Disney World Special Needs Visitor's Guide

  • 01 of 07

    Special Arrangements for Special Visitors

    Lady in wheelchair enjoying a zero entry pool at Disney World.
    ••• Zero entry pools at Disney World allow mobility challenged individuals to enjoy the water. © The Walt Disney Company

    Whether it's providing hearing assist devices for hearing impaired, translation devices for the non-English speaking, wheelchair or ECV rentals for the disabled, audio or braille for the visually impaired, baby care centers for those with children or companion restrooms for those with cognitive issues, Disney World strives to make every guest feel included and comfortable.

    On the following pages find information and tips on visiting Disney World with the following impairments and disabilities:

    • Autism and Cognitive Impairment Visitors
    • Visitors with Children
    • Hearing Impaired Visitors
    • Mobility Impaired Visitors
    • Visually Impaired Visitors
    • International Visitors 

    Please note: You may pick up a copy of the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities at the wheelchair rental locations in each theme park. To get a copy in advance, visit WDW's website at www.disneyworld.com or write to:

    Walt Disney World Guest Communications
    Box 10000
    Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830.

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  • 02 of 07

    Disney World Autism and Cognitive Impairment Visitors

    It's a Small World attraction at Disney World
    ••• This popular attraction at Disney's Magic Kingdom, but may be too loud for someone with sensory issues. © The Walt Disney Company

    Visitors with cognitive impairments often are disturbed by bright lights, loud noises and have difficulty with normal social cues — like waiting their turn. These are all things that one might experience over and over at Disney World.

    Guest Assistance Card vs Disability Access Card

    While Disney World is welcoming to many with disabilities, but their decision a few years ago to discontinue its Guest Assistance Card  has been met with much criticism. That card allowed those with various disabilities to access attractions through a special entrance without waiting in line.

    The Assistance Card was replaced by a Disability Access Card. That card requires someone with disabilities to go to the attraction and receive a ticket with a time to return to experience that attraction. This return time is based on the current wait time for that particular attraction.

    Other Services

    Disney World lists a number of services that assists those with cognitive impairments, including:

    • Advanced Ticket Purchase
    • Strol...MOREler and Wheelchair Rental
    • Strollers as Wheelchairs
    • Rider Switch Program
    • Break Areas are available to those who may become over stimulated. Simply ask a cast member for the closest location.
    • Companion Restrooms are available in select locations.
    • Dietary Accommodations
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  • 03 of 07

    Disney World Visitors with Children

    The Walt Disney Railroad that circles the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
    ••• Taking a ride on the Walt Disney Railroad at Disney's Magic Kingdom is a hit with children of all ages. © The Walt Disney Company

    Whether your child has special needs or not, every parent can use these helpful facts, guidelines and tips for enjoying your Disney World visit with children.

    Strollers

    • Strollers are available for rent for $15.00 ($13.00 for length-of-stay rentals). Double strollers rent for $31.00 ($27.00 for length-of-stay rentals). These are available at the stroller and wheelchair rental shops located just inside each theme park. No strollers are available at the water parks. If you are park hopping, you pay only one time per day. Simply present your receipt for a replacement at another park.
    • Strollers are not permitted inside the attractions and must be parked near each attraction entrance.
    • DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN A STROLLER.
    • Bringing along your own stroller not only makes your child feel more at home, but saves you money too.
    • Consider bringing an umbrella stroller if you will be using the Disney World transportation system, since strollers must be folded and babies carried on board.

    Theme Parks

    • Changing...MORE areas are located in most women's and some men's restrooms.
    • Baby Care Centers are located in all four theme parks. They are equipped with rocking chairs and love seats for nursing mothers, a place to prepare formula and warm bottles, plus diaper changing facilities. Diapers, bottles, formula, pacifiers, juices, and baby food are among the supplies for sale. Check park guide maps for locations.

    Disney Resort Hotels

    • All resorts have at least one room with video games.
    • Most of the hotels have playgrounds.
    • Children's activity centers are located in the following resorts:
      - Animal Kingdom Lodge
      - BoardWalk
      - Contemporary
      - Grand Floridian
      - Polynesian
      - Swan and Dolphin
      - Wilderness Lodge
      - Yacht and Beach Club
    • In-room child care is available throughout the Walt Disney World resort area. Simply contact the Guest Services desk.
    • KinderCare is located on the property and accepts children from age one to four. Call 407-827-5444 for more information and availability.

     

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  • 04 of 07

    Disney World Hearing Impaired Visitors

    Disney World hand-held hearing assist device.
    ••• Disney World offers a hand-held captioning device for the hearing impaired. © The Walt Disney Company

    Disney World goes out of its way to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone, including those with certain disabilities. Those that are hearing impaired will find a variety of services available throughout Disney World.

    Phones

    Pay phone equipped with amplified handsets are readily available throughout Disney World. Pay phones equipped with text typewriters (TTYs) are also available. Check the Guide for Guests with Disabilities (available at Guest Services) for locations.

    Sign Language

    Sign language is available for some live shows on a rotating basis as follows:

    • Disney's Animal Kingdom — Saturdays

    • Disney's Hollywood Studios — Sundays, Wednesdays

    • Epcot — Tuesdays, Fridays

    • Magic Kingdom — Mondays, Thursdays

    Sign language services can also be requested for special shows and events, such as Disney's "Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue" with two weeks (14 days) notice.

    Assistive Listening Devices

    Listening assist devices that amplify attraction sound tracks are available at Guest Relations in...MORE the theme parks. A refundable deposit of $25 is required (device must be returned the same day for a refund). 

    Handheld Captioning Devices

    Handheld captioning devices* are available at guest relations. The portable captioning system uses a wireless receiver to display text in various locations. The device requires a $100 refundable deposit (the device must be returned on the same day to receive a refund).

    Reflective Captioning

    Many theater-type attractions at Disney World utilize Reflective Captioning. The technology utilizes an LED disply to project desired captions onto an acrylic panel positioned in front of a hearing impaired person. A host/hostess at the attraction should be contacted to utilize this system.

    Video Monitors

    Caption-ready monitors are available at many attractions. The monitors are designated with the "CC" symbol, but can only be activated by remote control. Single button activators can be obtained through Guest Relations with a $25 refundable deposit (must be returned the same day for a refund).

    *Video Captioning can also be activated using Disney's Handheld Device.

    Written Aids

    Assistance Packets containing dialogue, flashlights, and pen and paper are available at or near the performance areas or entrances for most shows and attractions. Hearing impaired persons that utilize written communication should contact a host or hostess at the attractions.

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  • 05 of 07

    Disney World Mobility Impaired Visitors

    Wheelchair Guest
    ••• Disney World is very accessible to those with mobility issues. © The Walt Disney Company

    Disney scores high marks for accessibility for mobility impaired visitors, including:

    • All WDW hotels have accommodations for guests with disabilities, including roll-in showers and "zero-entry" pools with special wheelchairs available. Be sure to ask for the Special Reservations Department.
    • Special parking is available for guests at all four theme parks and all Disney World Resort hotels. Ask for directions at the entrances. Valet parking is available at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and is free to guests with disabilities.
    • Disney monorails and buses can accommodate wheelchairs.
    • Access to the Magic Kingdom is available by either ferry or monorail.
    • Wheelchairs and ECVs (Electric Convenience Vehicles) are available at each of the four Disney World theme parks.
    • Most attractions are accessible to guests who can be lifted from chairs with assistance from a member of their party. Many can also accommodate guests who must remain in their wheelchairs. Disney's Guidebook for...MORE Guests with Disabilities lists details about wheelchair access to attractions.
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  • 06 of 07

    Disney World Visually Impaired Visitors

    Scene in Disney's Pirates of the Carribean ride at Magic Kingdom.
    ••• Just one of the fun and intriguing scenes in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride that will be enhanced by the use of the audio description device. © The Walt Disney Company

    Several services are available to those Disney World guests that are visually impaired, including audio description devices, Braille guidebooks and maps and access for those using service animals.

    Audio Description

    Disney World offers a handheld Audio Description Device that provides supplemental audio by describing visual elements, including actions, settings and scene changes. It works with existing audio at specific theme park attractions, entertainment and other popular locations throughout Disney World.

    Braille Guidebooks

    Braille Guidebooks are available for each of Disney World's four theme parks. They are available at Guest Relations at each theme park, but are limited in number and available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a $25 deposit that will be refunded when returned the same day.

    Stationary Braille Maps

    Providing the visually impaired easier orientation in all four Disney World theme parks, at the Guest Relations Lobby in the resorts, and in Disney Springs....MORE Braille maps use large print with a clear Braille overlay and raised graphics to highlight key landmarks and attractions.

    Service Animals

    Trained service animals are welcome in most locations throughout Disney World; however, they must remain on a leash or in a harness at all times.

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  • 07 of 07

    Disney World International Visitors

    Guest relations cast member shows translation headset to Disney World guest.
    ••• Disney's wireless headset device can translate shows and attraction narrative into 5 different languages. © The Walt Disney Company

    Visitors from outside the U.S. know that Disney speaks a universal language that makes them feel immediately at home. These guidelines and tips may help those who do not speak the language to feel more at home:

    • International Welcome Centers are located and open in the theme parks during regular park hours.
    • Several Disney resorts also offer services to International guests.
    • Free theme park maps in different languages are available at the entrance to all the parks. These maps are also available at Guest Relations.
    • Foreign language hosts are available when making dining reservations. (407-WDW-DINE)
    • Most WDW restaurants offer menus in various languages.
    • A foreign currency exchange is available at Guest Relations in each of the theme parks.
    • Many Disney employees are fluent in more than one language. Check their name tags – flags indicate the languages they speak.
    • Phone cards for international calls can be purchased at several WDW shops.

    Language Translation Device

    Disney Show Translators are wireless...MORE headphone sets non-English speaking guests can wear in select attractions and shows to enjoy the experience in their own language. Devices translate into five languages:

    • French
    • German
    • Japanese
    • Portuguese
    • Spanish

    The Disney Show Translators work in over 20 attractions and shows throughout Disney World's four theme parks. Devices may be obtained at Guest Services throughout Disney World with a $25 refundable deposit (unit must be returned the same day to get refund).