On my last trip to Disneyland I was waiting for the Mark Twain ride and someone came up and asked me if I could ride my chair right onto the ride. She said her mother was disabled and not able to transfer from her wheelchair. I told her yes and then she asked me if there were any other rides where that was possible. I told her off the top of my head that I thought it was about a dozen.
As it turns out, after checking my notes, if you only consider “rides”, there are about 9. If you consider both rides and attractions, there are 26 in Disneyland alone (including the Parade, Fantasmic! and the Fireworks) and about 10 in California Adventure (including parades and World of Color).
Here is a list of these rides and attractions for quick reference in both Disneyland and California Adventure where a transfer from your wheelchair is not necessary.**
Disneyland Railroad (Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland only. No access at Main Street)
Main Street Cinema
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh*
It’s a Small World*
King Arthur’s Carrousel*
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters*
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Frontierland Shootin' Exposition
Big Thunder Ranch
Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (some areas are not wheelchair accessible)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh*
Mickey's House and Meet Mickey
Enchanted Tiki Room
Stage Show at the Golden Horseshoe
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Alternate Experience)
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (a very limited wheelchair-accessible alternate experience is available)
Main Street Parades
Muppet Vision 3D
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!*
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
King Triton's Carousel*
Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar
The Bakery Tour
World of Color
* Note: Some of these rides may not be accessible to some ECVs because the ECVs are too large. Generally, electric wheelchairs are considered the same as manual wheelchairs on Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAV) rides.
** Rides and attractions in the new Cars Land and/or Buena Vista Street are not yet included.
Excerpt from my upcoming book, “A Disabled Person’s Guide to Disneyland”.
WAVs and TAVs – Will My Vehicle Fit the Ride?
It is important to understand the different kind of ride cars and vehicles Disney has available for the disabled person. Depending on your disability and the vehicle you use, some rides will be more accessible than others. For example, if you cannot transfer from your ECV or wheelchair, you will need to have assistance from members of your own party to ride certain rides (see note below). In addition, though some rides are designed to allow access for your vehicle, the particular vehicle you use may determine whether or not you can access the ride. For example, many rides use a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV). As the name implies, these vehicles are designed to allow you to drive right into the ride car. However, some of these are accessible only if you use a power wheelchair or actual wheelchair. Because of the way the WAVs are designed, some scooters cannot access these rides. The handle bars get in the way of the vehicle restraints or the ride car is too short to accommodate the scooter. Some scooters are rather large, including (unfortunately) the scooters rented at Disneyland, and do not fit. Small scooters work best and if the scooter is designed so that the handle bars can fold down, many of the WAVs can be accessed. Also, some if these rides indicate that one must transfer from your ECV to a wheelchair. However, if you use a power wheelchair, actual wheel chair or small scooter, you do not need to transfer. Rides with these types of vehicles include Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Mania.
Disneyland also has some rides where a transfer is necessary but a special car is available for easier access. These are called Transfer Access Vehicles (TAVs). The ride cars sometimes have the armrest removed and/or the lower portion of the car is built to fold down so that easier access is enabled. To access these rides, you either need to be able to walk to the ride car on your own or with the help of people in your party. If you need help embarking or disembarking these vehicles, a member of your party will need to assist you. Rides with this type of vehicle include the Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Haunted Mansion.
A note on transfer assistance from Disney Cast Members
Because the needs of disabled persons are so varied and because of legal complications, Disney Cast Members are unable to give transfer assistance to disabled patrons. Members of your own party will need to give you any assistance you require.
This is particularly important if the ride breaks down while riding. When some rides break down, Disney guests are directed to disembark along pathways and even sometimes via steep steps and ladders. If the disabled person cannot negotiate these exit pathways, Disneyland will call paramedics to help you disembark. This will sometimes require being placed on and secured to a [gurney/safety transfer board]. Disney Cast members will usually inform you before you board the ride of this possibility. Rides that carry this risk that the disabled patron should be especially aware of include the Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
The rides don’t break down that often, but it does happen. If the prospect of being carried out this way seems disconcerting or embarrassing, you might want to reconsider this particular ride. Also, if you have conditions that might be aggravated by waiting while assistance arrives (i.e. high blood pressure, anxiety, etc.), these rides should also be avoided.
Although these possibilities exist, you can rest assured that Disney makes every effort to make sure all Guests are comfortable. Rides are very well maintained and closed for repairs if any problems occur. From the disabled person’s perspective, you must keep in mind that though these scenarios may develop, just like everyone else, you ride at your own risk.