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  • [Question] Wheelchairs in Disneyland

    Hi folks. Here's the situation. A bunch of us are flying to California in May for my brother's wedding. Naturally, we want to go to DLR for a couple days. My 86 year old grandmother will be coming to the wedding, but we are unsure about bringing her to Disneyland. She is quite healthy, but has trouble walking for long periods of time.

    So I'd like to know what you guys know about wheelchairs in Disneyland. Can we rent one there? Do you get into a shorter lineup for the rides when you're with someone in a wheelchair, or do you go to the front of the line? Are they going to accuse of trying to pull a fast one if she can get out of the chair on her own and walk into the ride vehicle? As I said, she is not disabled, but there's no way she could spend a long day walking around the parks with us; hence the wheelchair IS necessary. Also, when we go on the rides which are too intense for her, I assume there's an area where she can wait for us to get off the ride?

    Hopefully some of you have experience with this. Any input would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

    My dad is in the same situation as your grandmother.

    When we went to DL in July of 2008, we rented him one of the powered wheelchairs at DL. It worked great! He could get around in it easily, and when he wanted to get on one of the rides, he simply got out of the wheelchair and walked to the ride.

    Most of the rides have a special wheelchair entrance, a lot of them it's at the exit. Usually you do get to by-pass most of the lines. Just look for the signs.

    It was my mom and dad, me, and my daughter, 14. After we had ridden a few things, my mom said to my daughter and I "if you two want to go on ahead, feel free, don't let us hold you back". My daughter answered "No way! I've discovered the 'power of the wheelchair'!!" We all laughed 'till our sides hurt!

    As far as I know, no one looked down on us because we got to the front of the lines quicker. I think that the vast majority of the personality types who would enjoy DL would also have sympathy for a handicapped person. I think a lot of us know older persons who can still walk, just not for very long. I think a lot of us can see ourselves there in the not-too-distant future as well.



    • #3
      Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

      You might want to consider renting a wheelchair ahead of time. We are locals but my father who is 80 cannot go. He is mobile but he can't walk for a while without getting winded. There is no way we can drop him off just to go to the wheelchair rental area as that is way too long of a walk for him just to get there from the closest area which would be the 15 minute parking off of Harbor.

      If he would only give in and purchase a wheelchair life in general would be much easier. But he still is in the stage where he doesn't want to give up. So basically no Disneyland for him.


      • #4
        Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

        Here is my experience. Two weeks ago I took my Mom who is 91 and in a wheelchair to Disneyland for her birthday. Definitely take your grandmother, don't let her mobility or stamina problems deter you from taking her. If some members of your party balk at bringing her along, with the complaint that having her may slow them down, let them break off into their own group and do what they want. I suspect that your grandmother would probably have little interest in going on the faster thrill rides such as Space Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds anyway. Keep in mind that rides are only part of the Disneyland experience. Shows, live entertainers, walk-through attractions and the park itself are also to be enjoyed.

        Right now, download and study the park's Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities.
        You can download it from this page:

        Disneyland Resort | Mobility Disabilities

        That will be your "bible" for visiting the park with a wheelchair, though any cast member can also answer questions while you are there.

        There is almost nothing in Disneyland that can't be accessed by a disabled person, although most require a transfer of the person from the wheelchair to the ride vehicle. Some attractions require no transfer at all, and the person can remain in their own wheelchair entirely, without having to get up at all. These include:

        Main Street Cinema
        The Disneyland Story Featuring Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln
        Disney Gallery
        Enchanted Tiki Room
        Jungle Cruise
        The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
        Golden Horseshoe Stage
        Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
        Frontierland Shootin' Exposition
        Mark Twain Riverboat
        Big Thunder Ranch
        Disneyland Railroad
        Mickey's House, Minnie's House
        Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters
        Disneyland Monorail
        Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
        Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage*
        Disney Princess Fantasy Faire
        "it's a small world"
        King Arthur Carousel
        Sleeping Beauty Castle*
        Pixie Hollow

        All of the above are able to be enjoyed, at least in part, by a person without them ever having to get out of their wheelchair. For most, you can just roll the chair right into or onto the attraction or its vehicle. For Mark Twain Riverboat, they load wheelchair guests first, since when the boat is full of people it drops a few inches below the level of the dock.

        For "it's a small world" and the Jungle Cruise, they have specially adapted boats with platforms that you can roll a wheelchair right onto. You may have to wait longer for these boats to cycle through the ride. We waited quite a long time at "it's a small world," far longer than most guests. You may have a long wait to get on the Disneyland Railroad or Monorail too, as wheelchair space is limited on those.

        For a few rides such as Winnie the Pooh and Buzz Lightyear, they have specially adapted ride vehicles that the wheelchair can roll right into. The rafts that go out to Tom Sawyer Island are fully wheelchair accessible but the island itself is not and there will be almost nothing she can do there, unless she gets up and walks around. The island was designed for kids, or the kid in all of us.

        The Disneyland Railroad has wheelchair-accessible cars at the end of each train, and you wait at the exit gate of the station for a cast member to assist you. The only station you can't get on or off at is the Main Street Depot, because there are stairs there and no elevator or wheelchair ramp.

        For Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Sleeping Beauty Castle, there are "alternate experience" facilities which allow the guest to see a simulation of the attraction without actually going into it. For Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, you simply approach the waiting line, and a cast member will probably recognize and either notify you that getting onto the sub requires going down a spiral staircase, or if they are smart, ask you if you want to view the alternate experience. This is a small theater called Marine Observation Outpost. When the remodeled Submarine Voyage was opened as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the park took a HD camera into one of the subs and videotaped in HD exactly what you would see if you were on the sub as you go through the ride. In the Marine Observation Outpost they show this video on a large HD TV screen, with top-of-the-line picture quality and high-quality stereo sound. You see and hear everything that a person who actually got on the sub would see and hear, and some people argue that the theater is actually better. In any case it's nice and cool inside, a great break on a hot day.

        All cast members working on rides are trained in the procedures for guests with disabilities, and will be helpful and attentive. However if the guest must be transferred from the wheelchair to a ride vehicle, cast members are not allowed to transfer the guest or even help with it - an accompanying member of the party, such as you, must do the transfer. There may be a couple of glitches if a person is not fully trained in operation of an accessible vehicle. At "it's a small world" the cast member could not figure out how to get the platform that holds the wheelchair to raise up, so they had to send the poor lady who was on it before us through the ride twice, and had to call another cast member who found a key and opened up a box which made the platform raise up. I wouldn't expect the wheelchair-bound guest to mean you get to "cut to the front of the line" in all cases or even any case. It may mean you have just as long or even a longer wait at some attractions, due to space limitations or due to difficulties with the disabled-adapted vehicles.

        For all other rides and attractions not listed above, you will have to transfer the person out of the wheelchair and into a ride vehicle. Some rides such as Haunted Mansion have specially designed ride vehicles to make the transfer easier, though you will have to do the transfer, as mentioned, the cast members cannot pick up the person. The ride can be stopped by the operators in order to make the transfer easier. For some rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean there is no specially adapted vehicle and you just have to transfer the person from the wheelchair into the ordinary boat or other vehicle. They usually can arrange for you to do this ahead of other guests boarding the same vehicle.

        Before you go to Disneyland I would practice doing the transfers so you can do them easily when you are at the park. Lift up the person with both of your arms, by putting one hand under each armpit and pull them up that way. Then pull their body closer to you and rotate them in or out of position to sit down on the wheelchair or whatever you are transferring to. Don't try to get them to stand up by pulling on their hands or arms. It is easy to dislocate a shoulder if you try to get someone to a standing position by pulling on their hands or arms.

        Familiarize yourself with the location of the First Aid Center in Disneyland, it is located between Main Street and Tomorrowland, near the "hub" (Central Plaza). If you can't find it, ask any cast member where it is. The nurses who work in the First Aid Center are very knowledgeable, kind and helpful. If your grandmother has any fatigue or discomfort of any kind, take here there. They have about 12 beds and if necessary she can lie down and rest on one of the beds for a while, then she will be refreshed and ready to experience more of the park again. She doesn't have to have a medical problem and there doesn't have to be an "incident" in order to go there. Just tell them that she is fatigued and needs a rest. They will be very accommodating and helpful. Also there are 2 large restrooms there with grab bars, and they are much easier to use for a wheelchair-bound guest than the regular restrooms throughout the park.

        I think your grandmother will enjoy the many shows and live entertainment that the park offers. Be sure to pick up a show schedule at the entrance gate or at any information or guest services counter. The Golden Horseshoe stage in Frontierland has a country-western comedy show called Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, there is often live jazz at the French Market and Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square, and the ragtime piano players at the Coke Refreshment Corner on Main Street are outstanding musicians. There are also roving entertainers such as the Dapper Dans singing group on Main Street, the Disneyland Band, the Trash Can Trio which plays in the mornings in Tomorrowland, and the Buccaneers, a singing group in pirate costumes on a street in New Orleans Square. The live entertainment is one of the key elements that gives Disneyland its famous atmosphere.

        There are also other scheduled shows such as Fantasmic! on the river in Frontierland at night, and the fireworks show which is nightly during the summer season, and there is usually at least one parade per day. On Saturday evenings, a swing band plays at the Plaza Gardens stage, playing big-band music of the era that your grandmother probably grew up in. If you are there on a Saturday I'm sure she would enjoy listening to them.


        • #5
          Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

          Lets not forget that certain entertaiment offerings have a viewing area made for handicap people.

          For Fantasmic!, the handicap viewing area is located next to the Mark Twain/Columbia and the petrified tree. Not a good view in my opinion as the Columbias loud cannon might be too much.

          To make things easier, Disneyland has a guide available that lets you know how to acess rides and shows with a wheelchair. I believe they're available at City Hall or at the Rental area.

          The world is a treasure trove of places.
          The colors of Earth, Sea and Sky. Beauty i'm told, is ours to behold. In the wonderful world of color.
          Indy Ride Count: 2211
          World of Color Count: 74


          • #6
            Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

            Thanks to everyone for the advice. My grandmother has been to Disneyland a couple times before, and it's nice to know that she could still enjoy most of the attractions.


            • #7
              Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

              I think that at her age it would be great to spend some time nwith her family having fun. It is nice visit at home but to really spend time doing something different and fun is all that much better. I say rent a wheelchair and have fun.,


              • #8
                Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

                Also, if you have a disabled parking placard for your car, have it already showing as you enter the Mickey & Friends parking structure. The attendant will place a green or yellow paper on your dashboard and you will be directed to a designated part of the structure (probably Chip & Dale) for disabled guests. This will be at the ground level so you will not have to go up or down any escalators.

                When you leave the parking structure you will have a choice of taking a tram or a shuttle van to the park entrance. Either one can handle a person in a wheelchair without them having to get out. After doing both ways, I think the shuttle van is better. If your grandmother can get out of the wheelchair and walk up the steps into the van, that would be faster than if the van driver had to lower the lift at the back of the van. When you are leaving the park to go home, you have a choice again of either the tram or the van. If you want to take the tram, follow everyone else. If you want to take the van, veer to the right, where nobody is going, closer to the park, and there will be an area where the van stops to pick up guests. We were misdirected by the person at the exit gate, so don't rely entirely on employees to direct you to the van area correctly.


                • #9
                  Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

                  In the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities, for some of the rides, it lists that a transfer seat is available (it says this on Space Mountain and most of the FantasyLand dark rides). Does anyone know what that really entails? My mom had foot surgery and we're planning to go tomorrow. She can't put any weight on her left foot and we're trying to figure out what the transferring process will really entail. Thanks in advance for passing on your wisdom.


                  • #10
                    Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

                    I didn't see any of those, but we didn't go on any of those rides. They can probably have you load in an area that is out of the "main traffic" and then guide that vehicle onto the regular ride track. As for the transfer chair, that is probably a temporary chair designed to work with the ride vehicle, and you transfer the person out of the wheelchair into the transfer chair, then from the transfer chair into the ride vehicle. That would make it easier than just straight from the wheelchair into the ride vehicle. I'm just guessing on that though. I would check with the guest services department when you get there for a better explanation. Some attractions such as Haunted Mansion have specially designed ride vehicles which may be easy to transfer someone into directly from a wheelchair, making the intermediate transfer chair unnecessary.


                    • #11
                      Re: Wheelchairs in Disneyland

                      Originally posted by I<3TikiRoom View Post
                      In the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities, for some of the rides, it lists that a transfer seat is available (it says this on Space Mountain and most of the FantasyLand dark rides). Does anyone know what that really entails? My mom had foot surgery and we're planning to go tomorrow. She can't put any weight on her left foot and we're trying to figure out what the transferring process will really entail. Thanks in advance for passing on your wisdom.
                      A transfer seat is hard to describe. It is like a board that will go between the wheelchair to the seat in the ride, your mom would maneuver herself onto the board, then sort of slide over to the ride seat. The only ride that has this is Space Mountain. The others are "Transfer rides" which means your mom needs to be able to transfer from the chair into the ride by herself or with your assistance. It will entail getting her wheelchair close to the ride, you will need to steady the wheelchair while she maneuvers into the seat. The CM can the move teh WC out of the way. CMs cannot assist your mom (due to their safety and the liability if they do something and your mom falls, so you will have to do the helping.)
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