Seven Tips for Doing Disney with Kids with Disabilities (That you won’t find anywhere else!)
Ok, I know everyone and their brother has written about their Disney travel experiences, but I still want to highlight a couple of things that we didn’t find online (and I read EVERYTHING Disney before we went). For convenience, I’m going to split this into two, brief, focused entries.
What you can read anywhere:
- Upon arrival in any park, guests with a disability that prohibits them from waiting in a standard line may obtain a DAS pass to present at a ride and receive a return time at the attraction comparable to the current wait time.
- Disney has lists of accessibility options for each ride. A handful of rides were never renovated, and wheelchairs can still just skip the line.
What you won’t get anywhere else:
1. Your stroller can count as a wheelchair
You can get a handy tag at Guest Services that enables you to take the strollers into all of those places that say, “No Strollers Allowed.” (The Disney Parks Moms Panel says the opposite. I don’t know why. There were loads of strollers with the tag – including mine)
2. Your stroller-wagon is allowed in if it has child restraints, fits the measurement requirements, and is only pushed forward (not pulled like a wagon) at all times.
This is nowhere in writing, and people in the park will stop you. If questioned, have them call the head of guest relations, who will tell them it’s allowed. That “This stroller is used as a wheelchair” sticker can now go on your wagon. (Again, this goes against the Disney Parks Moms Panel, but it’s totally park approved)
3. Disney is nice
As one cast member explained, they’re paid to never say “no.” It is their job to keep guests happy. In writing, the disability pass can be used for up to a party of six. Non-ticketed guests (under age 3) don’t count toward the total. Also, if you ask nicely, they may add more guests to the pass. We traveled with my sister and her family of four, and they put all of us on the pass so that we could enjoy the park together (note: each guest must be present in Guest Services to be added to the pass). They’re also a big park, and can’t just let anything go, so I wouldn’t bring a group of 20 and expect to all ride together. In that case, send 15 in line at the same time you get your DAS fastpass, and then you can all reconnect at the end of the line.
4. Plan for extra tired
Jaden can get around a little on crutches, but there’s no way he could navigate the park. Take it easy. If your kid doesn’t usually need a wheelchair, they may by the end of the day. An added perk of the wagon/stroller/wheelchair was that all three kids could ride when they were exhausted… and this happened at some point every day.
This was a combination of age and disability for us, but it was important for our kids to keep their nap schedule while in Disney.
They just couldn’t finish a day without it. That may mean staying close to the parks, but it doesn’t have to. Our first day, I drove the kids back to our on-campus resort for naps. They still managed to fall asleep on the five minute drive, which means they woke up when we got to the hotel, thought they were done napping, and then didn’t sleep. The remaining days I ended up driving until they fell asleep (only 5-15 minutes, since we were running them hard) and then just returning to the Disney park parking lot. This was amazing because when they woke up I didn’t have to worry about getting them out to the car, restrapped in and then out, etc., and I had time to circle the lot for perfect parking!
5. Take the car
This isn’t always an option, and definitely not a deal-breaker, but it was really nice having a vehicle with us. Between nap schedules, having supplies on hand without having to carry everything through the park, and not having to worry about space on the bus for another wheelchair, our van was a major security blanket for us. I guess it made me feel like I was just as prepared for anything we could face as I would be at home.
6. Make a phone call
There is a lot of conflicting and/or outdated information online (like an official Disney Parks Moms Panel that totally goes against my first few bullet points). When in doubt, just call! Again, Disney is really nice. They want to make your trip perfect. As you’re planning, keep a list of questions that come up. When you call, you’ll be on hold for 20 minutes to six hours, so you’ll want to get all of your questions answered at once. Don’t worry, each department is connected through an online messaging system, so one person can answer all of your questions as they reach out to other specialists or supervisors.
7. Allow yourself some grace
Nothing ever goes as planned. We know that. Don’t beat yourself up over not making it on the Frozen ride. You just took your kids to Disney, for crying out loud: you rock!