We are honored today to have a very special Guest! Melissa Knight Coulter of Disney on Wheels is a Disney enthusiast and self-proclaimed geek 😉 who also happens to experience life from a wheelchair. She loves to share her love for all things Disney and shows readers how the Disney Parks are every bit as magical when touring on wheels. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, at Magical Blogorail Orange, and at Chip & Company. Welcome, Melissa!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite parks at Walt Disney World. But it is also one of the more difficult parks to navigate if you are in a wheelchair, so let’s get the negative out of the way first.
It is one big hill.
While most of the hills aren’t too steep they are every where. You are either trying to roll up one or keeping yourself from rolling down one. Even standing in lines for the attractions or characters I was having to keep a tight grip on my wheels. While its not too hard, it does make your arms tired after a while.
While most of the major paths are wider, the paths for the trails to see the animals are pretty narrow. It can make it a little hard to get around if the park is crowded. My advice: grab a FASTPASS for either Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safaris and then visit the Maharajah Jungle Trek, Pangani Forrest Exporation Trail, or the Discovery Island Trails early. It will make it easier to navigate the trails and to see the animals.
Now for the good!
Animal Kingdom is one of the most beautifully themed parks at Walt Disney World. Everything from the shops and restaurants to the attractions are beautiful.
Several of the attractions at Animal Kingdom are wheelchair friendly. Kilimanjaro Safaris has a special safari vehicle that allows you to stay in your wheelchair. The Cast Members will help you on board and then strap your wheelchair in since it is a pretty bumpy ride. I’ve always felt very comfortable riding in the vehicle.
TriceraTop Spin also allows you to stay in your wheelchair as well as the Wildlife Express Train. Just check with Cast Members for instructions.
Expedition Everest has a transfer access vehicle that makes it easier to transition onto the ride. When you are in the queue just alert the Cast Members that you need to use the special vehicle. The side folds down making it easier to get in and out. Just make sure that there is someone in your party that can assist you if you need help, Cast Members are not allowed to help.
All of the shows, the Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, and Flights of Wonder, have special wheelchair seating areas. I highly recommend getting to the Festival of the Lion King early since wheelchair seating is limited.
After several visits to Animal Kingdom I have a few suggestions for wheelchair users. We usually visit early on in our trip before my arms get too tired. I feel worn out later in the week and I just don’t find the park to be as enjoyable when I am tired. Another suggestion I have is to wear gloves. I don’t use gloves regularly, but I find them really helpful at the Parks, especially Animal Kingdom. They help with getting up the hills and even if you are waiting in line you are having to hold you chair in place. The gloves keep your hands from getting bruised or blistered.
Even with the hills, I love Animal Kingdom. I hope my experience there is helpful. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment, or you can e-mail me at disneyonwheels(at)gmail(dot)com.
Expedition Everest is a high speed roller coaster train ride that takes you deep inside the forbidden mountain where you encounter the mysterious Yeti at the mountain’s peak.
Before visiting the attraction learn about some of the historical expeditions to the real Mount Everest in Nepal including Sir Edmund Hillary’s climb. He was the first mountaineer to reach the summit of Everest. You can find information about Sir Edmund Hillary and his climb at Scholastic. Scholastic also offers several associated projects on their teacher’s guide page. For instance, through photos and text, relive Hillary’s trek to the top of the world. Meet the Sherpas, the local people of the region who assist mountain climbers. Find fun Everest facts. Did you know the first two women to reach the summit were American?
School Subject: History
Skill Level: Elementary