Disney World for Deaf Travellers
Credit: Walt Disney World
Disney works hard to ensure that everyone who visits their parks has the best possible experience. This is true if you or someone you are travelling with has a hearing disability. Disney provides a variety of services for the deaf and hearing impaired community to make their parks and resorts more enjoyable and accessible to everyone. I will focus primarily on amenities for deaf guests but many of them apply to those with hearing impairments also.
Your first step to getting the most out of your Disney experience is planning! I can’t say this enough. There is nothing more disappointing than finding out that you missed the only interpreted show of Beauty and the Beast or that you could have picked up a hand held captioning device at Guest Relations which was way back at the park entrance. If you know what you need and where to find it, you will have so much more fun!
Step 1: Book your resortI
If you are staying at one of Disney’s resorts, they can provide you with a Room Communications Kit. This includes a bed shaker notification, phone alerts or amplifications, door knock alerts, a strobe light fire detector and a TTY telephone.
Disney has made it even easier to book accessible rooms online. On their website, you will need to check the “accessible” room box at the top of the reservation page. This will bring up a variety of accessible room types that you can choose from. Look over the amenities to make sure you see what you need.
Step 2: Plan your fun!
You certainly want to get the most out of your vacation, so do your homework! Some attractions require special devices that must be picked up or there may be shows that only have interpreters available one time on a certain day. Here’s a breakdown of what is available based on the type of attraction it is:
For movie theater types of attractions like Muppets 3D and Mickey’s Philharmagic, Disney has reflexive captioning available. Let the cast member at the front of the attraction know you would like to use this and they can set you up for the show. They can make sure you are sitting in the best place to be able to see the captioning.
For video monitors that are in lines or waiting areas prior to attractions such as the Kilimjaro Safaris, Star Tours and Soarin, there are monitors that will have closed captioning available. In some cases, captioning can be activated by using a handheld captioning device.
For attractions where there is a soundtrack like Spaceship Earth, Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World, Disney has a handheld captioning device. These are available at Guest Relations at the entrance area to each park. They are free to use but require that you leave a deposit. The devices are unique to each park so if you plan on park hopping, you will need to turn it in and get one at the next park. They are on a first come basis.
For live stage shows and performances such as the Move It Shake It Dance Party and the Beauty and the Beast stage show, there are Sign Language interpreters. Disney provides a schedule 2 weeks in advance of the performances stating where an interpreter will be present. It’s important to plan out what you want to see since there is likely only one interpreted performance for that show on that day. Presently, interpreted shows are found in the following parks:
Disney’s Animal Kingdom- Tuesday and Saturday
Disney’s Hollywood Studio- Sundays and Wednesdays
Magic Kingdom: Mondays and Thursdays
To download the current schedule click here.
Live interpreting is also available for the staged dinner shows: Hoop De Do Review and the Spirit of Aloha, if you request it in advance. If you would like interpreting for something unique that is not included in their regular schedule, you can send a request. Disney always does thier best to give everyone a “magical” experience so it can’t hurt to ask! They do need a minimum of 2 weeks to consider any request.
Reach out to WDPRsignlanguageservices@disney.com for information.
Here's a just a quick introduction to the services Disney provides for the Deaf and hard of hearing. Ready to book your own Disney adventure? I would love to be your travel specialist. Let's plan some fun and I'll see you at the castle!