Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Taking a service dog to Walt Disney World

My family's trip to Walt Disney World in June 2010 was a great experience! My daughter's service dog went with us. Even though service animals have to be allowed we all know that sometimes there can be problems. (Thankfully, this is getting more rare). This was our first big vacation with a service dog and we were all anxious to see how taking a service dog to Walt Disney World would go.

Our dog wears a blaze orange harness and leash. Rarely does anyone question. Like our experience taking a service dog to Walt Disney World,  people sometimes don't give him a second thought. We stayed in Fort Wilderness and traveled by bus to a boat then picked up the monorail at tickets and transportation. Most of the employees were great!

The only time an employee said anything was when we got on the bus to leave  Fort Wilderness and getting back on the monorail. All we had to say was "service dog" and there were no problems after that. Everyone else was fabulous! The boat pilots went out of their way to be helpful. Not only were we appreciated but we were impressed.

Monorail riding was no problem. The special needs car was the least crowded on each trip. Our dog slid behind our legs like he was supposed to. Most people didn't even realize that he was there.

Staff at the concession stands gave us water for his bowl several times. There was no charge. We did eat at the outdoor concessions on the day he went with us but I feel that it would have been fine at the restaurants.

One thing that I did notice was how accepting the visitors seemed to be. We did not have to explain that he was working. Some of the parents took the opportunity to talk with their kids about service animals. There seemed to be a general acceptance among everyone. It was a nice change of pace.

Taking a service dog to Walt Disney World is like traveling elsewhere. Part of the acceptance factor is in being a responsible pet owner. This means bringing bags and allowing your dog to use the designated areas. Excellent manners go without saying.

If you want it, there's a boarding kennel at Walt Disney World. It's best to arrange for this ahead of time. Slots fill up and you will need paperwork. Because of the heat we boarded our dog one day and helped our daughter as much as we could.

The kennel staff members were friendly and professional. We were able to call and visit as much as we liked which made us all feel more comfortable dropping him off.

I give Walt Disney World very high marks for helpfulness and acceptance. The staff was great. Visitors were great. It was a refreshing change of pace.