One thing that my husband Jon and I love doing is going to movies, and since we signed up for Movie Pass we have been going to the movies much more often. Typically, when we go to the theater I make the decision if I am going to bring my wheelchair based on the seats located in the theater. More often than not, I choose going to movie theaters that have plush recliner seats. Recently we went to see Downsizing, however it wasn’t playing at any theaters that had reclining seats. So, we went to a non-recliner theater and brought my wheelchair. Little did we know it would end up being an adventure.
We went to the local art theater to see the movie and since it did not have recliner seats we decided to take my electric wheelchair with us so that I could transition between the 2 seats whenever I got uncomfortable. Little did we know that the theater that our movie was showing in had stairs to get in. At first, I had a moment of panic as I really wanted to see the movie. Thankfully a manager showed up just as I was beginning to panic and informed me that they had a special entrance for the theater.
As the manager took us around the corner I realized that the theater had a room lift just for those unable to access the stairs. The manager then opened the door and explained that I needed to press the button until I was at the top once the door was closed and he would meet me there. When I arrived at my destination the door opened and there was my wonderful husband and the manager. He told us that once the movie was over he would come and get us so that I could leave the theater. The handicap seating at this theater ended up being at the very back. Normally the handicap seating is located towards the front of the theater, so this was kind of nice not being so close to the screen.
Once the movie was done Jon went to go grab the manager and he was coming up at the same time which was nice, so I didn’t have to wait too long. The manager opened the door and I went back down where the manager was ready to open the door. I tried to get a video, but the room is so small it really didn’t come out well at all. Next time I am at that theater I will try to get a picture or video. Although with that being said, I discovered during the movie that I can tolerate the seats located at this particular theater for the length of the movie. Discovering that I can sit through an entire movie at this theater and not need to take my wheelchair was exciting since it makes it easier to go to the movies. I do not currently have a wheelchair accessible vehicle so sometimes outings can be a bit challenging when wrangling ramps. All in all I was really happy to see that this theater was so accommodating and can’t wait to see more movies at this there.
Welcome back as we discuss the different ways to access Disneyland with disabilities. In previous posts we have discussed how to get around the park with an invisible illness as well as those with a mobility concern, but there are more ways to receive assistance at the park as well. Ok, I know what you are thinking. What other disabilities are there? Invisible and visible should be it. That just isn’t the case. We also have those that utilize service dogs, have hearing concerns, and those with visual disabilities. Disney also has a way to assist people with these types of disabilities as well.
Those that are visiting the park with a service dog can easily go on rides thanks to discreet dog kennels located around the park and at attractions. Typically, individuals will use the DAS system or the Visual Indicator system to get on the ride but once they get there the rides have kennels for the dogs to wait in while the owner is on the ride. It is important to note that Disney only allows true service dogs or surprisingly enough mini horses that are trained to do a specific task to aid their owner. Disney does not allow Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in the park. In addition, your service animal needs to be on leash and controlled while at the park. There are also designated spots where you can take your animal to relieve themselves.
I know we have all seen the video of a character using sign language with a child that is hard of hearing and watching their face light up with glee because their favorite character can speak the same language as them. If you haven’t, don’t worry, I will post a link to one below; it truly is a must see. I was lucky in that I got to see a child experience the pure excitement of knowing Mickey and Minnie knowing how to sign first hand. I was helping a family visit the parks with their son that was hearing but non-communicative due to a permanent tracheotomy. Because of this tracheotomy he used sign language to communicate. When he discovered that Mickey and Minnie knew sign language he was so excited he was signing as fast as he possible could and his parents were in tears.
On top of many of the characters being able to sign, Friday thru Monday you can request for a cast member to sign the shows as well. If you haven’t seen this, it truly is heart warming since many of the cast members really get into it. If you are not deaf but have difficulties hearing you can also rent an Assistive Listening System which amplifies the sounds at several rides through either headphones or an induction loop. This system can be rented at Guest Relations for $25 and is refundable if you return the device in the same day. There is also a device that you can rent for the same price that does handheld captioning for several rides and there are even a couple that offer reflective captioning. The experiences that offer reflective captioning can be found at the individual experiences for no rental fee. I will leave a list of the rides that offer these different experiences below for your reference.
In addition to hearing disabilities Disney also accommodates visual disabilities. And this is much more than a simple map in braille. Disney offers a hand-held device that will give you an audio description of the ride. This device can be picked up at Guest Relations for $25 that will be refunded when returned by the end of the day.
Disney truly is a special place, and this is one of the many reasons why I return to this park time and time again. Disney has always been a leader in the theme park industry. When it comes to how they assist guests with disabilities Disney not only goes above and beyond, they also set a shining example of how to keep people coming to your parks simply by accommodating those that need extra assistance. I hope that these last few weeks have been informative and if you have a specific question related to Disney make sure to drop a comment!
Sign Language Interpretation
The Disneyland Resort provides Sign Language interpretation for our Guests at specific live theme park shows on a rotating basis as follows:
For a list of Sign Language interpreted performances, you can visit the Disneyland Website to download the current schedule or request information via email at WDPRsignlanguageservices@disney.com. You can also call (714) 781-4636 (select option 1, and then option 0) for more information about the services they offer.
You can pick up a schedule of Sign Language interpreted performances at any Disneyland Resort Guest Relations locations. It should also be noted that the schedule is released approximately one week in advance.
Audio Description is available for the following locations:
Last week I discussed touring Disneyland with DAS pass due to a cognitive or invisible illness that cannot be assisted with a mobility aid. This week it’s all about getting through Disneyland when you have a Visual Indicator. A visual indicator could be a wheelchair (manual or electric), a scooter, a walker, cane, or a red tag on a stroller. A red tag states that your stroller is acting as a wheelchair. This red tag can be obtained at Guest Relations inside either park. One thing to note is that all of Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) park is fully accessible, but what does that mean?
All the rides at DCA you will enter the standard entrance line and wait with everyone else. These lines offer wide aisles to maneuver through and if an area is not accessible then they offer a split off point near the front of the line so that you can safely get to the ride vehicle. An example of this is Radiator Springs Racers. When you get almost completely through the line there is a split off point. If you can navigate through stairs than you continue in the regular line, but if you are unable to access stairs they send you to the left where there is a ramp and a car that is pulled off the track. This car allows you to safely load at your own pace. Once you have loaded the car will be put back on the tracks and you ride the ride like normal. When the ride is over the car is pulled back off the track and you are able to safely unload at your own pace and then exit without any stairs. Since all the rides are ADA compliant at this park it is suggested to get a FastPass for any of the larger rides so that you can ride smaller rides while you wait for your return time for the larger rides.
If you are unable to wait in a standard que line it is suggested to rent either a manual push wheelchair or an electric conveyance vehicle (ECV). You can rent an ECV from Disneyland for $50 + a $20 refundable deposit or you can rent a manual push wheelchair for $12 + a $20 refundable deposit. The issues with renting on site is that you will not have your aid from the car until the front gates as the rental location is next to the front gate of Disneyland. In addition, you are unable to guarantee that an aid will be available for your use once you get there. Personally, I think the best way to handle this is to either bring your own or rent from an outside company. If you are staying at one of the many hotels in the Anaheim Resort area almost all the wheelchair rental services will deliver to your hotel for free. If you are coming more locally and will not be staying at a hotel then there are a couple, such as Cloud of Goods that will deliver to your home for a fee. Just keep in mind that if you are having a wheelchair delivered from your home you will need to have a vehicle that can transport the wheelchair.
Disneyland on the other hand is not fully handicap accessible since most of it was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was put in to place. As such, many of the rides have alternative entrances for those that have a visual indicator. Before 2013 all the rides in Disneyland were just walk up to the exit and get on, but due to a large amount of people taking advantage of the system this was changed. And, honestly, I always felt bad about this system because I felt like I was getting a weird advantage. Since the changeover, if a ride has a stand by wait time longer than about 20 mins they will provide you with a return time the length of the stand by time at either the entrance or the exit of the ride if the ride is not ADA compliant. There are a handful of rides throughout Disneyland that are ADA compliant but, not many. For those rides it is suggested to get a FastPass for the rides. I have included a Word document to this post that goes into detail for each ride on how to get around and where to go as well as some fun tips for shows and restaurants.
Next week I will discuss how Disney aids those with hearing and visual concerns as well heading to the park with a service dog. Please feel free to download the attached document and if you have some fun tips for getting around Disneyland please share them in the comments. I always love learning new ways to get around the parks.
As an individual with limited abilities Disneyland has always been a refuge. Disneyland and Disney in general is always billed as a place where everyone can have fun with the family no matter what their abilities. Everyone can ride the rides and enjoy the shows together. In my experience this has always held true. But Disney is more than the standard moniker of being “Handicapped Accessible”. This we already know since it is legally required to. What does that mean though? What extent does Disney go to make things ADA compliant and a safe place for those with limited abilities?
Over the course of several posts I will go into detail of how to access rides and experiences when you have limited abilities. First let’s discuss the different types of services Disney offers to make their experiences more inclusive for those with different assistance needs. Disney currently offers 3 major ways to receive assistance: Disability Access Service (DAS), Visual Indicators of Mobility (i.e. Wheelchair, walker, cane, red tag) and Closed captioning/American Sign Language (ASL) services and translators. In this first post I will discuss the DAS pass and how to utilize it.
The DAS card is a card that allows you to go to several guest services kiosks located throughout the parks so that you can receive a return time equivalent to the current standby wait time for a ride. This card can be used with any ride in the park and is separate from the Fast Pass system that many day guests utilize. With this service you can safely wait your turn at a different location. Be it some place in the shade or walking through a store among many other places. This allows those that do not have visual indicators of disability to be assisted. This is typically provided to those that have cognitive concerns and are unable to wait in the line. The card can be received at Guest Services. When looking to receive this card you are asked what kind of assistance's Disney can offer to make your trip more enjoyable. Disney Cast Members are not allowed to ask for doctor’s notes or ask what your specific ailment is, only how they can assist you in managing the park.
Once you have received your card you will head to any of the kiosks and tell the Cast Member which ride you would like to ride. At that time, they will scan your park entry ticket and attach a time to the ticket for your entire party (up to 6 people including the guest needing assistance). The time that they give you is the time that you can return to the entrance of the ride up to an hour and speak to a cast member at the ride. Now that you have received your return time you are free to roam the park until your 1 hour return window. You can only have one time attached to your pass at once, however you can have a fast pass in addition to .your accessibility return time since the return time is the equivalent of standing in a standard que.
The DAS system is the successor of the Guest Assistance Card (GAC) that was used before October 2013. This system was changed due to people taking advantage of the GAC cards. Before DAS everyone was issued a GAC card that was shown at the ride exit and you were taken on the ride immediately over those that had been waiting in line. Because people were taking advantage of this system they opted to split people between having a visual indicator over those without. In our next post I will discuss these Visual Indicators and how to move around the park if your assistance needs are more mobility based over cognitive.
My name is Amanda and I have a disability. I have fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I love to go on adventures but my illness' makes that a challenge. I didn't want to spend my life living in bed so I got an electric wheelchair (thanks to my parents) and I am hitting the road. Going to some of my favorite places, exploring new places, and sharing with you how I get around with a disability.
I wanted to give a special thank you to my amazing husband Jon. In addition to being my travel buddy he is also my editor. It's thanks to him that these posts aren't nearly as rambling as they could be.