View Full Version : Parks with very limited vision

01-12-2008, 02:22 PM
Hi everyone,

First of all, let me just say that I think this section of the board is wonderful and I have such great respect for all of you for sharing your stories and helping others. I have been a teacher in an inclusion class, and I will someday be a school psychologist, so I'll be doing a lot of lurking and browsing to read your fantastic suggestions about dealing with special needs.

Now for the actual reason for this thread--I am going to Disney next January, and I very much want my good friend and former housemate to join me. The thing is that he is mostly blind and has very, very limited vision. I think he would probably have fun anyway, but another friend has suggested to me that Disney is a very "visual" place and that he might not get that much out of it. I am very experienced with guiding him around, during the day and at night, so that is not an issue. I'm more concerned with his actual enjoyment of the parks. Before I officially invite him (and pressure him into coming ;)), I want to run this by you guys and see what you think. Would he be able to get a pass that would allow him to sit in the front of theaters or on the sides of ride vehicles so that he would have a shot at actually seeing things? I also am concerned about water parks--we'd like to do one if the weather is nice, but I'm not sure he could. He must wear his (very large, very powerful) glasses at all times and would be entirely blind without them, and glasses and water don't mix very well.

01-12-2008, 07:49 PM
Disney is a very visual place but not JUST visual. I took my mom who also has almost no vision. We both had a great time.
You can get a Guest Assistance Card from Guest Services. Very helpful. We put it in a clear badge/ticket holder that mom wore around her neck. The CMs could easily see it that way. On several rides, with the card, you go through the handicap entrance or get seated in a different area. Some rides with moving platforms were stopped to allow her to get seated safely. She actually was getting pretty good at the moving platforms by the time we had to leave. Jungle Cruise was probably the most difficult as the boat moved up and down and you have to step down so far to get in.
Mom is not a coaster girl and I am. We went through several lines together and when we got to the loading area, a CM guided her to a waiting area.
Mom really enjoyedsitting and listening to the other guests. She especially liked the waiting area by EE right by the water. She could hear the people on the ride screaming and the discussions of those who chose not to ride.
AK is especially nice for those with limited vision. AK has so many carved details. I am sure that Mom felt every one of them. The Tree of Life, gates, posts....all kinds of things.
Food was a highlight for us. Doesn't take vision to enjoy a good meal.
One thing that was troublesome for Mom was ride loading and buses. Not many are set up the same. Which side the hand rails were on and loading seemed to be different everywhere we went. No consistency. Steps were not the same height. Good for theming but not for mobility.
The biggest issue we had was inconciderate guests. Adults, not just kids, would knock her cane and plow into her because we were not moving fast enough to suit them.
Mom ended up breaking the tip of her cane on Small World. The CM brought us a wheel chair. Mom was devistated but it actually made moving around easier. No one knocked her down while in the chair. Mom did bring a spare cane. Good idea. She liked using the tip for rough ground better than the small regular one.
Ask for a ground level room. Many resorts do not have many or any elevators.
There is a book, Pasporters Guide for Disabilities I think it's called. Good book but not much on vision issues.
It was quite interesting to note the differences in rides and movies when you close your eyes. Bug's Life was too funny. Star Tours just a bumpy bus ride. The big drop in Splash Mountain was nothing. We ended up discussing things that most other people don't even notice.
Doing WDW with any kind of disability is only limiting if you let it be. Our trip really expanded my appreciation of all that WDW is.
Go. You will both have a great time.

01-12-2008, 08:36 PM
I am "blind in one eye and can't see out of the other." I have a degenerative eye disease and my vision fluctuates in my good eye. Right now I am doing great and can read large print and drive myself to work. However, there are months at a time when I am dependent on others. In November, I had laser surgery in my good eye. We were in WDW 2 weeks later. I am blessed because I can still see but my eyes tire easily and I sometimes had to close them on rides that move too fast or have too many flashing lights. I of course am unable to ride any of the thrill rides for fear of retinal detachment. I had a blast on my vacation. I told my husband that I think I could enjoy WDW even when my eye disease progresses. The smells and sounds of the parks are wonderful. I could enjoy the shows and of course my favorites the HM and POTC. I have the advantage of so many previous trips that I could visualize the rides in my head. I will admit that the moving conveyor belts can be challenging. My husband always made sure I got in 1st and held onto me until I was in. I know that personally I am not going to let my loss of vision keep me away from my favorite place. I will just enjoy it a little differently.:thumbsup:

01-12-2008, 09:59 PM
Yes Disney is visual, but many of us are hooked on park music so I can tell you that it is a total sensory experience. It is also an olfactory experience, with so many smells, and oh the tastes!

Hugging Mickey Mouse is a thrill regardless of whether you can see him or not!

I also recommend Disney's Passporter for Special Needs, which can be easily ordered off the internet and was just updated this last year.

One thing many people don't realise is that thrill rides are still thrilling when you can't see, you still get that adrenaline rush! BTMRR and SM and Mission Space and Expedition Everest are all enjoyable for the blind (and brave) guest. Soarin' still has the feeling of suspecsion, the awesome music, and the smells.

01-13-2008, 02:02 PM
My husband is registered blind in the UK but does have some residual vision. It is certainly worth getting a Guest Assistance pass. I know they do the sitting at the front of theatres and shows and it is certainly worth asking about side of vehicle. In the old days they used to suggest what they could do but now they seem to expect you to know what you would like and if it is on their list they will do it.

My dh thoroughly enjoys himself at Disney even if he can't see much of it. I agree with the other poster that he notices different things about Disney.

I am not sure about the water parks. We tried it once but it wasn't a big success. He was more nervous there than anywhere else we went! That may not be the case with your friend but it may be.

01-13-2008, 05:04 PM
I have pretty poor vision without my glasses (not to the extent of being legally blind, thank goodness, but still pretty bad). As for the water parks, I've worn my glasses on the lazy river (tubing) and in the main pools. I don't think you can wear them on the slides, though (and even if you can, there's a high risk of breakage, so would you want to?).

01-18-2008, 01:15 AM
My dad is nearly completely blind (just some slight light perception) and we went most recently in December. He doesn't enjoy things the way he used to when he had a bit more sight, but he very much enjoys the smells, music and some of the thrill rides and he can see the brightness of some of the fireworks shows.

A couple of suggestions: Make reservations for some very nice and varied meals. We used the dining plan and ate very well at some of the better restaurants. This was a highlight of the trip.

If your friend likes thrill rides, Mission Space and Expedition Everest are musts. (Besides, Expedition Everest is half in the dark anyway!) Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is a favorite too.

The "dark" rides that we love like Pirates and Haunted Mansion and the Peter Pan ride might be a disappointment for your friend because so much of the joy is in seeing the special effects. Just be ready for that.

Also favorites of Dad's were some of the shows. We went during Christmastime and he loved the Candlelight Processional (because that's ALL music, you really don't even need to see it), and other shows like American Adventure were enjoyable. It's a Small World was fun, and Dad also liked the Jungle Cruise because of the cheesy spiel. You get the idea.

Make sure to see and hear the performers in the World Showcase at Epcot -- the mariachi band in Mexico, the Japanese drummers, the performers in Morocco, the German oompah band. On the other side of the coin, Dad got absolutely NOTHING out of the acrobats in China and the chair acrobat in France, for obvious reasons.

My personal favorite place to see Wishes (the MK fireworks show) is behind the castle near the Winnie the Pooh ride. You're right in the middle of the action, with the music and sounds of the bursts. Dad loved this show.

Don't expect your friend to enjoy all the things you do, and be prepared to be surprised at some of his experiences of the same attractions.