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Daniel Etcheberry
Writer

Getting from your car to the front gate: Which parks make that easiest for visitors using wheelchairs?

Published: February 1, 2014 at 9:24 PM

The access from the parking lot to any theme park entrance gate is a very important issue for people in manual wheelchairs. I will mention three peculiar examples.

Magic Kingdom has the distinction of having a monorail between the parking lot and the park’s entrance. It has cast members who place a folding ramp, so one can get the wheelchair inside the monorail. But this option is far from perfect; in order to get into the monorail station, one must deal with a long and steep ramp, and the same kind of ramp awaits at the other station next to the park. I know people in wheelchairs who prefer to take the ferry boats because there is no big ramp.

Universal Studios Orlando send guests with an ADA license plate or tag to the parking lot area that is at the same level as the walking bridges that connect to CityWalk. There are moving sidewalks, but wheelchairs are not allowed. The trip to the two theme parks is a long one as one has to cross CityWalk.

Finally, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has the most challenging entrance of them all. Between the parking lot and the park’s entrance, there is a very steep hill. My advice: go sideways when going down. When going up, well, I hope you have Schwarzenegger’s arms or someone who really loves you.

Do you use a wheelchair, or travel with someone who does? Tell us about your best and worst experiences getting from your car to a theme park's front gate.

Replies (3)

85.150.173.168

Published: February 2, 2014 at 2:14 AM

MK is a nightmare. First you have to go under a road. That tunnel is quite steep. In the end I would rather do the ferry instead of the monorail because of the hassle.

The DHS is awful with the crowded bus station between the handicap parking and the entrance.

Epcot is a long drive but it's nicely landscaped although a bit cramp.

Universal is much better. Because of the moving walkways there is at least ample space to manoeuvre my wheelchair.

The closest you can get to the entrance is Sea World. Only the busses to cross but that one is much better positioned and less crowded.

Annette Forrest

Published: February 3, 2014 at 5:48 AM

Daniel -- you provide such a valuable contribution to this site and to all them park fans. I regularly email your columns to all my friends who have family members with special needs or who are differently abled. I am so grateful for everything you write because no one else speaks on theme park sites from your perspective. You are a treasure!
74.96.52.56

Published: February 3, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I am not in a wheelchair, but boy do I agree about Busch Gardens. I would be terrified to do it in a wheelchair.

I always take the boat going to Magic Kingdom anyway. It is a much nicer way to start your day than the overcrowded Monorail.

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