Navigating the Magic: A Journey to Disneyland Paris with Disabilities

Embarking on a trip to Disneyland Paris is a magical experience for any family, but when faced with the challenges of accommodating disabilities, planning becomes essential. Join us as we take you through our recent family adventure to Disneyland Paris, with our twin daughters who have Autism and our grandfather who in a wheelchair.


Our journey began with extensive planning to ensure the trip was suitable for both our daughters and grandfather. From selecting suitable entertainment for the 5-hour drive to Dover to identifying accessible rest stops, we left no stone unturned in creating a comfortable travel experience.

During the planning process, we created a spreadsheet that listed all the rides and shows and then sat down with the members of our party and removed any rides\shows that we didn’t want to ride or see, then using the Disneyland Paris App we used their handy filters to display wheelchair accessible rides and height restrictions to further reduce down the list, this allowed us an idea of what areas to priorities during the day and what areas to use our magic hours for.

30 days before your arrival at Disneyland you can apply for a Priority Access Card this allows a disabled guest and 4 members of their party access to priority queues for the rides and shows via a dedicated entrance or via the attractions exit more information on this can be found here within the access card section  – Priority Access Card

The Journey There

We chose to drive to Disneyland Paris as this allowed us to travel in the comfort of our own vehicle and on our own time on either side of the ferry crossing, I was nervous about the drive within France as it was my first time driving abroad and on the wrong side of the road for myself.

We opted for the 7AM Dover to Calais ferry as this allowed us time within the parks on the day of arrival, having an early ferry meant that we had to be at port for 5AM check-in, because of this we chose to stay at the premier inn beside the port on the night before our departure.

4 AM rolls around kids are awoken and loaded into the car and it’s time to set off, just a short 2-minute drive into port and everybody is excited, however in true holiday fashion we were selected for a random screening search of our car, the lady that did this was very kind and professional and had us on our way before the kids had even realised we had stopped. During check-in you will pass through 2 different booths the first booth is the UK passport booth where you will get your passport stamped, after this you will then navigate through the port and find the check-in booth for your ferry provider where your passport will then be scanned in, after check-in you will be given a lane number to queue in, if you have guests who struggle with waiting I would highly recommend purchasing priority boarding for an extra £10 as it gets you on the ferry first and off the ferry first ( within the first 50 cars ).

If you are travelling with somebody who has mobility problems and requires mobility aids let a member of staff know while you are in the queue lane and they will make sure to position your vehicle near a lift for easy access on the ferry.

Ferry boarded we hopped out of the car and headed up the lift to the ferry lounge where we found a large accessible toilet with automatic doors, a hot and cold food restaurant and plenty of seating with large windows to look out, the duty-free was well stocked and for younger children, there is a small soft room with a wall-mounted TV.

The ferry journey took roughly 2 hours from boarding in Dover to offloading in Calais this was then followed by a further 3.5 hour drive to Disneyland Paris, there are 3 routes to choose from we chose the A26-A4, you will encounter a toll road which is roughly 25 euros and accepts both card and cash.

The Hotel

We chose Sequoia Lodge for our stay at Disney purely for the fact we were visiting at Christmas time, we wanted the woodland feel to bring in the extra bit of magic, the staff were friendly and we were all placed in rooms nearby each other, the rooms although looking slightly dated were the perfect place to put our heads at the end of the day, we were given rooms in one of the lodges not attached to the main hotel although slightly quieter it was annoying having to head outside to get access to the main hotel for things such as breakfast and access the shop and reception.

The hotel was a 15-minute walk past the lake through Bag check and then through Disney Village, with the cold air it certainly woke us up in the morning on our way into the parks.

We only ate dinner in the on-site restaurant on one of the evenings, if you are somebody who doesn’t deal well with crowds I would avoid this at all costs the restaurant was full and with a buffet menu people were pushing in left, right and centre making it difficult to help our children get food without being knocked against, the upside, there is plenty of choice on offer for food and the desserts were great, if I did it again I would, however, opt for a table service restaurant.

The perks of staying in a Disney hotel were the short walking distance and the magic hours which I would say is worth a slightly higher price, we have previously stayed at The Explorers Hotel which is only a short distance away, roughly a 30/40 minute walk or 10-minute shuttle ride however the shuttle was a nightmare, its as if that bus is the last one in existence and if you didn’t get on you could not get back, people would push and shove just to be the first on it, I would pay extra just to not have to experience that bus ever again if you do choose to stay at an off-site hotel an uber/bolt will set you back roughly 15-20 euros each way and seats 4.

Magic Hours

If you are staying in a Disneyland hotel you can benefit from magic hours the times change throughout the year but this allows you 1 hour in the park before it is open to the general public, this is the perfect time to get those pictures you have longed for without the big crowds or get on those rides without having to endure the long queues, there are some characters out and if you are a Priority Card holder you can head to the meet and greet locations and get yourself a return time for later in the day while there are plenty on offer.

Navigating The Park

While we knew visiting around the Christmas period would be busy we did not expect to encounter as many people as we did. the pathways were full the queues were up to 2/3 hours for some of the more popular rides and characters and even with the Priority Card we found ourselves queuing for up to an hour for attractions such as the Princess Pavilions, now I know this may not seem like a lot compared to the normal queues but when you are traveling with children who struggle to queue this can become difficult so make sure to take snacks, activities or fiddle toys to keep them occupied while queuing.

Most of the people we encountered in the park were polite but be prepared to be walked into and trodden on while they walk around taking pictures and chasing characters, the sight of adults chasing after princesses while pushing children out of the way is one that always amuses me, it was difficult to navigate a wheelchair through the park at times and plenty of people just stepped out in front of us and almost ended up in the lap of my grandfather while not paying attention to their surroundings so id recommend either booking for a quieter time of the year or taking extra time while heading around the park, Studios was much better as it has only 1/4 of the capacity of the Disneyland park so there was more room to navigate.

There were plenty of food stands out offering festive treats but be prepared to queue, if you are looking to watch the parades head down to the bottom of the main street near the park entrance you get a great view of the floats and characters and because everyone else is in the park, they all crowd around the castle meaning its a little bit quieter.

If parades aren’t your thing use this time to go on the rides or do character meet and greets as the queue times drop considerably as people head towards the castle to take in the parade.

If you choose to watch the show and the end of the day head towards the Arcades on the side at exit time, as everybody crowds down the middle you find both of these are a lot quieter meaning less pushing and shoving and a quicker exit from the park, alternatively wait around for 20 minutes for the crowds to disperse again it’s a great time to get some night time photos.

Character Meet And Greets

Having a Priority Card really helped when it came to the character meets as it allowed us to get a return time so that we didn’t have to wait in the long queues, id recommend getting to the meet and greet slot roughly 20/25 minutes prior to the meet and greet opening time to get your return slot as they only have a limited amount of spaces per meet and greet.

Not all meet and greets are displayed within the Disneyland app so make sure to keep an eye out as the characters pop up throughout the day across the park.

If you want to meet a princess then Princess Pavilion is great, the only downside it’s one princess per visit to the pavilion and you don’t know who you are meeting until you are inside. the cast member will not tell you who is currently present as they rotate out the princesses every 15 minutes so all you can do is watch the door and hope the one you want to meet is in there, once inside you can ask a cast member to meet a certain princess and if they are available they will do their best to accommodate you, I’d highly recommend doing the princess Lunch or dinner if you can as this allows you to meet up to 5 characters, we had the pleasure of meeting Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Perla and Suzie.

The other opportunities to meet characters are in the dining experiences at Plaza Gardens where you can meet different characters, again it is not guaranteed who will be there as they rotate the characters but if you have a look on social media you can get a good idea, we were able to meet Captain hook, MR.Smee, Genie & Rabbit at dinner and then we met Eeyore, Donald, Daisy & Goofy at breakfast.

If you are in studios make sure to keep an eye out at the Avengers campus as every 15-20 minutes there is a character appearance whether it be Loki and Thor outside the Webslingers shop or Spiderman on the roof there is always excitement waiting to happen.

If your children are dressed up as their favourite characters make sure to keep an eye out in the parades as you can sometimes get lucky with the cast members and characters who will walk over to greet you and have a short but memorable interaction.

Conclusion: Creating Magical Memories Despite Challenges

Would I do this trip again?

In a heartbeat I don’t think it matters whether it’s your first time at Disney or your hundredth there is something about walking into the park and heading down Main Street that just brings warmth to a person, the little sparkle in the children’s eyes as they meet their favourite characters, the Photo from the thrill ride that captures the excitement on faces, from the moment you book to the moment you leave the excitement stays and every person I have come across that has done Disneyland always says the same thing, they arrived home and the first thing they did was price up the next trip.

So if you are considering doing Disneyland but your still unsure take the plunge, take your time planning and use the power of social media there are plenty of facebook groups with lots of knowledgable people such as Disneyland Paris – Special Needs or Disabilities

I hope this post has helped you and thank you for reading.

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