Anytime I get the chance to head down to Florida, I’m immediately packing my bags. It is such a beautiful state and honestly one of my favorites. Recently, I was able to enjoy so many fun things to do in Kissimmee, Florida and I couldn’t wait to type up this blog post, so that you can enjoy them as well. From spending a couple days exploring wheelchair accessible Universal Orlando Resort to wandering around Disney Springs and more, my time in Kissimmee was action-packed! So here we go… here are all of the spectacular details of my wheelchair accessible three day weekend in Kissimmee, Florida –
Let’s just start by saying that my hotel room was huge! It was a 2 bedroom accessible suite at the gorgeous Melia Orlando Celebration resort. My room included a full kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, one with a roll in shower that had a smooth entry and the other with a tub/shower combination.
Both bedrooms and the living room included large flat screen TVs. The beds unfortunately could not accommodate a Hoyer lift, as they were platform style beds, but they were a good height if you can self transfer. I also enjoyed a pull-under desk and a full length mirror in the bedroom.
This resort in itself is spectacular! It is located in Celebration, which is the community in the heart of all the fun. Here, you will find a pool with zero entry and a pool lift, a hot tub with a lift as well, a full fitness center, a spa, a mini golf course at the pool, and even a scrumptious restaurant called The Wilson. Melia is also pet friendly, so seeing all the dogs being walked around here was an extra treat.
After settling in to our room at Melia Orlando Celebration, we decided to head out for some dinner at Salt & the Cellar by Akira Back. This restaurant is located on the main level of the Ette Hotel and it was very near our hotel. So after just a short drive, we were ready for an upscale dining experience.
This place is so much more than just delicious food. Here, you will sit back and enjoy a culinary experience with innovative Mediterranean Asian cuisine. Both my selection of non alcoholic bar drinks (they anctu do not serve alcohol) and my food was prepared in a magnificent presentation table side. This is truly a restaurant like no other, and if you are in the Kissimmee area, you won’t regret spending the evening here for some well-deserved self indulgences in a pristine atmosphere.
Day One – Wheelchair Accessible Universal Studios
For my first full day in Kissimmee, I excitedly got out of bed and my mom, my friend Christine, and I drove over to spend the day at Universal Orlando Resort. The hard choice was deciding which park to go to first as they both are overwhelmingly awesome. The resort includes Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, both of which are filled with thrill rides, shows, and nothing less than a great time. After a quick debate, we decided to spend the first day of our trip at Universal Studios. I found quite a few things to do that I could remain in my wheelchair and enjoy within this park.
For your first stop, you may want to stop in at Guest Services. If it is decided that it is needed for you, you can gain access to the Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP). This pass is for guests with a physical or cognitive disability that prevents them from being able to wait in a conventional queue. It would give access to the person with a disability and their party to wait in an alternate queue for a shorter amount of time or give them a time to return to the ride. You will need to give the team member as many details as you can about the disability, explaining why waiting in a line is not possible or how loud noises and other stimulations can cause sensitivity issues. You are not legally required to give a doctor’s note, but it can help if you are comfortable with providing that to the worker. If you wish, you can call Guest Services in advance of your trip, up to 30 days prior, and they will provide you with a reference number after you explain the reason for this request. You will still need to visit the Guest Services office once you arrive at the park to gain access to you AAP card. If the team member decides that the AAP card is necessary for your day at the park, you and your party can then proceed to the rides and shows and present the card to the team member at the entrance.
Now, let’s talk about some wheelchair accessible Universal Orlando rides and shows! I was able to stay in my own powered wheelchair and experience Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. If you are able to transfer into a ride seat, you totally can, but if not, there is a stationary seating area where you can remain in your chair and watch the show. I really didn’t feel like I missed out on anything since the show kept me so involved.
Next, I went over to see The Bourne Stuntacular Show. This show was hands-down one of the best that I have seen and the wheelchair accessible seating came with a great view of the stage. The graphics were unbelievable, as there were times when I couldn’t even tell what was there in real life, and what was on the video screen. When you go to Universal Studios, make sure not to miss this one!
After this, I rolled on over to the Animal Actors on Location Show. Talk about cute! Wow! In this show, there were tons of adorable dogs, cats, birds, and even a pig. This show was really impressive at how well trained these animals were and the wheelchair accessible seating was on the very front row.
Rolling on, I then made my way inside the Horror Make Up Show. The wheelchair seating was in the center of the auditorium and honestly there’s not a bad seat in the house. The show had a great comedic style, so it wasn’t scary at all as I suspected, so the small kiddos would enjoy this as well. During the show, we saw some great footage of lots of old horror movies and they explained the way the makeup then and now was done. An audience member was selected to go onto the stage, (I volunteered my mom, but she didn’t get selected unfortunately LOL), and the actors proceeded to show us how in a horror movie, it would look like they put a deep cut into her arm. She wasn’t harmed in any way, but it definitely looked realistic. The movies can sure be tricky and I will admit I am a sucker for it all.
Not knowing what to expect and excited beyond belief, I found my way to Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This place is bigger than life as you roll through the streets just like in the Harry Potter books. You can purchase wands at Olivander’s Wand Shop and interact with window displays throughout this amazing area.
I was also excited to be able to remain in my power wheelchair and board the Hogwarts Express Train Ride. To ride this, you must have the Universal Park to Park ticket, as it goes from Universal Studios to Universal’s Islands of Adventure and back. The train was easily set up so that I could roll right in and remain in my chair to enjoy the entire ride with my family in the same train car with me.
As the Hogwarts Express rolls along the tracks, you can hear Harry and many of the other characters talking and see their shadows just outside the train windows. It’s exciting and a fun adventure that you will want to do again and again. Please note that all of the rides inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter require you to transfer out of your wheelchair except for the Hogwarts Express train.
After describing my full day at wheelchair accessible Universal Orlando, I didn’t want to forget to mention the accessible restrooms. All restrooms inside the parks are wheelchair accessible to roll inside, and do contain a larger stall as well. But if you are like me and need some assistance, there are also companion care restrooms located at both Guest Services in the Port of Entry and inside the First Aid Station. Inside this restroom, you will find a small bench, grab bars beside and behind the toilet, plenty of space, and a roll under sink.
Day Two – Wheelchair Accessible Islands of Adventure
Rolling inside Islands of Adventure, I could already tell that this park looked to be more adventurous than Universal Studios. There were lots of thrill rides and roller coasters towering over the park and you could feel the excitement in the air. As I rolled along enjoying all the sights, I was able to do several things as a wheelchair user.
My first accessible attraction was Poseidon’s Fury. This wheelchair accessible Universal Orlando show includes tons of special effects and takes you through a tour of a mythical undersea temple. I was able to roll through the entire show as the crowd is moved from room to room, watching the show of the clashing gods. Although it is labeled as kid friendly, please note that there are some times of darkness, and thunder and lightning effects. I loved this and thought it was great for accessibility.
You can’t roll through the park and not see some characters walking through, as there are plenty to see. I was able to catch a glimpse of Popeye, Betty Boop, Spider-Man, and the Green Goblin. There are also photo opportunities for these characters, so make sure to get a map of the park before entering, as it shows all the event times throughout the day.
My most loved attraction for this park was rolling around Hogsmeade, which is part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, of course. This area is certainly photo worthy. It is honestly surreal, as the park did such an amazing job recreating this story book area.
I also enjoyed purchasing and drinking a mug of Butterbeer. I mean, I couldn’t come to Hogsmeade and not drink it, right?!? There are three options available to choose from, cold, hot, or frozen. In my opinion, the frozen butterbeer was the most delicious. It is very sweet and tastes like a mixture of cream soda and butterscotch. Mmmm, it is so good!
Next, I took off in high gear for a tour of Hogwart’s Castle and rolled into the queue of The Forbidden Journey ride. This ride is not wheelchair accessible since it’s a thrill ride, but I highly recommend going through the line because it is so cool to see everything throughout this journey. I really enjoyed this experience and it was no trouble at all to decline the transfer at the end and turn back to the entrance.
Although I had already ridden the Hogwarts Express yesterday, I decided to hop on board again as you can board it from this park as well. But remember, you can only ride this train if you have the Park to Park tickets since it begins in one park and ends in the other.
I was able to use the restroom inside the First Aid office. There were no signs outside pointing me in that direction that I saw, but I continued asking around until I ended up there. The restroom was pretty spacious, had a pull under sink, grab bars beside and behind the toilet, and also included a small fold down bench seat in the room as well.
Overall, I would say that there was a lot more to do at Universal Studios than Islands of Adventure as a wheelchair user. If you’re unable to transfer out of your wheelchair or do the thrill rides, you could probably plan half a day at Islands of Adventure. I had a lot of fun at Islands of Adventure, no doubt, but do wish they’d have more wheelchair-friendly offerings.
Day Three – Disney Springs (and more of Kissimmee)
We started our last day by visiting Disney Springs! Driving in to the Disney Springs area, the parking deck looked massive and I wondered how far I would have to roll before reaching the entrance. But to my surprise, there were lots of accessible parking spots on every level of the deck and they were near the elevator. Before entering the complex, I did have to roll through security and receive a pat down search since I could not fit through the metal detectors. After a quick few minutes though, I was on my way to enjoy the day!
Our first stop at Disney Springs was a delicious brunch at The Boathouse. This restaurant is lake front and is decorated in full maritime style. There is actually a real boat inside the restaurant that doubles as a table for your family to eat at. Unfortunately, this table is not wheelchair-friendly, but seeing it inside the main dining room is a delightful photo opportunity.
No matter what you decide to eat at The Boathouse, you will not be disappointed as it is all super delicious. I chose to enjoy the Crab Cakes Benedict with a Blueberry Mimosa and I’m here to tell you, it was the perfect choice! The service was also exceptional and the view of the water from the windows made this the perfect start to the day.
After brunch, I rolled straight to World of Disney. This store is massive and has everything you can imagine that is Disney related. It is also a must-do for me anytime I am at Disney Springs. Here, I can always find the perfect souvenirs for family and friends back home, and pick up a little something for myself as well.
At the opposite end of Disney Springs, I could see the Cirque du Soleil dome. The show is called “Drawn to Life” by Cirque du Soleil and Disney, so you know I just had to get tickets, as I love both the Cirque shows and Disney. This was truly my dream production.
The show lasted 90 minutes and my wheelchair accessible seats were perfect! They were in section 103 and had a perfect view of the stage. This is a pretty small venue, so really there’s not a bad seat in the house. This show merged Disney animation with the unbelievable talents of Cirque du Soleil. It was so great that I don’t even remember blinking the entire time. The shows run Wednesday through Sunday every week and there are two shows per day. There also is an elevator in the theater that takes you to the second floor, where the wheelchair seating is located.
Next up, it was time for some bowling! Honestly, I haven’t bowled in years, but Splitsville here at Disney Springs is a luxury bowling lane and it looked so inviting. It’s very close to the Cirque du Soleil show, so I thought why not give it a try?
I had more fun at Splitsville than I have had in a long time. They have a ramp that my friend could sit the ball on for me and I was able to push the bowling ball down the ramp to try my luck at knocking down the pins. I even bowled a strike! Well, only one, but who’s counting?! I still did pretty good and had fun trying to position the ramp in just the perfect location to knock down all the pins.
They also serve some great food and have a huge menu at Splitsville. I enjoyed some nachos, buffalo chicken egg rolls, burger sliders, and a frozen Dole Whip mocktail while bowling. The table was accessible and easy to roll up to and right beside my bowling lane. The cost of bowling is about $24 per person for 75 minutes of fun and reservations can be made online ahead of time to reserve your lane.
As the day was beginning to wind down, we decided to drive over to St. Cloud, Florida and relax on a sunset cruise with Toho Riverboat Adventures. This was just a short drive from the theme parks of central Florida.
The boat was wheelchair accessible with a portable ramp to enter and exit. It was very easy for me to go directly from the parking lot to the boat dock and then into the boat, as it was all smooth and easily manageable. The sunset cruise lasts 90 minutes and is an easy, laid back journey. Our captain, Captain Stitch, was super friendly and he was very accommodating to make sure I was comfortable and enjoying my cruise.
My cruise had about 15 people on board and it was plenty spacious for me to turn and watch the sunset from every angle. There is no accessible restroom on board, so go before heading out, but you will definitely enjoy every moment. This cruise with Toho Riverboat Adventures was such a memorable and beautiful experience.
Honestly, every single time I have been to Kissimmee, Florida and the surrounding area, my trip has been amazing. Kissimmee is such a gem in Florida and is always one of my favorite travel destinations. There is such a plethora of things to do here and with every visit, I discover something new to enjoy as a wheelchair user.
*Thank you to Experience Kissimmee for working with me on this trip and showing me the best of wheelchair accessible Universal Orlando and Kissimmee! While my experiences were complimentary, all opinions expressed are authentic and my own.