Mommy Frog's Note: With a little help from my niece, who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, we frogs have been learning more and more about the logistics of traveling with someone who has a disability. We are very hoppy to announce we'll be doing more coverage of traveling with disabilities in the coming weeks and months, so that we can pass along what we've learned. And hopefully learn from your experiences too! We will be tackling the sensory challenges while highlighting the positives of having a child with a high IQ and deep interests. Plus we will look at how travel can help fulfill those needs. Have a topic you'd like more information about? Drop us a line in comments below! This post about service dogs at Disney was written after a reader question.
The Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts recognize that some guests require service animals to fully enjoy the park. According to official Disney policy, true service animals are permitted into the parks in full compliance with the ADA. Understanding the differences between companion animals, therapy or emotional support dogs and service dogs is essential; only service dogs are permitted in the theme parks. Here is the full scoop on bringing service dogs or other service animals to Disney World!
Service Dogs Vs. Therapy or Support Companions
While both types of pups perform a major service for their owners and make life easier to manage, only working service dogs are permitted in the Disney theme parks. A service dog is one that helps a person manage a disability; the assistance needed can include both cognitive and physical challenges. Service dogs are covered by the ADA and welcome in most public places; these are considered working animals, not pets.
For those who have a comfort or emotional support animal, your pet is welcome on a leash in the Disney Resort hotels but not the theme parks. You can also use the on-site kennel facilities as needed and spend time with him each day.
Disney World also recognizes that not all service animals are dogs. Mini horses and other animals that are working service animals are included in park rules as well.
Service Dogs and Disney World Rides
While the Walt Disney Company complies with the ADA, there are a few ride restrictions you should be aware of; most these involve safety for your service dog. The policy assumes that your animal is a true service dog and that you require his assistance to fully enjoy the parks and attractions. It also assumes that his behavior is typical of a service dog and that he is fully trained. Your service animal must be on a leash at all times, even if he is well behaved and attentive to your needs.
Service animals are welcome in all Disney World and Disneyland Resort hotels and restaurants, in compliance with the ADA. You can find service dog relief areas in all theme parks and resorts; these are clearly designated on park maps and located throughout each park for convenience.
The following rides do not work well for service animals, for safety reasons:
Magic Kingdom Park
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- The Barnstormer
- Space Mountain
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Slinky Dog Dash
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- Kali River Rapids
- Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain®
- Primeval Whirl
- The aviary area of Maharajah Jungle Trek
Rides and Safety Restrictions for Service Dogs at Disney World
While many rides are service animal friendly, the following restrictions apply to your companion. Most restrictions are in place for his safety and yours and involve ride restraints — these are frogtastic for human riders but not so great for our four-legged friends:
- Animals cannot safely ride roller coasters such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Expedition Everest or any of the mountains. They can’t be secured in the seat, so riding puts them at risk. They are permitted to board most other attractions as needed. Animals that can’t board can wait with another member of your party while you ride, in a process similar to the child switch program.
- Areas with live animals are often restricted; service animals are not permitted in the Affection Section or open aviary locations; Kilimanjaro Safari allows service animals if needed, but owners are urged to use caution.
- Animals can safely ride slower moving attractions that do not require safety restraints and those that have enough space and seating. Trams, monorails and other modes of transportation are service animal friendly.
- Animals are restricted from the waterways, beaches and water attractions, including fountains in the resorts and theme parks. This is for their own safety and the enjoyment and safety of other guests.
Any ride that has restrictions can still be enjoyed; your service dog can accompany you to the ride loading area or wait with a companion at the ride exit.
Comfort and Rest Stops for Service Dogs at Disney World
There are designated rest stops and facilities for your pup throughout each theme park. Visit one of these each time you pass to ensure your companion has the chance to use the bathroom.
While you can get both prepared food and bottled water in the parks, bringing along your pup’s own food and treats, along with a collapsible bowl and any other supplies he needs is recommended. Most of the pet supplies in Disney’s Magic Kingdom are for playtime or dress-up not for actual care and feeding.
If you are visiting the Disney World Resort in summer, be aware that your service dog can get overheated easily. You should also note that parking areas and walkways can get very hot; paw covers may be needed to protect his paws.
Service Dogs and the DAS
When the frog family travels with a tadpole with a disability, we use the Disabilities Access Service (DAS) card to fully explore and enjoy the parks. If you are already getting the DAS for your visit, then your service dog can be included – cast members will even snap his picture! While you can get a DAS, you don’t have to. You are not required to get a DAS card simply because a service animal is with you, the ADA and company policy allow him to accompany you to most destinations in the resorts and theme parks. Here's the scoop on the toadally helpful DAS card for disabilities.
Bringing your service animal to the Disney World Resort can help you have a better time and ensure you are comfortable on your vacation. Both froglets and grown-up guests can still enjoy the services of a working companion while visiting the park and having a frogtastic time.
Have a question about bringing a service dog to Disney World? Share them in comments below!