Last week, my family went to the happiest place on earth, Disney World, and I was disabled. We were all very excited. We’d been planning this trip since last year; everything got postponed when my life came to a screeching halt thanks to my slip and fall in my sister’s wedding last fall. Come hell or high water, we were going to Disney World. There was just a couple issues 1) my broken leg is still recovering (it’s an 18-month process y’all.) 2) the week before we left, I was in the ER with a severe gallbladder attack. I was far from 100% but I was going to Disney World.
Here is how I navigated the happiest place on earth with a messed up leg. I can tell you that it was no fun but I figured out a way to get around all of those parks and not end up back in the hospital. This post is just about getting around if you are physically disabled, I will write a separate post about eating at Disney World when you are on a restricted diet because, you know, I couldn’t just be hobbled I had to do it starving.
My advice for anyone who has a broken leg, is recovering from a broken leg, a sprained ankle, a bum knee or broken hip or just doesn’t do well with walking in high heat because they are sickly, especially the elderly…rent a wheelchair! I believe it’s $12/$13 a day or you can get 3 days for $30, which is what my husband did for me. But get to the parks early, especially the Magic Kingdom. Also, the wheelchairs are located to the right after you scan in but before you enter the park (the same place as where you rent the strollers).
I thought I could do it on my own. After all, I am 7 months out from the original break but I was wrong. I tried everything, ankle brace, ankle wrap, Kinesio Tape for the tendonitis, crutches and even took my walking boot. Nothing can make a recovering broken leg walk around the Magic Kingdom for 15 hours pain free, not even a strong will and multiple vicodin. Believe me I tried.
The first night we arrived, we went to Hollywood studios. We arrived around 4:30 p.m. we returned to our room around 10 pm, in those 5.5 hours, my ankle (that was firmly in a brace) had swollen up to the size of my calf and the pain was excruciating. I knew then and there that there was no way that I was going to survive the Magic Kingdom on foot.
A few things you should know about being physically disabled in a wheelchair at Walt Disney World:
Firstly, it’s not as embarrassing as you might think and don’t worry about your spouse or children pushing you around, they’d prefer that to hearing you complain and be in misery any day.
Secondly, if you do find yourself in a wheelchair, check with the cast members at each ride because some have steps and they will need to reroute you. Sometimes they just give you a fast pass and have you come back so you don’t have to wait in the long lines in your chair.
Thirdly, check when you go to the restaurants, some have special seating for people in wheelchairs and some you need to leave the chair outside but for the most part all the parks were very wheelchair friendly.
Fourth, check with cast members at each park about seating for fireworks and such. They are very accommodating and there are special seating locations for those in wheelchairs. It was very nice that they provide these spaces because it’s hard to see when you are at wheelchair level.
Fifth, and this is the important one, if you are not disabled do not rent the wheelchairs. Leave those for those people who actually need them. Laziness is not a disability. Also, don’t use the handicapped bathrooms; those of us who are actually handicapped need those larger bathrooms for a reason. A wheelchair does not fit in a standard restroom stall.
I won’t lie, being at Walt Disney World in a wheelchair was a humbling experience for me but, like most of these past 7 months, it’s given me a new respect for the disabled and respect for their situations. Disney did a great job of making the parks easily enjoyed by the disabled as well as the able bodied.
If it hadn’t been for the wheelchair rental service, the entire trip would have been ruined. If you find yourself, physically unable to walk Disney World, don’t be too proud to use the wheelchairs. They are there for those of us who are disabled in some way and need them.
Have you ever been to Disney World when you weren’t 100% physically?