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Exploring accessibility in Disneyland's New Orleans Square

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Published: April 3, 2014 at 7:14 AM

Two years ago I visited Disneyland’s New Orleans Square for the first time. This year I visited the real New Orleans for the first time. Now I can compare both places from the wheelchair point of view; the differences are striking.

New Orleans Square
New Orleans Square, near Pirates, before the current round of renovations

The sidewalks in the real New Orleans are uneven, and they are in very bad shape; imagine riding Indiana Jones but without the fun. They are also very narrow at the French Quarter. The pathways at New Orleans Square are wider and smooth.

The attractions at New Orleans are wheelchair accessible; one can enter inside the Steamboat Natchez with the wheelchair (Mark Twain Riverboat is in Frontierland, so it doesn’t count) and cruise the Mississippi River. The streetcars are also wheelchair accessible (with the exception of the St. Charles Line.) On the other hand, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion at Disneyland are not wheelchair accessible (you have to transfer.)

The restaurants at New Orleans’ French Quarter are housed in old and historic buildings; as a result, some are either too narrow, or they have a step at the entrance. There is even one restaurant that has a Mardi Gras Museum on the second level, but they don’t have elevators (ADA rules don’t apply to historic buildings.) In contrast, the New Orleans Square’s restaurants are wheelchair friendly.

Overall, both places are worth visiting for wheelchair users. Just improve those sidewalks please.

A final note; I highly recommend wheelchair users to fly with Southwest. I have used many airlines, and Southwest is by far the most accommodating airline for disabled people.

Readers' Opinions

From 216.121.209.212 on April 3, 2014 at 8:26 AM
Southwest Airlines, I'm deaf and I've never had a bad experience with them. They are very accommodating.
From 98.227.60.180 on April 3, 2014 at 11:51 AM
I loved this column. What a clever idea to compare NOS to NOLA. I never thought about doing that. I loved seeing how the two matched up from the view of someone in a wheelchair. I have been to NOLA a few times and think it is a fun and interesting city. About 3 days is the maximum that I enjoy being there. 4 is pushing it and by 5 I am ready to go home. It's not a city I would want to live in permanently but every five to ten years it is a blast to visit. I could spend all day in NOS however. I think it's my favorite place in Disneyland.

The only thing I would change is that I would somehow add a Princess & the Frog dark ride to NOS. I think it would be delightful. Since this is the Disney movie set in NOLA, I think it belongs there and could be so beautiful and lively. I just don't know where they would put it.

From Anthony Murphy on April 3, 2014 at 5:04 PM
I love New Orleans, but it is old and a bit crowded. Still can't beat the food!

Interesting take on Southwest. I have always liked it and now I like it more!

From Daniel Etcheberry on April 3, 2014 at 7:10 PM
Anthony, all the airlines make me transfer from my wheelchair to their aisle chair which is very narrow and uncomfortable. On the other hand, Southwest let me sit on the first row, so I just transfer from my wheelchair to my seat. And that row has more legroom which is a plus.

I would fly again to New Orleans just for the crawfish. Yummy!

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