Some simple services and strategies are available to give Disneyland Resort Guests with cognitive disabilities a magical experience.
The Disneyland Resort offers a host of services to help Guests with cognitive disabilities—including those on the Autism Spectrum—maximize their Resort experience. Services available include:
- Advanced Ticket Purchase: To avoid the possibility of waiting in line at ticket locations outside of park entrances, we recommend obtaining your tickets in advance. Tickets for theme parks—including Annual Passports—can be purchased online or by calling (714) 781-4636.
- Stroller and Wheelchair Rental: If necessary, your party can rent a stroller, wheelchair or ECV/motorized scooter for a day or more at the Disneyland Resort Stroller Shop, located in the main entrance plaza to the right of Disneyland Park entrance, and also at select Disney Resort Hotels.
- Strollers as Wheelchairs: Guests with disabilities—including those with a cognitive disability—who need to remain in a stroller while in an attraction queue should visit either City Hall in Disneyland Park, or the Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure Park to receive a "stroller as wheelchair" tag to be placed on your stroller for easy identification by our attractions Cast Members.
- Rider Switch: Parties with more than 2 Guests may be able to take advantage of the attraction Rider Switch program, which enables you to experience an attraction while another member of your party waits with the Guest who does not ride. You then "swap" to enable the other party member to enjoy the attraction without having to wait in line again.
For further information on how to use this service, please speak with a Cast Member at each specific attraction.
- Accessing Attractions: The theme parks offer a wide variety of great shows and rides for you and your party to experience, and accessing these can be done in several ways including the use of standard queues, Disney FASTPASS Service and a Disability Access Service, as well as other accommodations based on individual service needs.
In particular, the Disability Access Service is designed for Guests who are unable to tolerate extended waits at attractions due to a disability. This service allows Guests to schedule a return time that is comparable to the current queue wait for the given attraction.
To learn more about the Disability Access Service —in addition to other accommodations that might be available based on the Guest with a cognitive disability's individual service needs—please visit City Hall in Disneyland Park or the Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure Park.
- Break Areas: Should the Guest with a cognitive disability become over-stimulated or need some down time, there are multiple quiet areas available throughout the parks where a Guest can "take a break." To locate the nearest area, please ask a Cast Member for assistance.
For a complete list of locations, please download our Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.
- Companion Restrooms: In addition to multiple men's and women's restroom facilities throughout the parks, companion restrooms are also available in select locations. Each is larger than a traditional restroom and can be helpful if a Guest needs assistance or requires that someone accompany him or her.
Please note: many of our restrooms use automatic toilet flushing equipment which may be loud.
- Attraction Guides: Each attraction at the Disneyland Resort is different from the next and features a variety of special effects including scents, flashing lights, loud noises and periods of darkness.
For more information on how long a specific ride might take or its featured special effects, please download our Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.
View more information on attractions at the Resort.
- Dietary Accommodations: The Disneyland Resort can accommodate most food allergies, intolerances and specific dietary needs. Advance requests can be made when booking a dining reservation, or by speaking with the chef or manager on duty at most table-service restaurants across the Resort.
All Guests with food allergies or intolerances are also allowed to bring food items into the parks. Before entering, inform the Cast Member at bag check that a Guest in your party has a food allergy or intolerance. Please note: Cast Members are strictly prohibited from storing, preparing, cooking or reheating any food brought into the parks.
View more information on dietary accommodations at the Resort.
How to Prepare for your Disneyland Resort Visit
Knowing what to expect is crucial in making your experience a successful adventure—not just for the Guest with a cognitive disability, but for the entire family.
Some suggested tips for you and the Guest with a cognitive disability include:
- Plan a Visual Schedule: By providing a possible timeline, you can help the Guest with a cognitive disability understand what to expect—such as crowds, sights, sounds and smells—and so that he or she can learn the routine.
For an example of a timeline, please download our Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.
- Watch Videos: Rather than waiting until you arrive at the parks, help the Guest with a cognitive disability prepare for the experience by having him or her watch videos about the Disneyland Resort, from this site or others.
Each park features its own video tour, which includes certain attractions, as well as many of the Cast Members and Disney Characters your party will likely encounter during your visit.
- Study Location Maps: Comprehensive maps and guides are available for each of the theme parks. Review the maps with the Guest with a cognitive disability and try to lay out a plan for your day.
- Choose a Meeting Location: Pick a place on the map to meet in case your party becomes separated. Be sure the Guest with a cognitive disability is aware of the location and show it to them as soon as you arrive in the park.
Should he or she get lost, stress the importance to the Guest with a cognitive disability of finding a Cast Member who will assist in attempting to reunite you. In addition, there are also designated locations in each park where lost persons can be escorted.
It is recommended that you take a photo of the Guest with a cognitive disability on your mobile device or digital camera, especially if he or she has a tendency to wander off. You may also consider making a nametag that includes his or her name, as well as your name and mobile phone number.
- Practice Waiting in Line: Waiting in line is a regular part of the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park experience. To prepare, practice waiting with the Guest with a cognitive disability at home or in lines at places he or she might already frequent.
What to Bring
Being prepared for a day at the Disneyland Resort goes beyond the parks. Plan ahead by bringing along an assortment items.
Some suggestions include:
- A Safety Bracelet or Nametag: Place a bracelet, nametag or some variety of visual identification onto the Guest with a cognitive disability. Include his or her name, a reference to the specific cognitive disability, all important medical information and anything else that should be known. Please include your name and contact number as well.
- Ear Plugs or Headphones: The theme parks can be very noisy, including fireworks, announcements on loud speakers and other Guests' voices. Ear plugs or headphones may contribute toward a less intense experience for the Guest with a cognitive disability.
- A Favorite Device or Activity: To keep the Guest with a cognitive disability occupied while waiting in a line, it is suggested you bring along a computer tablet or mobile device, video game, or anything else constructive you feel might distract their attention.
- Reinforcers for Good Behavior: A trip to the theme parks at the Disneyland Resort can be very long. Help promote a full day of fun for the Guest with a cognitive disability by keeping motivational items handy to reinforce his or her good behavior.
- A Sensory Toy: Keeping the Guest with cognitive disability calm might be an issue due to the sights, sounds, scents and commotion at any one of the parks. Have a sensory toy on hand—like a stress ball or other calming item—to help prevent or assist him or her from experiencing sensory overload.
Guide for Guests with Disabilities
Available at Guest Relations, these guides can also be downloaded in a printable format for each theme park: