View Full Version : Which transfers are easy/difficult?

05-11-2001, 04:46 PM
My boyfriend & I will be at DL & DCA in just four days, and we're VERY excited. He's a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, very fit & active. I'm wondering about transfers onto some of the rides. In the past when he went to DL, he had four or five people along, and any or all could help him onto the rides. This trip it's just the two of us. I've checked out TAG -- thank you sooooooo much for this wonderful resource -- but am just wondering, in his situation, which rides (particularly at DL) should be the tough ones for him to face? (I've heard that Jungle Cruise might not be an option, etc). And which transfers will be fairly smooth?

Also, I've heard conflicting advice on SAPs -- should we get one or not??

Any & all advice welcome.


05-11-2001, 05:26 PM
In general, most rides have pretty smooth transfers. Just about any attraction that uses some form of ride vehicle can pose some challenging transfer problems. The ones that tend to be the most challenging are attractions that use boats (Pirates, Small World, Storybook Land, etc) and the roller coasters.

- Boat rides. Transfers are possible, and you should have plenty of time here. The key is that you need to drop to the edge of the boat and then slide to the seat. The edge of the boat is generally at ankle height. It is awkward but can be done. On Small World, be sure to ask for the wheelchair boat. It has a ramp and a special areas that allows you to stay in the wheelchair for the ride.

- Coasters. All of the mountain range coasters (Matterhorn, Big Thunder, Space) except Splash Mountain have time limits for transferring. The actual time limit is dependant on the number of cars running simultaneously on the track - the few cars, the more time you have. Generally figure that you have approximately 20 seconds to move from the wheelchair to the ride vehicle. That is actually a lot longer than you might think. Big Thunder is easier, as the seats are basically at wheelchair height, meaning you do a same level transfer. Matterhorn and Space have the seats below the level of the loading platform. Keep in mind, you only have to be in the car in those 20 seconds - you don't have to be belted in. That can be done when you move to the next holding position. Splash Mountain is also below the dock level making for an awkward transfer, but time is not a big an issue here. At DCA, California Screamin' has transfer seats on every green car - just ask a cast member for them.

There are conflicting opinions on the SA pass. Generally, it depends on the cast members you deal with. Most are wonderful, and recognize that an SAP is not required if you have a wheelchair. Just be aware that a cast member may ask for it. As long as you are willing to be forceful and point out that an SAP is not required if you have a wheelchair, you should be ok. The only advantage to having one if you use a wheelchair is to not have to argue with those rare cast members who are either ignorant of the policies or who have decided to make up their own.

Overall, your visit should be good. The transfers may be a bit awkward, but there are disabled guests who visit the parks alone every day and are able to do it. They key is a bit of patience. And some creativity never hurt as you figure out a system together that works.

Hope this helps!


05-14-2001, 02:40 PM
Such great info, thanks so much. We're especially excited about DCA and all the accessibility there. One ride I'm still wondering about is the Jungle Cruise -- I've heard that it may not be a possibility if you can't negotiate stairs. Any thoughts? (We leave tomorrow!)

05-14-2001, 04:26 PM
Having visited DCA again yesterday, I strongly recommend getting an SAP. It will prevent problems that still seem prevelant throughout the park.

As for the Jungle Cruise, here is what you are looking at. The boat "door" is basically at dock level. If you can manuver down to sitting on the edge of the boat, it is then pretty easy to slide down onto the seat. The awkward part is getting from the chair down the boat level. CMs cannot help in that process. You can go up to the boat via the exit and take a look at the loading process and determine from there if you want to try. The nice thing is that there is no time limit for boarding.


Rick Brandt
05-30-2001, 06:43 AM
Thank you to Tony and the powers that be at MousePad.
this is a great resource and the advice given is right
on track.

06-27-2001, 06:15 PM
Thought I'd post a mini-trip report (should have done this a month ago when we first got back, but. . .). First, thanks so much to Tony & all the FANTASTIC advice from TAG -- we were sooooooooo prepared, knew exactly what we were facing in nearly every case. It was fabulous because we could just relax & enjoy, rather than worry about "can we do this?".

So, the good things -- We got an SAP but never were asked for one. (I felt better having it just in case). The big rides that we really wanted to hit -- Indy, Splash, Pirates, Space, Star Tours at DL, and everything at DCA were completely accessible and the transfers were very smooth. Unfortunately we didn't get to try out the Matterhorn due to rehab -- but we got APs so we'll be back at least once more this year! The accessibility at DCA is really just incredible, and we were so thankful for things like transfer seats on Screamin and a separate loading area on Grizzly (our favorite).

The toughest rides for us were the Fantasyland rides (Toad, Peter Pan), which neither of us had ever done, and the Haunted Mansion. In fact, the HM experience was bad enough that we only did that ride once, and it used to be my favorite. First we were grilled at the entrance ("can't you walk even one step?" I wasn't thrilled with this attitude!), then taken in through a cramped storage area where a broom fell on us. When it came to loading into the doombuggy, of course we had to wait until the end (no big deal for us), but then the CM told the next group of guests "you'll have to wait -- we had to stop the ride so he can load & it might take a while" (actual time -- less than 20 seconds). Plus staying on the ride and going through the offstage area, plus back up in the elevator, really took the magic out of the ride. On the Fantasyland rides, the vehicles are so small that it was hard to transfer out, and one CM got a bit impatient when my boyfriend's foot was stuck. Also Big Thunder was a problem, due to the fact that the CM was reluctant to let us ride because Jake couldn't climb stairs if the ride was evacuated. Jake assured him that we'd get out if the ride was evacuated! But still we only rode it once together. We didn't attempt the Jungle Cruise, or most of the other Fantasyland rides.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and the many fantastic CMs that we encountered far outweighed the surly few. I can't thank Tony enough for your help & honest advice, and I'd love to help anyone else who's planning a trip and facing accessibility issues.