Listen to our episode on Accessibility at Disneyland Paris here:
On our last visit to Disneyland Paris, we visited the parks with two family members who suffer from reduced mobility as well as other long term illnesses. Standing in long for extended periods of time, long flights of stairs and walking fast was out of the question. The Facility Card, which Ill expand upon in a bit, made this visit possible. The family member had also never been to a theme park before which made this trip extra special.
We have to give major props to Disneyland Paris for being the most accessible friendly theme park in Europe. Surely there are other parks that offer similar services, but not to the extent that Disneyland Paris does.
It reminded us of our time in the States and how accessibility is lightyears ahead of what we commonly have in… we don’t want to speak for all of Europe but Germany. It’s not an uncommon occurrence to find a flight of stairs before an elevator becomes available or an accessible restroom in a public space is locked. Anyway, Disneyland Paris makes a point of putting up as few barriers up as possible.
Disneyland Paris Access cards
Disneyland Paris offer two access cards:
The Priority Card is for park goers with disabilities (anyone who is officially registered as disabled) accompanied by up to 4 people for attractions and up to 2 people for shows and parades. The Priority Card grants quicker, if not immediate, access to attractions, shows, Disney Character Meet ’n’ Greets, restaurants and shop registers.
The second is the Facility Card, for park goers with a medically diagnosed long term illness accompanied by up to 4 people. The Facility Card is for attractions only. Unlike the Priority card you do not get quicker access to the attractions, instead you are put on a waiting list and are given a designated return time.
Once you acquire your facility card you are also given a paper reservations card. Cast Members at the attraction’s entrances use the reservations card to jot down a return time. A second reservation can only be made once the previous reservation has expired. In the meantime, your party can sit down or enjoy the park.
The Facility Card was the access card we were working with on the day of our visit. It was just the right thing, since a portion of the members in our party needed a bit of time to rest and couldn’t handle standing for long periods of time.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Disneyland Paris brands everything pertaining to accessibility as MagicALL. You’ll likely spot the MagicALL keyword, as well as the classic pictogram of a person in a wheelchair several times during your visit. These graphic and typographic solutions act as a guide and most cast member’s we encountered were also well informed.
Acquiring a Disneyland Paris Access Card
You can get a Access Card by visiting either Studio Services in Walt Disney Studios Park, City Hall in Disneyland Park or the reception or concierge desk at your on-property Disney hotel.
You can request your Priority Card online up to one month before your visit. You can also request it on-site at the locations mentioned above. You will need to present an original document issued by the government or medical authority. Please note, a medical certificate is not sufficient.
Facility Cards can’t be requested in advance, you have to do it on the day you arrive. Available at the same locations mentioned above. You’ll also need to present an original medical certificate, no older than three months, in French or English signed and stamped by a doctor indicating the long term chronic disease.
Since we were visiting the parks with family members who do not have annual passes, we also ended up using our privilege tickets for the first time. Apple weather was like “only a twenty percent chance of rain until noon’. We arrived at 10 past noon and it was pouring buckets. Curse you weather app and your little dog too. I hurried through he downpour myself while the rest of our party bunkered down underneath the Disneyland Hotel. Since most of the space is currently being refurbished, Disneyland Paris currently uses the Walt Disney Studios park ticketing area to handle most of the bureaucracy.
The downside to that is that most of it is uncovered. Theres a dedicated privilege ticket line, which was thankfully clearly marked and completely empty so late in the day. When I arrived at the ticket counter the cast member behind the glass threw me a pitying look. I’m sure I looked a mess, completely soaked through with my crooked pride themed Minnie Ears.
Getting the tickets was a quick and pain free process. I did have to show my reservation confirmation, a screen shot sufficed. Unlike the theme park entry reservations these are surprisingly not linked to the annual pass in their systems. Usually cast members just scan your annual pass and see your entry reservations. So be aware that you need to prove you reserved privilege tickets on the day of your visit.
Thankfully the rain was starting to fizzle out at this point. So we entered Disneyland Park together and headed straight to City Hall. There was a short line out front. After waiting around ten minutes we got the the front where a friendly cast member asked us how they could help. After explaining that we were there to pick up a Facility Card, the cast member checked the medical documentation and sent us in.
Please note that the individual receiving the Facility Card will need to be present. Once we got inside City Hall the whole process took about five minutes. The Cast Member helping us took a photo of the person who was getting the Facility Card and explained that they would always need to be present when entering an attraction. Surprisingly, Disneyland Paris prints out a hard plastic, annual pass like Facility Card valid for the duration of the trip. In addition you also receive a separate paper card where Cast Member near the attractions entrances can jot down a designated return time.
Overall the process is fine, it could be improved by making it available online (for the Facility Card as well) with some sort of a digital solution via the Disneyland Paris app. That would save some precious time in the parks and a bit of hassle.
Limitations of the Facility Card
Besides not being granted immediate access the biggest limitation is that you can only have one reservation at a time. Both of these limitations are completely reasonable when considering attraction capacity. Once your paper reservations card fills up, you can head back to City Hall to request a new one.
That’s something that could be improved upon with a digital solution but overall the Facility Card does exactly what it needs to do. At least in our case, which was to avoid standing for long periods of time. Instead of waiting in line for Les Voyages de Pinocchio (Pinocchio’s Daring Journey) for thirty minutes, we waited for our reservation sitting down. The reservations return window usually correlated with the current attractions stand by wait time.
So one funny thing that occurred happened by the Disneyland Paris security gates. The story is exclusive to our podcast episode so be sure to give it a listen if you would like to hear it.
Riding Attractions with the Facility Card
The attractions on-ride experience is mostly the same as the conventional ride experience. The biggest differences are the queue and boarding process. Most attractions have a designated MagicAll boarding area, which is often accessible via the exit. Be sure to check the accessibility map for the designated MagicAll entrance. You can pick up a copy when you pick up your facility card (in french only) as a printout. Alternatively it’s also available in English as a pdf online.
In some cases not using the conventional queue results in a bit of ambient and story loss. However, we would consider that a compromise and not a complete dealbreaker.
Let’s use Pirates of the Caribbean as a baseline example. We first headed to the attraction entrance to get a designated return time with our Facility Card. It was a twenty minute wait and our reservation return window was for in 30 minutes. So we took it easy by the water fountain near Le Coffre du Capitaine.
When it was time for our reservation we headed through the attractions exit (which went against the grain as someone who is so used to exiting that way) to the cast member responsible for MagicAll. There was a small waiting area right by the boat dock. After about 5 minutes we were lined up and separated into rows. The gates stayed closed for the conventional queue while the exit gates opened and we were able to board our boat. The rest of the experience was virtually unchanged and the first timers were completely blown away by Pirates of the Caribbean. Never having experience anything like the massive dark ride before.
There is a MagicAll parking lot available. It’s also known as the Winnie the Pooh parking lot and it’s directly across from the annual passholder Infinity parking lot. You do need a special access code to park there. You can request the code at the parking gates. The Winnie lot is also the parking lot that has electric chargers for EV’s.
We got lucky and we’re able to charge there on our last trip, but really it’s like winning the electric lottery. Since only four charging spots are available. It’s also worth noting that the Infinity parking lot also has 4 dedicated MagicAll parking spots. If you’re an Infinity passholder and would like MagicAll parking, those spots are available to you as well.
Overall we’re pretty happy with the Facility Card. Our family member’s would not have been able to experience Disneyland Paris without an access card. Disneyland Paris is one of the best theme parks in Europe in regards to accessibility. The Imagineers designed the park’s and attraction’s so as many people as possible can enjoy them.
Have you used one of the access cards before? Let us know in the comments below.
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