Cathie Dillard

Published: October 2, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Thank you for perspective on what it's like to be wheelchair bound in a theme park. As someone who cares for a disabled person, I can attest that it definitely changes the world around you. It's why I get so angry at those who try to "beat the system" by renting a wheelchair or scooter when it's not actually needed. There are those who need assistance or special vehicles, those who would prefer to be able to use standard queues and experience the ride as most others do. Mom's favorite rides are Splash Mountain and Pirates Of The Caribbean, both of which she will never be able to experience again. It breaks my heart, however I am very grateful for those rides that have been made accessible as the smile on her face tells all.
Richard Faraci

Published: October 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM

I'd like to add that Men In Black and Cat in the Hat also has wheelchair accessible cars.
Daniel Etcheberry

Published: October 2, 2013 at 12:45 PM

I know Richard, but my article is about rides that were open when I was able to walk, and the rides that you mention opened after I was left in a wheelchair. So there is no way to compare them before and after my disability.

Published: October 2, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Daniel, I love your columns. They are so important because they give such a great perspective that no one else writes. It is such a joy to see something new from you. I learn something every time.
Anon Mouse

Published: October 2, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Interesting discussion. You can't experience the same way most able bodied person can. It got me thinking about other things related to the using of wheelchairs.

1. Even if you transfer to the Train, you must leave the wheelchair at the station. You can't leave at the next station.

2. Can you feel your legs? You will miss out on some special effects at the 3D theater shows.

3. Most marque rides are thrills. Doesn't that impede enjoyment especially since you can't brace yourself or standup? I would think you're also more susceptible to nausea.

4. Interactive rides like Buzz Lightyear isn't much fun if you can't shoot the laser guns.

5. Many seats are slippery especially the Fantasyland dark rides. You will slip onto the floor if can't sit upright and no one is there to help you.

On the bright side, you can still enjoy the parks.

Daniel Etcheberry

Published: October 2, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Anon, I miss any effect that involves the legs, but I don't mind. I enjoy the rest that a 4D movie has to offer. The train at Magic Kingdom is wheelchair accessible, but the station on main street is not. You are right about the interactive rides; I don't have strength on my hands to shoot the targets, and this makes those rides boring for me. One exception is Toy Story because it's easier for me to pull a string. And yes, thrill rides are too rough for me unless it has an over-the-shoulder restraint; that is why I don't have a problem with Forbidden Journey.

Published: October 2, 2013 at 6:20 PM

My wife was diagnosed with MS shortly after we started going to WDW with my sons, we got to see the progression of doing Disney as an able bodied person to a walking with a cane to using an ECV to being wheelchair dependent.
Our experience has changed but not our love of enjoying the parks, it takes us a little longer and the rides my wife can enjoy has diminished but Disney is still one of the easier vacations for us to enjoy as a family.

Published: October 3, 2013 at 3:43 AM

For me this is a though read. The next time I go to the parks it'll be in a chair and that is a bummer.
With the changes Disney is putting in it's service for disabled people I think a stay at Universal is much better.

Anyway thanks for your article and please keep them coming.

Published: October 3, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I'm glad you got to ride Spaceship Earth again, but I need to correct an error. (And let you know you actually could have ridden it sooner than you think).
It never had stairs from the handicapped entrance ( from the exit). We have been coming to WDW with a person using a wheelchair since 1987. She can't walk or stand without someone holding her up. We have ridden Spaceship Earth with her at least once a year and actually bring her wheelchair right into the boarding area, almost touching the ride car.
There are no stairs and never were in that area.

What they DID add in the last 10 years is an ADA ride car with a side door which opens wider than the 'regular' ride car. That makes it easier to get in.

Paul Moreau

Published: October 3, 2013 at 10:29 PM

I am deaf myself, I like how accessible some of the attractions at Disney World are, for instance, the Hall of Presidents, you can watch the show with closed captions. Although I do think they need to switch from Rear Window Captioning (RWC) to CaptiView (CV) or Sony's Access Glasses (SAG) because with CV and SAG, you can sit anywhere you want to. With RWC, you are restricted to a certain spot. Myself, I prefer to sit in the centre and that is made possible with CV and SAG. Most of the times, the RWC seatings are often at the very edge of the row, so as a result, you can't always see everything on the stage because of the angle you are at. RWC is an old and outdated technology, it's time for a change.

Universal Studios parks are accessible too as well. In fact, they put captions right on a second viewer at some of their attractions. For instance, The Simpsons Ride. They also have sign language interpreters there on a daily basis. Disney parks only have interpreters a couple times per week at each park and once at Animal Kingdom. It was wonderful to have the interpreters at the Universal Studios parks on any given day, this way, I didn't have to pick the day I would have to go just to take advantage of the interpreters.

What truly astonished me about the Disney parks was how many cast members knew some sign language. Something that I didn't expect at all. Both Universal Studios and Disney Parks have their pros and cons.

Published: October 6, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Paul, I'd never noticed that with RWC. I actually strongly prefer RWC to Captiview because I can put the plastic thing right in front of the screen and have it look pretty much the same as open captions (which would be my preference). The local theaters only offer captiview (which admittedly is still much better than nothing!) and I find I have to either block part of the screen, or look back and forth between the action and the captions.
Paul Moreau

Published: October 7, 2013 at 10:36 AM

In response to your comment, it sounds like SAG (Sony's Access Glasses) is the best fit. This is an option they would be able to utilize at the Disney parks. I see your point about the RWC being able to overlap while CaptiView would block the view. The reason why I prefer CaptiView to RWC is because you don't have to determine where to sit and try to adjust it so the captions will show up, and that it won't be too big, too small, etc. I've had situations where the captions were too big that they wouldn't fit on the panel.

A while ago, they invested in a handheld captioning device that you carry around, it looks like a small tablet of some sort. You have to make a deposit of $25 and you will get it back by the time you return the device. The device is full of glitches, I suspect it's something to do with the radio interference.

Anyway, the SAG probably would work the best if it's modified and made more light so you can carry it around the park. It would be better than the RWC and the CaptiView, and you would not have to ask anyone to activate it as long as they are in the wifi range of the attraction itself. Less work for everyone involved. Just some ideas I had in mind.