When a knee injury rendered me temporarily unable to walk around Disneyland all day long, it was a good reason to research the issues and options available to any Disneyland visitor who has a mobility challenge. A lot of information is available about this topic, much of it contained in the discussion boards of Disneyland fan sites. Inputs you can find at those sites can be helpful, but not all of it is correct and some of it can be out of date.
Parking and Service Animals
Parking for Guests with disabilities is available throughout the Disneyland Resort, including the Mickey and Friends parking structure and the Toy Story parking area off of Harbor Boulevard. A valid disability parking permit is required.
If you need it, you can get a temporary permit valid for up to six months or longer. Get the details at the DMV website.
A van equipped with a wheelchair lift is available to transport guests between the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure and the Downtown Disney District. Wheelchairs and ECVs must fit without being forced on lifts, ramps and in designated wheelchair spaces.
Trained service animals are welcome, but they need to be on a leash or harness at all times. Many attractions are accessible to visitors and their service animals using the normal lines. Cast Members aren't permitted to handle service animals, so if someone needs to look after your animal while you ride, you'll need a companion along to help. The park maps show locations where you can take your service animal to relieve itself and when it's done, you can contact any cast member and they'll send someone to clean up.
Mobility Challenges in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Rides and Attraction Issues
Start with the list of attractions that require guests to walk, ones where you can stay in your chair/vehicle and ones that require a transfer to the ride vehicle at the Disneyland website.
After you know which rides you'll be able to enjoy, think about waiting in line and how long you can do that. On a busy day, the wait for some of the most popular rides can be close to two hours.
Some attraction queues have enough space that you can ride your scooter in them, but at others, if you can't stand in the line, there are no places to sit in the queue areas and no easy options to wait somewhere else and join your companions when they reach the front of the line. Instead, use a Guest Assistance Card to get in through alternate entrances. See below to find out how to get one.
If you can stand up but can't walk very far, you could park your ECV or wheelchair in the stroller parking area outside a ride and pick it up when you come out.
Disability Access Services
If you have any kind of mobility issue, immediately after you get inside the gates, stop at City Hall (Disneyland) or Chamber of Commerce (California Adventure). You don't need to bring a doctor's note or other proof of disability, but be prepared to tell the cast member who helps you about your situation and what kind of help you need.
The cast member who helps you can either issue a Disability Access Services card or will recommend that you rent a scooter or wheelchair. Show it to a cast member wherever you need special assistance. Exactly what and how that assistance is provided is something we couldn't get any Disney employee to tell us very specifically, but it might include entrance to attractions through an alternative entrance. If you're traveling with a group, the card may also allow your companions to enter with you, but the number of companions is determined by the issuing cast member.
To use the card, approach any cast member near the ride entrance and ask where to enter. If it's a Fastpass attraction, start at the Fastpass return line.
For more information for individuals who need help with other challenges, visit this page at the Disneyland website and this page, specifically about Disablility Access Services.
Disneyland Wheelchair or Scooter Rental
If you need some help getting around Disneyland, you can bring your own wheelchair or scooter. If your situation is temporary (like my injured knee) or if you didn't bring your own conveyance with you, you can rent one, either at Disneyland or from local area companies.
If your mobility issue is temporary, using a scooter may sound like fun. After trying it, I don't think so. If you're with a companion who can push it, we'd recommend using a wheelchair instead. Not only are wheelchairs less expensive to rent, but scooters are harder to drive than you might think. To make matters worse, other visitors don't seem to notice people on scooters as much, forcing you to spend all your time concentrating on not running into anyone. And that cuts down on how much you can enjoy your surroundings.
Renting Wheelchairs and Scooters at Disneyland
A limited number of wheelchairs (manual and motorized) and ECV scooters are available at Disneyland, but you can't reserve them in advance. To avoid any issues, it's best to arrive about 30 minutes before opening time, especially if it's a busy day.
On the plus side, the rental location is convenient, just outside the entrance. It's a good option if you can get around enough to get to the entry gate and if you don't want to handle taking it back to your hotel every evening or worry about charging the battery or other issues.
Disney's ECVs (like the gray one on the left above) are bigger than some you can rent and they can go into Downtown Disney but not outside Disney property.
See the Current Disney rates and policies for rentals. but don't be alarmed when you get to there and find prices higher than stated on the website. The difference is a refundable deposit that you get back when you return it. You'll need a photo ID and to rent an ECV scooter, you must be at least 18 years old.
On the surface, Disney's rates look higher than other companies in the area, but by the time you add insurance and other fees - or if you need a model that carries more weight - the price differences may be minimal.
Renting Wheelchairs and ECV Scooters from Disneyland Area Companies
If you need your vehicle all (or most) of the time, a rental from an outside company may be your best option. You can take them anywhere and use them any time of day you need to.
A few things to consider and ask about when renting from an outside company:
- What is the weight limit for the model you're talking about?
- Some of the smaller, transportable scooters have a battery that comes out so you only have to carry just it into your hotel room for charging. We also like the smaller size of these models, which are easier to maneuver in the park.
- Will they deliver to your hotel and pick it up from there when you're done?
- Do they have employees on call any time the parks are open? Do they have passes so they can come inside and help you, or will you have to bring it out if there's an issue?
- What if it's stolen? Do you have to pay extra to get insurance for that? If their insurance doesn't cover it, try your homeowner's policy to see if it does.
A number of companies offer ECV scooter and wheelchair rentals near Disneyland. These are praised most often in online reviews:
- Deckert is often mentioned by people who post reviews online. They don't seem to have a website, but their phone number is 714-542-5607.'
- Scooter Bug is Disney's preferred vendor. Don’t let their reservation system confuse you. It may look like you would have to return your rental before the park closes, but just make it the following morning which is still 24 hours only. And hope you don't need assistance because it takes them forever to answer their phone and they never email answer messages.
- Scooter Village is across the street from Disneyland (but not directly across from the entrance). They don't list rental prices on their website and their online form doesn't allow inputting enough info to request a specific model, so we'd recommend calling them at 714-956-5633.
- One Stop Mobility has a pick-up location at the Camelot Inn across from the Disneyland entrance. Their "D" scooter model is the red one shown above. Be sure to mention the price you see on the website, which is a discount from their list rates. They pick up and deliver.
Mobility Issues and Your Disneyland Hotel
These tips will help you ask the right questions, get the answers you need - and give you some things to keep in mind when choosing a hotel room near Disneyland that will best meet your needs.
All of the hotel profiles on this site include information about number of floors and whether the property has an elevator, as well as whether they're on one of the Anaheim Trolley routes. They're all listed in the Disneyland hotel guide.
- If the hotel doesn't have elevators, call them directly to make a reservation, explaining your situation so they don't accidentally assign you to an upper floor room.
- If the hotel offers a Disneyland shuttle, ask if it can accommodate your wheelchair or scooter.
- A third reason to call for a reservation: If you don't want to take your scooter or wheelchair into the room, ask if the hotel can store it for you - some will even plug it in so it's all charged up, too.
- If you choose a hotel on the Anaheim Resort Trolley (ART) route, they have lifts that can easily load your chair or scooter onto the trolley. To find them, use this list of hotels on the Anaheim Trolley route.
- If you're planning on taking the scooter into your hotel room, it's a good idea to bring along an extension cord for more flexibility about where you park it.
Mobility and the Disney-Owned Hotels
The Disney hotels have a limited supply of wheelchairs, but they don't have ECV scooters. If you'd rather not have your vehicle taking up space in your hotel room, ask if you can leave it with the bellman and pick it up the next day. They usually offer to charge it up, but it's a good idea to request that. And don't forget to tip the people who help you if they provide good service.