What You Need to Know About Service Animals at Walt Disney World – Part One

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If you or someone you know is planning on visiting Walt Disney World with a service animal, you’ll want to read up on Disney’s policies ahead of time. Chrissy on our team had the opportunity to join a family member and their service dog at the parks this weekend. Since Disney’s website needs some updating, we thought it would be good to provide you with some updated information regarding service animals at Disney World.

Service Animal Aboard Magic Kingdom Ferryboat
Service Animal Aboard Magic Kingdom Ferryboat
Magic Kingdom Ferryboat

Service Animal – Sometimes there can be some confusion regarding a support animal versus a service animal. While some service animals can also act as a support animal, the key is that the animal is trained to provide a specific task. The animal (dog or miniature horse) must be trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Disney’s website does stress this, and Guest Relations Cast Members we’ve talked with echo the same.

Control of the Animal – One of the key elements of Disney’s service animal policy is the fact that the guest must retain control over their service animal at all times. Service animals are professional helpers and life savers in so many cases! They are trained in specific behaviors. Despite all this training, Walt Disney World presents a different environment than most other places. Young guests may be tempted to bend down to give your service animal a pet, and there are other distractions. Make sure your service animal will be okay in this environment.

Documentation – A Guest Relations or other Cast Member may ask what tasks the service animal is trained to perform. They will follow ADA regulations. In the event that the guest is unable to explain verbally, Cast Members suggested that having a letter from a doctor or therapist explaining the task would be helpful. Specific information about a guest’s condition is not required, as that would violate ADA, and other, regulations. The key here is the task the animal can perform.

Guest Relations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Security Checkpoint – Unless your animal has a stroller or your service animal is a miniature horse, you and your service dog will go through the normal security scanners at each park. If you have a stroller, you will go through the same process as all strollers – a security Cast Member will look under the stroller and ask you to remove any bags. The stroller will sit to the side of the scanners and you will walk through the scanners with all of your bags.

What attractions can service animals ride at Disney World?

A word of caution, Disney’s list of attractions is outdated in some places. For example, Stitch’s Great Escape in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom is listed that service animals can ride with caution. This attraction closed January 6, 2018. Innoventions is also listed, and this attraction is currently a pile of demolished rubble.

In the event that you want to ride one of the attractions where your service animal is not permitted to ride with you, you will check in with one of the Cast Members at the entrance to the attraction. They will assist you to the kennel where you can leave your animal. When you exit the attraction, you will either walk on your own or be escorted to the kennel. This is different on each attraction. For example, the kennel at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios is in a Cast Member Only hallway and cannot be accessed without assistance. The kennel in Space Mountain, however, is accessible through the standard guest exit.

Service Animals permitted with Caution – you will need to check with a CM host (someone at the entrance) for the attraction to determine whether or not your animal can ride and what the boarding process would be if they were to ride.

MAGIC KINGDOM

  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – the carrousel has a bench option

EPCOT

  • Spaceship Earth – since this is a continual load attraction, the Cast Member may need to stop the track to allow you and your animal to board
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival – the Cast Member will seat you in an area where you and your animal will have some space. This restriction was more important prior to COVID distancing that all attractions are using. This theatre is currently allowing space between all parties.

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

  • Toy Story Mania! – This ride has a good amount of fast whips and turns, so use your judgement as to if this will bother your animal

DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • It’s Tough To Be A Bug! – Some of the effects of this attraction are startling
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris – Can be a rough ride
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
African Painted Dogs Seen on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Attractions without restrictions – you should evaluate these attractions on your own. Just like with small children, your animal may be startled or otherwise upset by certain attractions. You can find ride videos and vehicles on our Instagram feed under IGTV and highlights. Full ride descriptions are on our Lines App and our website.

Service Animal Aboard it’s a small world

MAGIC KINGDOM

  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Astro Orbiter (this is one that has a very strong pull and would have been too forceful for our particular pal)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • “It’s a Small World”
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • The Hall of Presidents
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Jungle Cruise
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – be mindful that it’s more than 50 steps to the top and the only way back down is more steps
Service Animal Aboard Many Adventures of Winne the Pooh
Service Animal Aboard Many Adventures of Winne the Pooh

EPCOT

  • Walt Disney Imagineering presents the EPCOT Experience
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Awesome Planet
  • Living with the Land
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • SeaBase
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Reflections of China
  • The American Adventure
  • America Gardens Theatre
  • Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
  • Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

  • Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
  • Walt Disney Presents
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Vacation Fun
  • For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration

DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Finding Nemo – the Musical
  • UP! A Great Bird Adventure
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Na’vi River Journey

Essentially all other attractions do not permit service animals, but here’s the list just in case.

Service animals NOT permitted on the following attractions.

MAGIC KINGDOM

  • The Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain

EPCOT

  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • DINOSAUR
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek: Aviary Area

We’ll have a follow up post soon about what to pack for you and your service animal, as well as information about Service Animal break areas.

What other questions do you have about service animals at Disney? Let us know in the comments!

Dani

Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

3 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Service Animals at Walt Disney World – Part One

  • February 16, 2021 at 3:16 pm
    Permalink

    A list of the rides that do not permit service animals (and provide the kennel) may be useful.

    Pangani Forest Trail?

    Reply
    • February 16, 2021 at 3:20 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Andy, I just added that list, thanks for the reminder. Pangani Forest Trail is now called Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.

      Reply
  • March 27, 2021 at 8:24 am
    Permalink

    Are there pet relief areas for service dogs @ Disney Springs??

    Reply

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