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Old 04-08-2012, 10:15 AM   #1
DisneyCruiser83
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Disney Fantasy MV - my thoughts for wheelchair use

DH and I just returned from the MV yesterday and I wanted to post some thoughts - mostly focusing on our experience with DH using a wheelchair.

For some background, this was our 12th cruise. DH uses a wheelchair on the ship for stability and the opportunity not to have to trek long distances. We request the HA stateroom to accommodate his wheelchair as well as to have a bathroom he does not have to step up into with a shower he can use. Also, this is just the experience DH and I had, YMMV.

We had stateroom 8500 which is a HA ocean view (porthole) room.

First of all, while the stateroom itself was fully operational once inside, getting to it was a bear. If you look at this deck plan: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-cruise...-deck-plan.htm you can see that the rooms 8502 and 8504 are in a corner there and 8500 is just down the way a little a couple of doors in. When you exited the room, it was right across from a wall with literally no room to turn around in. Also, there was a small lip in the opening of the door, so I had to get a running start to push DH strongly enough to get over it. Then I had to stop abruptly and sharply turn him then pick up the back of the wheelchair to get down the hall. Coming back to the room, we had to turn around in the little corner near rooms 8502 and 8504 then back down the hall to enter the room. We had to back into the room because it was easier to do with the lip in the doorway blocking our smooth transition. It was really bad planning one, to have the room straight against a wall without any turn around space, and two to have the lip right at the doorway. It did not ruin our cruise, but it made us wonder what the planners were thinking.

The next thing that had us scratching our heads was the entire layout and concept of Europa (the equivalent area to Beat Street or Route 66 on the classic ships). I have not been on the Dream, but thought this was a poor design from soup to nuts. Don't get me wrong, it is gorgeous, in fact the entire ship is B-E-A-UTIFUL but the layout was a bit off. I don't know if the imagineers were trying to go for the feeling of the quaintness in Europe, but it did not work for DH. The worst was Skyline. This was a space that I read a lot about and was excited to experience both day and night, but we could not even enter the bar it was so small. There were chairs all around and there was no way to maneuver around. We tried to go twice, once on the first day after lunch and again on the last night, but it was impossible both times. You would have to move a lot of chairs to clear a way or sit right in the door way and block the entrance for everybody else. This was a no go. We did go to Oh La La which was better, but still very small. We had to go to the back of the bar to turn around but once we were settled it was fine. In O'Gills, we were there a couple of times and DH just pulled up in the space between the two chairs right at the entrance (but not blocking anybody). But looking around, you could tell it was larger than the other two, but still a pretty tight space. The hallway going from the main area (La Pavilion I think) down to the Tube and Skyline was VERY tight and curvy so it was a bit difficult to manage as well. It is also the most convenient bathroom for single stall bathrooms. There on only two on the ship; one there, deck 4 Aft and another that we never made it to, but is on deck 13 Aft. There are other bathrooms with larger stalls to accommodate a wheelchair, but these are the only two Guest Services knew about with a single stall. But let me say, the bathrooms in the Europa area were incredible. There is incredible tile mosaic work that just has to be seen to believe. It was beautiful.
Oh. something I failed to mention, was the doors to all of the bars with the exception of the Tube were always closed and did not have automatic openers. So, either DH and I had to get the help of a passerby or I had to awkwardly hold the door/pull DH through the doorway which was a little ridiculous. But, once a crew member saw us, they came to our aid. They really should keep all the doors open all the time as they do on the classic ships, or install automatic openers. The Tube was fine, it is ramped both in the entry and on the side to get to the front for the stage shows. It is very cute and mod. Overall, the area is incredibly beautiful, but not very accessible.

I know I seem to be complaining a lot, but it really seem like they did not take any notes from the classic ships in terms of accessibility, and in fact is a bit less accessible in some key areas, the most glaring being access to the Walt Disney Theater. Those who have been on the Dream know. We spoke to someone who had been on the Dream and stated the practice is the same. Honestly, it is a little ridiculous and should really be looked at for future designs. In the classic ships, to have access to the front rows of the WDT, we would go down to deck 3 and a crew member would escort us either behind Sessions/Cadillac or behind Diversions to a door that opens up to the front row of the theater. Not ideal, but doable and not a big deal. Now, with the new ships it is a bit more of an ordeal. You have to go with a member of the Flex Team (not the Cruise Staff) and get permission from the bridge (through a phone call) to go through 3 water tight doors. Then, you have to get on a lift that goes up to the WDT level. It seriously takes 10-15 minutes just to get into the theater. Why they just did not do a ramp all the way from the back of the theater, I do not know. But the current process needs to be re-worked in future designs. It really feels like wheelchair users that want to sit towards the front were an after thought because the process is so intense and could have easily been done in a better way. Also, because getting back up to deck 3 is such a process and takes so long, there was never any time to see the cabaret act after the show before dinner. We would not have made it there until the act was half over each time. Maybe this would not be important to other people, but DH and I always love just going over to Rockin' Bar D/Wavebands and enjoying the in-between act. This negatively affected our cruise, but not by much.

The last negative thing I will mention (though I don't know how much it could have been helped) were the places throughout the ship where the pieces were joined together. There were little bumps everywhere and DH was jarred out of his seat a couple of times. Not completely out of his chair, but he moved so much we had to stop so he could re-adjust himself. We were speaking to another couple (Hi Candida and Jon!) who said that the wife was pushed over the bump and her neck hurt, she felt a little whiplash or something to that effect. So if you are going to be rolling around, please be careful around those bumps, they can get you.

Overall the ship was beautiful and much larger than the classic ships (obviously). But, I never felt like I was with 4,000 other people and the ship did not feel too big to me. We did not see everything, but we did what we wanted to do and I feel good about our experience. I still prefer the classic ships, and probably will not sail on the new ships again for some time for various reasons (mostly itinerary). But, the MV was an incredible experience and I am glad we did it. If you have any questions, throw them at me and I will do my best to answer them!
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:28 AM   #2
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Thanks for your honest report. We will keep these things in mind if we travel with our nephew who uses a special stroller wheelchair.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:41 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Never to old View Post
Thanks for your honest report. We will keep these things in mind if we travel with our nephew who uses a special stroller wheelchair.
I am glad I could help - if even only a little. I don't want to sound too negative, because we truly had an amazing time, and would rank it in our top 4 cruises (I put it 3rd and DH puts it 4th), but I just wanted to share some things I would have liked to know before hand.
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"The sea is His for He made it and His hands formed the dry land." Psalm 95:5
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:57 AM   #4
disneycruiser22
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thanks for the report. Were traveling on the fantasy in 2013 western caribbean and my grandfather will be traveling in a wheelchair. Did you get off the ships at port? If so, how was that with a wheelchair? Thanks!
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:53 PM   #5
Herkguy
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Seriously? This is the first Fantasy TR???
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyCruiser83 View Post
DH and I just returned from the MV yesterday and I wanted to post some thoughts - mostly focusing on our experience with DH using a wheelchair.

For some background, this was our 12th cruise. DH uses a wheelchair on the ship for stability and the opportunity not to have to trek long distances. We request the HA stateroom to accommodate his wheelchair as well as to have a bathroom he does not have to step up into with a shower he can use. Also, this is just the experience DH and I had, YMMV.

We had stateroom 8500 which is a HA ocean view (porthole) room.

First of all, while the stateroom itself was fully operational once inside, getting to it was a bear. If you look at this deck plan: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-cruise...-deck-plan.htm you can see that the rooms 8502 and 8504 are in a corner there and 8500 is just down the way a little a couple of doors in. When you exited the room, it was right across from a wall with literally no room to turn around in. Also, there was a small lip in the opening of the door, so I had to get a running start to push DH strongly enough to get over it. Then I had to stop abruptly and sharply turn him then pick up the back of the wheelchair to get down the hall. Coming back to the room, we had to turn around in the little corner near rooms 8502 and 8504 then back down the hall to enter the room. We had to back into the room because it was easier to do with the lip in the doorway blocking our smooth transition. It was really bad planning one, to have the room straight against a wall without any turn around space, and two to have the lip right at the doorway. It did not ruin our cruise, but it made us wonder what the planners were thinking.

The next thing that had us scratching our heads was the entire layout and concept of Europa (the equivalent area to Beat Street or Route 66 on the classic ships). I have not been on the Dream, but thought this was a poor design from soup to nuts. Don't get me wrong, it is gorgeous, in fact the entire ship is B-E-A-UTIFUL but the layout was a bit off. I don't know if the imagineers were trying to go for the feeling of the quaintness in Europe, but it did not work for DH. The worst was Skyline. This was a space that I read a lot about and was excited to experience both day and night, but we could not even enter the bar it was so small. There were chairs all around and there was no way to maneuver around. We tried to go twice, once on the first day after lunch and again on the last night, but it was impossible both times. You would have to move a lot of chairs to clear a way or sit right in the door way and block the entrance for everybody else. This was a no go. We did go to Oh La La which was better, but still very small. We had to go to the back of the bar to turn around but once we were settled it was fine. In O'Gills, we were there a couple of times and DH just pulled up in the space between the two chairs right at the entrance (but not blocking anybody). But looking around, you could tell it was larger than the other two, but still a pretty tight space. The hallway going from the main area (La Pavilion I think) down to the Tube and Skyline was VERY tight and curvy so it was a bit difficult to manage as well. It is also the most convenient bathroom for single stall bathrooms. There on only two on the ship; one there, deck 4 Aft and another that we never made it to, but is on deck 13 Aft. There are other bathrooms with larger stalls to accommodate a wheelchair, but these are the only two Guest Services knew about with a single stall. But let me say, the bathrooms in the Europa area were incredible. There is incredible tile mosaic work that just has to be seen to believe. It was beautiful.
Oh. something I failed to mention, was the doors to all of the bars with the exception of the Tube were always closed and did not have automatic openers. So, either DH and I had to get the help of a passerby or I had to awkwardly hold the door/pull DH through the doorway which was a little ridiculous. But, once a crew member saw us, they came to our aid. They really should keep all the doors open all the time as they do on the classic ships, or install automatic openers. The Tube was fine, it is ramped both in the entry and on the side to get to the front for the stage shows. It is very cute and mod. Overall, the area is incredibly beautiful, but not very accessible.

I know I seem to be complaining a lot, but it really seem like they did not take any notes from the classic ships in terms of accessibility, and in fact is a bit less accessible in some key areas, the most glaring being access to the Walt Disney Theater. Those who have been on the Dream know. We spoke to someone who had been on the Dream and stated the practice is the same. Honestly, it is a little ridiculous and should really be looked at for future designs. In the classic ships, to have access to the front rows of the WDT, we would go down to deck 3 and a crew member would escort us either behind Sessions/Cadillac or behind Diversions to a door that opens up to the front row of the theater. Not ideal, but doable and not a big deal. Now, with the new ships it is a bit more of an ordeal. You have to go with a member of the Flex Team (not the Cruise Staff) and get permission from the bridge (through a phone call) to go through 3 water tight doors. Then, you have to get on a lift that goes up to the WDT level. It seriously takes 10-15 minutes just to get into the theater. Why they just did not do a ramp all the way from the back of the theater, I do not know. But the current process needs to be re-worked in future designs. It really feels like wheelchair users that want to sit towards the front were an after thought because the process is so intense and could have easily been done in a better way. Also, because getting back up to deck 3 is such a process and takes so long, there was never any time to see the cabaret act after the show before dinner. We would not have made it there until the act was half over each time. Maybe this would not be important to other people, but DH and I always love just going over to Rockin' Bar D/Wavebands and enjoying the in-between act. This negatively affected our cruise, but not by much.

The last negative thing I will mention (though I don't know how much it could have been helped) were the places throughout the ship where the pieces were joined together. There were little bumps everywhere and DH was jarred out of his seat a couple of times. Not completely out of his chair, but he moved so much we had to stop so he could re-adjust himself. We were speaking to another couple (Hi Candida and Jon!) who said that the wife was pushed over the bump and her neck hurt, she felt a little whiplash or something to that effect. So if you are going to be rolling around, please be careful around those bumps, they can get you.

Overall the ship was beautiful and much larger than the classic ships (obviously). But, I never felt like I was with 4,000 other people and the ship did not feel too big to me. We did not see everything, but we did what we wanted to do and I feel good about our experience. I still prefer the classic ships, and probably will not sail on the new ships again for some time for various reasons (mostly itinerary). But, the MV was an incredible experience and I am glad we did it. If you have any questions, throw them at me and I will do my best to answer them!
This is very disappointing to hear. We will be traveling with someone in a wheelchair too. It is ridiculous that there is not easy entrance into the theater...

As I am sure you have noticed most places are barely accessible. I have learned that while they try to make an effort to be so, unless you are in the chair or pushing the person in the chair you would not understand the difficulties we face. Like shopping, racks are so close together you can barely get through. The other right I was shopping with her and the racks we on wheels. I pushed them out of the way and did not put them back i was so mad...

I just hold Disney to a higher standard, because they usually live up to it. I hope they figure out something to make the ship more user friendly for people in wheelchairs.

Thanks for the heads up, maybe we will get the men to push her more.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by disneycruiser22 View Post
thanks for the report. Were traveling on the fantasy in 2013 western caribbean and my grandfather will be traveling in a wheelchair. Did you get off the ships at port? If so, how was that with a wheelchair? Thanks!
No, we did not get off in the ports. We have been to Cozumel before and have done a couple of DCL excursions. We are not really beach people, so we just stayed on the ship and played the midship detective agency game, toured the ship and enjoyed it mostly empty. Grand Cayman is a tender port, so your grandfather will have to be able to board the tender boat. DH does not feel comfortable with it, so we have never experienced it. But, I am sure some have so if you have questions, you can ask around. Happy sailing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floridagram View Post
This is very disappointing to hear. We will be traveling with someone in a wheelchair too. It is ridiculous that there is not easy entrance into the theater...

I just hold Disney to a higher standard, because they usually live up to it. I hope they figure out something to make the ship more user friendly for people in wheelchairs.

Thanks for the heads up, maybe we will get the men to push her more.
Yes, we hold Disney to the standard they have set for themselves through our other travels but a few places on this ship really missed the mark. I just thought with all of the innovation aboard the ship, it seems as if wheelchair users were a second thought (or not thought of at all). I love DCL and will sail on the classic ships in the future, but the new ships, other than being shiny and new did not do much for us. Happy sailing!
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:17 AM   #8
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I been on the Dream 2 Xs. Yes the WDT is a mess to get into. But the rest of the ship IS Much easier to get around on the New Ships vs the old ships.....



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:Trip Report of the New Year Eve Cruise with a Service Dog! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2052361
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:08 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for this review. We will be on the Magic in September out of NYC to Canada. We are thinking of renting a wheelchair for my dad. He normally does not use one but did the last time we were in WDW and it helped so much. We had just gotten off a RCI cruise and even though it was one of their smaller ships, he had alot of trouble getting around the ship due to distance of dining room and theaters.

So, you have been on the Magic before and feel he will be ok in a wheelchair? We would get a collapsible one and I am sure he would not use it all the time and he is able to get out and walk abit.

Linda
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by lpizzuro123 View Post
Thanks so much for this review. We will be on the Magic in September out of NYC to Canada. We are thinking of renting a wheelchair for my dad. He normally does not use one but did the last time we were in WDW and it helped so much. We had just gotten off a RCI cruise and even though it was one of their smaller ships, he had alot of trouble getting around the ship due to distance of dining room and theaters.

So, you have been on the Magic before and feel he will be ok in a wheelchair? We would get a collapsible one and I am sure he would not use it all the time and he is able to get out and walk abit.

Linda
I love the Magic. Yes you will be fine with a collapsible chair. (since you will push him)
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:Trip Report of the New Year Eve Cruise with a Service Dog! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2052361
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