Rolling Through the Magic: Exploring Disneyland in a Power Wheelchair

Disney Parks can be great places for someone with a power wheelchair to enjoy the various characters roaming around the park, rides that you can drive your chair onto, and parades and performances. 

We recently visited Disneyland with two Disney fans in power wheelchairs to see how it can be done. While it takes extra planning, strategy, and teamwork from friends, enjoying  rides at Disneyland, including Rise of the Resistance, is possible even if you use a power wheelchair.  

Thinking about visiting Disney World in Orlando? The CureDuchenne FUTURES National Conference will be in Orlando May 23-26, 2024, so take a few more days and enjoy The Most Magical Place on Earth for yourself.  

The Disability Access Services (DAS) Pass  

Waiting in a long line can be difficult for someone with Duchenne, especially if they also have a developmental disability like autism. That’s where the DAS Pass comes into play, which allows you and three other people to wait outside the queue until a specified return time.  

You can register for this pass between 2-30 days before your park visit or in-person at an Accessibility Services window. We recommend using the window near Space Mountain as the line is shortest there.  

The rules will be slightly changed starting May 20 at Disney World and June 18 at Disneyland. At that point the DAS pass will last 120 days instead of 60 days.  

Other Accessible Rides and Attractions 

You might be surprised to learn that you can drive your chair on a few Disneyland rides. We went on a few with our power wheelchairs, including Jungle Cruise, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and Toy Story Midway Mania

Jungle Cruise features a wheelchair lift in the center of one of the boats, while Ariel’s Undersea Adventure includes two carts with a ramp and wheelchair space. On the Toy Story ride, the wheelchair accessible car also features an easy-to-press button to shoot virtual targets.  

You can also ride your chair through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, navigating the Northern California biome, going through huge tree-trunks, and learning about one of the oldest trees in the world. While not necessarily a ride, the Mark Twain Riverboat is also wheelchair accessible and gives you sweeping views of Frontierland.        

The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, and Jungle Cruise rides are also completely wheelchair accessible at Disney World. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is also wheelchair accessible. Additionally, you can hop on any of the trains throughout Disney World to see the park from the comfort of your own chair.        

Experiencing Rise of the Resistance in a Wheelchair 

Here’s the strategy we used on a recent trip to Disneyland to ensure that no one missed out on experiencing the spectacular, jaw-dropping adventure. Since Rise of the Resistance is relatively new in both Disneyland and Disney World, the line queue should be wide enough to accommodate any power wheelchair you use. You can also take your chair directly through the staging area where you receive your mission and onto the transport shuttle. 

All the Cast Members are quite immersed in their roles, going so far as to refer to a wheelchair as a “transport vehicle.”  

Something happens while on the transport shuttle (don’t want to spoil it for anyone) and you enter a different area of the ride. You can also use your power wheelchair here and interact with characters in the world of Star Wars. 

This is where logistics are important, because you’ll be transferring out of your chair and onto the ride vehicle. A Cast Member will bring your chair to the end of the ride, so make sure to instruct them on how to operate it.  

We used a Perfect Lift for this transfer. This lift has three handles on either side and one at the top and bottom, making it easy for two people to help an individual transfer. You will sit on top of it in your chair, and it will stay with you as you sit on the ride vehicle.  

Once we gave the Cast Member driving instructions for the chair and got on the vehicle, we were off to the races. When we finished the experience, the power chair was left quite far away from the ride vehicle, but the Perfect Lift made it easier to transport the individual the longer distance to their power wheelchair.  

The process was relatively seamless, and we were still immersed in the Disney and Star Wars universe the whole time, even while handling transfers and operating instructions for the power wheelchair.  

And the next time will go even smoother now that we’ve learned by experience. Even so, the force will always be with us.  

We highly recommend you check out Rise of the Resistance  – and all of the other attractions at Disney World – for yourself when you visit Orlando for FUTURES this May 23-26!

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