Planning a trip to Disney World with your service dog? This What You Need To Know About Using Service Dogs In Disney World post will help.
For more help planning your trip to the Magic Kingdom, check out all our posts about Disney.
My cousin just got back from a trip to Orlando, and she brought her service dog with her. So, she was kind enough to help us with this What You Need To Know About Using Service Dogs In Disney World post.
The photos in this post are actually her photos from her most recent trip as well.
So big thanks to her for all of this.
What You Need To Know About Using Service Dogs In Disney World
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This post is based on my cousin’s first-hand experience and what we could find from Disney’s website. Be sure to reach out to Disney World if you have any specific questions.
What is a service dog?
Let’s answer this first. A service animal is a dog (as of 2011, it is specifically a dog under the ADA) or a miniature horse that is trained to perform tasks for or work for a person with a disability.
The tasks performed can include things like leading someone who is blind, pulling a wheelchair, calming someone during an anxiety attack, etc.
Service dogs are working dogs and are not pets.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s) are animals, including but not limited to dogs and miniature horses, that provide emotional support and comfort to their owners.
The main difference between service dogs and ESA’s is that an ESA is not required to perform any specific task(s) while service dogs are. Service dogs go through training, which ESA’s do not.
Service Dogs In Disney World: Frequently Asked Questions
Service dogs are permitted in Disney World, but Emotional Support Animals are not.
My cousin had her service dog’s paperwork, including his vaccination records, with her when she went to Disney World, but no one asked her for it. This may not be the case when you go, so be sure to carry your service dog’s paperwork with you just in case.
My cousin used a patch on her service dog’s harness to designate that he was, indeed, a service dog. Legally, patches are not required, my cousin said, but also added, “but it makes life a lot easier.”
No. Disney World does not charge admission to service dogs.
Service dogs are usually trained pretty well, and some may be off leash at all times at home, but not at Disney World. Service dogs are required to remain on a leash or harness at all times while in the park.
Disney World allows guests to bring in food and non-alcoholic drinks (as long as nothing is in glass containers), and that is extended to service dogs as well. So pack a portable water bowl, treats, and meals.
Water fountains are available, and all the quick service restaurants give out free iced water, so you don’t have to pack water for your service dog. Just something for him or her to drink it from.
Yes and no. Service dogs are permitted to be anywhere in the park with their humans. The exceptions are certain rides (more about that below) and water/water features.
Service animals are not permitted in the water or water fountains, and they are not allowed closer than 4 feet to the water on wet decks.
Yes, you’re allowed to bring service dogs on many of the rides at Disney World. My cousin actually brought her service dog on the Mad Tea Party ride, which good for her for getting her dog on there because she wouldn’t be able to get me on there. I’d be spinning and nauseous after.
There are certain rides that service dogs are not permitted on at Disney World. They are:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Peter Pan’s Flight
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
If you want to go on a ride that your service dog can’t go on, you can use Rider Switch. Traditionally used for small children, Rider Switch is Disney’s program where one adult can go on a ride while another adult in the same party stays back with a young child. Then, when the first adult is done riding, the child is given to the first adult and the second adult is permitted to ride.
The Rider Switch program is now extended to service dogs. So, one adult can go on the ride first while a second adult stays back with the service dog. Then they switch.
Let’s say there are only two of you humans, plus your service dog, and you and the other human want to ride together. In those in cases, Disney World provides portable kennels at each ride. You drop your service dog off right before you get on the ride (so you will have your service dog with you the entire time you are on line).
The portable kennels do look cold, but worry not. My cousin told me that a cast member stays with the service dog the entire time, so she felt really good about that.
For about two years, when contact with others was limited, there were no character meet and greets. So, by extension, services dog (obviously) could not take pictures with the characters.
As of April 18, 2022, character meet and greets returned to Disney World, so that means humans and service dogs can take photos with the characters.
When you gotta go, you gotta go, right? Well, that extends to service dogs as well. Service dogs are permitted to use any open outdoor area to relieve themselves, as long as the owner cleans the area and picks up after his or her dog.
There are designated relief areas in the these parks, as well.
At Disney World, those are located at:
Adventureland: adjacent to the Pirates of the Caribbean
Frontierland: near the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Liberty Square: behind the Liberty Tree Tavern
Fantasyland: near the Walt Disney World Railroad
Tomorrowland: By Space Mountain Restrooms
First Person Account: What it’s like to have a service dog at Disney World
My cousin was so sweet when I asked her to please tell me honestly if anyone gave her a hard time and if she felt better at Disney World with her service dog.
This is her account:
“The ONLY time we had any problem was some lady was like, “Oh my! Your dog is hot! He needs water.” And I just simply said, “Yeah, he has been drinking water all day.” And she walked away.
“But no dirty looks or anything. Mostly it was, “Your dog is so cute” or “Aww” as they were walking past us. There were A LOT of parents that were amazing and when their kids would say “Doggie,” they would explain that he was a service dog and he was there to help me.
“And I felt SO much more comfortable there with him. He did his job exactly as he was supposed to, was able to go on most rides with me, and was the perfect boy!
“And the cast members were all so sweet with him. From telling me how adorable he was to staying with him at the portable kennel, to the Photopass people that were amazing with him during pictures.”
If you’re planning a trip to Disney, you need to think about more than just your service dog. You have to think about what to pack and how to save a little too. For more Disney planning tips, check out our posts below:
Things To Do In Orlando Besides Disney
If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, and Disney World is only one day of that trip, be sure to check out these other Orlando attractions.
- Ten Things To Do In Orlando Besides Theme Parks
- 24 Dog Friendly Hangouts In Orlando
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
- Aquatica Orlando
Is there anything else you need to know about using service dogs in Disney World? Comment below and we’ll be sure to answer your question(s) as best we can.