Disney World Guide for Guests with Disabilities

Disney World has 4 of the top 30 most attended tourist attractions on the planet, and is a place that families can go for lifetime memories and a ton of fun. But, it can also be extremely intimidating for families that have members with a range of disabilities or concerns, not just physical, but cognitive as well.

Disney does a fantastic job of providing support and services to as wide a range of guests as possible, but many don’t know all that is available, or how it all works.

Making use of all these resources can make trip you didn’t think was possible a fantastic family experience!

And, what many folks don’t think about is that Disney prides itself on customer service. They desperately want you to have a great time, no matter the circumstances, because that’s their reputation. The short of it is, if you have any question or concern or issue, just ask a Cast Member(Disney Speak for “Employee”) for help. Those cast members are not teenagers sulking through a summer job at a local amusement park, they are professionals with extensive training to make sure they do all they can to make the guests happy!

Now, let’s dive into some examples of the ways to make your trip amazing!

FastPass+

First is a service that is available to anyone with tickets, the FastPass+ service. Unlike other theme parks, this is completely FREE at Disney World. Everyone gets 3 Fastpasses per day, that give you a specific 1-hour window to get into an attraction with little to no wait. You can schedule these up to 60 days ahead of your arrival if you are staying at an onsite Disney resort, 30 days for any other ticket holders. These are a huge time saver, and a key to any trip.

For example, you can have a Fastpass for Peter Pan at 9:00am, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at 10:00am, and Meet Mickey and Minnie at Town Square at 11:00 am. This means you can get to Peter Pan anytime between 9-10am, and ride almost immediately. Then you can do the same at Buzz Lightyear between 10am and 11am, and Meet Mickey between 11-12.

There are a few things to keep in mind. You can’t get overlapping reservations, and all the reservations must be at the same park any given day.

But, once you use all 3 of your Fastpasses, you can book 1 more at a time using the Disney app, or at kiosks or guest services at the parks. These can be for the same park, or a different one if you switch parks during the day. But you can keep booking 1 at a time after you use each new one.

You can also split up your party any way you like, not everyone has to have the same Fastpasses. So if you know that Sally wants to meet Ariel at her grotto, but Alice really, really wants to ride Splash Mountain, you can absolutely do that.

And going back to the customer service theme, if you have any issues, just ask a cast member. A true example: A family had booked a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain before their trip. Their son, who has sensory issues, took one look at it, and said “no way am I riding that”. The family went to guest services, and just told them the story, and asked if they could change the Fastpass to Peter Pan. The cast member didn’t just replace the Fastpass, but gave them a Fastpass ticket good for Peter Pan, anytime that day, no questions asked. They were on their way in less than 5 minutes, crisis averted!

DAS

A lesser known service available is what Disney refers to as the DAS - Disability Access Service. This is also totally free, and does not require any documentation or medical proof. All you need to do is stop by any Guest Services desk at the entrance to any of the parks to register. Simply answer a few basic questions, get a picture taken of your loved one making use of the service, and you are set to go in no-time!

Once registered, you can stop by any attraction’s Fastpass entrance, and tell the Cast Member that you would like to ride. They will give you a return time for the ride equal to the current wait time. So your group can then continue touring the park, go get a snack, or ride another attraction with a shorter wait time. You can return to the attraction any time after the time given to you when you checked in, and use the Fastpass line to get in with little to no wait.

For example, you want to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway, and it has a 30 minute wait as you arrive at 10:00am. Your group will be able to return anytime after 10:30am to ride using the Fastpass lane!

You are allowed to be checked into 1 ride at a time using DAS. So as soon as you ride, you can visit another attraction(or the same one again) and check in to repeat the process as many times as you like each day.

Combining Services- An Example

Beyond the obvious benefit of skipping a possible long wait in a queue, you can use the DAS service in addition to the 3 Fastpasses you already have! So you can check into one ride, go use your Fastpass for a different ride, and then return.

This can help you save a huge amount of time and stress. Let’s go over an example, comparing 2 families, both using 2 of their 3 available Fastpasses during a morning at Magic Kingdom, but one also using DAS. The wait and walk times are largely based on data from touringplans.com, a fantastic planning site from the authors of the Unofficial Guide to Disney for the last 20+ years.

Here’s an outline of the schedules of the two families, and a narration to give some detail:

Lightyear Family - No DAS Pass

Mouse Family - Using DAS Pass

Step

Arrive

Wait

Step

Arrive

Wait

Note

Pirates of the Caribbean

8:15am

9

Pirates of the Caribbean

8:18am

9

Grab Jungle Cruise DAS on way

Jungle Cruise

8:35am

10

Jungle Cruise

8:37am

2

Use DAS

Swiss Family Treehouse

8:55am

1

Swiss Family Treehouse

8:47am

1

 

The Haunted Mansion

9:14am

10

The Haunted Mansion

9:05am

10

 

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

9:43am

17

The Barnstormer

9:38am

9

Grab Dumbo DAS on way

The Barnstormer

10:13am

9

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

9:50am

1

Use DAS

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

10:25am

11

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Uses FastPass+ for 9:30am

10:15am

10

Walk to Buzz Lightyear to get DAS first

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Uses FastPass+ for 9:30am10:30am

10:43am

10

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

10:30

2

Use DAS

Peter Pan's Flight

Uses FastPass+ for 10:30am11:30

11:07am

10

Peter Pan's Flight

Uses FastPass+ for 10:30am11:30

10:40

5

Grab DAS for "it's a small world"

"it's a small world"

11:28am

21

"it's a small world"

10:50

5

Use DAS

Lunch

12:04

 

Lunch

11:15

 

 

Total Wait Time

 

108

Total Wait Time

 

54

 

 

The Lightyear Family:

The Lightyear family is using 2 Fastpasses they scheduled for their morning at Magic Kingdom:

They arrive at the park at 8:00am, and head straight to Pirates of the Caribbean, wait 9 minutes to get on the ride and see Captain Jack Sparrow trying to avoid getting caught.

They then head next door to Jungle Cruise getting there at 8:35, and wait 10 minutes to ride.

After enjoying the silly jokes from their driver on Jungle Cruise, they tour the Swiss Family Treehouse, and all the fun views of the park.

Next is over to Haunted Mansion to enjoy the 999 happy haunts, getting there at 9:14am, and waiting 10 minutes to ride. Then over to Buzz Lightyear, waiting 17 minutes to ride, and the Barnstormer(9 min), and Dumbo(11 min).

Now the Lightyears use their first FastPass to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And since they arrived towards the end of their Fastpass window, they can then hit Peter Pan at 11:07 for another Fastpass.

Lastly, they head across the walkway to It’s a Small World, and after a somewhat antsy and hungry 21 minutes, they enjoy the fantastic puppets and the song no one can get out of their head.

They can grab lunch now at about 12:04. They waited a total of about 108 minutes riding 10 attractions in 4 hours. Not too bad! and they still have a Fastpass to use in the afternoon or evening after a break for swimming, relaxing, or a nap.

The Mouse Family:

The Mouse family is using DAS along with their Fastpasses, so let’s see how their day compares!

They also arrive at the park at 8:00am, and on their way to Pirates, they stop at Jungle Cruise and checkin for DAS. This only takes 3 min, and they get to Pirates at 8:18. After a quick 9 min wait in the fantastically themed queue, with Pirate artifacts, and cool dungeon rooms, they head over to Jungle Cruise.

With the DAS pass, they get right on with a brief wait. They next saunter next door to the Swiss Family treehouse, and check it out with no wait, then off to Haunted Mansion.

It’s still early in the day, and the Mouses are into the Stretch Room pre-show in 5 minutes, and onto the ride shortly after.

They take their time, and mosey over to the Barnstormer, taking a bio-break, grabbing a drink, and a DAS pass for Dumbo on the way. They watch the Barnstormer go while waiting 9 min in the open-air queue, and enjoy the quick and fun family coaster.

Back next door to Dumbo, and using the DAS is just a couple minute wait at about 9:50 am.

Then, an easy walk over to Tomorrowland to grab a DAS pass for Buzz Lightyear. They take a quick break to have a drink and have a snack they brought in along the way. Then, over to Seven Dwarfs Mine train to use their Fastpass at 10:10 am.

Everyone is buzzing about how cool the scene with the dwarfs mining is, so they head over to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger spin to cash in that DAS pass. They get to laser-up some aliens, check their scores and photos, and head over to Peter Pan at 10:40. They make a quick stop just across the walkway at It’s a Small World to grab another DAS, and then, using their fastpass, they are done seeing Captain Hook try to avoid the croc, and heading back across the walkway to It’s a Small world at 10:50 am.

By 11:15, they are done, and ready to grab some lunch ahead of the major rush!

All told, the Mouse family visited the same 10 attractions that the Lightyear family did. But, they did it with only 54 minutes of wait time(5 min a ride!), about half of the Lightyear family. And they finished in a little more than 3 hours, about 45 minutes quicker than the Lightyears, and in time to avoid the lunch rush, and they are ready for an afternoon break to avoid the heat and largest crowds!


Using all the available services:

Below is a comprehensive list of resources, guides, park, and attraction information to help families that may be concerned that a Disney World trip would be not enjoyable, or not even feasible for them.

FastPass info/process: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/fastpass-plus/

Rider Switch: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/rider-switch/

Services for Guests with Disabilities Overview: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/

DAS Fact Sheet: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/disney-parks-disability-access-service-card-fact-sheet/

Attraction Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/disney-world/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/WDW-Cognitive-Disabilities-Matrix-Deck-UPDATED-090418.pdf

Guide for Cognitive Disabilities: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/

Downloadable guide to Disney World Resort for Guests with Cognitive Disbilities: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/wdpro-assets/help/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/WDW_Cognitive_Guide_compressed.pdf

Guide for Hearing Disabilities: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/hearing-disabilities-services/

Guide for Vision Disabilities: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/visual-disability-services/

Here’s a link to a sample schedule, comparing using only Fastpass, vs using DAS as well:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S_tRNvN0JapKPFdwwyK7FRmYl6O1APtJSkJASmfSWqk/edit?usp=sharing

Park Specific Accessibility Guides:

Magic Kingdom: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/disney-world/destinations/magic-kingdom/mk-0519-gfgwd-os-web.pdf

Epcot: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/disney-world/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/EC_0619_GFGWD-os.pdf

Animal Kingdom: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/disney-world/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/DHS_0619_GFGWD-os.pdf

Hollywood Studios: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/disney-world/destinations/animal-kingdom/dak-0719-gfgwd-os.pdf


Stroller Rental:

I highly recommend renting a stroller outside the Disney parks. The Disney strollers are nice, and convenient to pick up at the parks. But, there are a few differences

$15/Day(single) $31/Day(double) From Disney ($13/$27/Day for length-of-stay)

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/stroller-rentals/

• Magic Strollers: (866) 866-6177

• Orlando Stroller Rentals: (800) 281-0884

• Kingdom Strollers: (407) 271-5301

ECV Rental:

$50/Day from Disney with $20 deposit.

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/ecv-rentals/

• Buena Vista Scooter Rentals: (866) 484-4797

• Best Price Scooters and Strollers: (866) 866-3434

• Apple Scooter: (800) 701-1971

• ScooterBug: (800) 726-8284

Wheelchair Rental:

$12/day from Disney ($10/day for length-of-stay rental)

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/wheelchair-rentals/

• Buena Vista Scooter Rentals: (866) 484-4797

• Best Price Scooters and Strollers: (866) 866-3434

• Apple Scooter: (800) 701-1971

• ScooterBug: (800) 726-8284

Disability/Accessibility Information:

Phone 407-650-2547

Email: disability.services@disneyparks.com

Mark MullenComment