Orlando: Accessible Fun for All
Special Needs Services & Resources in the Theme Park Capital of the World
As the No. 1 tourism destination in the U.S., Orlando prides itself on building perfect vacations that make dreams come true for all visitors — especially those with physical or cognitive disabilities. Our theme parks, hotels and resorts, transportation providers, and countless attractions, restaurants and recreational opportunities and other businesses follow American Disability Association (ADA) guidelines to ensure that every visitor is given the full experience, providing limitless adventures for everyone to enjoy.
No wonder travelers with special needs ranked us as one of the top 10 most accessible cities in the world, per research by Valuable 500. Use these resources to see how we can help make your family’s dreams come true every time you visit Orlando: Theme Park Capital of the World.
Free Trip-Planning Assistance
Start planning your Orlando vacation with the help of Visit Orlando’s complimentary Vacation Planning Services and get answers to your questions, insider advice and special offers on the best Orlando experiences. You can even make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Vacation Planners to receive guidance on building your own accessible getaway.
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Tips on What to Bring
Experts agree that it’s important to plan before heading out for a day of fun with a loved one or friend with special needs. Planning can help travelers with physical or cognitive disabilities get the most of their experience. To that end, it’s a good idea to bring the following items on your adventures:
- Appropriate clothing for the temperature
- Hand sanitizer and wipes
- Reusable water bottles
- Ear plugs or sound-canceling headphones for anyone who’s sensitive to sounds
Travel tip: You can bring your own water bottles to theme parks and fill them up at water fountains. You can also get free water cups from the parks’ quick-service restaurants. Additionally, many theme parks permit prepacked snacks for families traveling with children.
Many restaurants in Orlando are especially welcoming for guests with physical disabilities, with amenities such as wheelchair-level tables and spaces between tables that are wide enough to fit wheelchairs. Many venues also have bathrooms that can accommodate wheelchairs. What’s more, service animals are permitted at all Orlando eateries.
Discover: Eat & Drink in Orlando
Numerous Orlando restaurants also offer private rooms that are ideal for guests with cognitive disabilities. Check with your preferred restaurants ahead of your visit for details and availability.
Select shuttle services at Orlando’s theme parks and hotels, ground-transportation providers such as Mears Transportation Group, and rental-car services such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car have numerous vehicles that can accommodate visitors with special needs. Rail transportation, including the SunRail commuter train service and the upcoming Brightline high-speed rail service, can also accommodate wheelchairs, as well as service animals, as can bus services such as the I-Ride Trolley and LYNX. Check with your preferred service for details.
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At Orlando International Airport (MCO), the Sunflower Lanyard Program enables passengers to self-identify to staff that they have a hidden disability, providing an extra layer of assistance to those who might require it. The lanyards are available at the third-level information booths in the main terminal and are available to travelers free of charge. This program is also expected to be available at Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) in the near future.
While the lanyards do provide a discreet signal to employees, wearing a lanyard does not guarantee fast tracking through security or any preferential TSA treatment. Passengers are encouraged to arrange any special assistance needed with their airline and TSA Cares, which provides additional assistance during the security-screening process to travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances.
Guests with special needs can have a great time at Orlando’s theme parks, including those at Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld® Orlando and LEGOLAND® Florida Resort. However, going in the morning, taking a break and then coming back at night is usually the best option to avoid the hottest time of day, as well as crowds.
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Special needs assistance is also available from theme parks’ Guest Services centers, found near the entrance to each park.
Walt Disney World® Resort
- Walt Disney World offers a comprehensive guide for guests traveling with cognitive disabilities, including autism.
- Walt Disney World also offers a comprehensive guide for guests traveling with mobility disabilities, including which attractions allow guests to remain in wheelchairs, as well as for guests with hearing disabilities and visual disabilities.
- Guests unable to wait in lines can use the Disability Access Service (DAS), which provides a return time for rides with waits over 25 minutes and is good for up to six people. Once given a return time, DAS works like the Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane programs. You can obtain a DAS pass and learn more at any Guest Services lobby, where a photo will be taken when registering to ensure the integrity of the pass’ usage.
- At Walt Disney World theme parks, guests with cognitive disabilities can use several quiet areas that are perfect for taking a break.
- Families can use the Rider Switch option if there are more than two adults in the party and the child does not want to, or cannot, ride the attraction.
- Nearly every attraction has a wheelchair-accessible queue or an alternate entrance to ensure guests can ride. However, some attractions require guests in wheelchairs to transfer into ride vehicles.
- If there are stairs in the regular line, simply notify a Cast Member at the entrance of the attraction that a member of your party is in a wheelchair. They will provide instructions on where to go or give a return time to come back and go through the Lightning Lane line.
- Wheelchairs, strollers and ECV/motorized scooters can be rented near the entrances of all Walt Disney World parks if you do not already have one.
- Valet parking at Walt Disney World is free with a disabled parking permit.
- For guests with special dietary needs or allergies, most food allergies can be accommodated upon letting a cast member, manager or server know. Guests can also bring food and snacks into the park.
- Walt Disney World suggests that guests with special needs bring a bracelet or nametag, ear plugs or headphones, a favorite device or activity, reinforcers for good behavior, and a sensory toy as needed.
- Guests staying on Walt Disney World property can use several forms of transportation, including buses, monorails to Magic Kingdom® Park and EPCOT®, the Disney Skyliner, and boats and ferries.
- Parking for Magic Kingdom is at the Transportation and Ticket Center, where guests can take a monorail to Magic Kingdom or EPCOT, a ferry to Magic Kingdom, or buses to the parks. Parking for EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park is located in front of the parks’ entrances. Each park has trams to take guests from their vehicles to the entrance, and vice versa when it’s time to leave. Furthermore, disability spots are available at the front of each parking lot.
- If a family member gets lost, immediately find a Walt Disney World Cast Member who can assist you and bring you to the lost person’s location. Walt Disney World recommends providing a nametag to, and taking a photo of, family members with cognitive disabilities in case they get lost or if they tend to wander.
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Universal Orlando Resort
- Guests unable to wait in long lines for extended periods can use Universal Orlando Resort’s Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP), which can be obtained in Guest Services at the front of each Universal Orlando Resort theme park. Guests requesting an attraction queue accommodation must obtain the IBCCES Individual Accessibility Card (IAC) by registering at AccessibilityCard.org prior to their visit to the park. The IAC registration consists of an online application which includes uploading necessary documentation.
- Each AAP is good for up to six guests, including the guest needing special assistance. This pass allows guests to come back with a return time if the wait time climbs above 25 minutes. Upon returning to the attraction’s entrance with a signed AAP, guests will enter the attraction’s Express Line.
- Universal Orlando Resort’s AAPs are good for up to 14 days, perfect for those attending the parks on multiple days.
- For guests with children who do not want to, or cannot, ride an attraction, Universal Orlando Resort’s child swap option can be used for parties of more than two guests.
- Guests can rent wheelchairs at Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks and Universal CityWalk.
- In Universal Orlando Resort’s “Rider’s Guide for Rider Safety and Guests With Disabilities,” guests can find descriptions for each attraction and important access information needed to determine if an attraction is a good fit for guests with cognitive disabilities, as well as information on which attractions are wheelchair accessible.
- Parking at Universal Orlando Resort is available in two garages just a short distance from Universal CityWalk, Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Volcano Bay.
- Guests staying on property at Universal Orlando Resort can take advantage of complimentary boat and bus transportation that drops guests off at Universal CityWalk.
- Universal Orlando Resort offers several options for guests who need a break or quiet area, including two First Aid stations at each park.
- Universal Orlando Resort offers several accommodations to guests with hearing and/or vision disabilities, such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, open captioning, Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD), large print and Braille scripts for select shows and attractions, and attendants to hold white canes while guests enjoy select attractions.
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- SeaWorld Orlando offers comprehensive guides for guests with disabilities who are visiting SeaWorld’s main Orlando theme park, Aquatica® Orlando, and Discovery Cove®. These guides detail what guests can expect from shows and attractions, as well as restrictions, so that guests with disabilities can prepare prior to arrival. You can access each guide with the following links: SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove.
- SeaWorld Orlando has also been designated a Certified Autism Center by The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).
- Guests can use SeaWorld and Aquatica’s Ride Accessibility Program (RAP) to ensure they can fully experience both parks.
- At Discovery Cove, special all-terrain wheelchairs are available that can be used on sand and uneven surfaces around the day resort. Contact Discovery Cove ahead of your visit to secure one.
- Discovery Cove guests can also participate in many unique activities such as swimming with dolphins.
- At SeaWorld’s Guest Services, guests needing assistance and up to five other guests can use SeaWorld’s Special Access program after enrolling in the RAP.
- All SeaWorld shows offer special seating for guests in wheelchairs.
- Guests with hearing impairments have several accommodations to enhance their experience throughout SeaWorld, including a Text Telephone Device (TTD) at the SeaWorld Store and Shark Encounter, assistive listening devices and scripts for shows from Guest Services, and ASL interpreters with at least one week’s notice prior to arrival.
- For guests with specific dietary needs, an Allergen Card can be obtained through Guest Services or any meal facility to ensure there are options for all guests.
- Guests can fill out a Ride Accessibility Questionnaire online and bring the completed copy to Guest Services upon arrival for additional assistance on which rides and attractions are best for their needs.
- Parking at SeaWorld Orlando is directly in front of park entrances, with ample disability spaces available.
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LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
- All entertainment, dining and retail venues at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which includes LEGOLAND® Florida Theme Park (plus the option for LEGOLAND® Water Park) and Peppa Pig Theme Park, are accessible to guests in wheelchairs or needing special assistance.
- LEGOLAND Florida offers a Disabilities Guide. The guide includes descriptions and restrictions for attractions, information regarding their onsite hotel for guests in wheelchairs, fireworks and show seating, and more.
- Peppa Pig Theme Park offers an Accessibility & Sensory Guide, which includes guidance for that park’s rides and attractions.
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort is a Certified Autism Center across all of its parks and resorts.
- Most rides and attractions at LEGOLAND Florida’s parks are ADA accessible.
- LEGOLAND Florida guests can obtain a Hero Pass at Guest Services if they are unable to wait in lines for an extended period. Good for up to six guests, this pass will give a return time in lieu of waiting in the regular line.
- LEGOLAND Florida offers designated “quiet rooms” where guests on the autistic spectrum can take a break. Quiet rooms include noise-canceling headphones, weighted blankets and toys — including LEGO® bricks, of course.
- Guests can pick up “social stories” at LEGOLAND Florida’s Guest Services for detailed guides on elements that might startle or overwhelm guests.
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Orlando’s hotels offer accessible rooms upon request, as well as select accommodations for specific needs your family might have. Simply ask beforehand to ensure the request can be satisfied. Standouts include the following properties.
Give Kids the World Village
Minutes from Walt Disney World, Give Kids the World Village is an 84-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Central Florida. Here, children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to week-long, cost-free vacations. Contact Give Kids the World Village for more information.
Walt Disney World® Resort Accommodations
Deluxe hotels located near Magic Kingdom® Park, including Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, are great options for guests traveling with mobility impairments or disabilities. Each of these properties are connected to the Magic Kingdom monorail service, making trips to the parks extremely easy. These hotels also offer wheelchair-accessible rooms with features like roll-in showers, as well as chair lifts for their pools.
When boarding the monorail, simply let a Cast Member know you need assistance. They will set up a ramp so that guests in wheelchairs can go right into the monorail car. Additionally, guests can easily transfer to the EPCOT® monorail at the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds invites parties traveling with someone who has cognitive disabilities to utilize the quiet and private environment of cabins, which do not have distractions that might overstimulate some guests. Additionally, activities at this resort such as boating and horseback riding are great experiences for visitors with autism.
Universal Orlando Resort Accommodations
Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort are located within a short distance of Universal CityWalk and Universal Orlando’s theme parks — particularly Hard Rock Hotel®, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Guests can utilize the boat transportation and buses, as well as the short paths connecting each hotel to Universal CityWalk. Hard Rock Hotel in particular is an extremely short distance from Universal CityWalk and Universal Orlando’s theme parks, making it easy for guests in wheelchairs to navigate their way to the parks.
Each of these hotels also offer wheelchair-accessible rooms, with options such as roll-in showers or showers with a seat and bars to assist with balance. For blind guests, room numbers are written in Braille. Those with hearing impairments can utilize Hearing Impaired Kits, including a TDD relay service.
DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld
This property is a Certified Autism Center as designated by the IBCCES. The certification ensures that the staff at DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld have the best training to handle the needs of guests who have autism or other sensory needs.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
Accessible rooms and suites are available upon request at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. Additionally, the property’s quiet atmosphere is good for preventing an overstimulating environment. The resort is nestled within Disney property and is only a five-minute bus ride from Magic Kingdom® Park. It also offers views of fireworks at both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT® from the 17th-floor, One-MICHELIN-Star restaurant, Capa Steakhouse & Bar. Finally, babysitting services are available for families in need of assistance.
Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Buena Vista
Between close proximity and bus transportation to Walt Disney World, Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Buena Vista is an excellent option for families with a member who has special needs. Additionally, its pool area is completely fenced in with safety locks, preventing anyone with a tendency to wander from leaving the area.
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
Close to Walt Disney World Resort, JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa features a Kids Conservatory Lounge with noise-reducing headphones and sensory walls (including a LEGO wall), as well as textured pillows and blankets. The property’s family suites offer exclusive amenities and two separate rooms with kid-approved loft beds, whimsical design elements and interactive surprises, including chalkboard walls and a book nook. The connecting room layout gives adults their own retreat.
Rosen Shingle Creek
Guests with disabilities can enjoy complimentary valet parking at Rosen Shingle Creek. Featuring 75 accessible rooms, this property also has several amenities to ensure guests can get around the hotel easily. These include ramps throughout, Braille signs on each floor, and a zero-entry pool for easy access. Scooters can also be rented from the valet parking booth at the hotel’s entrance.
Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
This resort offers 41 wheelchair-accessible rooms, with 11 roll-in showers. With a step-free entrance and several elevators throughout the property, Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is spacious and easily accessible for guests in wheelchairs. Additionally, the large pool has two lifts and ramps that enable guests to relax in the water. Beds are also lowered for guests in need of assistance.
Springhill Suites Orlando at SeaWorld and Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld
Thanks to Certified Autism Center certification by the IBCCES, Springhill Suites Orlando at SeaWorld and Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld both feature staff who have the training, tools and skills needed to work with people who have autism.
Beyond the theme parks, numerous Orlando attractions go above and beyond for guests with special needs.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
This zoo is just the right size for visitors with special needs. The lack of large crowds and unique animals offer experiences that should not overwhelm guests. Located in Sanford, about 35 minutes north of our main tourism districts, Central Florida Zoo also offers special education programs and guides, with sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired or a touch tour for blind guests. Service animals are also welcome but are not permitted in certain exhibits.
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With a fun-loving atmosphere that focuses on good times for all guests, Crayola Experience is fully ADA compliant. Located inside The Florida Mall® near the International Drive Entertainment District (aka I-Drive), the wheelchair-accessible space and colorful, easy-going environment make the experience a great option for younger visitors or those who enjoy expressing their creativity.
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Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Located in downtown Orlando, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is one of the only performing arts centers in the country to earn a Certified Autism Center designation from IBCCES. As a result, all staff — including front-of-house, production, security, box office, education and leadership — are trained specifically to better help people on the autism spectrum. The designation complements the venue’s many sensory-friendly shows, classes and camps, including select performances at the brand-new, acoustically remarkable Steinmetz Hall.
The Escape Game Orlando
This thrilling attraction on I-Drive offers some wheelchair-accessible game rooms. Other accommodations include flashlights if lighting is too dim, scripts of all the videos for guests with hearing impairments, and announcements with any cues and directions for those with visual impairments. Contact The Escape Game Orlando before arrival to make them aware of any special assistance your party may need.
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One of Orlando’s longest running and most iconic attractions, Gatorland is not too overstimulating. Also, up-close experiences with animals, including a petting zoo, are captivating for visitors of all ages. As part of the park’s Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, guests can try the Gator Gauntlet, the first-of-its-kind zip line accessible specifically for visitors with motor disabilities. The Gator Gauntlet brings guests zooming on a 350-foot-tall line over marshes filled with more than 100 alligators.
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Harry P. Leu Gardens
Part of the Audubon Park Garden District north of downtown Orlando, the spacious, 50-acre Harry P. Leu Gardens is ideal for a crowd-free experience. Guests can roam the gardens at their own pace and view various plants and flowers, as well as a butterfly garden. Signs with QR codes provide additional information about the plant collections. The property is handicap accessible, and complimentary wheelchairs are available in the Welcome Center. Service animals are also allowed in the gardens.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Located an hour from Orlando on Florida’s east coast, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a popular attraction for guests with mobility, cognitive, visual or auditory impairments. In addition to service dogs being welcomed in all areas of the complex, guests can rent electric and regular wheelchairs. There are also many quiet areas throughout the property, as well as interactive elements. Additionally, ASL translators can be arranged by contacting the center at least two weeks in advance.
The Visitor Complex’s Shuttle Launch Experience® attraction offers an accessible seat that includes a pivoting grab bar that visitors can use to transfer directly from a wheelchair to the seat. If a guest does not want to transfer out of their chair or does not want to partake in the simulation, a Launch Observation Room is nearby where they can still view the simulation video. Closed captions are available on request.
Lake Eola Park
As one of Orlando’s most relaxing and visually stunning attractions, Lake Eola Park is a great fit for families looking to avoid overstimulating environments. Nestled in downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park District, the large lake is a great spot to sit by the water, grab a bite to eat, watch swans, and even rent one of their signature swan paddleboats for a relaxing water voyage. Speaking of which, the specially made boats can accommodate guests in wheelchairs without having to transfer to one of the boat’s seats.
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Madame Tussauds Orlando
Part of ICON Park® on I-Drive, Madame Tussauds Orlando lets guests get up-close with their favorite celebrities — not to mention the superheroes of DC Comics’ Justice League. Relatively low in sensory stimuli, the exhibit is not too large and should not tire out visitors quickly. The wax figures are life-sized, and guests can get as many photos as they would like with any or all of the figures. It is also fully accessible to wheelchairs, and service dogs are permitted in the exhibit area.
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Orlando Science Center
Located at Loch Haven Park in Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village Main Street district north of downtown, Orlando Science Center encourages science learning across all ages. On select Sundays once per quarter, the center hosts “Sensory Sundays,” which invite visitors to experience exhibits with subdued stimuli and movies at a quieter volume. With the building itself and most exhibits being wheelchair accessible, Orlando Science Center provides a limited number of free wheelchairs to borrow and scripts for films shown in the Dr. Phillips CineDome. An ASL translator can be arranged with two weeks’ notice. Service animals are welcome.
SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
This wheelchair-accessible attraction at ICON Park offers interactive, close-up elements and exhibits that are enjoyable for all guests, regardless of ability. With a 360-degree ocean tunnel, interactive rock pools and hundreds of sea creatures, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium will bring both education and fun to guests with a cognitive disability.
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The Wheel at ICON Park®
ICON Park’s centerpiece, The Wheel is a great alternative for families wanting to see Orlando without the crowds. The capsules are perfect for a quiet, private environment without distractions. The spectacular views and slow movement of the 400-foot-tall observation wheel are very relaxing. It also invites guests in wheelchairs, both regular and motorized, to board the capsules.
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An educational entertainment attraction inside I-Drive’s famous upside-down building, WonderWorks is part of Pointe Orlando. The attraction is wheelchair accessible, and each of the three levels have access to an elevator. Service animals are allowed. Occasionally, the attraction hosts Sensory Days, where exhibits are altered to provide limited sensory stimulation for guests with cognitive disabilities. Visitors can also arrange special assistance by contacting WonderWorks 72 hours in advance. (Please note: Some exhibits with flashing lights and motion may not be suitable for certain sensitivities.)
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Visit Orlando is proud to partner with Orlando Health, a not-for-profit healthcare organization that serves the southeastern United States. This alliance designates Orlando Health as the Official Health and Wellness Partner of Visit Orlando and offers health-related benefits for the millions of travelers who help make Orlando the most visited destination in the United States and the Theme Park Capital of the World.
Discover: Healthy Travel in Orlando
Through this partnership, visitors to Central Florida have access to high-quality, health-related options and medical services for when accidents happen or a sickness occurs. These services include a concierge telephone number, (321) 265-4200, established to help connect visitors who may need access to local medical resources while visiting Orlando.
Via the concierge service, Orlando Health can help you determine the best place to go based on your symptoms and provide you with easy access to the right medical providers, including:
- Emergency Room Care
- Urgent Care for Non-Life-Threatening Injuries
- On-Demand 24/7 Virtual Care With Board-Certified Physicians
Orlando is also home to several service providers offering medical and mobility equipment rentals. For instance, scooter rentals are also available from ScootArama in the International Drive area. In short, no matter what special needs you or your family might have, you can rest assured they’ll be met in Orlando.