The disney produtcions by wheelchair: The good, the poor

In light associated with recent reports of disabled persons profiting from their ability to jump to the front of the line at Disney’s parks, Disney is announcing a change in their policy for disabled persons.

It has been interesting reading about the result of people with disabilities to Disney’s transforming policy for those guests. Instead of moving to the front of the queue at certain attractions, guests with disabilities will be given a time to return commensurate with the wait time for additional guests.

I don’t have much experience visiting Disney with guests in wheelchairs, but somehow, a friend did need a wheelchair at our last visit to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom.

It was eye-opening, not just in the way my friend was treated by fellow guests but also for our interactions with Disney cast members — some which were far from positive.

The attitude of guests, as you might anticipate, varied wildly. Some went out of the way to make sure my friend had a very clear pathway. Others deliberately blocked his view during the Boo-to-You parade.

But expectations are higher for Disney cast members, who are supposedly trained on helping guests with disabilities enjoy their check out. Attractions attendants were uniformly excellent — we waited in the queues with everyone else at Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion plus Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. Attendants were prompt to direct us to particular areas for loading/unloading as needed. Piece of cake.

At Cosmic Ray’s Starlite Café, where you gather your food at a counter and take it to a table, before my friend actually ordered his dinner, the friendly cashier said politely, “Sir, if you want any help with your tray, you simply let one of us know. ”

However , there were furthermore encounters with cast members that were puzzling at best, downright rude at worst.

I questioned a cast member if guests in wheelchairs were offered a unique viewing area for the Boo-to-You parade, as there is during the regular every day parades. My question was fulfilled with a shrug and a curt “I don’t know. ” Only later do I realize that information is available in the brochure available at the entrance — and there are in fact three parade-viewing areas designated for guests in wheelchairs.

I have sympathy for those working “parade crowd control, ” so I tried to be understanding every time a cast member shortly thereafter yelled at us to get off the street as the parade would soon end up being arriving. I’m not sure how the lady expected us to wheel on the curb and through the crowd already sitting there. We were, in fact , trying to find the nearest ramp onto the sidewalk — which we quickly used.

But the genuine disturbing encounters took place as we still left the park. We were unsure regardless of whether we needed to return our leased wheelchair at the Magic Kingdom entry, where we had rented it, or if we could wheel it to the monorail station. When we asked a cast member at the turnstile, he didn’t know. But at least, unlike his coworker, he summoned someone to help us.

This cast member, however , looked at my good friend and said critically, “Well, you may not need it? ”

I felt a strange combination of anger — and embarrassment — even though we hadn’t done anything wrong. My pal, who is young-looking and doesn’t have an obvious physical impairment, was so flustered, he said he would manage.

That was a mistake, as he was in pain halfway up the ramp and were then caught in a group awaiting the next monorail. More galling: Plenty of discarded wheelchairs at the top of the station ramp, meaning people were getting them through the turnstiles.

So a mixed report card for Disney on that evening. But it was eye-opening to see firsthand how someone in a wheelchair experiences the park.

Originally posted 2013-10-09 16:00:00. Updated!