can look forward to enjoying.
- Astro Orbiter: Shoot off to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in the Astro Orbiter, located in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom park. As the ride starts, your spaceship will take to the air, flitting between comets and meteors as it goes. Flying too low? Simply use the lever inside your personal ship and you will launch up into the sky once more. You will need to transfer into a small, spaceship style vehicle.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: A nostalgic blast into the past as you experience a journey on a runaway train through an abandoned mine. Strange things happen in the deepest reaches of the mountains as you sail through the surrounding haunted town. Look out for falling boulders! This adrenaline-fuelled ride is located in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom. You will need to transfer into a carriage that forms the wider runaway train coaster.
- DINOSAUR: Going even further back into the past than you would ever dare go – drop into the prehistoric jungle to help a paleontologist rescue a dinosaur, just as the meteor that wiped out all living things on Earth is about to find its mark. Dodge fearsome dinosaurs, and keep your head low as flaming rock begins to pound at the Earth. This thrilling, prehistoric journey is located in DinoLand U.S.A in Animal Kingdom. You will need to transfer into an open-top 4×4 car style vehicle.
- Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run: This is one of the unmissable rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for die-hard Star Wars fans and space fanatics alike. Located within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, your mission is to either act as a pilot, engineer or gunner in the Millenium Falcon, forging your way across the stars to make an important delivery across the galaxy. You will need to transfer into a seat within a vehicle that mimics the cockpit to the Millennium Falcon.
- Mission: SPACE: Another thrilling space themed ride located at Epcot, within World Discovery. You can choose between two missions; one where you need to dodge meteors and fly full-speed ahead towards the moon, or a more gentle experience where you can witness the Earth, your beautiful home, slowly revolving beneath your feet. Will you be the navigator, pilot, commander or engineer on this incredible NASA mission? For this attraction, you will need to transfer into a seat within a larger cockpit-style room.
- Test Track: For petrol-heads, your first call should be Test Track. Design your own virtual car, and then hop into the car simulator, where you will test out your invention on the track. This ride can reach up to 65 miles an hour for a true white-knuckle ride. With Test Track, you will need to transfer into a car-style simulator vehicle, complete with 6 seats in the back and front.
For a full list of rides that fall into this category, check out the details on the Disney World page here.
Must transfer from ECV into wheelchair
For these rides, you will be required to transfer from your ECV into a wheelchair specifically provided at the attraction, either at the entrance, inside, or in the queue itself, or by using your own. You can then get on with enjoying yourself, as the wheelchair will be able to fit on the ride!
- “it’s a small world”: Aboard this classic Disney attraction, you will glide slowly along a tranquil waterway, as stunningly designed animatronics perform a rendition of the iconic ‘It’s a Small World’ song. You’ll explore the globe and be greeted by children wearing the dress of many cultures, surrounded by iconic sites from their home countries, and singing the song in their mother tongue. This ride is sure to have you humming along for the rest of the day. For this ride, the wheelchair will be placed on a low boat with plenty of room to accommodate it.
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel: This whimsical ride is a must to experience the true beauty of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Complete with 90 intricately designed white horses and a gilded chariot, this ride is inspired by Cinderella, and even sits at the heel of her looming castle. Enjoy a nostalgic and whimsical ride, with space for your wheelchair on board.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: Deep in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom, you’ll find the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, a super-popular attraction where you move slowly through a darkroom, shooting at targets with bright, colorful flashing lights all around. Aim for the ‘Z’ targets with your laser cannon and fire! Your vehicle can spin 360 degrees so you don’t have to miss a single target. There are vehicles on this ride that can accommodate your wheelchair – you just need to ask and a Disney cast member will help you.
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends: With plenty of room for your wheelchair, you will board the Clamobile, which will slowly descend into the depths of the sea. The walls will glow, teeming with incredible underwater delights as fish of all shapes and sizes drift past. You will also find coral reefs, dodge underwater mines – lookout for Bruce the shark, fish may be friends to him, but you might not be! You will find this attraction in Epcot, in the World Nature area.
- Toy Story Mania!: Toy Story Mania! Is a multi-faceted, exhilarating shooting game, taking place within a brightly lit room – Andy’s room! You’ll come up against larger than life items such as gigantic playing cards and huge domino pieces. Don your 3D glasses and compete in the shooting game as you compete to place at the top of the leaderboard. With this attraction, there is plenty of room to accommodate your wheelchair.
To see the full list of rides where you can use a wheelchair but not an ECV in the ride, have a look at this list from Disney World.
Must transfer from ECV into wheelchair, and then from wheelchair into ride vehicle
For the following rides, you cannot take an ECV up to the ride’s vehicle, but you can use a wheelchair. If you are in an ECV, you must transfer into a wheelchair, until you come to the ride, in which case, whether you were already in a wheelchair or provided with one at the ride’s entrance, you will need to transfer into the ride vehicle. You will need to either transfer yourself, or ask a member of your party to help you.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Sail back to the treacherous seas of the 18th century, where you’re likely to come across pirates and criminals as you make your way through the winding waterways, hugged by decimated port towns and prison cells. This ride is similar in nature to “it’s a small world”, except it’s not children serenading you, but a gang of swash-buckling pirates. Located at Adventureland in Magic Kingdom, you will need to transfer into a seat on a low boat.
- Space Mountain: This celestial adventure will truly have you feeling like you’ve been launched into the farthest reaches of outer space. With no Earth in sight, and your vehicle dipping and diving as it dodges flying satellites and burning comets, it is a true adventure into the great unknown. You will need to transfer into a typical rollercoaster style vehicle.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith: You and your pals will be getting into Aerosmith’s very own stretch limo, rocketing off into the darkness from a standstill. As Aerosmith’s legendary songs let rip from the speakers next to your head, this is a true rocking and rolling ride with plenty of drops, loops, and dives. For this ride, you will need to get into a typical rollercoaster style vehicle.
- Slinky Dog Dash: We’re back in Toy Story Land for this one, inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Slinky Dog is raring to go, preparing to dash around the park at a speed of 40 mph with a great big smile on his face. You’ll soon have a big one of your own on your face too! Twist and turn through Andy’s backyard on this thrilling coaster. For this ride, you need to transfer into a segmented coaster designed to look like Slinky Dog from the Toy Story movies.
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: A ride based on a popular television series from the 50’s and 60’s renowned for it’s twists and shocking endings. Now, those shocking surprises are at Disney World in the form of the Tower of Terror. You will enter the lobby of an old hotel, frozen in time since the Halloween of 1939. Something sinister lurks in the elevator, hoping to entice more souls in to match the fates of those who plummeted to their end all those years ago. Dare you go inside? On the Tower of Terror, you will need to transfer into a seat in the elevator section of the hotel, which consists of several seats in movie theater style rows.
For the full list of rides that fall into this category, check out this list from Disney World.
Transport around the parks
As we mentioned, the Disney World parks are absolutely gigantic. There really is no way to easily get between them, across them, and from the resorts to the parks in the first place, without some form of transport. To get about Disney World, there are several methods of transportation each serving different routes and locations; buses, the Monorail, the Skyliner, and watercraft.
Disney World bus accessibility
Disney World offers an extensive bus network to help facilitate the transport between the resorts, water parks, and main theme parks. These buses are wheelchair and ECV accessible.
When the bus arrives, head to the front to speak to the driver, and you will be provided with the means to board the bus using either a ramp or lift depending on the bus. Your chair or vehicle will need to fit into the lift without needing to be forced, and once on board, your chair will need to be securely fastened.
Also, you can mention to a member of staff at the time of booking your vacation to Disney that you intend to use the transportation as a wheelchair user.
The Monorail is also wheelchair accessible. Running between the parks for quick and easy access, if you would like to board, elevators and ramps are available at the Transportation and Ticket center in the following parks and resorts; Epcot, Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, Magic Kingdom, and Contemporary Resort.
The Disney Skyliner runs from Hollywood Studios and Epcot to several Disney Resorts; Riviera Resort, Pop Century Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, and Art of Animation Resort, though often, visitors ride the Skyliner simply for the incredible views and bird’s eye perspective of the parks.
These vehicles travel between some of the resorts and the Magic Kingdom park. It is possible for the watercraft vehicles to accommodate wheelchairs, but it is dependent on the available craft type, and the conditions of the water at the time. If you wish to use any of the watercraft services available at Disney World, speak to a Disney World cast member at the dock you would like to depart from.
Disabled parking is available for all four theme parks within Disney World. They have provided ‘Disability Parking Lots’ close to the main entrance of Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and you’ll need to display a valid disability parking permit. For further support in locating these parking lots and any information regarding parking with a disability parking permit, get in contact with a member of staff at Disney World ahead of time.
We hope this guide will support you in having the best time at Disney World. As you will have now learnt, Disney World offers plenty of opportunities for those in wheelchairs and ECV’s to enjoy as many rides as possible, as well as providing services that help to ensure the experience remains inclusive, easy to use, and helps you to maximize your time at this magical vacation destination. The park itself is very wheelchair accessible, with plenty of flat roads and wide open spaces, and the transport, too, is adapted to ensure you can get around safely and comfortably.
We also hope you have found plenty of exciting rides you can experience, as well as alleviate any worries or concerns, so you can feel more confident ahead of your vacation to Disney World about what you can do, see, and where you can go. For further support, be sure to get in contact with a cast member at Disney World. Alternatively, if you are staying in one of Top Villas’ luxury vacation homes, a member of our guest experience team will always be on hand to have a chat with you, and answer any questions or queries you may have ahead of your visit.