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Disneyland theme parks offer new service for visually-impaired visitors

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Published: November 2, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Disneyland and California Adventure today introduced a new service for visually-impaired visitors: Audio Descriptions are new option on Disney's custom wireless handheld device that the theme parks offer to visitors with disabilities.

Disney's handheld device
A visitor uses Disney's handheld device for visitors with disabilities. Photo provided by Disney.

With audio descriptions, the device provides an audio narrative of what's happening on a particular ride or show. According to a Disney spokesperson, on the Haunted Mansion, for example, the audio description would say, "Our doom buggy rotates and we face backward. To our left, a knight’s armor guards an endless hallway. On our right, wilted flower arrangements surround a coffin. An eerie light escapes as bony hands push up the lid."

Other options on the handheld device include Assistive Listening, which provides amplified audio in selected attractions, and Handheld Captions (the flip side of Audio Descriptions, if you will, for hearing-impaired visitors), which displays text on the device screen in selected attractions.

Disney has added the audio descriptions today to the following attractions:

  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Small World, Snow White, Storybook Land and Toad in Fantasyland
  • Buzz Lightyear, Finding Nemo and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience in Tomorrowland
  • Tiki Room in Adventureland
  • Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square
  • Winnie the Pooh in Critter Country
  • Monsters Inc., MuppetVision, Tough to be a Bug and Turtle Talk in Disney's California Adventure

The devices are available at Guest Relations desks in Disney theme parks. Although there is no charge, a refundable deposit is required.

If any readers have feedback on services for visitors with disabilities offered by Disney or other theme parks, the comments await your input.

Readers' Opinions

From 69.108.115.45 on November 2, 2009 at 7:58 PM
This is pretty amazing. Although I guess now that it's on Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, I guess that means it's staying for some time still? Boo.
From Robert Niles on November 2, 2009 at 8:23 PM
Actually, that one was pretty easy to do:

"You are sitting in an empty theater. There is no one else here. Why are you here? Please leave, and go wait in line for Buzz Lightyear, like everyone else."

From Anthony Murphy on November 2, 2009 at 9:35 PM
I saw somebody use it at EPCOT. Seems much better than reflective captioning. Seems to work better actual rides like the Haunted Mansion and Pirates. I think there might be use of this to use for different languages.
From Rob P on November 3, 2009 at 3:38 AM
What an excellent idea this is.

As a sighted person I take for granted the fact that I get the full experience of the attractions when I visit the Theme Parks. The introduction of this new service will, I sincerely hope, add greatly to those experiences for the visually impaired.

I look forward to reading some feedback about this initiative on TPI.

From 166.214.154.46 on November 3, 2009 at 10:10 AM
If themeparkinsider had a like button, I'd use it for this. I think it is usually a great thing when any business can go above and beyond to help or assist people with disabilities.
From 76.251.11.182 on November 4, 2009 at 1:23 PM
I think this is AWESOME! I take my nephew who is blind to the local movie theaters where they offer the DVS (Descriptive Video System) and he just LOVES going with me to listen to DVS movies. The fact that Disney has incorporated this technology into their theme park, truly makes it the happiest place on earth. As soon as we can get down there..which is tough in this economy...you will make one special little boy VERY VERY happy. GREAT JOB!

Thank You,

Sherri LeBaudour-Ewing
43006 Osgood Road
Fremont, CA 94539
(408)242-1057

From 209.48.87.98 on November 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM
My Grandson has been blind since birth and Disney World is his favorite place on the planet. He brings Mickey with him to help with the action whenever he goes, but this adds another dimension. I know it's a dumb question but does Disney plan to offer the device in Florida in the near future ?

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