Disabled at Disney: Introduction

Do you ever wonder why it is known as the happiest place on Earth? That is a question I continue to answer for myself every time I visit the Walt Disney ThemeParks as they continue to provide more and more reasons to add to the cause. Whether that be the surreal experiences of the rides; the enchanting music and shows that are watched over and over again as if they were being seen for the first time; the diligent and hardworking delivery from the staff to ensure every family has a 'magical day'; to the very pure and unique experience of being able to spend time together as a family...those who visit the Disney parks come away wishing they did not have to leave and always want to come back for more.

In my own personal experience, I began to appreciate why I have cherished visiting the Disney ThemeParks throughout my life when I was in...Mexico of all places! As a wheelchair user, planning your next trip away requires a holiday to be had in itself. Ensuring the hotel is accessible, appropriate and accessible travel arrangements are made, making sure there are enough accessible activities you can partake in when you arrive  and so on. The key word in all of those planning aspects is 'ACCESSIBLE'. A word that is used far too easily by those who throw it around like a label and do not fully appreciate what it fully means.

However, I have been abroad enough times to know that what the definition of 'accessible' is in the UK and my opinion is very different to those in other counties. Even when you think you have got it right after thorough research and assurances from travel agents, hotel staff and the like, there always seems to be something that is left out. This happened to me when I traveled to Cancun in the summer of 2017 for two weeks. I stayed at a newly built hotel that was still not finished and was promised that it fully catered for wheelchair users from all parties involved. But, due to a variety of errors on their part, my stay was not as accessible as it could have been (something I will discuss in future articles).

At this point, I realised why Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is my favourite place to visit. One of the main reasons is that I know the accessibility is something I will not have to worry about and I can switch off from thinking about how I will get from Point A to Point B and how I will manage at B before moving onto C and so on. Everything from the policies, ethos and attitudes of the Walt Disney Company are in my opinion, some of the world's best.

In this multi-part blog series I will discuss why The Walt Disney Company has got it right on so many levels when it comes to catering for guests with disabilities and why so many disabled people choose to visit their theme parks, resorts, go on their cruises and more.

Fundamentally, it is where they can go and relax. Just. Like. Everybody. Else. That is all that people with disabilities strive for, to have the same equal opportunities as those around them. This is something that the Mouse knows how to do to a fine art and I hope will continue to do so. 

I hope you enjoy reading this series, and if there is anything you would like me to write about specifically, please do get in touch!

- Ollie 


*DISCLAIMER* The views discussed here are entirely my own and do not reflect those of The Walt Disney Company or its properties. Nor have I been coerced into sharing specific positive or negative opinions from any source. The articles I share are based on my own personal vacationing experiences at Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resorts and I have no official or legal ties to the Walt Disney Company or its properties in any way, shape or form. For more information regarding the company's official policies and views on disability, please visit www.disney.com .