When to Go
- Getting Started
- Calendar of Events
- First Timer Primer
- Operating Hours &
- Refurbishments and
- US Holidays
Where to Stay
- Ticket FAQ
- Annual Passes
- Annual Pass
- Ticket Prices
- Finger Scans/
- WDW Ticket History
- Ground Transportation
- Magical Express
- Parking Information
- Renting a Car
- Transportation Vehicles
- Valet Parking
- Annual Pass Discounts
- Discounts for WDW
- Finding Low Airfares
- Priceline "How To.."
- Tables in Wonderland
- Extra Magic Hour
- First Day Ideas
- Holiday Happenings
- Nighttime Fun
- Packing Ideas
- Rainy Day Ideas
- Summer Sun Survival
- Tips for Enjoying
- Touring Plans
- What to Tote Around
- Activities for
- Birthday Ideas: Kids
- Bringing Your
- ChildCare FAQ
- Expectant Mothers
- 5-11 Year Olds
- Infant and Toddler
- Preschooler Tips
- Stroller FAQ
For Guests without Children
- General Information
- PassPorter's Open Mouse
for Walt Disney World
and Disney Cruise Line
- Companion Restroom
Disorders (ASD) Dietary Needs
- --Parks Counter Service
- --Parks Table Service
- --Strategies for
- --Meet the Authors of Vegetarian WDW
- --A Vegetarian at
Mickey's Table - I
- --A Vegetarian at
Mickey's Table - II
Hearing Medical Needs
Mobility Motion Sensitivity
Size Concerns: Visual Impairments
For International Visitors
Walt Disney World
for Blind and Visually Impaired Travelers
by Tim Sullivan
When to Go
Where to Stay
Tips for Enjoying the Parks
I consider myself a fairly experienced traveler to Walt Disney World, visiting nearly every year with my family, but it was only after a recent trip to Europe, and the very in-depth research I did for that trip, that I finally realized that I've never really done any research into Walt Disney World travelling, especially regarding anything special that I should know regarding my being a visually-impaired traveler I've always just relied on my wife and the "kindness of strangers" to get by.
Knowing all the great hints and tips I gleaned before my Europe trip, I did my research to find out what I might have been missing at Walt Disney World. I got great tips on dining, hotel accommodation, what attractions to see where and when, but in all the great guide books, web sites and other places for tips that I read, none of them answered my biggest question. What should I know as a visually-impaired traveler?
Here is a little background into my visual impairment -- I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is basically tunnel vision, coupled with no low-light vision. Straight ahead I'm fine, but to the sides, and in dark attractions/at night I have difficulty. This gives me the most problems in crowds, where I simply do not see all the people, especially when they are moving across my visual field, and more importantly, crowds seem to confuse my vision...there is so much to look at I almost get sensory overload and have a hard time finding what I am looking for. Also, when a ride is dark, I see little to none of it; my eyes just will not process everything.
By and large Walt Disney World tries hard to do the best they can with accommodating visually-impaired as well as other handicapped guests, but they do have some work to do. The biggest problem is with consistency. Not everyone is familiar with, or can recognize blindness as a disability like they can a person in a wheelchair. Not everyone will understand what a white cane means, and both guests, as well as Disney Cast Members, can sometimes be insensitive or unresponsive to the special needs of a visually impaired person.
I have had
some fabulous Cast Members, and even park guests, take the initiative
and go out of their way to come up to me, ask if my Family and I need
any help finding the entrance to an attraction/help getting on the attraction/general
information about the park etc. These types of Cast Members really help
you feel that Walt Disney World is the most magical place on earth.
Unfortunately I have found that you also have to be prepared to do A LOT of digging and leg work to get a straight answer out of Walt Disney World regarding what exactly they offer for guests with visual impairments. First off, if you are unsure or have a question about anything go and ask one of the Cast Members, they are usually a great source of information about everything park related. If they can't give you an answer, politely escalate it to a higher level. Eventually someone will be able to answer your questions.
The first thing you should do is your homework. Check out the website for Walt Disney World at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/index which will be a great source to get you started. Checking out other Disney-related websites can also help prepare you for your trip as you already know, www.allears.net is a great treasure trove of everything Walt Disney World (and beyond!)
Head to your local library and check their travel section for the various guide books regarding Florida, and most importantly, visiting Walt Disney World. I borrow, and read, them all, and find the one put out by "Unofficial Guides" to be the format that I like the most, although all have the same basic information in them. They usually include everything, from touring plans, park maps, attraction descriptions, hotels, eateries and usually rate everything as well.
as a special needs visitor to "the World" the one book you should
not go without is the Passporter Walt Disney World for Your Special
Needs, done by All Ears own Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma. I recently
had the pleasure of checking out the guide, and can say that I was pleasantly
surprised at the wealth of information specifically directed at special
needs travelers in the book
especially for those first time travelers
who might not know what to expect. Anything and everything you could possibly
need to know, about virtually any attraction, restaurant; activity etc.
at Walt Disney World is covered in one book.
Your first stop on your first day in the parks should be Guest Relations. As a general rule you can find them to the left as you enter the main gates of each theme park. When you are there the most important thing to do is to make sure you get an official WDW Document called the Guest Assistance Card. It is approximately 3x5 in size and is good for your entire visit to Walt Disney World. The card outlines any assistance you may need while visiting the park, but more importantly, identifies that you in fact have some special needs that require due attention. The card is not mentioned on their website designed for people with disabilities, but know that it is there.
I believe the card was originally intended for guests who could not use the regular queue lines (such as people in wheelchairs), and outlined the special assistance they may need. Speaking from experience a visual impairment is a mobility concern that requires just as much special attention from Cast Members as someone in a wheelchair, so make sure you get this card!
Once you have the card, make sure you ask every Cast Member at the entrance to each attraction if/where the handicapped entrance to the attraction is, and if it is possible to get assistance entering/exiting the attraction. Often times the handicapped entrance is shorter, less winding, and allows you more time to load into ride vehicles, thereby reducing some of the stress of visiting the parks.
While at Guest Services make sure you pick up the "Guide for Persons with Disabilities" which is filled with information aimed at disabled travelers. There are also several guides available to visually impaired travelers, including Braille Guides and Audio Tape guides to the parks as well.
Although both the Braille guides, as well as the audio guides are a great attempt by Walt Disney World to increase the access and awareness for visually impaired guests, the format they are presented in are not terribly handy. The Braille guide, while containing everything there is in the regular guide (in both Braille and large-print), is full of great information, its size, and the fact that you can only get it the day of your visit (or forego a $25 deposit) make it somewhat inconvenient, unless you are prepared to sit for a bit during the beginning of your day to read the guide books when most people want to use this time to actually go and see the attractions.
The Audio guide, while also being a really great tool, also has its limitations. Be aware that it has a VERY SHORT cord connecting the audio guide unit to the head set, making it all but impossible to wear the guide while walking around, using a cane/service animal/being led by a companion. If you DO plan to go this route, look into bringing your own headphones that will allow you to wear the audio guide on your belt or in your day pack.
can also find a large-format park map featuring both Braille as well as
large-print in several locations of each park, which come in very handy
for the visually-impaired traveler to orient themselves. One can always
be found at the main Guest services branch, while a second (and sometimes
third) map can be found elsewhere in each park.
WDW also provides a website for persons with Disabilities at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdwi/en_CA/common/Plain?id=PlainHomePage, but to be honest with you I found there to be very little good information on the pages that are contained in the site. But it does outline the official Disney guidelines and policies, and does seem to be formatted for screen reader, low vision etc, so easy for those with visual handicaps to use.
of the most important tips I can give every visually-impaired traveler
is to get a white mobility or identification cane, and more importantly,
USE IT! I do not have an obvious visual impairment
my eyesight, in
normal everyday conditions, appears "normal" to anyone who is
not paying close enough attention, so often times the only warning someone
will get that I do have a visual impairment is the big white stick that
I carry with me wherever I go.
It can also help your relations with other park guests I'm fond of using the analogy that with my cane when I run into someone, instead of thinking I'm a jerk, they'll think I'm a blind jerk ;) Not only that, but having the cane is also an identifier that there is something "special" about you, which, as much as I hate to admit it, can get some of the assistance required moving before even having to ask for it, and also saves some explanation once you do talk to a Cast Member. They can immediately see that you have some sort of disability so will move a bit faster to help.
importantly, know that with a visual impairment you will be slowed down
more so than an able bodied person, so please do not expect to "see"
as much, nor do as much
.pick what is most important to you, and
make sure you enjoy those things. Take your time moving around the parks
and stop and smell the roses
I've had better days at the Parks when
I've taken my time getting around and spending quality time at various
attractions, rather than running around like a chicken with my head cut
off trying to get as much in as I can
definitely go for quality over
WHEN TO GO?
Deciding when to go is a personal choice, everyone has their own ideas, but for me, large crowds make it very difficult to move about public areas such as the theme parks and other attractions at WDW.
For that, I'd recommend any impaired travellers look into travelling during the slow periods at the parks, AllEars has a great listing of these slow times, consult their list before planning your trip..
With the timeframe that I visit the parks, I have run the gamut of experiences from the parks being almost empty one week, to the next week having them filled with Orange and Black clad bikers taking a side-trip from Bike Week in Daytona, and let me tell you, crowd level makes a huge difference in my enjoyment level. Never mind the wait time for attractions, as that is less of an issue for disabled guests, but it is everything else that makes visiting more hectic, including trying to get to and from the theme parks, dining, seeing shows and everything else you'll want to do while there. The biggest issue for me though is trying to manoeuvre through the throngs of other park guests during the busiest times.
If you can't possibly get there during the low periods, make sure you plan to get to the parks early, and stay late in the parks, possibly going back to your hotel for an afternoon rest during the frenzied time in the day. Getting there early will allow you to take advantage of the park while the lines are shorter and there aren't as many people around, as well as being in the park while the temperatures stay reasonable.
Staying late is also a great idea as well, from my experience many people tend to go home towards the end of the evening, so the park empties out and you'll have an easier time getting around. As well, with less people there it is easier for you to get onto rides and attractions, increasing your fun level at the park.
This past year we didn't do the spectro-magic parade and the first fireworks show in the evening in the Magic Kingdom and had Fantasy Land (one of the busiest areas in the park) almost literally to ourselves there were a few other adults there, but the place was almost kid-free (my two girls were just about the only kids there).
WHERE TO STAY
For me there is really only one choice while visiting Walt Disney World on where to stay, and that is to stay on-site. You will end up paying slightly (to a lot) more for your accommodations depending on your hotel of choice, but there really is nothing like being surrounded by the Disney Magic for your entire trip. Not only that, but there are also several other Resort-guest perks that make it more than worthwhile in my mind. Extras such as free parking at all Theme Parks, the "extra magic hours" to either go early or stay late, the opportunity for the Disney Dining Plan all make staying at a Disney-based hotel a no-brainer for me.
I can't comment on all of the resort hotels for what they are like accommodating impaired travelers, as I've only ever stayed at the value resort hotels, but if my experience at a Value resort is any indication of what it's like at all the other Disney Hotels they take very good care of their disabled guests and go out of their way to make sure that everything that can possibly be taken care of is looked after. They offer special rooms suitably furnished for the special needs of disabled guests, although the "regular" rooms that I usually choose when staying on-site have managed to meet all my needs as an impaired traveler.
The other benefit to the Value resort hotels is that the buildings are smaller (although more of them) but being only three stories tall, and a relatively short walk to everything else, it is very difficult to get lost while trying to navigate around the hotels which you'll love when you're making yet another drink run for your kids.
Having experienced both the All-Star Movies resort, and the newer Pop Century resort, from my experiences I would recommend the All-Star resorts over the Pop Century resorts (despite what the reviews on All Ears might say). I simply did not like the overall layout and design of the Pop Century resort to be as easy for me to get around with my visual impairment. It is more difficult to find a close parking spot to many of the hotel buildings (thanks to the small lake that borders one side of the property) and I absolutely HATE having to weave through a gift shop to get to the food court in the Pop Century resort. Also, because there are a somewhat higher number of hotel rooms, and because they seem to be more popular, the entire Pop Century resort seemed "busier" than the All-Star Movies resort was, especially in the food court area.
TIPS FOR ENJOYING THE PARKS
It is not hard to enjoy yourself while spending the day at one of the Theme Parks at Walt Disney World, so here are a few hints and tips I can give to hopefully make your visit as a visually-impaired park guest easier
Something to remember while visiting the Theme Parks is that one of the things that Disney does so fabulously with their attractions is the general setting of their rides, so rather than waiting in your regular old queue, Disney starts to immerse you in the experience to help build the excitement so make sure that you take your time to "look" at as much as you can while you are waiting. Cast Members usually don't mind visually impaired persons touching and feeling various aspects of the "set dressings" for rides, and I know from experience that my blind Bro-in-Law gets the biggest kick out of some of that stuff. With anything though, be sure to check with a Cast Member before fondling everything in sight there might be something they do not want you to touch, so better safe than sorry.
Also note that most every live show, movie or other entertainment attraction (including the parades) have both low as well as high seating areas set aside for disabled travelers and their guests. Each show lends itself to different benefits of whether you want/need to sit close to the stage/action, or whether you need to sit at the back of the theater/stands, but for the most part being closer to the action helps those with visual impairments feel more of the action, such as the heat from flames and the force of explosions in shows and attractions that have such features.
Also, if you are choosing to go to any of the shows, arrive a little early and ask the Cast Members present if you can be pre-seated prior to the General Admission of the rest of the crowd. This will help alleviate some of the craziness that ensues when the masses stampede to get the best seats, but will also ensure that you get the best seating that you will need to suit your visual impairment. I have had the pleasure of this service at shows across WDW, including Philharmagic at the Magic Kingdom, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Disney-MGM Studios, not to mention the Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany Pavilion, which has a great live show. A hint for the Biergarten Restaurant btw If you make a reservation for a couple minutes before one show, because of how long it will take you to eat, and because of how often the live shows are, you will be there for at least two shows, and the shows are somewhat different, so worth seeing more than one.
One other note about show-type attractions, make sure you do not bypass what may be considered "movie only" type attractions, as there are several that utilize more than just your sense of sight, but also including touch and smell. Two of the greatest are Mickey's Philharmagic (which should not be missed) in the Magic Kingdom, but also It's Tough to be a Bug at Animal Kingdom. They are both 3-D movies (whose effect is mostly lost on me) but also include the other senses, so of course make sure you do not miss a movie show just because you don't think there will be enough to entertain because of a lack of vision.
Remember as well that an attraction that is well-suited or desirable for one visually-impaired traveler may not be appealing to another. I will try to describe and suggest attractions based upon what I like, and also what I think other visually impaired travelers might like as well (recently visiting with my completely blind Brother in Law also helped me "see" another "view" of visiting the parks) but again, people's tastes can vary.
As a general
rule, attractions such as thrill rides are great for pretty much everyone,
whether you are sighted or not
.but the down side is that they are
not everyone's cup of tea. Many of my must-see attractions (and most of
my Bro-in-law's) are such thrill rides as Test Track, Expedition: Everest
and Aerosmith's Rock n' Rollercoaster.
Attractions with dialog or other verbal entertainment can be a bonus, there is less you have to explain what is going on, and so a greater chance of enjoyment, but again, it also is to other people's taste. I really enjoy the Beauty and the Beast stage show in Disney-MGM Studios, while my Bro-in-law thought it was all-right, but would not necessarily need to see it again.
A lot of the newer Disney attractions are now including many senses, such as smell, sound and touch to help get the point across, and I find them very enjoyable, even if I do not get all the visual impact that there could be. Things such as Mickey's PhilharMagic in the Magic Kingdom, It's Tough to be a Bug at Animal Kingdom, and the Spaceship Earth attraction at Epcot are great examples.
I also read a common tip to take the afternoon off and go back to your hotel to rest and relax, which can be a decent tip, but for the amount of trouble it is for me to head out of the park and all the way back to the hotel to relax, a trip of at least a half hour just to get to the hotel, I don't really think it's worth it. For the hour wasted in travel time, time you are NOT spending relaxing, I find it easier to just sit and relax in a quiet neck of the parks. They ALL have some nice spots for you to relax, half the fun of the parks is exploring them to find these quiet areas. If you cannot find anything to your liking, ask a Cast Member where you can find a quiet spot, I'm sure they can direct you to a perfect area.
One other tip that I can offer, that I actually just realized on my last trip is also think about WHEN you are visiting certain attractions. Because of my visual limitations, one thing I have huge problems with is the extremely long length of time it takes my eyes to adjust from a very bright (i.e. Florida sunshine) to a very dark (i.e. most Disney attractions) setting. Last week I rode all the attractions in Fantasyland during THE DAY and saw very little of anything because of how dark everything was but when I re-rode the attractions at night realized that I could actually see more of the rides, because my eyes were already adjusted to the darkness outside, there was little further adjustment that they needed to do.
In the same
vein, you can also try using the LCD screen or camera viewfinder of your
digital camera or camcorder to help you "see" in darkened attractions.
I am constantly surprised at how much better my camera sees than I do
(and actually used my camcorder to find my way around darkened bunkers
during my Europe trip
but I digress) so it can be a viable option
for anyone with little to no low-light ability, like myself. One caveat
however, try to think about other people in the attractions as the light
given off by an LCD screen can be quite distracting to other park guests.
A quick elbow from my wife usually lets me know I'm being a bother
she won't necessarily be riding with you when you're there
to keep in mind.
This is by far the most popular park, by way of attendance figures, so it always helps to have a plan of attack before actually wandering the park itself. It is laid out logically, and usually offers multiple options to move between the various "Lands" in the Magic Kingdom, so moving from one end of the park to the other is fairly painless, even for visually impaired travellers.
I don't think there are any attractions in the MK that I would NOT recommend for those with visual impairments, all are fairly easy to get on and off, with me having no major issues actually getting onto any attractions I intended to visit while there.
Even though I do not always see everything on the rides, there is always something for me to enjoy. Swooping over the streets of London in a pirate ship is magical no matter how much of the ride I can actually see, so make sure you do not bypass anything just because you don't think there will be something for you. Disney always makes sure they attack as many of the senses that they can with their rides, so even though there might be visual cues that you will be missing, there will always be audio and movement that will help bring enjoyment to the riders. Unfortunately, due to its speed and layout, I miss very little of the "Small World" ride including the theme song ;)
The Disney parades offered in the Magic Kingdom are both very good, and well worth seeing at least once. They are both full of dancing and singing characters, and of course if you have kids you will not be allowed to miss them. If you only have one parade in you, decide based upon what your tastes dictate. If the characters mean more to you, stick to the daytime parade, you get more characters on foot that interact with the crowds, probably because most of the costumed ones can actually see the guests lining the parade route. The night parade seems to be more magical and has more of a WOW factor to it, so decide based upon that. From a visual impairment standpoint, I don't think one parade offers more to me than the other one, although people who have a much more restricted visual impairment might find there is more to see at the night parade, the floats are so brightly lit with tens of thousands of lights.
The fireworks show is a good one, but is still just a fireworks show, albeit one done with typical Disney magic. If you are looking to see the show, the most magical view of the fireworks is from in front of the castle, Disney frames the show based upon this fact, but also remember that most of the people will congregate in this area as well. If having the perfect view does not mean that much to your party, consider checking it out from a different area of the park, you can still hear the fireworks quite well, and can often get a better enjoyment out of things if you are not trying to elbow out another group that is nosing in on your space.
If fireworks are not your thing, and the park is still open during one of the shows skip the fireworks and enjoy the empty rides while the rest of the park attendees are standing around waiting for the fireworks. You'll be able to get in at least an hour to an hour and a half of unencumbered touring, which is especially nice for me. Last year we walked onto every single ride we tried to get on, including the ever-so-busy Dumbo ride, and both Cinderella's Carousel as well as the aforementioned Elephant's ride are extra-magical with Disney fireworks in the background.
The second in the line of parks built at Walt Disney World, it offers a little something for everyone, having thrill rides, great shows, and a bevy of entertainment from around the world.
Epcot is separated into two distinct areas, the technology-centred Future World, and the international flavours of the World Showcase. The layout of the park is all right, although it can be somewhat confusing to navigate with all the buildings in Future World when I was there we had a heck of a time figuring out how to get to some of the buildings. The World Showcase is easier, everything rings around the lagoon, but the main problem there is the amount of walking required to go from one country to another, although they do have a water taxi service that can help with this.
To be honest, I didn't often go to Epcot, I cannot really say why, it just never drew me there. I do have to say that after going last year for the first time in years, I think I am going to start going again. They really are updating many of the technology pavilions, something they had NOT been doing, and bringing in some new and very cool sounding attractions. They really are transforming Epcot into a theme park with attractions that actually draw people in again, and for my Brother in Law, Epcot was his favourite park, which had, in his words, "the best multi-sensory and multi-cultural mix" of any of the WDW theme parks.
For the visually impaired traveller there are a ton of great attractions that attack all senses, not just the visual one not to mention everything there is to see and do at the World Showcase there are so many different live shows, not to mention all the great food from around the world, so there should be plenty for anyone with a visual impairment to see and do here.
Some not to miss attractions in Epcot are the new Soarin' ride although you might not be able to benefit from the stunning visuals (that I only caught a bit of) you still get a great sensation of flight, especially when you can catch a whiff of pine from the forests, or a smell of that sea air while flying over the ocean. Soarin' is pretty tame as well, so if you aren't a thrill ride type you should still be able to handle what is a gentle, fun ride.
Test Track is also a must-do attraction. It is a fun little ride that introduces you to the various testing done by automakers on new cars. The highlight is when you go out onto the speed track and manage to hit 65 mph. in the ride car. While this ride can be a bit aggressive, I personally feel that it can be handled by pretty much anyone (if my mother can ride it..and ENJOY it you know it can't be that bad) so should be on almost everyone's itinerary.
SPACE is one of the newer attractions, and I'd like to be able to say
that I can comment on what it is like, but unfortunately could not bring
myself up to riding it
.even though I really REALLY wanted to. I
have a somewhat severe case of claustrophobia, and just sitting in the
ride vehicle caused me a bit of anxiety. Other members of my traveling
group rode the less aggressive "Green Team" line and found it
to be enjoyable enough, and not really much different than other motion
simulators such as Star Tours.
The World Showcase is great. There is so much to see and do, so many great shows and people to talk to, all the various sights and smells and especially the TASTES that I had a great time there last year. A great anecdote I witnessed was a mother with her young daughter, I overheard her daughter exclaiming, "Mommy, I LOVE the World Showcase...it was my favourite part!" which shows it is great for all ages, and has something for everybody including those with a visual impairment. It was also nice to get a little taste of the European vacation my wife and I took a couple years ago, and really made us yearn to go back it is done well.
The evening show, Illuminations:Reflections of Earth is still enjoyable, even with a visual impairment. There is enough extra stuff going on, with a basic storyline, and such a varied amount of noise and sound that it would keep visually impaired people interested, and is good enough to recommend it as a do not skip. I would not plan my trip around the show, but it is very well done, and worth staying around for even with the huge crowds that are leaving at the end.
Disney-MGM Studios (Now Disney's Hollywood Studios)
I really like this theme park a lot. I think it offers such a wide range of attractions for the whole family, and most importantly, has a great selection of things to do for those with visual impairments heck, one show, Sounds Dangerous, isolates the audio element of movies, often all a visually impaired person gets, so it makes the attraction the same for everyone involved.
This is probably the easiest of the four Theme Parks to manoeuvre, especially for visually impaired people. There is usually more than one way to get from point A to point B, with lots of great sights and things to do along the way the only major bottleneck is along Sunset Boulevard on the way to the Rockin' Rollercoaster, the Tower of Terror and the Fantasmic show area.
I also have to say I think Disney Studios have the best shows out of all the Theme Parks, and the great thing is they are still great, even if you cannot see everything going on. I mean hey, you can't get any more exciting than a show featuring Indiana Jones, and the new Lights, Motors, Action show is simply fantastic! One of my favourite shows is also the Beauty and the Beast show I do not want to ruin the show by saying why I find it so enjoyable, but suffice to say, make sure you are seated before the show starts you won't be disappointed ;)
There are some great ride-style attractions here as well, and as stated before they continue immersing you in the experience right from the waiting line from the dilapidated hotel setting for the Tower of Terror, to walking through the recording studio of the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster .two attractions that are Disney at its finest, and both that have waiting areas that offer a little something extra for the visually impaired traveller.
in Disney-MGM is all right, I personally do not know if I would go out
of my way to see it, as there really is not anything special for visually-impaired
guests, and it does not really have the "magic" the parade in
the Magic Kingdom has, but if you like older cars, and some of the interesting
things the Disney Imagineers can do with them, then it is worth a viewing
Also, on the same theme as the shows, make sure you do not miss Fantasmic, it might be the best show that Disney does I don't think there are many others that have the grandeur and scale of this show. Make sure you get there early to secure your seat, they do have limited seating for handicapped people, although they tend to be more oriented for those in wheel chairs. As with other shows, there seems to be enough going on to make the show enjoyable for anyone with a visual impairment there are some things that I miss, but I still really enjoy it. One tip I will give I tried the low-seating area for this show for the first time and would have to say that in my opinion this show is better from further back. Not only do you not have to worry about getting wet (a concern when it was only 52 F out) but you also get a better chance to see the visuals that are visible in the fountain mists. The tradeoff is that you are further from seeing the characters and feeling the heat from the fires, but I feel it is worth it get more enjoyment out of the show.
The newest of the parks in the Walt Disney World, this is Disney's way to tip their hat to the environment, and give park goers more of a naturalistic experience. I will say right off the top I think this is one of the worst-designed theme parks from a physical layout point of view, but even so is visually stunning for those with vision (and of course the rest of your party) and is a great park to wander around.
Why do I say it is poorly laid out? It is very difficult to get from one area of Animal Kingdom to another. Picture a bicycle wheel with the Tree of Life being the main hub. To get to all of the other lands there is usually only one bridge or pathway to go from one place to another, and this can cause some MAJOR congestion at the wrong time of day. This is very stressful for me every time I lose my wife when we're heading into Camp Minnie-Mickey for the Lion King show. More thought should have been given to the movement of people from point A to B. The rest of the park is not bad, but I think someone goofed when they guesstimated traffic patterns in the western end of the park (as you look at the park map).
Saying that, there are some fabulous attractions at Animal Kingdom that really do make it worth the visit. The Lion King show is not to be missed, with a magical combination of dancing, acrobatics, movie and audience participation it is fun for the whole family, and more importantly, fun no matter what your visual skills may be. There is also a new Nemo show, having a daughter who loves the little fish, I know I will be going to see it, so I will report back my findings, but I can just imagine that it will be a top-notch Disney show.
The latest attraction, Expedition: Everest is simply fantastic, I can't say enough good things about it and definetly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a thrill .and anyone who wants to challenge their thrill level. A great location, possibly the nicest themed queue in all WDW makes this one a winner and what an awesome ride!
There are several attractions at Animal Kingdom that are really great for visually impaired park guests. There is a nice selection of thrill rides, from the just slightly thrilling Kilimanjaro Safaris, to the quite scary DINOSAUR! Ride (which anyone with back or neck problems should think twice about riding, it is QUITE aggressive). One of the other features of Animal Kingdom are the nature walking trails, which bring park guests closer to the animals in naturalistic settings. I like the walks, they are quite peaceful, and they really are visually stunning but then again, I can see (somewhat). People with little to no vision will probably only get a nice walk out of the attractions, so if you are pressed for time, you could probably skip them .I usually do every year to spend more time at attractions, or simply resting at my hotel.
Be sure to contact us if you have any questions or comments regarding Touring Walt Disney World with a Visual Impairment.