Hello, everyone! Today on Disabled Travelers we’ll be doing a follow-up on our last visit, when we talked about wheelchair accessible features at Disney World. Since there are a lot of attractions in the Orlando area, many of which are suited to guests of different abilities, I thought it might be a good idea to tell you a little bit more. So, we’ll be covering accessible hotels, airlines, and attractions other than the “Big D” today. If you couldn’t join us last time, don’t forget to check out my previous post for Disney World access guides!
One thing to know about Florida is that, no matter where you’re coming from, there sure are a heck of a lot of airports here. There are actually over a hundred public airstrips throughout the state! That said, though, there are only a handful of major commercial ones that handle the majority of tourist traffic. If you’re coming in to Orlando, there are two highly accessible airports in the neighborhood. Orlando International Airport has its disabled access page here, and Orlando-Sanford has its official site here. Orlando International is probably your best bet for Disney, as you can get complimentary airport transportation to your Disney resort hotel. This service is available with Alaska Airlines, Continental, JetBlue, United, American Airlines, Delta, Northwest, and U.S. Air.
Wheelchair accessible rooms are available at Disney resorts, but it just might be the case you want less Mouse-y options. Doubletree Orlando has good information on its accessible rooms, which seem unusually spacious and also offer roll-in showers. If you’d rather rent a space, try out Accessible Accommodation, which has recent, quality listings for vacation villas. Disabled Access Holidays has a page on the Hard Rock Café Hotel, which, as of the time of this writing, offers priority deals for rides at Universal Studios. Sheraton Suites Orlando has lots of access features as well. And of course, don’t forget about the accessibility search Hotels.com now offers for disabled travelers. Let’s encourage them to make it even better by getting lots of use out of it!
Now, the thing to remember about Orlando is that there’s much, much more than just Disney. Universal Studios, which is not only a theme park but also a major movie studio affiliated with NBC, is another key attraction. The Universal Orlando website can be a little tough to navigate, since it does not have a search function. But through a handy web search, I managed to find the accessibility information for Universal Orlando guests. Services and info are available for the deaf, wheelchair users, those with service animals, those with prosthetic limbs, and users of oxygen tanks. There is also a rider’s guide that includes detailed access information on a ride-by-ride basis.
Orlando is also known for its water parks, and there are a lot to choose from. Naturally, these parks and rides may not be appropriate for everyone: for the most fun, look for places that have shows, animal exhibits, and other features besides intense water rides. Sea World is a good bet (see more on access there on this page). Most parks seem suitable for those with hearing or visual issues, but service animals may not be welcome. Also check out Wet n’ Wild.
Getting away from the “theme park” motif, there are two other great opportunities that are all too often overlooked. Kennedy Space Center, America’s gateway to space, has an extensive Americans With Disabilities Act page, which details accommodations for handicapped travelers with a variety of special needs. This includes accessible parking, transportation, IMAX theater access, and more. Closed-captioning is available for IMAX presentations, and ASL interpreters are on call with advance notice. Also, service animals are permitted throughout the facility.
Finally, for historical fun check out Medieval Times, the original jousting show that features feasting and a contest of strength between rival “knights.” It is one of the most popular dinner shows in the United States and is also well known in Spain, the country it takes its theme and décor from. According to third-party sources, the “castle” in the Orlando area is fully accessible.
“That’s a wrap” for the Orlando area, but who knows where we’ll end up next? Adventure on!