Rediscovering the Magic of Disneyland

Many of the classic Disney movies, such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, came out when I was a kid. My parents would also take me and my sister on family trips to Disneyland, so I would say that I grew up with Disney being a huge part of my life. Even as I got older, I never stopped loving the movies or going to the park. I was able to go twice during my senior year of high school in 2007. Once for cheerleading nationals and again for senior graduation night.

I felt fortunate that I had gone to Disneyland twice that year, because in 2008 I was in a car accident that paralyzed me from the waist down. After becoming a wheelchair user, the thought of going to Disneyland was terrifying to me. I didn't know how accessible it would be and the thought of being amidst the huge crowds gave me anxiety.

Fast-forward to 2017 when I then met another Disney-loving friend. Only this friend is an annual pass holder. I thought to myself, who better to go with than a Disney-going regular? So, we booked our trip and off we went. Since then, I have gone several times and I want to share my experience to prepare wheelchair users who might be thinking about visiting the happiest place on earth!

Accessibility at Disneyworld

First things first: I should talk about accessibility of the parks. Being built in 1955, you could imagine that Disneyland is not completely accessible to wheelchair users. Many of the entry lines for attractions have narrow areas or stairs leading to the ride itself. This makes it impossible for a wheelchair user to go through the line. In the past, Disneyland would allow those with disabilities to go to the front of the line (through the exit) and get right on. Unfortunately, the parks were having such trouble with people abusing this system and faking injuries/disabilities in order to avoid waiting in lines that they had to make a change.

Stephanie at Disneyworld

In 2013, Disney made a new rule. From then on, those with disabilities would not be able to immediately get on the rides, but they could speak to a cast member, receive a wait time, and be able to return to the ride in a couple of hours to get on. In a perfect world, this would work out just fine. The only problem with this is that you can only have one wait time at a time. On busy days, this alienates those with disabilities and makes it so we are not able to do things. During one of my recent trips, I had a wait time and a fast pass, but I still had a few hours to kill. My friend and I wanted to wait in lines for certain rides since we had time to kill, but we were not able to because they are not accessible, and we could not get any other wait times.

The wait time concept is a good idea; it stops people from abusing the system. But I do think it could be improved upon just a little. Regardless of what isn't accessible, there is a ton to do in the park and I still completely love it.

Stephanie with friends at Disneyland

Built in 2001, Disney California Adventure is a newer park and completely accessible. On my most recent trips, I have spent most of my time in this park for this reason. You don't have to worry about your wait times. If you want to wait in a line with everyone else, you can, and it is a beautiful thing. Cast members at the parks are helpful for the most part, and visiting both parks in your chair is completely doable.

Prepare Yourself for Large Crowds

Ever since I became injured, I typically try to avoid places with large crowds. Disneyland is always going to have fairly large crowds. As it turns out, being a part of the crowds wasn't as bad as I anticipated. You just have to stay calm, take your time, and don't let people overwhelm you. There are always those people that like to stare at those in wheelchairs like we are aliens, but I typically just give them a nice smile and they look away. If you are a wheelchair user, you are probably used to this anyway, so no big deal!

Beware of the Trolley Tracks

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have trolley tracks throughout the parks. I ended up getting stuck in them not once, but twice! My previous visits to the parks had been fine, but there were such large crowds on my last trip that I got pushed into them. I just let a little yell for help and my friends came to the rescue! It was honestly more amusing than traumatizing, but it's just something to look out for.

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Going

I speak from experience. I let the fear of the unknown stop me from visiting one of my favorite places for 10 years. After my first trip back to the parks this past June, I became an annual pass holder because it wasn't this scary experience that I had built up in my head. It was still the same magical place as it was 10 years ago. Just because I am now experiencing it a little differently, doesn't make it a bad experience!

Stephanie enjoying Disneyland

I think this advice should go for anything you may want to do, not just Disneyland. The world is becoming more and more ADA-compliant, so go for it! Take a chance, have fun, and if it doesn't work out, then you will probably still have a funny story to tell!

About the Author


Born and raised in California, Stephanie Orosco is a vibrant personality with a love for adventure. She recently graduated from California State University, Fresno with her Bachelor's degree in Human Resources. Stephanie went in the direction of HR because she loves working with people and wants to be able to make a difference in the lives of others. She recently started working at Sunrise Medical, and thoroughly enjoys her work.

Stephanie loves spending time with family and friends, visiting Disneyland and the beach, kayaking and horseback riding, and of course her pets. She considers herself a proud pet mom. Stephanie has a T12/L1 spinal cord injury due to a car accident that happened in 2008. Although her life turned out different than expected, she is someone who always finds the silver linings in everything.

Stephanie's ride is a Quickie 7R.

Most of the stories here on Live Quickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 12/26/2017 12:00:00 AM

Nino Tayona
I am Deaf and i'm Nino Tayona. i would like to join your member in PWD. Hope you kindly and considers. Thank you so much..
1/31/2018 6:47:19 AM
Soy parapléjico y en octubre estuve en todos los parques.en Magic kingdon estuve muy cómodo y me atendieron muy bien.pero en Hollywood studios el personal no fue amable,x lo demás en general está muy accesible, pude ir a todas las montañas rusas.en algunas fue muy complicado, tendría que ser un poco más accesible para discapacitados más complejos.creo que siempre una buena sonrisa ayuda mucho.gracias y Saludos
1/25/2018 9:57:25 AM
Amelio castro grueso
No quiero que mi discapacidad me quite la oportunidad de disfrutar al máximo y vivir plenamente
1/14/2018 6:00:51 AM
The DAS for return times is so you wait the same amount of time as a person standing in the queue; your return time will vary based on what the current wait for a ride is. Ambulatory guests can only wait in one line at a time; guests using wheelchairs or needing alternative access have the same experience.

And yes, trolley tracks are the bane of my existence in the parks :)
1/9/2018 2:53:15 PM
Awesome blog! I love it! very insightful! Also thanks for sharing some awesome pictures!
1/8/2018 6:39:30 AM

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