Creating more accessible features and ride experiences across Disneyland Park would make a wheelchair user’s time there much more magical.
After scrolling through some posts on Instagram about Rare Disease Day and reading about some of the things people with a disability wished others knew about their experiences, I found that most people, (myself included) find that many places are still inaccessible. Whether it’s very narrow door openings at a business or uncomfortable surfaces to wheel over at shopping centers; like bricks or unnecessary bumpy stone slabs, to bathrooms without proper ADA requirements like hand rails and the height of the toilet to stores that are upstairs without an elevator, I could go on forever, but many places are still not accessible.
I started thinking about some of my favorite places to visit and realized there are still a lot of things that need to change in order to make a place truly accessible. Before I needed a wheelchair, I hardly ever realized the things that go into making a place accessible, but now that I use one, it feels like a priority to not only make places easier to navigate, but make sure that everyone feels included no matter their disability.
Everyone deserves to feel included and Disneyland has already done a great job of making some rides wheelchair accessible, but what if they went one step further to make the park even more inclusive? I’m sure that by now everyone has had some kind of experience interacting with a Disney-made product, whether it be watching a Disney movie or exploring a theme park, it’s no doubt an immersive experience. You can get lost in that kind of creativity and it really feels like you’re in a Haunted Mansion or underwater with Nemo, searching the seas for pirate treasure, or trying to escape through a mountain with a snow monster not too far behind you. That’s what I’ve always loved about Disney.
While some rides at the park are still not easily maneuverable for people with a disability, there are still ways for everyone to feel included. Take the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride for example. To the right of the entrance of the ride, there is a room where people can experience exactly what people on the ride are experiencing, but they don’t have to go downstairs and onto the submarine. They can stay in their wheelchair and watch from a screen.
Now, what if the Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Indiana Jones rides all had this type of feature! They’re considered some of the best rides at Disneyland, yet they aren’t very accessible to someone in a wheelchair. On Pirates of the Caribbean, someone has to step down into the boat. On Haunted Mansion, they either have to stop the moving walkway that people have to walk over to get into the Doom Buggies, or they’d have to hurry along and try to transfer as the conveyer belt continues to move below them. I’d opt for them to stop the conveyer belt, but if your wheelchair is lower than the Doom Buggy, how would you get on the ride? On Indiana Jones, you have to step up onto the jeep.
Just hypothetically speaking, what if you could stay in your wheelchair for all of these rides? Here’s where my imagination takes over and where I tell an Imagineer, you could totally make this happen! I propose for each of these three rides, there would be a room or an area off to the side of the ride or wherever it could fit, where there’d be a screen for wheelchair users or anyone who’d rather not go on the physical ride. The screen would show an actual recording of what someone would experience if they went on the ride.
There could be a moving row and a stationary row. Just like seats that move in a movie theater or are able to give out a vibration when something scary happens in a movie, wheelchair users could stay in their chair and be strapped in just like staying in their wheelchair in a car, but they’d still be able to feel the movement or vibrations of the moving section below them that corresponds with what’s going on on the screen.
Think of all the people who could experience these rides. However big or small a project like this sounds, it would create a new way for someone in a wheelchair to experience a Disney theme park. It’s priceless when someone who isn’t always included feels included in a place that is normally only accessible to someone without a disability.
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