It may come as a surprise to find that Disney’s California Adventure Park (DCA) has fewer wheelchair accessible rides than Disneyland. Especially when you consider the fact that DCA is a much newer park. But alas, it’s true. Don’t let the lack of wheelchair accessible rides at DCA fool you, though. This in no way takes away from the magic, excitement, and charisma that is found all throughout the park.
If you or someone you know will be using a wheelchair at the parks, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you need to rent a wheelchair or are bringing your own, you’ll be able to comfortably experience a myriad of attractions and rides without needing to transfer out of your chair.
DCA is a much less congested and more spread out park than Disneyland. Some may even conclude that many of the rides cater more to adults than children as opposed to Disneyland. I do find that it is easier to experience DCA in a single day, which is something to take into consideration when planning your vacation. In any event, you can rest assured that you’ll have plenty of fun things to do and see while you’re there!
So, lets take a look at DCA’s wheelchair accessible rides…
Map of California Adventure Park for People with Disabilities
Disneyland Resort has designed a special guide map for people with disabilities. This map is very helpful when trying to locate accessible rides, attractions, companion/family bathrooms, and many other services you may need during your trip. I recommend getting familiarized with the map so you can plan your day and familiarize yourself with the layout of the park.
To get your free hardcopy of this park map for people with disabilities, visit the Chamber of Commerce building in California Adventure Park.
Important Symbols to Recognize
You will notice at the entrance of every ride and attraction there will be a sign posted that displays different types of wheelchair symbols. It’s important to recognize and remember what these symbols mean. These symbols will be listed and defined on the park map as well.
The first symbol (as seen below) means exactly what is says. Whenever you see this symbol, it means you are able to remain in your Electronic Conveyance Vehicle (the ECV you rented from Disneyland) and/or wheelchair.
The second symbol (as seen below) means that if you are not always using a wheelchair, you must transfer to a wheelchair. You will not be able to ride the ride in the Electronic Conveyance Vehicle you rented from Disneyland. If for some rare reason your wheelchair is not suitable for the ride, the cast members will have you transfer into one of the park’s wheelchairs. Every ride has a wheelchair on standby for those who need it.
Wheelchair Accessible Rides at California Adventure
Location: HOLLYWOOD LAND
Feel like hopping in a taxi and taking an adventurous journey through the land of Monstropolis? This ride allows wheelchair users to roll right on into a specially-designed taxi cab and help Mike and Sully return little Boo safely to her hometown before it’s too late.
The accessible vehicle (taxi) is particularly roomy and is capable of fitting a pretty large wheelchair. Monsters Inc is the one ride that I find to be the easiest to maneuver in and out of due to it’s extra spacious design. The cast members will completely stop the ride to accommodate you entering and exiting the vehicle. The ride itself is slow and not jerky at all. There are moments where it is dark and loud.
The Little Mermaid
Location: PARADISE GARDENS PARK
The Little Mermaid is by far my favorite wheelchair accessible ride at California Adventure Park. Ambulatory riders are able to board their own clamshell and sail into a magical under-the-sea world. Wheelchair users get to board King Triton’s Chariot, a uniquely transformed vehicle that is equipped with a ramp for easy access. The cast members will slow the ride down (it’s on a moving floor) or completely stop the ride at your request so you can safely board and disembark from the ride. There is room for one person to sit with the wheelchair user.
This ride is slow and not jerky at all. There are moments where it is loud and most of the ride is dark. At one point near the beginning of the ride, it does tilt back slightly as you travel “under the sea”. Contrary to going “under the sea” there is no actual water and you will NOT get wet. Rather you’ll enjoy memorable characters, classic tunes, and unforgettable sites that will surely leave you with a smile!
Pixar Pal-Around Ferris Wheel
Location: PIXAR PIER
Let’s get one thing straight, I do not recommend this ride if you are at all afraid of heights. The Pixar Pal-Around will take you up to 150 feet into the air! This ride has 2 gondola types: swinging and non-swinging. It’s important to note, if you choose the non-swinging gondola, it will still rock back-and-forth slightly. When I opted to ride this ginormous ferris wheel, I could not believe they were able to accommodate my 400 pound power wheelchair. The thought of all that weight (not including my weight and the weight of my family) traveling 150 feet into the air still scares me to death! (This is where I kept praying they put some extra reinforcement steel bolts on my gondola, ha!)
Setting aside the height issue, this is a calm, slow ride that provides you with beautiful panoramic views of the park and surrounding Anaheim area. When entering the gondola, a cast member will hold it steady and fold up the benches inside until you get situated. The cast members will put blocks behind your wheels to prevent your wheelchair from moving even when powered off. There is room for 2-3 people to fit in one gondola with the wheelchair user.
Toy Story Midway Mania
Location: PIXAR PIER
Toy Story Midway Mania is an exhilarating 3D ride (you wear 3D glasses) that swivels and whips you around through a world of wild toys. Wheelchair users will board in a separate area so not to stop the flow of other riders entering and exiting the ride. Cast members will direct you to wheel yourself as close to the front of the vehicle as possible. Then the cast members will proceed to lock your wheelchair in place using tie-downs and blocks behind your wheels. The loading and unloading process does take a while and with good reason.
I found this ride to be extremely jerky as it tosses you in every direction (several times) before it comes to a brief halt. During the brief halt, guests use the shooting gun in front of them to shoot rings and other objects at the targets in front of you to earn points. The character will countdown until the game is over before the ride starts moving again. I held on for dear life before the character even got to 3,2,1, go! A guest is able to sit with the wheelchair user in the same vehicle. Additionally, the shooting gun in front of the wheelchair user gives the option of pulling the lever or pushing a button to shoot things. I found pushing the button much easier on my weak hands.
Ride with CAUTION. In my opinion, it takes much needed core physical strength to enjoy this ride. If I ever decide to ride this again, I will consider strapping my chest and head to the wheelchair so I don’t fly all over the place! (Whew!)
Jesse’s Critter Carousel
Location: PIXAR PIER
Jessie’s Critter Carousel is one of Disney’s newest creations. Wheelchair guests are able to board this whimsical ride to the right of the standard queue where a cast member will be waiting to provide you with boarding instructions. This ride a slow and gentle, and like all carousels, it spins around. When you’re on this ride, be sure to notice the vibrant colors and details of all the intricately hand-painted critters!
As you can see, DCA has some thrilling rides that are fully wheelchair accessible. I personally give Disney props for coming up with inventive ways of accommodating all types and sizes of wheelchairs.
Looking for wheelchair accessible rides at Disneyland? Click here.
Do you have any questions or tips to share regarding visiting DCA in a wheelchair? Please feel free to leave a comment below!