Wheelchair Accessible Orlando, Florida 2002
Clinton Hull © 2002
& Nicholas Riley © 2002

Orlando is such a popular travel destination that we received two access reports this month--one from Clinton Hull and another from Nicholas Riley. Both reports offer excellent access information and travel tips. Thanks, guys!

Above: Walter Lewis & friend at the Disney-MGM Studios in front of the Chinese Theater

In May 2002, Clinton Hull and his family  took their cousin, Walter Lewis, on a six-day trip to Orlando where they explored the best of Orlando's many theme parks.

I will agree that Magic Kingdom is the least accessible park, however, I think that Disney has made great strides to improve accessibility.  Here is a review of a trip that I recently took with my cousin who  is a quadriplegic.

Day 1 - Arrive in Orlando (Kissimmee) My sisters drove my cousin the 10 hours from Mississippi in his wheelchair van. We rented a 7-bedroom house from Florida-5-Star (about 15 min. from the parks). We rented a hospital bed and lift from Walker Medical Supply. That night we ate all-you-can-eat lobster at Angel's Diner (GOOD).

Day 2 - MGM Studio

Handicapped parking at MGM is the best (closest).

Lunch:  Commissary (Fair/Good)

Dinner:  The Brown Derby (Good)

Attractions (special accommodations):

Indiana Jones Stunt Show (seating in last row)

Back Lot Tour (seating in front of tram with tie downs)

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade (special roped off area)

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (seating in front row)

Beauty and the Beast (front row seating [look out for long ramp down/up] you can also sit in the back row)

Fantasmic (seating in last row) (my cousin's favorite) 

Day 3 - EPCOT

Handicapped parking full at noon (not as close as MGM)

Lunch:  Coral Sea (food was good, sat next to the tank, had to ride 2 lifts down to the lower level)

Dinner:  Bistro de Paris (Great)


The Land, boat ride (special boat)

Honey I Shrunk the Audience (seating in back)

El Rio Del Tiempo, Mexico boat ride (special boat and entrance)

Day 4 - Magic Kingdom/EPCOT

Must park at transportation center and ride boat or monorail to park

Lunch: Pecos Bill's (food fair, VERY crowded and slow service)

Dinner:  Le Cellier (Canada) (Great)


Magic Kingdom

It's a Small World (special boat and entrance)

Hall of Presidents (seating in back)

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (special seating in back row)

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (special car)

Walt Disney World Railroad (special entrance and car)

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (special car)


Impressions of France (special seating)

O'Canada (wide aisles in the movie. There are no seats in the theater)

Friendship Boat (trip across the World Showcase lagoon) special ramp in back (can stay on back deck or enter cabin via back door)

Monorail (has special cars in the middle, ramps set up by attendant)

Bus system ((park-to-park or Disney hotel to park) special lift in rear of bus with 4 point tie down and lap belt.  Drivers were very helpful (used twice))

I also remember seeing companion rest rooms at various parks but I can't remember the exact locations.  

Day 5 - Animal Kingdom/MGM

Parking at Animal Kingdom is second only to MGM

Lunch:  Tusker House Restaurant (Fair)

Dinner: California Grill (top floor of Contemporary) (Excellent food/view)


Animal Kingdom

Walter at at the Animal Kingdom on the Safari ride.

Kilimanjaro Safaris (special car & loading area, 4-point tie down)

Lion King (special seating in front row)

Just another note on Animal Kingdom: there are several hills in the park and the sidewalks are a bit bumpy (this is an "artistic" aspect of the park).  Also, the rest room that we visited at the Animal Kingdom was very accessible with wide doors and a large stall. 


Great Movie Ride (special seating in back of tram)

Sounds Dangerous starring Drew Carey (special seating in back)

Walt Disney - One Man's Dream (special seating)

Day 6 - Return Home

Walker Medical was prompt in picking up the equipment so that we could check-out on time.

Note: There were many more wheelchair accessible attractions that we did not have time to do. All-in-all, we found the staff at Disney World to be very accommodating and we had a great time.

I also remember seeing companion rest rooms at various parks but I can't remember the exact locations.  

Orlando Holiday

Nicholas Riley toured Orlando on a family holiday with his able-bodied wife and two other disabled relatives.

I would like to inform readers of a fantastic holiday I experienced last September with my family.

First, my mother-in-law has ulcerated legs and needs a wheelchair when a lot of walking is necessary. my sister-in-law has calipers on both legs as well as rheumatoid arthritis and her fiancé is blind. My wife is 100% able-bodied. and I am a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair at all times because I cannot walk at all.

We went on a family holiday to Orlando, Florida. We flew with Virgin Atlantic, and it took a lot of planning to locate wide, etc. as  we needed a wheelchair room. I have to say, Virgin Airlines couldn't have been more helpful. We had preboarding passes for all five of us and assistance at both ends of the journey, which met our various disabled needs. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on International Drive Orlando.

On arrival, we were given the wheelchair room which we had previously booked. The room was spacious, clean and comfortable for a wheelchair user like myself as I can transfer unaided from my chair to the toilet (although there was a lift bar on the wall and a roll-in out shower). The only criticism I have is that the sink was maybe a little high for me. 

I found the staff to be very pleasant at all times and considerate to all our needs due to the varying disabilities in my party.

Similarly, the theme parks were very accessible although the rides are quite difficult unless someone from your party can assist you beacuse the staff is not being insured, However I found the staff to be very courteous and pleasant at all times.

The restaurants seemed to be very accessible especially Bennigans (one of our favourites), and most shops were disabled friendly. All restrooms in both restaurants and parks had disabled facilities.

On the whole, we found the holiday a fantastic experience and hope to go back next year to the same hotel.

It was nice to go on holiday for once and not have to worry too much as to whether I would be able to get around independently. I would say our trip was 98% accessible for a disabled traveller.


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