ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES @ Walt Disney World Resort
Inaccessible Bathroom Situation: The following is a brief synopsis of my personal encounters at the Disney Beach Club Hotel where we stayed with the entire family (13 people/5 rooms) for the week of July 23-30, 2019. I encountered overwhelming wheelchair accessibility issues at Disney’s numerous amusement parks and attractions, which are completely substandard for current disability federal requirements. We stayed in a “DESIGNATED HANDICAP ROOM” that was not accessible. I asked that the couch be removed because I was unable to access the bed. The bathroom was a bit too small and I required assistance to shower to be able to use the room. I typically am able to transfer and shower independently but could not do so due to the shower size. Unfortunately, I sustained a fall in the bathroom due to the inadequate space between the wall and toilet on Thursday morning at 6:30a EDT, requiring help from my wife and brother to get off the bathroom floor. I severely injured my left ankle and knee.
Hotel Room Automatic Door Broken
Even from Day 1, the hotel “accessible” room’s automatic door was broken. Review this video of the broken Accessible Automatic door for room. Maintenance came three times but did not fix. This was another example of their negligence. We made them aware of the door when we arrived and they said they would fix the electric door when we checked in. Despite our complaints, maintenance tried three times to fix the problem but could not get the automatic door to work.
Two problems: Physical Accessibility of Bathroom Accommodations and Negligent Customer Service
1. Physical Accessibility of Bathroom Accommodations
General Failure to Meet Minimum Bathroom Requirements – Hotels and Parks
There was inadequate accessibility issues from the start. Both my hotel room at the Beach Club Resort and immediate areas did not have a single bathroom that met the 1991 guidelines. Incredibly, the lobbies of the Beach Resort and Yacht Club hotels and surrounding restaurants did not have any accessible bathrooms that satisfy updated guidelines initiated nearly a decade ago.
Photo of me in wheelchair trying to access.
This inadequate accessibility deficiency was even more noticeable in the number of bathrooms in the various amusement parks and restaurants that failed to have at least one handicap bathroom according to the updated guidelines. I had dinner with the family at a variety of restaurants where nearly every one had issues of the parks. If I needed to use the restroom, I had to go to one of the general public bathrooms which were substandard as well. Not only were they wet and extremely dirty, the overall safety of no handrails or improperly placed handrails were among other issues that must be assessed.
BeerGarden – No accessible Bathroom
One such example was the Beer Garden where all 13 of the family members had dinner and enjoyed the show. However, I went to the bathroom and was unable to properly access the toilet. I took pictures of the proportions and the inconvenience of such a small stall.
The bathroom even had a handicap sign on it which denotes it as a handicap stall. Clearly, it is not.
Other restaurants such as the 50’s Primetime Cafe Rock n Roll Diner, Nine Dragon (Chinese Restaurant) and Tony’s Town Square (Italian Restaurant) that we reserved months in advance for the entire family also were deficient in their accommodations. However, it did not only extend to the restaurants, as many of the gift shops at other rides did not have adequate bathrooms in the gift shops or waiting area as well.
Epcot – General Bathrooms and Restaurant Facilities
Hollywood Studios – General Bathrooms and Restaurant Facilities
Magic Kingdom – General Bathrooms and Restaurant Facilities, “Fireworks Desert Party” Special Event, Baby Nursery
Restaurants (I was actually in)
Nine Dragons (Chinese Restaurant)
50’s Primetime Cafe (Rock n Roll Diner)
Tony’s Town Square (Italian Restaurant)
Yacht Club Steakhouse
2. Negligent Response/Oversight by On-Site Management and Staff
Second issue in this entire experience has been negligent response Disney has served me so far. Personally, I did not want to make a complaint due to the fact that this was a long planned trip where my father was bringing together three generations of family to celebrate a special week at the resort. There was much consideration also provided by the AAA travel representative. I believe that much of what has been told to such travel representatives is more lipservice than anything else as I was not the only one terribly inconvenienced by the lack of accommodations and even understanding by Park staff of how to handle such situations.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort Contact: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/beach-club-resort/
Kim Marinaccio, General Facilities Manager
General Manager- Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and Villas at Walt Disney World
I have attempted to contact the property manager Kim Marciano but without any response. I have talked to her staff such as “Phil” and “Zulma Capaz” (office #: 407-427-5067) I spoke with Phil directly at the hotel and in subsequent calls. He told me Kim was “on vacation” that week but when I followed up after another week, I was told that she was still on vacation and would be back next week. I responded by saying I find it hard to believe the Manager of the entire Beach Hotel Resort Property could take extended 3 week vacations. Despite my numerous calls to the administration office at the Beach hotel to address simple issues of the bathrooms in their lobby and restaurants, Kim has failed to follow up.
Disney Disability Service Team
I received a phone call from a representative (Dave) of the Disney disability service (407-934-8416). After a 45-minute phone call, I was told that they could not guarantee any of my recommendations would be considered. They even said that they were aware of the issue but it was taking time to come into compliance with the federally mandated updates from 2010. I had to remind him that it is nearly 2020 and there is likely some type of statue limitations where they need to come into compliance. (listed below).
What to do?
All of this is a tremendous inconvenience as well as the result of a severe injury that I sustained due to a fall in the hotel bathroom because I was unable to get to the commode properly because the size of the room was too small and not in compliance with the federally mandated size. Finally, the shower stall itself is also a federally mandated size that must be accessible and was not. It was a unsecured setting to even attend any thing in the bathroom without the assistance of my wife.
All of this experience was not only personally endured by myself and my family but other disabled visitors that I noticed were terribly inconvenience. It was remarkable the number of disabled children that attend the park yet were crammed into bathroom stalls unable to even have their caretaker/parent help them use the restroom. Even worse, some of the older disabled dependent children did not have enough room to even get their wheelchairs through restaurants.
Even if they are in compliance on a minimal level, it is overwhelmingly obvious that they are negligent and do not care about disability issues for those in need. The final take away from my entire experience with the Disney staff and the accommodations at the hotel and most venues was among the worst that I have encountered in any resort ANYWHERE! I have been lucky enough to travel the world extensively and stay in hotels/resorts where basic bathroom accessibility is commonplace. I expected much more from Disney. I believe Disney is a company who tends to put off these type of complaints, as this is clearly evidenced by much of what you will find in social media forums with questions that have never been answered nor problems addressed.
DISNEY HAS MY ATTENTION
My goal is to affect change or at least bring accessible bathrooms for those who need it that meet the federally mandated guidelines from the updated 2010 legislation. I have attached a link to those guidelines and even a diagram with the exact measurements for such accommodations. It is my hope with the generous help of my father and his valued references that my words are taken seriously so that others much less capable than myself who go to Disney, spend thousands of dollars can simply experience the park in an equal manner as other visitors. Unfortunately, most disabled customers are significantly compromised due to the substandard accommodations and facilities.
These room proportions are dictated via the updated 2010 American with Disabilities Act amendments. Although it is not my purpose to get into deep legalities at this point, my initial investigation has been extremely disappointing with the Disney representatives. In particular, I have yet to receive even an appropriate response from Kim, the Beach Club Hotel property manager regarding the injury that I sustained.
ADA Bathroom Layout – Mandated 1991, updated 2010
The following links explain the regulations in detail with diagrams. When compared to my photos, it is clear that they are not compliant.
(ii) Newly constructed or altered facilities or elements covered by §§ 36.401 or 36.402 that were constructed or altered before March 15, 2012 and that do not comply with the 1991 Standards shall, on or after March 15, 2012, be made accessible in accordance with the 2010 Standards.
Appendix to 36.406(a)
Compliance Dates for New Construction and Alterations Applicable Standards
On or after January 26, 1993 and before September 15, 2010 = 1991 Standards
On or after September 15, 2010, and before March 15, 2012 = 1991 Standards or 2010 Standards
On or after March 15, 2012 = 2010 Standards
Unfortunately, due to my injury and the lack of response from Disney management, I feel compelled to file this complaint and try to stimulate awareness and ultimately proper accommodations for disabled customers. I personally believe that if I went back to the park and reviewed their facilities thoroughly, I would find dozens of locations that fail to meet the federal guidelines. The overt negligence of Disney and their inability to keep up with these federally mandated guidelines actually constitutes discrimination against the disability community. It is my hope that those whom have read this will seek to improve their facilities for those future disabled customers to avoid inconvenience and injury.