Disney World has so much to offer guests of all shapes, sizes and abilities. In this guide we will break down the key Disney Accessibility Features for guests with disabilities or those in need of a little extra assistance. Whether it’s utilizing Fastpass+, DAS (Disability Access Services), or simply utilizing expert planners, no one should ever consider a Disney World vacation out of reach due to disability.
Disney’s primary goal is top-notch customer service, and being accessible to everyone. They sincerely want every guest to have an incredible time no matter the circumstances, because that’s their reputation, and why guests go back time and again.
Many don’t know all the support that is available, or how it all works. I’ll go over in this article all the services and options available, how to use them, and specific examples of how this can make a dream trip happen for you!
A critical point to keep in mind is that there is no need for medical proof, no notes, no referrals, anything, to take advantage of any of the services, facilities, or tips I’m going to go over. Disney is very lenient with their policies to make this as easy as possible for you. So let’s dive into the details!
Fastpass+ is the most well-known way to help make your Disney World trip smoother. Fastpass+ is a service that is available to anyone with tickets. Unlike other theme parks, this is completely FREE at Disney World. Everyone gets three Fastpasses per day, that give you a specific one-hour window to get into an attraction with little to no wait. You can schedule these up to 60 days ahead of your arrival if you are staying at an onsite Disney resort, 30 days for any other ticket holders. These are a huge time saver, and a key to any trip.
For example, you can have a Fastpass for Peter Pan at 9:00am, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at 10:00am, and Meet Mickey and Minnie at Town Square at 11:00 am. This means you can get to Peter Pan anytime between 9-10am, and skip the main queue, getting into the ride extremely quickly. Then you can do the same at Buzz Lightyear between 10am and 11am, and Meet Mickey between 11-12.
There are a few things to keep in mind. You can’t get overlapping reservations, and all the reservations must be at the same park any given day.
Once you use all three of your Fastpasses, you can book 1 more at a time using the My Disney Experience app, or at kiosks or guest services at the parks. These can be for the same park, or a different one if you switch parks during the day. But you can keep booking 1 at a time after you use each new one.
You can also split up your party any way you like, not everyone has to have the same Fastpasses. So if you know that Sally wants to meet Ariel at her grotto, but Alice really, really wants to ride Splash Mountain, you can absolutely do that.
I know this all sounds complicated, but the good news is I know the system forwards and backwards, can help you navigate the whole process, and give guidance on the best fastpasses to target. I can also handle the actual booking of the Fastpasses directly, totally free of charge, and taking all the stress out of the equation! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disability Access Service – DAS
A lesser known service available is what Disney refers to as the DAS – Disability Access Service. Like Fastpass+, this is also totally free. Plus, using the service does not require any documentation or medical proof. All you need to do is stop by any Guest Services desk at the entrance to any of the parks to register. Simply answer a few basic questions, get a picture taken of your loved one making use of the service, and you are set to go in no-time!
Once registered, you can stop by any attraction’s Fastpass entrance, and tell the Cast Member (Disney Speak for “Employee”) that you would like to ride using DAS. They will give you a return time for the ride equal to the current wait time. So, your group can then continue touring the park, go get a snack, or ride another attraction with a shorter wait time. You can return to the attraction any time after the time given to you when you checked in, and use the Fastpass line to get in with little to no wait.
For example, you want to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway, and it has a 30 minute wait when you arrive at 10:00am. Your group will be able to return anytime after 10:30am to ride using the Fastpass lane!
You are allowed to be checked into 1 ride at a time using DAS. So as soon as you ride, you can visit another attraction (or the same one again) and check in to repeat the process as many times as you like each day.
This service can be used in conjunction with your Fastpasses! So you can mix the two together as you go, to avoid having to wait in a full “Standby” line (Disney-Speak for the regular line) for most attractions! See the example itinerary later in the article for how this can work.
Rider Switch is another less-known service that Disney provides that gives a lot of flexibility for members of your group to see attractions that not everyone can or want to participate in, and not have some folks miss out to stay with the loved ones that don’t want to ride.
Here’s how it works
The whole group gets to the entrance of the attraction, and tells the Cast Member there they want to Rider Switch. The Cast Member will give you a return pass good for anytime that day.
Then, an adult can stay back with whoever does not want to ride, and go grab a snack, take a break, go see another attraction, anything you like!
When the group that rode is done, you can meet back up, and the adult who did not ride can use the return pass to ride the attraction they missed, and bring up to 2 other guests along to ride again if they like! An adult who already rode can stay with the loved one who didn’t participate.
When using the return pass, you will use the Fastpass line, so no long wait!
It’s fantastic, because no one who wants to ride has to miss out, and two of you can even get a bonus ride!
This is available for most attractions, and can be used if your group has a Fastpass, or is using the Standby line.
A common concern for many is how stimulating the theme parks can be, and making sure their loved ones don’t get overwhelmed. A good Disney Travel agent can help plan your days to minimize the stress and pace to make sure there are plenty of breaks and downtime.
Also, there are many areas in the parks themselves that can be a good area to find some quiet space for a needed break away from the crowds. You can ask any Cast Member for help here, and they can direct you to the nearest location, no need to memorize anything! But here are some examples of good places to go in each park:
- Main Street, U.S.A.: First Aid; Side Street by Crystal Arts
- Adventureland: Swiss Family Treehouse; Corridor to the left of Pirates of the Caribbean
- Liberty Square: Behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe
- Frontierland: Tom Sawyer Island (NOTE: You must take a raft ride to/from
- the island and some waiting may be required); Splash Mountain garden area
- Fantasyland: Pathway leading from Cinderella Castle to Fairytale Garden;
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow area; Pathway behind The Barnstormer
- Tomorrowland: Near Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- Hollywood Boulevard: First Aid
- Echo Lake: Walkway surrounding Echo Lake
- Animation Courtyard: Near the restrooms to the left of The Magic of
- Disney Animation attraction
- Sunset Boulevard: Courtyard outside The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Commissary Lane: Outside ABC Commissary
- Courtyard and restroom area outside Imagination pavilion;
- Area between Seas entrance and Coral Reef Restaurant Future World East: First Aid (part of Odyssey Center building next to Test Track);
- Common area near Mission: Space and Test Track World Showcase:
- Mexico-Outside area to the right of the pavilion near the backstage gate;
- Germany-Garden area next to Glaskunst; Japan-Garden area;
- Morocco-Village Corridors;
- France-To the right of the buildings along the water’s edge;
- United Kingdom-Garden area at back of pavilion (when shows not running at gazebo)
- Discovery Island: First Aid (next to Creature Comforts);
- Discovery Island Trails
- Africa: Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
- Asia: Maharajah Tiger Trek
Disney World is extremely large, with 4 separate theme parks plus 2 water parks, 25 onsite resorts, and much more. The whole property is twice the size of Manhattan. It’s totally natural to be concerned about getting around.
The great news for you is that Disney has a fantastic transportation system that guests can use totally free of charge. Any guest can use the system to get from park to park, but it comes in handy most often getting back and forth between the onsite resorts and parks.
There are buses that connect every resort to every park. There is also a Monorail that connects certain resorts to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. There are boats that connect other resorts to the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or Epcot. Plus there is also a brand new gondola system called the Skyliner that runs to Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Making sure you have the best options for getting to your favorite parks is a key decision for any trip. This is another area where expertise can really be critical, and an experienced Disney travel agent can help walk you through the pros and cons of each resort, or staying offsite, and how best to take advantage of all the transportation options.
It’s also important to note that All Disney transportation is handicap accessible, and stroller-accessible. The buses kneel, there are special ramps for the Monorail, and the Skyliner has special cars to handle mobility devices.
This leads to the next important topic.
Another concern many have is getting around the theme parks themselves. The good news is that there is a wide array of choices for strollers, wheelchairs, and scooters to help folks with mobility concerns.
I definitely do recommend a stroller for the little ones, even if they typically don’t use one anymore at home. Everyone will be happier with taking a few less steps, AND not having to carry a tired kid on their shoulders. And strollers are also a great place for storage of snacks/drinks, etc.
And for those that need to use a stroller like a wheelchair, and stay in the stroller in attraction queues, you can get identification at Guest Services to allow this, similar to the DAS process mentioned above, and you will be set to go!
I highly recommend renting a stroller, scooter, or wheelchair outside the Disney parks, from a 3rd party. The Disney strollers are nice, and convenient to pick up at the parks. But, there are a few key points to consider.
First, the Disney rentals can only be used inside the parks. Strollers, ECVs/Scooters and wheelchairs must be returned near the front gate of each park. The key here is that you cannot use them to get back and forth between the parks and your room. The walk to/from the buses, Monorail, or Skyliner is significant. As well, getting around the resorts themselves should be considered, as most are pretty large themselves. You will definitely want to have that help outside the parks!
Second, many companies also now have locations at the airport, so you can grab your equipment immediately after getting off the plane. Scooter Bug can also deliver directly to the Disney onsite resorts, free of charge, and you don’t need to worry about being there to meet the delivery. Bell Services at your resort will hold it for you, and you can grab it whenever you want!
Third, is choice. The rental companies typically have a wide range of options to fit your needs more exactly. Whether it be a double stroller, ride & stand style, or any other specific option. They generally also stock models that conform to Disney’s requirements for size.
Lastly, is cost. Typically you can get a better rate, particularly if you are staying longer than a few days, by renting from a 3rd party.
If you have any question or concern or issue in the parks, just ask a Cast Member for help. Those Cast Members are not teenagers sulking through a summer job at a local amusement park, they are professionals with extensive training to make sure they do all they can to make every guest happy and their trip truly magical!
A true example. A family I know had booked a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain before their trip. Their son, who has sensory issues, took one look at it, and said “no way am I riding that”. The family went to guest services, and just told them the issue, and asked if they could change the Fastpass to Peter Pan. The Cast Member didn’t just replace the Fastpass, but gave them a Fastpass ticket good for Peter Pan, anytime that day, no questions asked. They were on their way in less than 5 minutes, crisis averted!
Now, let’s dive into some specific examples of the ways to make your trip amazing!
Combining Services- An Example
Beyond the obvious benefit of skipping a long wait in a queue, you can use the DAS service in addition to the 3 Fastpasses you already have! So you can check into one ride, go use your Fastpass for a different ride, and then return.
This can help you save a huge amount of time and stress. Let’s go over an example, comparing 2 families, the “Lightyear” and “Mouse” families. Both use 2 of their 3 available Fastpasses during a morning at Magic Kingdom, but the Mouse family also uses DAS. The wait and walk times are largely based on personal experience, data from Magic Guides, and touringplans.com, and are accounting for a relaxed pace, not a speed walk!
All the times are approximate, for this example. They are listed to the minute here, but the purpose is to highlight the differences between using and not using all the services, and give a general idea of typical wait and walk times.
It’s absolutely not required(or advisable, really) to have your days planned to the minute, as everyone knows that things come up or change, someone needs a break, etc. But it is a good idea to have a general outline of what attractions you want to hit, and a general order.
But be prepared to be flexible and go with the flow! This is something an experienced Disney Travel Agent can help you with!
Below is an outline of the schedules of the two families, along with a narration to give some detail.
The Lightyear Family
The Lightyear family is using 2 Fastpasses they scheduled for their morning at Magic Kingdom:
They arrive at the park at 8:00am, and head straight to Pirates of the Caribbean, wait about 9 minutes to get on the ride and see Captain Jack Sparrow trying to avoid getting caught.
They then head next door to Jungle Cruise getting there at 8:35, and wait about 10 minutes to ride.
After enjoying the silly “Dad” jokes from their driver on Jungle Cruise, they tour the Swiss Family Treehouse next door, and all the fun views of the park.
Next is over to Haunted Mansion to enjoy the 999 Happy Haunts, getting there at about 9:14am, and waiting 10 minutes to ride. Then over to Buzz Lightyear, waiting 17 minutes to ride, and the Barnstormer(9 min), and Dumbo(11 min).
Now the Lightyears use their first FastPass to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And since they arrived towards the end of their Fastpass window, they can then hit Peter Pan at 11:07 for another Fastpass.
Lastly, they head across the walkway to It’s a Small World, and after a somewhat antsy and hungry 21 minutes, they enjoy the fantastic puppets and the song no one can get out of their head.
They can grab lunch now at about 12:00. They waited a total of about 108 minutes riding 10 attractions in 4 hours. That’s a great, fun morning! and they still have a Fastpass to use in the afternoon or evening after a break for swimming, relaxing, or a nap.
The Mouse Family
The Mouse family is using DAS along with their Fastpasses, so let’s see how their day compares!
They also arrive at the park at 8:00am, and on their way to Pirates, they stop at Jungle Cruise and checkin for DAS. This only takes 3 min, and they get to Pirates at 8:18. After a quick 9 min wait in the fantastically themed queue, with Pirate artifacts, and cool dungeon rooms, they head over to Jungle Cruise.
With the DAS pass, they get right on with a brief wait. They next saunter next door to the Swiss Family treehouse, and check it out with no wait, then off to Haunted Mansion.
It’s still early in the day, and the Mouses are into the Stretch Room pre-show in 5 minutes, and onto the ride shortly after.
They take their time, and mosey over to the Barnstormer, taking a bio-break, grabbing a drink, and a DAS pass for Dumbo on the way. They watch the Barnstormer go while waiting 9 min in the open-air queue, and enjoy the quick and fun family coaster.
Back next door to Dumbo, and using the DAS is just a couple minute wait at about 9:50 am.
Then, an easy walk over to Tomorrowland to grab a DAS pass for Buzz Lightyear. They take a quick break to have a drink and have a snack they brought in along the way. Then, over to Seven Dwarfs Mine train to use their Fastpass at 10:10 am.
Everyone is buzzing about how cool the scene with the dwarfs mining is, so they head over to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger spin to cash in that DAS pass. They get to laser-up some aliens, check their scores and photos, and head over to Peter Pan at 10:40. They make a quick stop just across the walkway at It’s a Small World to grab another DAS, and then, using their fastpass, they are done seeing Captain Hook try to avoid the croc, and heading back across the walkway to It’s a Small world at 10:50 am.
By 11:15, they are done, and ready to grab some lunch ahead of the major rush!
All told, the Mouse family visited the same 10 attractions that the Lightyear family did. But, they did it with only 54 minutes of wait time(5 min a ride!), about half of the Lightyear family.
And they finished in a little more than 3 hours, about 45 minutes quicker than the Lightyears, and in time to avoid the lunch rush, and they are ready for an afternoon break to avoid the heat and largest crowds, and some quiet time to relax!
Making it happen!
The bottom line is, anyone, regardless of circumstances, can have a fantastic time at Disney World! Knowing the services available to you will make that much easier for any guest. A little extra knowledge goes a long way!
I know many don’t have time or energy to dive into the details. But that’s OK! I can help with making this all work together, and take care of all the details stress-free!
Please contact me at email@example.com for your totally free personalized plan. I will work with you to make a fantastic trip, tailored exactly for you and your loved ones, and take advantage of everything Disney has to offer!
All Available Services
Below is a list of resources, guides, park, and attraction information referenced above.
FastPass info/process: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/fastpass-plus/
Services for Guests with Disabilities Overview: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/
Attraction Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/disney-world/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/WDW-Cognitive-Disabilities-Matrix-Deck-UPDATED-090418.pdf
Guide for Cognitive Disabilities: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/
Downloadable guide to Disney World Resort for Guests with Cognitive Disbilities: https://secure.cdn1.wdpromedia.com/dam/wdpro-assets/help/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/WDW_Cognitive_Guide_compressed.pdf
Guide for Hearing Disabilities: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/hearing-disabilities-services/
Guide for Vision Disabilities: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/visual-disability-services/
Park Specific Accessibility Guides: