Ultimate Guide to Universal Studios Theme Parks for Guests with Disabilities

Navigating a theme park can be a tricky experience, even more so when you or another party member may have a disability.  If visiting Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood or Orlando, a myriad of accommodations are in place to help make the theme park experience smoother for guests with disabilities.  Read on for a detailed description of how to navigate Universal Studios for guests with disabilities

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Attractions Assistance PassJurassic Park ride coming down the hill with a splash

Both locations share the Attractions Assistance Pass (AAP) option for navigating Universal Studios for guests with disabilities. This pass is best for guests who may have a cognitive or physical disability. The AAP allows easier waiting for attractions, rides and shows. The pass can be obtained by visiting guest relations. Make sure you provide as much information as possible about the guest to help determine the need for the pass. A doctor's note is not legally required but can aid in determining the necessity of the pass.

How the APP Works at Universal Studios for Guests with Disabilities

The Attractions Assistance Pass is similar to how the Disney Disability Access Service system works. The Universal Studios guest will receive a placard with the date, the guest's name, number in party and a barcode imprinted on it.  The party heads to the attraction of choice and gives the placard to the attendant. If the conventional line is less than 30 minutes, the group will wait in an alternative queue. The group may also wait in a Universal Express line if available. If the wait time is more than 30 minutes, a return time will be assigned. Upon returning, the party will be directed through the alternate queue.

The pass may only be used one attraction at a time. However, if the wait time is less than 30 minutes on a different attraction, you and your party can wait in the alternate queue there and not lose your return time for a different attraction. Unfortunately, attending peak season can find guests using the AAP spending a lot of time waiting due to the crowds. An alternate suggestion is to also purchase the Universal Express Pass, available at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando. This specially purchased pass allows guests to skip the line and go straight to the front.

If Florida is your vacation destination, some of the Universal Studios hotels offer the Universal Express option in the hotel package.  If you're staying at Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort, take advantage of the Universal Express. In addition to this hotel trio, Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort offer early morning entrance.  Guests can enter the park at 30 minutes prior to opening.  This another great way for guests with disabilities to navigate the queues.

Navigating Universal Studios Hollywood for Guests with Disabilities

Both Universal Studios locations follow the same protocol to support guests with disabilities but there are a few nuances different for each. Universal Studios Hollywood is on a much smaller scale so the guides for guests with disabilities are less complex to understand.

Universal Studios Hollywood entrance

Getting to Universal Studios for Guests with Disabilities

A shuttle is available to accommodate guests using wheeled mobile devices from the bottom of Universal Hollywood Drive to the hotels, the city walk and actual theme park. Guests not able to navigate the escalators between the lower and upper lots can also use the shuttle. All trams can most often accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs but these must be fastened securely on the shuttle by a Universal employee. Studio tour trams can accommodate the wheelchairs as well but can not allow the ECVs aboard. Guests in wheelchairs have accessibility to all locations entering and throughout the park but NONE of the actual rides can accommodate the wheelchairs.

Wheelchairs at Universal Studios for Guests with Disabilities

Wheelchairs and electronic conveyance vehicles (ECV) are available for daily rental at the theme park. Wheelchair rental is $15/day and ECV costs a daily fee of $60, with the wheelchair rental requiring a $25 refundable deposit.

Attractions, Rides, and Shows Accessibility

For shows and events, designated wheelchair locations are marked for guests using wheeled mobile devices. These shows include:

  •  DreamWorks Theater Featuring Kung Fu Panda
  •  Special Effects Show
  •  Super Silly Fun Ride
  •  Universal's Animal Actors Show
  •  Walking Dead Show

Although the Studio Tours trams can accommodate manual wheelchairs, guests in ECVs must either transfer to a manual wheelchair or directly onto the tram itself. Again, NONE of the actual rides can accommodate the wheelchairs. Guests wanting to board the following attractions must transfer directly onto the ride:

  •  Flight of the Hippogriff
  •  Harry Potter the Forbidden Journey
  •  Revenge of the Mummy
  •  Swirly Fun Ride
  •  The Simpsons Ride
  •  Transformers 3-D
  •  WaterWorld

Guests With Hearing DisabilitiesWaterworld Show at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood offers several support options for guests who may have a hearing impairment as they strive to assist navigation of Universal Studios for guests with disabilities.

Available Devices

For assistive listening devices (headsets), guests should stop at guest relations to borrow a pair for the day.  Queues are equipped with amped audio for assistive listening which is also available at specified attractions including:

  •  WaterWorld
  •  Universal's Animal Actors
  •  Special Effects Show

Closed Caption

Captioned monitoring is available at specific attractions upon request. Check with a team member for more information.

ASL

Video remote interpreting is available at guest relations and first aid stations. For guests in need of a live interpreter, it's best to contact guest relations at 1-800-864-8377 one week prior to visiting in order to make arrangements.

Guests With Visual Disabilities 

Both large print and Braille dialogue and print are available for loan at guest relations to assist access to Universal Studios for guests with disabilities. If you're planning to ride the Studio Tour tram, only the large print dialogue scripts are available. But various show locations offer both:

  • DreamWorks Theater Featuring Kung Fu Panda
  • Frog Choir
  • TriWizard Spirit Rally
  • Special Effects Show
  • Universal Animal Actors.

Guests with white canes can usually fold up and store the cane on the attraction or the attraction attendant can hold on to it during the ride.

Service Animals at UniversalRevenge of the Mummy- The Ride at Universal Studios.

Much like the Disney theme parks, both service dogs and service miniature horses are welcome into Universal Studios Hollywood.  Overall, the animals are allowed into the retail, restaurant, and show locations.  Regarding attractions and rides, it's best to consult the rider safety guidelines to deem if the animal is allowed.  However, service animals are NOT allowed on the following due to safety issues:

  •  Flight of the Hippogriff
  •  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  •  Revenge of the Mummy- The Ride

Oxygen Tanks

Guest with mobile oxygen tanks are allowed most places in the park, but only on a few attractions including:

  •  DreamWorks Theater Featuring Kung Fu Panda (with stationary seating only)
  •  Special Effects Show
  •  Universal's Animal Actors
  •  The Walking Dead
  •  WaterWorld

Prosthetics

Most of Universal Studios Hollywood rides and attractions are safe for guests who may be using a prosthetic limb or such. However there are a few rides for which the safety guidelines remind guests to secure those limbs before boarding:

  •  Flight of the Hippogriff
  •  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  •  Revenge of the Mummy- The Ride

Navigating Universal Orlando With DisabilitiesUniversal Orlando Theme parks

Universal Studios Orlando Resort is a worldwide vacation destination with multiple theme park. Due to the complexity and size of the resort, options for guests with disabilities are a bit different than Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Wheelchairs

Just like its west coast cousin, Universal Studios Orlando Resort offers wheelchairs for rental. For convenience, wheelchairs are welcome in all locations with a few exceptions. Stage shows and parades have special locations for accessibility viewing. All queues are accessible for manual wheelchairs with the exception of Pteradon Flyers at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park.

And lastly, other than Hogwarts in Universal Studios Florida, no attractions or ride queues can accommodate ECVs or motorized wheelchairs.  In this case, the guest must transfer to a manual wheelchair or make arrangements with the ride operator.

Guests with Hearing Disabilities 

Guests who may be hard of hearing will find several support options at Universal Studios Orlando.

Devices

Guest relations at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park offer Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at no charge.

Closed Caption

Several of the attraction queues have monitors with open caption. For more information, check the Rider Safety and Accessibility Guide.

ASL

Live shows at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure have American Sign Language interpreters available for show times. Guests can contact the resort at [email protected] or check the show times page for a current schedule. In addition, any personal requests for an ASL interpreter can be made at least one week prior to visiting the resort. Email the resort for more information.

Guests with Visual Disabilities 

Large Print/Braille

For guests who may be visually impaired, guest relations has large print and Braille dialogue for live-actions shows as well as s copy of the Rider Safety and Accessibility Guide. Certain locations also offer the large print and Braille scripts for loan:

Universal Studios Florida

  •  Animal Actors on Location!
  •  A Day in the Park with Barney
  •  FEAR FACTOR LIVE
  •  Universal Orlando's Horror Make-up Show

Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • Poseidon's Fury

Canes

If you have a white cane, many attractions can accommodate you or have a storage location for the cane while you're on the ride. Some attractions just require the cane be folded down while others require an attendant to hold the cane including:

Universal Studios Florida

  • E.T. Adventure
  • Fievel's Playland Water Slide
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott's
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster

Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • Caro-Seuss-el
  •  Doctor Doom's Fearfall
  •  Flight of the Hippogriff
  •  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  •  The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  •  Pteranodon Flyers
  •  Skull Island:  Reign of Kong

 

Service Animals at Universal OrlandoHarry Potter ride

As on the west coast, both service dogs and service miniature horses are welcome into Universal Studios Orlando Resort. Animals are allowed into the retail, restaurant  and show locations but must be on a leash/harness and remain under control. Kennels are available for pets if needed and there are designated service areas for the animals throughout the resort. Although each attraction has its own boarding requirement in determining the animal's safety, guests can experience these following attractions with their service animals:

Universal Studios Florida

  • Animal Actors on Location!
  •  A Day in the Park With Barney
  •  The Blues Brothers Show
  •  Curious George Goes to Town
  •  Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  •  E.T. Adventure
  •  Fast & Furious- Supercharged
  •  FEAR FACTOR LIVE
  •  Fievel's Playland
  •  The Hogwarts Express- King's Cross Station
  •  Kang & Kodos' Twirl ‘n' Hurl
  •  Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  •  Shrek 4-D
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride- 3D
  •  Universal Orlando's Horror Make-up Show

Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  •  Camp Jurassic
  •  Caro-Seuss-el
  •  The Cat in the Hat
  •  The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
  •  The Hogwarts Express- Hogsmeade Station
  •  Jurassic Park Discovery Center
  •  Me Ship, The Olive
  •  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  •  Poseidon's Fury
  •  Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  •  Storm Force Accelatron

Oxygen Tanks

Oxygen tanks and similar devices are permitted on specific attractions as long as they are secured including:

Universal Studios Florida

  • A Day in the Park with Barney
  • Animal Actors on Location
  • Curious George Goes to Town
  • Dscpicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • FEAR FACTOR LIVE
  • Fievel's Playland (except the water slide)
  • Hogwarts Express- King's Cross Station
  • Ollivanders
  • Shrek 4-D
  • Universal Orlando's Horror Make-up Show

Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • Camp Jurassic (minus Pteranodon Flyers)
  • Hogwarts Express- Hogsmeade Station
  • If I Ran the Zoo
  • Jurassic Park Discovery Center
  • Me Ship, The Olive
  • Toon Amphitheatre

Casts/Prosthetic Limbs

Guests with arm/leg casts or walking boots are allowed on all attractions within the resort with the exception of Incredible Hulk Coaster. Aside from that, on any other ride, the cast must fit comfortably within the vehicle without any interference.

If visiting Universal Studios Orlando Resort with protheses, a full experience is welcomed except prosthetic limbs must be removed before boarding Pteradon Flyers in Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando's Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket. All other attractions require protheses to be secured properly to prevent any safety hazards.

Planning Your Vacation!

Whether your plannig a vacation to Universal Studios theme parks or Disney theme parks, remember Get Away Today travel has all your discounted needs.  For more travel hacks navigating the theme parks, head to Mickeyvisit.com to sign up for the newsletter.  And follow these links for some great tips for your upcoming vacations- Disney, Universal or otherwise.

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