Do you have mobility issues, or do you ride a wheelchair or ECV, and have concerns about boarding rides and attractions while at Disney World? Here’s what you need to know.
- Arriving at a ride or attraction.
- Boarding Rides & Getting help from Cast Members – what’s allowed and what’s not.
- Using sample ride cars to practice boarding on.
- Moving walkways.
- ECV Rules for Rides & Attractions.
- Staying on your wheelchair/ECV for rides vs. transferring to a ride seat.
- Wheelchair or ECV transferring procedures for Disney World Rides.
- Getting your wheelchair or ECV back after a ride.
- Parking your ECV or wheelchair outside the ride and standing in line.
- Skipping pre-shows.
1. Arriving at a Ride or Attraction in an ECV or wheelchair at Disney World.
For the majority of rides and attractions, those in wheelchairs and ECVs will be going into the same queue as everyone else. You may veer off at certain points to avoid stairs, etc. If there’s a special entrance, you’ll be directed there by a Cast Member at the main entrance.
For each Disney World Park, you can view the Disney World’s Guide for Guests with Disabilities online. That will show you whether each attraction is accessible or not, and if you can stay in your wheelchair or ECV or not, and whether you need to transfer, etc. Just find the ride or attraction that you’re interested in on the guide, and check out the accessibility information.
You can view each parks’ Guide for Guests with Disabilities here:
Also you can see Disney’s Attraction Access page that gives you that information in a list form, which may be easier to use.
Officially you’re allowed to take five people with you in the special entrance, unless you have a DAS specifying a different party size. Depending on the attraction and crowd levels, the Cast Member may direct you to take three to six people in addition to the person in the wheelchair or ECV, but again – this can vary. On a couple of attractions if conditions are right, we’ve heard of a lot more people being permitted.
The number of people that can stay with the wheelchair rider during the attraction can change because of the nature or set-up of the attraction. It can be as few as one companion. If your party can’t be seated together, cast members will try to place you close together if that’s possible. It really depends on the attraction and the Cast Member you encounter.
2. Boarding Rides & Getting Help from Cast Members at Disney World.
If you need help while boarding ride cars, keep in mind that the cast members are limited. Read our article Here: Boarding Rides & Getting Help (Mobility Problems, Wheelchairs, ECVs) here for details.
3. Using Sample Ride Cars to Practice Boarding in the Disney Parks.
If you’re concerned about boarding a ride car, a small number of rides have sample cars for you to practice on. The cast member can bring you to the practice ride car and explain the procedure to you. They may be able to give you tips for easier loading. This may give you some confidence and help you board more quickly on the real ride. Here are the rides that have this, or some version of this:
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has a sample ride car.
- Mission Space has a harness that you can test out to see if you fit comfortably, but it’s not a full replica of the actual test car. You can see a replica of the test car, but you can’t get in it.
- Expedition Everest has a sample ride car that you can practice in.
4. Moving Walkways on the Disney Rides and Attractions.
Some rides and attractions have moving walkways, and if you have a mobility problem, ride a wheelchair or an ECV, you’ll want to read this article here: Using Moving Walkways at Disney World (with mobility problems, wheelchairs and ECVs)
5. ECV Rules for Disney World Rides & Attractions
Guests can usually stay in their ECVs for theater type shows, and in most attraction queues. For some ride queues, Disney requires guests using ECVs to transfer into a manual wheelchair before entering the queue. The cast members at the attraction will provide you with a manual wheelchair free of charge at or near the entrance. Remember that the cast members are not permitted to push you through the queue even if you’ve transferred to a manual wheelchair.
ECVs are not permitted on the majority of ride cars. If a ride permits the use of manual wheelchairs on the ride cars, you’ll have the option to transfer into a manual wheelchair provided free of charge by a cast member at the attraction. On some rides you’ll be required to transfer from your ECV or manual wheelchair to a ride seat. We’ll let you know the requirements of each attraction in the Rides and Attractions section of this website.
6. If you have a choice, should you stay in a wheelchair or transfer to a Ride Seat?
Some rides require you to transfer to a ride seat, but there are some that allow you to ride in a wheelchair. If you have a choice, and you’re physically able to transfer from a wheelchair or ECV to an attraction seat without too much difficulty, this often has its advantages:
- It can cut down on waiting time, since it can sometimes take longer to wait for a wheelchair accessible ride car.
- On some attractions such as in the 3-D movie experiences, you must sit in a regular seat to experience all of the special sensory effects. Those who stay in their wheelchairs will miss some of them. Of course, if you wish to bypass special effects, staying in your wheelchair or ECV can often be the solution.
- For some, the ride car may be more comfortable and a change of pace. If you feel you could use a break from your wheelchair, transferring could be a good choice just for a change of position.
Ultimately it’s up to you. Personally I know my wife prefers to transfer onto the ride and attraction seats to get the full experience.
Here’s a video of someone in a wheelchair being boarded on It’s a Small World:
7. Can I hold my disabled child on my lap?
For some of the rides that don’t have a height requirement, that may be possible. It will depend on the ride car and on the size of your child, and it will also be up to the Cast Member at the ride. There are some rides without height requirements that this won’t work on. For example some rides have lap bars that comes down and fit just over an adult’s knees.
If a ride doesn’t allow for having a child on your lap, the alternative, if possible for your child, is to seat him/her next to you and support them from the side. An even more secure strategy would be to put him/her between two people if possible.
8. Wheelchair and ECV transferring procedures the for Disney World Rides.
Will you need help now boarding and getting off Disney World rides? For detailed information on what kind of help you can expect, read this article: Boarding Rides and Getting Help at Disney World
How do I actually transfer onto a ride or attraction from my wheelchair or ECV?
If you’re able to park your ECV/wheelchair and walk short distances, you can usually park your chair right in the attraction car boarding area, fairly close to the attraction seat. You’ll then walk to the ride car. On some rides you can ride right up to the ride seat to transfer. A Cast Member will take your wheelchair or ECV and park it for you after you’re seated.
On this website we’re in the process of posting in-depth information about each ride at Disney World, along with specific tips for transferring, where relevant. Check the Rides and Attractions section!
9. How do I get my wheelchair or ECV after the ride?
When you’ve transferred directly from your chair into a ride car: The Disney cast members will then move the chair nearby, or to the disembarking area if it’s different from the loading area. If you’re unable to step off the ride car and walk to your chair or you can’t stand and wait for someone to get it for you after disembarking from the ride car, tell the cast member when boarding the ride. Tell them also if you need a moving walkway to be slowed or stopped (it may or may not be possible – see above). They’ll bring your wheelchair or ECV right to you so that you can transfer from the ride car into your chair (provided it’s possible for that ride).
If you parked your wheelchair or ECV and walked: When the ride is done, your seat will be where you left it if that’s where the ride lets off, or it will have been moved to the disembarking area if it’s different from the loading area.
Even if you’ll be disembarking in the same area you started from, you may find that your chair has been moved. Sometimes the cast members move your chair to make room for other chairs to park. It should be in the same general area it was originally placed.
10. Parking your ECV or wheelchair outside the ride and standing in line.
If you’re thinking of parking your chair outside an attraction and standing throughout the queue, keep in mind that many queues are extremely long. For example the Soarin’ and Kilimanjaro Safaris queues are more than ¼ mile long.
11. Skipping pre-shows.
Those in wheelchairs/ECVs may be permitted to skip a pre-show. Talk to a cast member if you think you need to do this. When this is permissible, the cast member will lead you directly to the ride boarding area.
12. A website with descriptions & videos of accessibility of rides
Rolling With the Magic website has a page that lists many of the rides at Disney and describes or even shows the transfer process. You can visit that transfer page here.
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