Theme parks can be anybody. Long lines, crowded parks, and loud noises can be frustrating, but for disabled people, the thought of a day at the park can be a turnoff.
For some disabled people, it’s extremely difficult to endure all of these things, while trying to enjoy their vacation. That’s not speaking for all disabled people, as many of them can wait in the lines and don’t mind the crowds.
There are a lot of people that worry about these crowds, and it shouldn’t deter them from visiting theme parks.
Many of these theme parks understand they need to cater to everyone, and they do. If theme parks in Orlando didn’t create options for disabled people, they simply wouldn’t come.
When you think of a place like Orlando, you may think of heat, crowds, and screaming children. Yes, there is a lot of that, but it’s also accessible.
What is an assistance pass?
Every theme park has something different, but for the most part, most theme parks have assistance passes. These are passes are meant to help accommodate those who are unable to wait in the standard queue.
Now, it’s important to know that these services aren’t available to everyone. At these parks, there’s an evaluation to determine if a guest needs a disability access pass. The purpose is to ensure those using it are the ones who need it.
When you go to whichever theme park you’re going to, you go to their guest services. From there, they will evaluate you and then give you instructions on how to use these passes.
Difference between different parks’ programs
Each park has different names for their passes, with slightly different rules.
Disney’s program is the Disability Access Service. With this service, you would approach a cast member asking for a return time. They would scan your magic band, and then give you a return time. This process is similar to virtual wait times but avoid you having to wait in the standard line.
When it’s your time to return, you go through the Fast Pass line, where you will go through an expedited entry.
At Universal Studios, theirs is a bit stricter and is limited on a daily basis. Universal’s Attractions Assistance Pass, helps the individual with the pass and five other people as part of the service. Disney also allows that individual to bring people with them on the attraction.
Disney and Universal both follow a very similar process, except Disney, does theirs electronically, as opposed to Universal’s hard copies.
Lastly, SeaWorld also has one, called the Ride Accessibility Program. It’s practically the same process, except if the wait is under 15 minutes; you’re able to go on the ride right away.
All of these theme parks allow these individuals to experience attractions with minimal wait, due to their health concerns.
How are theme parks becoming more accessible?
The accessibility programs are great, but how else are theme parks becoming more accessible?
Most attractions in Orlando either don’t have stairs or have alternative entrances for wheelchairs. This goes along with helping improve the experience for guests at these parks.
As newer attractions are built, you tend to see the queues specifically designed to cater to those with wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
SeaWorld employees underwent training and made several additions to become autism-friendly. They became the first theme park to do this.
There’s still a lot of work that these theme parks have to do to improve their accessibility, but there are improvements being made.
What are the next steps?
Theme parks continue to evolve to serve everyone, but there are always improvements that can be made.
As for disabled people, it would help to provide wider walkways and attractions that you can take your wheelchair on.
It’s difficult to improve walkways with attractions and stores already built, but theme parks can take away merchandise and food stands. This could help provide more space.
It may sound silly, but when these theme parks get busy, they can get extremely crowded in small areas. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable when visiting theme parks.
Very few attractions allow wheelchairs on the ride, but it would be impressive to see more of that. One attraction that does have this is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s definitely something disabled people would appreciate with future and existing attractions.