Disneyland Paris (and Disney Studios Paris) for people with a disability
Theme Parks are fun for both kids and adults. Probably the most popular one in Europe is Disneyland Paris, which offers a lot of rides that are nice and soft for the smaller family members, but also has quite some thrilling rides (mostly the rollercoasters but also the free-drop tower of the “Hollywood Hotel”) for adults, and then there are many in-between. Since they have bought the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas, they’ve re-themed some rides to Star Wars, and they have also put up a show in Disney.
So Disneyland Paris has some specials for those with a disability, be it physical or cognitive. All of these goodies are available only at the Donald Desk at the Disneyland Park entrance, to the right of the main ticket booths, and specially the free accompanying person is not available with the Disney hotels holiday packages.
The pricing details of the discounted tickets can be found here on the official Disneyland Paris page and are under Tarif Handicapé. They are not as cheap as buying the tickets in advance on the Disneyland Paris Web Site, but if you are only 2, and since the person going with you will have free admission, it´s a very good deal.
As proof of your disability, either your national disability card (in English, French and Spanish will be fine, other more exotic languages may require a tranlation), your disability parking card or a medical certificate in either French or English not older than 3 months will be accepted.
After buying your tickets, go to another booth just around the corner and you will get what we cheerfully called the Lame-Card during our stay at Disney. You will have to show your park tickets and disability card again, and the Disney staff member will ask you what are the limitations of your disability. In my case, I have a hard time walking long distances, and standing for long times, so I got this:
And here is the back of the card:
As you can see the card is very detailed in the kinds of disabilities it allows for, either physical, sensorial or cognitive. In my case it is “painful walking” and “painful standing”. The card will also show how many people will be with you at the rides and shows and at the parade and the illuminations at park closure. As far as I know, up to 4 are allowed for the rides, so the family can ride together, and up to 2 at the parades and illuminations.
Now enter the park through any of the gates (some of the entrance booths have a special wider pass in the middle for wheelchair users) and the fun begins. Head to the attraction of your choice, show the card to the staff member at the entrance and he will lead you to the dedicated entrance. In most cases this is the exit of the ride (sometimes you will have to cross the shop a the exit of the ride), with some exceptions:
- Ratatouille, Remy’s Adventure: Enter through the Fastpass lane.
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast: Enter through the exit via the shop.
- Hollywood Tower Hotel (Disney Studios): Enter through the exit, which is inside the shop next to the toilets behind the ride.
- Phantom Manor: There are two entrances, one through the exit for users who can´t climb stairs (but you will miss the lift if you take that one), and one just before the exit where you have to climb some (two dozen or so) stairs and where you will take the themed elevator (surprise!) leading to the actual ride.
The entrance for people with a disability will also usually marked with the international wheelchair pictogram, so it is always easy to find.
Next to the entrance usually there will be a waiting area, some with seats and a staff member will quickly take care of you and assign you a place in the ride or show. Waiting time was around 5 minutes on average, even on the rides with the longest queues (up to 90 minutes on the most popular rides).
For the parade and the illuminations there are special areas, normally with some benches to sit on, except for the open-air shows in Disney Studios.
All in all, this has made our visit to Disney a breeze and very, very comfortable. On some rides where they weren´t long queues, we just didn´t show the card and went through the normal entrance, which sometimes is very nicely themed and worth seeing, something you will miss if you use the dedicated entrance.