Hello Fellow Travellers
Originally I had no intention of sharing the reviews of past trips we took because they were not overly detailed. However, after reading the notes I took, I think they may in fact be useful. Unfortunately, I did not take many photos that deal with accessibility but I will include the ones that are relevant.
** I can’t believe how different of a trip this was from the review I did in 2010. I think each time we travel, we learn something new and an easier way of doing things. I also think sadly our expectations have changed since that very visit trip we took.**
Disney does a fantastic job ensuring guests requiring accessibility are accommodated.
Once we arrived at the airport we were met by the Disney Magic Express and they take care of retrieving your luggage and bringing it to the resort. I would recommend making sure you have what you need since the luggage can take up to 3 hours to arrive in your room. Also, make sure to advise Disney in advance if you require a bus with a wheelchair lift since they aren’t all equipped with them.
We decided to stay at the Disney Polynesian Resort due to its convenience of being on the monorail and proximity to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. If you go to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom you will need to take the Disney bus and they come about every 20 minutes, sometimes longer it seemed. The buses do tend to get very crowded because the same bus stops and picks up at 2 other resorts. However, wheelchair user and 6 people in their party board first so you are guaranteed a seat. Most of their buses accommodate a power chair and only once in all the times we have been to Disney did we get a bus that could not accommodate a power chair, only manual chairs. I did speak with the bus driver and they are transitioning those older buses out so there aren’t that many circulating still.
Polynesian Resort does a beautiful setting and paved pathways throughout the grounds. All of roll-in shower rooms are located in the Rapa Nui building and it is the farthest building from the main area where the restaurants are. It really was no problem for us because the weather was nice but could be problematic in the rain. Rapa Nui is located very close to the Ticket and Transportation Centre, which is where you catch the monorail to EPCOT. The rooms were very spacious but a little dated. I believe they are in the process of updating and renovating the resort. The bathroom was fairly small and virtually no counter space at the sink. It was a strange setup and a bit tight to get to the sink and then back up to get out of the bathroom.
Main pool is a zero depth entry and even though we didn’t use it they do have a pool wheelchair available. They also had a pool lift at the small pool by our building. We rented a shower commode chair from Care Medical in Orlando. They had it waiting for us at the bell desk and the hotel staff would not bring it to our room, which I thought was a bit strange so we went and picked it up and brought to the room ourselves. The quick service restaurant, Capt. Cooks, was accessible but was generally always very crowded with limited seating. We found it difficult for the wheelchair to maneuver around and so I would get the food for Shawn and bring to him outside where we would eat. However, in bad weather I am not sure how that restaurant could possibly accommodate the required eating space for all it’s guests.
The resort is a perfect location to watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom every night. You can sit at the beach and the paved pathway is right along the beach for a wheelchair user to watch as well.
As for the parks, there are a few rides that a wheelchair user who cannot transfer can go on. It is a limited amount though. Most rides the person is required to transfer out of their chair and generally all these type of rides had steps and just were completely unavailable for Shawn. The best idea would be to pick up a Guest with Disabilities brochure that is available at all park Guest Services as soon as you enter the park. The brochure outlines what is required for each ride and whether there is a separate entrance for wheelchair users. All the parks that have daily parades also have special wheelchair seating but they fill up fast and aren’t necessarily the best places to watch the parade. If you ask a park employee they will tell you exactly where the best place to watch is.
All if not most of the restaurants are accessible but if you go to a Quick Service restaurant they tend to me very crowded and hard to move around let alone find a table. If you decide to dine in a Table Service restaurant you will need to make a reservation and make sure to let them know you are a wheelchair user. We found that if the entire restaurant was not fully accessible, they would at least have some tables and would reserve those if they know you have special needs. All the staff we encountered were very accommodating.
Overall we had a wonderful time but just be prepared for crowds and lineups 🙂