Walt Disney World is known the world over as a beloved family destination. From the top-notch entertainment to the thrilling rides, from five-star dining to recreational activities, Disney provides a vacation experience that is difficult to beat. Most families plan their trips eagerly, their only concern figuring out the best days to visit each park. But for those dealing with a physical disability, planning is often tempered by concerns.
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 all Disney has to offer.
Fortunately, visitors to Walt Disney World 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 the Magic Kingdom, make your way directly to Guest Relations, located on Main Street USA. 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.
The Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s flagship park, and one of the best-known theme parks in the world. It is divided into seven themed lands: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown Fair, and Tomorrowland. Each land holds attractions, shops, and dining that fit the theme.
Main Street USA
This is the main entrance area to the park. A recreation of an early 1900s American town, Main Street USA is an excellent source of shopping. This area stays open one to hours after park closing, so plan to shop on your way out.
*Tip* Guests with visual impairments should be careful of the trolley tracks running the length of Main Street USA.
*Tip* Wishes, the nighttime fireworks spectacular, is most easily viewed from this area. To avoid some of the crowds and ensure an easier departure from the park, enjoy the show from the second level of the Main Street USA train station.
This land’s theme is exotic and faraway places. The main attractions utilize both sound and visuals to tell their story, and so can be enjoyed by all guests regardless of disability.
*Tip* Guests with visual impairments should note that the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse is a walk-through replica of the treehouse built by the Robinsons following their shipwreck. Numerous stairs are involved and there is no narration to this attraction.
The attractions here provide no particular difficulties for guests with visual or hearing impairments.
This area recreates the excitement of the Old West. The main attractions utilize both sound and visuals, and some offer video captioning capabilities. Be sure to inquire at each attraction.
*Tip* Due to safety restrictions, service animals are not permitted on Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Ask at the attractions about arrangements for your service animal.
*Tip* Tom Sawyer’s Island is a re-creation of locations from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. A giant play land with caves to explore, a barrel bridge, a fort, and other exciting discoveries, it is a lot of fun for all ages. However, due to uneven surfaces, stairs, and caves in which it is easy to get lost, it is highly recommended that guests with visual impairments enjoy this attraction with a companion. Service animals are permitted.
This land takes you inside the classic Disney films, from Dumbo to Peter Pan. Boarding procedures may vary for guests with disabilities, particularly those with service animals. Inquire at each attraction.
*Tip* Due to safety restrictions, service animals are not permitted on Peter Pan’s Flight.
*Tip* Fantasyland is exceptionally crowded during mid-day, and the pathways are narrow. Enjoy this land early or late in the day.
Mickey’s Toontown Fair
This street-fair styled land is a wonderful place for the young and young at heart to meet their favorite characters. It is also a great place for the adults to rest while the children in your party burn off some energy.
*Tip* Due to safety restrictions, service animals may not ride Goofy’s Barnstormer coaster. Inquire at the attraction as to where your animal may wait.
“The future that never was and always will be” is the theme of the New Tomorrowland. More modern characters, such as Stitch and Buzz Lightyear, have their own attractions here.
*Tip* Due to safety restrictions, service animals may not ride Space Mountain. Ask at the attraction as to where the animal may wait.
*Tip* The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is a slow moving ride through Tomorrowland. In addition to offering a sneak peek at rides such as Space Mountain, it provides an excellent break from the crowds and noise of the park. There is rarely a wait, and you may be allowed to ride a second time.
The Magic Kingdom is famous the world over. The entertainment, shopping, dining, and especially the rides appeal to guests of every age and description. With the availability of helpful accommodations, and the friendly, eager assistance of Cast Members throughout the park, the Magic Kingdom is fully accessible and enjoyable for guests with vision or hearing impairments.