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Epcot for the Vision and Hearing Impaired

Hearing and vision impairments affect all areas of daily living, and entertainment is no exception. Guests with these issues may worry that they will miss a significant portion of what EPCOT has to offer.

Fortunately, visitors to EPCOT needn’t worry at all. Disney’s guest service is legendary, and the parks are fully equipped to ensure that all guests, regardless of disability, are able to enjoy their Disney vacation. Additionally, Walt Disney World offers a total sensory experience: sound, sight, touch, and even smell combine to create the magic. Thus, a guest who has impairment of one sense can still utilize their remaining senses for a totally immersive experience.

Upon arriving at Epcot the first thing you will want to do is go by the Customer Service Center, which is located to the left of  Spaceship Earth (the giant golf ball). Describe the nature of your disability to the Cast Member at the desk, and he or she will provide you with the assistance that you require. Guests with visual disabilities may choose a Braille guidebook or an audio tour of the park. A per item deposit is required, and will be refunded if you return the item the same day. Braille maps are also available free of charge.

The audio tour provides a guided walking tour of the park. It is quite detailed, and includes helpful information such as the distance between attractions. There are also descriptions of each attraction.

For guests with hearing disabilities, listening devices that amplify the sound tracks of the attractions are available. A deposit is required, and will be refunded when you return the device the same day. A park guide map is available that will show which attractions participate. Additionally, some attractions offer reflective and video captioning, or have scripts available. Ask individually at each attraction.

*Tip* Service animals are permitted throughout the property. While at Guest Relations, ask the Cast Member to point out on your guide map the service animal break areas and explain the service animal break policy in detail. You must remain with the animal at all times.

*Tip* Service animals are permitted in every attraction unless ride safety regulations prohibit them. At attractions that do not permit service animals to ride, procedures are in place for the animal to remain in a safe location while you ride. Ask at each attraction, as procedures vary. Generally a member of your party must wait with the animal.

*Tip* Sign language interpreters are available with two weeks advance notice. Additionally, some shows are interpreted at certain times. Guest Relations can provide you with a guide map that lists the interpreted show times for the day of your visit.

Epcot represents the culmination of one of Walt Disney’s biggest dreams. A World’s Fair-styled utopia representing the best of world culture today and showcasing the technology of the future, Epcot is Disney’s first educational entertainment park. It is divided into two main areas: Future World and the World Showcase.

Future World

This section of the park gives guests a sneak peek into the technology of the near future. A mix of rides and shows are offered here.

*Tip* Due to boarding restrictions, service animals are not permitted on Mission Space, Soarin ’, or Test Track. Inquire at each attraction as to where the animal may wait while you enjoy the ride.

*Tip* Most Future World pavilions are quite large, containing one main and many smaller attractions. Be sure to plan your day accordingly.

*Tip* Should you be treated to one of Florida’s famous summer thunderstorms during your visit to Epcot, make your way to Innoventions, The Land or The Seas with Nemo and Friends . All are great places to spend time while waiting out the weather.

*Tip* Some attractions offer reflective or video captioning. Be sure to inquire at each attraction.

World Showcase

This area of the park is styled as a World’s Fair. Pavilions from countries around the world offer a variety of rides, shows, shopping, and dining. This section of the park should offer no particular difficulties to guests with vision or hearing impairments.

*Tip* Many of the pavilions offer a short film experience. These films generally participate in reflective captioning. Be sure to see a Cast Member at the attraction for details.

*Tip* Make sure that your service animal is on its best behavior. Many of the shopping areas are set up in an open-bazaar layout, with many items in open containers at doggie-nose height.

*Tip* Illuminations, the nighttime fireworks and laser spectacular, takes place around the World Showcase lagoon. An immersive experience of both sight and sound, it can be easily enjoyed by guests with visual or hearing impairments. It may be best enjoyed from one of the sidewalk cafes, where you can grab a snack and stay back from the crowd. Allow the crowd to disperse before leaving, giving yourself a cleared pathway to the exit.

Epcot is the culmination of Walt Disney’s dreams of a utopian ideal. With a bit of advance planning and the use of assistive equipment, guests with visual or hearing impairments can fully enjoy the experience. Plan to spend some time at this park, taking in all of the sensory details.