Special Needs & Disability Services in Orlando
In Orlando, we pride ourselves on building perfect vacations that make dreams come true for all visitors. To that end, we strive to accommodate all guests, especially those with physical disabilities or cognitive disabilities, such as autism.
Orlando’s theme parks, hotels and resorts, and countless attractions and recreational opportunities offer special accommodations to ensure that every Orlando visitor is given the full experience. Orlando businesses also follow American Disability Association (ADA) guidelines, providing limitless adventures for all guests to enjoy.
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Theme Park Services for Guests With Special Needs in Orlando
Guests with any type of disability 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.
Guests with special needs can also get assistance 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.
- 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 FastPass+ program. Visitors 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’s theme parks, guests with cognitive disabilities can use several quiet areas that are prefect 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.
- Wheelchairs can be rented near the entrances of each of Walt Disney World’s parks if guests 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®, and boats and ferries.
- Parking for Magic Kingdom is at Walt Disney World’s Transportation and Ticket Center, where guests can take a monorail to Magic Kingdom or Epcot, a ferry to the 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.
Learn more: Discount Tickets to Walt Disney World Resort
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. Each pass 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,” available here, 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 Studios Florida™, Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ and Universal’s 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.
Learn more: Discount Tickets to Universal Orlando Resort
- 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.
- Guests can use SeaWorld’s Ride Accessibility Program (RAP) to ensure they can fully experience SeaWorld Orlando.
- 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 Shamu’s Emporium 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.
Learn more: Discount Tickets to SeaWorld Orlando
LEGOLAND Florida Resort
- All entertainment, dining and retail venues at LEGOLAND Florida are accessible to guests in wheelchairs or needing special assistance.
- Most rides and attractions at LEGOLAND Florida 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.
- 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.
Learn more: Discount Tickets to LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Service Providers for Guests With Special Needs in Orlando
Orlando is home to several service providers offering medical and mobility equipment rentals. For instance, K&M Rentals in Kissimmee, close to Walt Disney World, rents mobility scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, cribs and other specialized devices, and scooter rentals are also available from ScootArama in the International Drive area. Similarly, Kissimmee’s Orlando Medical Rentals has mobility equipment as well as patient lifts, feeding equipment and more.
The Orlando region also has two highly rated hospital groups, AdventHealth and Orlando Health. What’s more, both organizations have locations throughout the area, ensuring that you and your loved ones will have quick access to quality medical care should you need it, no matter where you’re playing or staying.
In short, no matter what special needs you or your family might have, you can rest assured they’ll be met in Orlando.