Orlando Vacations for Disabled Visitors
Synopsis: Orlando Florida is amongst the US most accommodating destinations for people with disabilities.1
Author: Jo Roberts Contact: -
Published: 2008-12-29 Updated: 2015-03-18
Planning for an Orlando vacation can seem daunting if you or one of your traveling companions have difficulty walking or a disability that limits your mobility. But what you need to know is Orlando and its many visitor attractions is amongst the country's most accommodating, and most popular, destinations for people with mobility-limitations.
Don't miss the excitement of visiting Orlando's world-famous theme parks and side trips Central Florida's many museums, cultural attractions, sporting venues and theaters: all these places were designed with you in mind. Make the most of your Orlando vacation, no matter what your age or walking ability, with these "know before you go" tips, tricks and ideas.
Getting Around A little pre-planning goes a long way when it comes to getting from place to place throughout Central Florida and even within the theme parks.
Mobility Scooters (ECVs):
While you may consider bringing your own Electronic Convenience Vehicle (ECV) with you for use throughout your trip, doing so can prove expensive and, if you fly, potentially damaging to your expensive equipment (your batteries may not even be allowed on board). Instead, rent one once you get to Orlando. Each of the major resorts - Disney, Universal and SeaWorld - provide day rentals for use within specific, individual parks on a first come first serve basis and on busy day can run out as early as 10:30 am. However, local companies rent scooters for use at all area attractions, providing an easier and more economical option. For instance, Scooter Vacations (www.scootorlando.com) offers free delivery for Orlando mobility scooter rentals of three days or more within 10 miles of Disney and features a fleet fit for travel - including models that easily fit in a standard car trunk--thus eliminating the need for a vehicle with a lift.
All Disney parks features special handicap-only parking sections adjoining park entrances or access points. Simply ride your mobility scooter to the monorail platform or directly to the ticket window and designated turnstile. When visiting Universal driving a specialty lift or modified vehicle, be sure to tell your parking attendant that you require over-height parking; they'll direct you to special parking areas. It will take you longer to get into the park, but you won't damage your vehicle. Standard rental cars and SUVs fit within all ramp levels, so follow the signs for handicap spaces if applicable; from there, you can ride your mobility scooter to your preferred park in no time. And don't forget your disabled parking permit when you leave home: communities and resorts do not offer temporary passes and will require you to park in regular spots without it.
All LYNX (www.golynx.com) public transit buses accommodate riders using compact scooters, including those that service the Disney, Universal and I-Drive areas. If you choose to rent one of the newer, more maneuverable Orlando mobility scooter models available you can even ride directly onto all Disney transit vehicles, including resort buses and the monorail. If you're planning to take a privately operated bus or shuttle service, check with the operator prior to your trip to review any requirements or restrictions that apply to scooters.
Sleeping Over Metro Orlando boasts more than 110,000 hotel rooms, from budget-friendly economy motels to five-star luxury spa retreats. Pick the one right for you.
Hotels, Timeshares and Condos:
All Orlando hotels must provide accommodations for mobility-impaired guests, so when making your reservation don't hesitate to request an ADA-accessible room with rails and special bathroom facilities, if needed. Otherwise, eliminate the need for, and expense of, special lodging by renting one of the more maneuverable scooter models and drive it directly into your room or suite each night. Choose a mobility scooter model that folds-up or disassembles (such as those designed to fit within a car trunk) if you want to maximize space in a small room.
The number of rental home properties throughout Central Florida has exploded in recent years and an increasing number provide facilities specially designed for guests with mobility issues, including entry ramps for mobility scooters and plenty of space to "scoot" inside. These prove a great option for families traveling together.
Disney's Polynesian Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa now feature "zero-entry" pools with gradual ramps, as well waterproof wheelchairs that you can transfer into from a scooter, if needed.
Navigating the Parks No trip to Orlando is complete without a visit to one of its world-famous theme parks. These parks encompass enormous areas, so navigating each via mobility scooter may provide the most enjoyable and least stressful experience for all guests in your group.
Walt Disney World Resort:
Guest Services provides copies of the "Guide for Guests with Disabilities" upon request, which highlights policies, ride requirements and special accommodations within each park. Some rides allow guests to remain on mobility scooters throughout, while others require guests to transfer into a ride vehicle alone or with a companion's assistance (Disney policy prevents Cast Members from providing physical assistance). Plus, some facilities provide special, more easily navigable queues for guests on mobility scooters to minimize wait time. Keep on the lookout for special parade viewing areas that even accommodate a small number of friends and family members. And, when visiting Animal Kingdom, be aware that its varied, hilly terrain drains ECV batteries much quicker than other Disney parks, so be cautious and turn off your mobility scooter when you don't need it.
Universal Orlando Resort:
Most attractions at Universal Studios and its sister park, Islands of Adventure, features navigable queues (with the exception of Back to the Future and Pteranodon Flyers rides), though some require scooter riders unable to stand in line for the duration of the wait time to transfer to a manual wheelchair provided on-site; just park your mobility scooter in the indicated area outside and ask an attendant for assistance. On some rides mobility-impaired guests must either climb aboard the vehicle unassisted or with a travel companion's help in order to participate. Speak with Guest Services upon arrival or call in advance to have a copy of the "Rider's Guide for Safety and Guests with Disabilities" mailed to you for in-depth details and requirements.
The park provides accessibility to exhibits and seating for guests with mobility issues as well as one companion within each stadium and theater. Check with a SeaWorld team member before any performance to ensure you don't park your scooter in a "soak zone" or other area where it will get wet; you may feel refreshed after a splash of salt water, but your transporter will not! Be equally cautious when interacting with the animals at Dolphin Cove. Park ECVs a few feet away and walk to the exhibit (with the help of a companion, if needed) to prevent possible damage. You can download a copy of the "Park Accessibility Guide," which details need-to-know facts for each exhibit, from SeaWorld's website or pick one up from the Guest Services desk upon arrival.
For additional information concerning Orlando travel, speak with your travel agent or contact such local tourism offices as the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.orlandoinfo.com).
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