Yes, when you have a special needs family member you need to plan well in advance.
Our family has had a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of great experiences and memories at Disney World as well as Disneyland.
Yet, this one surprised me.
Family / Companion Washrooms Inside Disney World Parks
The Disney World Buses are wonderful; each one it seems has the ability to quickly accommodate guests who use wheel chairs.
As we learned last year when my special needs daughter and I traveled by ourselves for a week there are about 5 to 6 family / companion washrooms in the four major Disney World parks, namely Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney MGM) and the grandaddy of them all, Magic Kingdom.
We did learn, however, that not all Disney cast members know where they are located. We had an experience in Magic Kingdom where we were told by a cast member to go down the path on the front right of Cinderella’s Castle (when facing the castle) and it would lead us to a a set of washrooms which included a family / companion washroom. This was not the case.
Do be sure you pick up not the regular Disney Parks map but the ones with the “Guide for Guests With Disabilities” at the top which will indicate which washroom locations also have family / companion washrooms for you to use should you need them.
Family / Companion Washrooms Inside Disney World Hotels and Resorts
I’ll be direct: it seems like there are none. The only one we know of (outside of Disney Market Place Village which is not really a resort) and have used personally is in Disney’s Polynesian Resort as we used it last year while waiting for the Aloha Dinner and Show. It is one flight up from the floor of the main lobby.
I used the information on this web page to directly call the Contemporary resort: http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/contact.htm.
I first spoke with someone who took a few minutes and then transferred me to someone else who, after a few minutes, transferred me to Cory.
Cory was very polite and understanding yet indicated that he had never encountered this situation. The prior person stated the expectation was that the person having this need would simply go to their room in the hotel.
I explained to this person and to Cory that we would not be the first who were staying on site yet wanted to visit the other Disney World hotels.
For us, we want to have lunch at The Wave restaurant with its very yummy lunch menu. The Wave restaurant is located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Yet, we are not staying at the Contemporary resort.
Cory did not have a solution.
He did however provide me with the email address for the Director, Guest Services. I received an automated reply email indicating I should hear within 10 days.
I will let you know what response I receive.
I then called Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel. If there is one hotel within Disney World which would have absolutely every type of ‘facility’ for its guest, you would think that it would be Disney’s Grand Floridian.
I was told that we were to contact someone at the Concierge desk who would then wait for one of the ‘regular’ washrooms to be empty. We would then enter this washroom with the concierge desk person ‘standing guard’ to not let anyone else in until we were finished.
This may seem OK to you; however, it is not to my. Below is a copy of the above noted email I sent to Disney which explains my reasoning.
Our family has visited WDW too many times to count over the years for many reasons, including how Disney treats special needs children, adults and their families.
Having a special needs daughter who uses a wheel chair, I am out of necessity a planner.
Next spring my daughter and I (just the two of us) will be staying for two weeks at WDW, the first at the Boardwalk Villas and the second at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. However, we do plan to visit some of your other property hotels / resorts as many guests do. We plan to have lunch at the Wave Restaurant, for example, even though we will not be guests of the Contemporary resort.
The issue. My daughter needs help toileting. Therefore I always need to plan the location of Companion / Family washrooms.
I was extremely surprised that neither the Contemporary nor the Grand Floridian hotels / resorts have companion washrooms.
Cory at the Contemporary was very helpful but had no idea. He suggested that I contact you, hence this email.
Nicole contacted on our behalf the Grand Floridian who had no answer. She indicated we could try to contact the concierge desk at either hotel (or others that we plan to visit during our 2 weeks) who could perhaps take a few minutes, go into either a men’s or women’s facilities and if / when empty have us go in to use the facilities with them ‘standing guard’ to not allow anyone to use the facility until we were through.
With respect, this is not a satisfactory answer. With respect, this is not acceptable. With respect, sirs, this is not Disney.
What if the concierge is busy? What if there are several folks in either the men’s or women’s facilities and it takes numerous minutes to have either emptied? What if we are embarrassed to have to ask when there is a crowd of people who look at us in disgust (yes, it happens more than perhaps you realize in society)? What if guests have had a long trip, have to wait to check-in because of a long line up or cannot check into their room because it is not ready, and so on, yet need to use a family / companion bathroom?
The “what if’s” are endless.
I would sincerely appreciate hearing from you on the following:
1. Why are there no family / companion washrooms in your on site hotels, at least the ones we called (Grand Floridian and Contemporary)?
2. If there are family / companion washroom facilities within your on site hotels, exactly where are they located?
3. What are your plans to construct family / companion washroom facilities in those on site hotels where none exist?
4. What is the exact process we, or any family in our situation, should use should my daughter and I need to make use of the existing non-family / non-companion washroom facilities within any of your on site hotels?
5. What training and refresher training do you provide to your on site WDW hotel / resort staff so they know exactly what the Disney approved procedure is should they receive a request that a family / companion washroom is needed?
I look forward to hearing from you so all guests, regardless of abilities, can enjoy our vacation at Disney World.
I will let you know how this is resolved in case you also have this need.
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