4 Best Wheelchair-Friendly Attractions In Florida
Traveling with a disability can be a challenge. Even with the Americans with Disabilities Act at your side, if you’re in a wheelchair, you’ll need to do some extra planning. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Florida that are wheelchair-friendly! Below we’ll take a look at a few you might want to consider the next time you head to the Sunshine State.
A Few Facts About The Sunshine State
If you’re worried about how accessible Florida attractions are in a wheelchair, here are some fast facts about disabled access in Florida. Businesses are required to:
- Recognize out-of-state parking permits and allow you to use them to park in spaces designated for those with disabilities
- Restrooms that are wheelchair-accessible must be conveniently located
- Guide dogs are allowed in all establishments, but be aware they may not be able to ride a ride with you in a theme park
Walt Disney World
This is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in all of Florida. In fact, the Magic Kingdom in Orlando is the most visited amusement park in the world. You didn’t think Mickey wouldn’t consider making it a wheelchair-friendly place, did you?
The Walt Disney World Resort has many hotels to choose from and handicap-accessible rooms available in each. They provide transportation from their resort hotels to each of their four theme parks and the buses, boats, monorails, and Skyliner that help to provide that transportation are also accessible to those in wheelchairs. Many resorts also have zero-entry pools available.
Once in the parks, most of the queues for rides are wheelchair-accessible. If a line cannot fit a wheelchair, then you are directed to an accessible entrance. You must be able to transfer from the wheelchair to the ride vehicle on your own, but if you can do that, then there’s no reason not to visit your favorite pirate in the Caribbean or rocket through space on Space Mountain.
If you have additional issues that make it difficult to wait in line even in a wheelchair, Disney also offers something called the “Disability Access Service.” This allows you to get a return time for a ride and then wait somewhere else you’re more comfortable until it’s time. Then, simply return to the ride and skip the standby wait.
While Disney World may be big, but it’s not a place that you should shy away from visiting in a wheelchair, because it’s so wheelchair-friendly. Even parking with a disabled parking pass at Disney resorts and theme parks is free!
Each of the state parks in Florida is accessible to those with disabilities. They offer the following programs and facilities to those with special needs:
- Boat tours
- Accessible hiking trails
- Accessible fishing piers
Also, if you are considered 100% disabled, then you are eligible for discounted rates for tent camping sites or RV sites in Florida state parks.
If you’re ready to explore a little history, few places can compete with what St. Augustine has to offer in Florida.
On the Atlantic coast, St. Augustine may be old, but it’s not unfriendly to those in a wheelchair. Its historic district is accessible to wheelchairs, as is the Castillo de San Marcos. This historic fort has a lower level, theater, restrooms, and bookstore that are all wheelchair-accessible.
If you love animals, you can visit St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, too. This modern zoo has shows and exhibits that will capture the imagination of children and adults alike and is also wheelchair-friendly.
Finally, you won’t have any problems in your wheelchair accessing Fountain of Youth Archeological Park (but no promises can be made about turning back the hands of time and actually emerging younger from that exhibit). Simply rest assured you’ll have no issues getting to see the first Spanish settlement of the new world.
The Florida Keys are a popular destination for fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling – and if you’re in a wheelchair, then you can also experience those things in Key Largo.
There are several adapted water sports programs in Key Largo that are equipped especially for wheelchairs. Their vessels have accessible bathrooms and lifts that allow wheelchair users to be lowered into shallow water for swimming and snorkeling.
The Island Dolphin Care Center even has wheelchair-accessible dolphin experiences. And the Dolphin Research Center has glass-bottom boats, dive boats, and beach wheelchairs available for their guests.
The tourist industry in Florida is what fuels the state, so rest assured they’ve not left out those in wheelchairs when creating experiences that families can cherish together for years to come. Florida is a great place to vacation for everyone.