Disability Accessible Guest Rooms
Walt Disney World has always been a particularly good destination in terms of the way the special needs of guests with various disabilities are handled. At the start of March 2012, the process of booking hotel rooms was further enhanced and it is now possible to request very specific room types at the time of booking.
Previously, most of the rooms which had been modified for wheelchair accessibility featured just one King Bed rather than two doubles. However during the 2010-2012 refurbishment program, a decision was made to extend the floor space and “bump out” the wall next to the entrance doorway so as to allow enough extra accessible space for two queen size beds in wheelchair accessible rooms. This has opened up the same facilities and room capacities for wheelchair guests that other families had previously been able to enjoy.
There are a couple of minor downsides to the reconfiguration though. Firstly, there are no longer any wheelchair accessible rooms which feature connecting doorways, as the two queen beds now overlap the area where a doorway would have been located. Secondly, the new Alligator Bayou wheelchair accessible rooms do not feature the new fold-down murphy beds, presumably because the armoire wardrobe takes up too much space to allow for them, so there is no option for a fifth person. A few King Bed Accessible rooms have been retained for those guests who still want them though.
There are now four main Accessible Room categories, which are generally available throughout the resort in all of the various view types. Wheelchair accessible rooms are either located on the ground floor, or near to the elevators on the second/third floors:
- Wheelchair Access with Roll-in Shower (with option for Hearing Accessibility). These rooms feature a sliding door (rather than privacy curtain) between the main bedroom area and the combined shower / single-handbasin / toilet section. As the toilet now takes up space which would otherwise have been used for a hanging clothes rail, there is also an extra full-size wardrobe in the bedroom area. Other enhancements include square tables and accessible height electrical outlets. Note: no connecting rooms are available, and there are no Murphy beds in the Alligator Bayou rooms.
- Wheelchair Access with Bathtub plus extra handrails (with option for Hearing Accessibility). These rooms feature a sliding door (rather than privacy curtain) between the main bedroom area and the combined bathtub / double-handbasin / toilet section. As the toilet now takes up space which would otherwise have been used for a hanging clothes rail, there is also an extra full-size wardrobe in the bedroom area. Other enhancements include square tables and accessible height electrical outlets, etc. Note: no connecting rooms are available, and there are no Murphy beds in the Alligator Bayou rooms.
- Hearing Accessible with Visual Alarms and Notifications e.g. strobe lights as part of the smoke alarm system.
- “Florida Special” Accessible Room (with option for Hearing Accessibility). Features extra handrails near the bathtub and toilet.
Currently Port Orleans French Quarter provides 32 wheelchair accessible rooms plus at least the same again of the various other accessible types, and Port Orleans Riverside provides 37 wheelchair accessible rooms plus various other types — although the POR allocations are set to change substantially as more of the new refurbished sections are completed.
To check for availability in each room category, further broken down by view type, tick the box under the new heading “Do you need an Accessible Hotel Room?” on the main Walt Disney World online booking form. The site also has specific pages for general advice for guests with disabilities and specific hotel-room information. For anything not covered on the website, please call 1-407-934-7639.
You can also contact the general Walt Disney World Special Assistance line on 1-407-939-7807 (TTY for the hearing impaired is 1-407-939-7670). They can help out with any specific requirements and under certain conditions (discussed on a case-by-case basis) may be able to get the resort the block out a particular room in advance for you.
For more Port Orleans Accessible Room photos, please see our Magnolia Bend Photo Gallery page. I also highly recommend Deb Wills’ website, AllEars.net, which has an extensive section providing information on just about any disability or special need you could think of (including special dietary requirements). See their main Special Needs page for links to each subsection.
The following message was posted by guest Bill Sears about his stay in an Accessible room at Port Orleans French Quarter in May 2011, shortly after the refurbishments were completed. Thanks for the permission to repost it Bill.
I just got back from a wonderful vacation and I stayed at POFQ. I was pretty shocked when I checked into my room and saw 2 queen beds. I almost went back to the front desk to explain that there must have been a mix up but I looked in the bathroom first. WOW, there was a roll-in shower there!
During my trip I spoke to some CMs about it and they said that ALL of the roll-in shower rooms at POFQ had been converted over to the 2 queen beds. It’s a shame about no more king beds for the roll-in shower rooms for those who wish to share a big bed [Actually, they did retain a few King Bed Accessible Rooms --- Admin] but it’s great for those who do not want to share beds.
A couple other thing about these rooms is that there is no standard closet, instead an armoire is in the room. Also there is no room for a connecting door so no connecting rooms would be available.
I didn’t bring a tape measure so I don’t have any measurements but I took some pictures:
As you can see from this picture they added a bit of extra space to the room by removing the entry alcove that is standard on the outside entrance. I was in the room with the red door, room 1111.
As you enter the room you can see how cramped it is inside. I suppose in some ways it’s probably a little roomier than the standard room but it’s pretty tight for those of us on wheels. I could move my wheelchair without any problems down the path to the bathroom and I had no trouble going between the beds. But the distance between the far bed and the wall is only about 1 foot so there was no way for me to get there.
I’d guess the bed is about 23 inches high.
The “closet” is the last piece of furniture on the wall and the refrigerator is located under the TV.
They had two bars in the closet, one accessed through one door and the other from the other door.. One worked great for the smaller stuff and the other would hold dresses, I think. Both were lower down than normal and I could reach then easily.
But the closet has two doors on it. When you’re in a wheelchair you can only open one door at a time. If you open a door then it blocks the walkway so you can’t get both open at once and still get into the closet. Plus you needed to turn around and approach from the correct side to be able to open the doors. So I would often have to open the door, see I needed something from the other side, then go into the bathroom or over to the spot between the beds to turn around then I could get the right side open.
Looking out from the bathroom you can see the entrance and a bit of the table on the far right near the window. On the ceiling you can see how much room was added since there is an outline where the old alcove was.
The entrance to the bathroom has a nice wide pocket door that slides into the wall near the beds.
The bathroom toilet seemed to be about 20-21 inches high. A bit higher than my standard toilet at home but lower than the seat of my wheelchair. The sink had a cut away underneath that worked fine for me. You can see it’s just a single sink not a double like the normal rooms.
The roll-in shower worked great for me. Usually I seem to get water all over the place in the Disney roll-in showers but this one had a small, maybe 1/4", lip that seemed to do a great job of keeping the rest of the room dry.
Here’s a shot of the seat and the controls. The seat folded up when not in use. I thought the seat was great! No wooden slots to scrape against your butt when transferring. The seat was probably 21-22 inches and seemed a perfect height for my transfers. It was a nice size for me, I never felt like I might slide off because it was too small. It was also very sturdy, I never felt like it was going to move under me while showering or transferring.
The bottom control in the shower diverted the flow from the hand held shower head show to a fixed shower hear just out of the picture at the top. A very nice feature!
Overall I’d be very happy to get this room again. The bed could have been an inch or two lower and of course I’d always like more floor space but other that that I thought this was a very good design.