Disney theme parks are among the most accessible tourist attractions available – they offer an abundance of activities for people of all levels of physical ability, and have great deals for guests who need wheelchair assistance and their caregivers. If you are taking a vacation with a family member with special needs to a Disney park, here are a few things you should know that will help ensure the enjoyment of every park activity.
1. Get a Disability Access Service Card.
After you enter the park, visit the Guest Relations office and retrieve a Disability Access Service Card. This card is for guests who – due to their physical or mental condition – are unable to wait in long lines. This service card, when presented to a cast member at a particular attraction, allows the guest to schedule a return time of approximately the length of the line wait time. The guest may then enjoy the park, and then return to the ride at the appointed time and be admitted.
2. Get FASTPASS service.
Because a Disability Access Service Card doesn’t permit scheduling return times for more than one ride at a time, you may want to supplement the card with a FASTPASS – which works in the same way as a service card, except you can book multiple return times.
3. Be on the lookout for rides with short lines.
Yes – there are some rides that have wait times of under an hour! While most of these shorter wait time rides will be more charming and whimsical than thrilling, they’re still fantastic, and a fun way to spend an hour before your head over to Splash Mountain!
4. Make dining reservations.
If you have a special needs child or family member who needs to eat at regular intervals (or who becomes restless or agitated when waiting for extended periods), it’s a good idea to make restaurant reservations. Before you even set out to the Happiest Place on Earth, reserve tables, taking care to alert the restaurant that a member of your party may need special accommodations. Online reservations allow users to notify the restaurant of food allergies or aversions.
5. Let your child enjoy the park!
Make sure you’re clear with your child exactly what to expect once you arrive at the park. Disney theme parks can be a sensory overload for some children, and if your child struggles with noises or crowds, make sure to take whatever precautions necessary. Do your best to communicate the Disney experience, and research the rides carefully to find ones that you’ll all enjoy.
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Dean has been reporting news on the Disney theme parks for over 10 years. His experience includes working at the theme parks, attending previews and openings and of course writing about anything newsworthy that’s happening at the parks. He enjoys spending time at his home resort Disneyland with his family.