You’re just weeks away from your Walt Disney World® Resort vacation and you or your child breaks a leg. You could certainly postpone until the break is healed (and that’s certainly my recommendation if this is your first trip or you go to Walt Disney World® Resort infrequently), or you could move forward with your current plans. Here’s my family’s experience with Walt Disney World® with a child who has a broken leg.
Our 8-year old broke her tibia 2.5 weeks before our Walt Disney World® vacation. She was in a hip to toe cast. Since we are Annual Passholders and park regulars, we never had a doubt that we would move forward with the trip. We knew there were certainly rides that she wouldn’t be able to go on, but that there was plenty to do without those experiences. We found through research and on-site experience that Magic Kingdom® and Epcot® had the most rides that could accommodate a wheelchair.
How I prepared for the trip
I usually pack light and do not take a bag to the parks. I knew this trip would be different. Florida is notorious for afternoon thunderstorms and I didn’t want to get caught in a park in the rain and possibly get her cast wet. I purchased cast covers, 2 small rechargeable clip-on fans for her wheelchair, and 2 umbrellas, 1 large and 1 small. The small umbrella was to provide some shade, the large to help cover her and the wheelchair in case of rain. The 2 small fans were one of the best things we bought! We pointed 1 at her face, the other was pointed at the top opening of her cast to help prevent her leg from sweating as much as possible. It didn’t rain at all, which I was grateful for, but I was so glad I had these things, just in case. We were renting a pediatric wheelchair for home use anyway, so it wasn’t necessary to rent one when we arrived.
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World® Resort hotel, taking Walt Disney World® transportation or Disney’s Minnie Van® service is the easiest way to get around, as opposed to driving a personal car or taking a Lyft/Uber, where you would have to fold or disassemble the wheelchair for transport. Wheelchairs and ECV’s are a priority to load at resort and park bus stops, and the bus drivers allow the family to load after the wheelchairs are situated. Accessible Minnie Vans® seat 6 total passengers, including the wheelchair. We usually take a Minnie Van® when leaving Magic Kingdom® at closing anyway, as the bus stops can overcrowd quickly.
I will note that this is not a complete list of all accessible rides and attractions at Walt Disney World®, but rather our experience with the rides we chose to do.
Our Experience in the parks
At Magic Kingdom®, the rides that we chose that have wheelchair-accessible ride vehicles were:
- Jungle Cruise® Attraction
- Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid
- it’s a small world® Attraction
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin® Attraction
I’m almost positive that these rides only have 1 accessible vehicle/boat, so you may have to wait for it to cycle back. We also rode Haunted Mansion®, which has a vehicle that allows someone in a wheelchair to slide into the side of the ride vehicle if they remove the side of the wheelchair that’s near the ride vehicle. We chose to just pick her up and place her in the ride vehicle, rather than take apart her wheelchair. We were pleased to find a separate wheelchair friendly dining room at Columbia Harbour House, a Quick Service dining location. It’s roped off from the rest of the dining areas to the right of where you order your food. We also chose a few other attractions like Carousel of Progress®, Mickey’s PhilharMagic®, and, to my husband’s insistence, Country Bear Jamboree. We also met Rapunzel (my 8-year-old’s favorite), Tiana, and Tinkerbell.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, there is only 1 ride that’s wheelchair accessible. Toy Story Midway Mania® does have a wheelchair accessible car, however, we chose not to ride because there is a good bit of spinning and she was afraid of hitting her cast on the side of the ride car. We met a few characters and watched a few shows and called it a day. We were already hot and tired when we arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and didn’t stay long.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, Kilimanjaro Safari® has a wheelchair accessible safari truck. There is a good bit of jostling and bouncing on the Safari, but wheelchairs are secured to the truck. We had no issues with her leg and all of the movement. There are several wildlife trails to explore that are wheelchair accessible, a few character meets, as well as shows. With the help of a Cast Member during Festival of the Lion King, she was chosen to participate with other children in a parade of animals.
At Epcot®, there are a good bit more accessible things to do that the previous 2 parks.
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends®
- Living with the Land
- Gran Fiesta Tour
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
These all have wheelchair-accessible ride cars/boats. We chose to use a regular ride car on Figment because the back row had enough legroom. We also rode Frozen Ever After but had to transfer from her wheelchair into the boat. We brought a towel to wrap her cast in case of small splashes but had no issues with water. We were also able to ride Soarin’ Around the World with no issues, as her full leg cast was supported by the seat of the ride. There are also several character meets and shows to watch at Epcot®.
Before the trip, she wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with transferring from her wheelchair to a ride vehicle, so we planned to only do rides with wheelchair accommodations. She ended up being fine with some transfers, which in reality was just her dad picking her up and placing her in the ride vehicle. We did keep in mind which rides would possibly move her and her leg around more than she would be comfortable with. We consulted with her orthopedist and were given the go-ahead to travel and ride some rides within reason. Please make sure you consult your doctor for their recommendations specific to you! We also took midday breaks in our resort room to allow my daughter to stretch out since she’d been sitting most of the morning. If you have any questions about accessible attractions, please consult your Key To The World Travel® adviser.
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