Special needs are Universal: Rider’s guide for guests with sensory issues


Welcome to the next edition of our Special Needs Are Universal column, featuring questions and answers to help those with disabilities plan their day at Orlando’s theme parks. Our ultimate goal is to give families the confidence to enjoy all there is to do across this amazing vacation destination!

Special needs are Universal.
Special needs are Universal.

Now that Special Needs Are Universal has its own section in the new OI Forums, it has become a little easier for you to post your questions and find the answers you need to help your family make your vacation a very special one. NC Potter Fan posted the following question a couple of weeks after the OI Forums Grand Opening:

We’re going to Universal for three days in June and are all very excited, expect for my 14-year-old. He has sensory issues and is thinking there won’t be many rides he can enjoy. Here are his requests: 1) nothing jumping out at you; 2) nothing spraying on you; 3) no jerking motions; 4) no sudden drops (so no rollercoasters at all); and 5) no spinning. He’s agreed to at least try the MIB ride, because of the videogame aspect. But, he plans to study it and be well aware of the storyline before going in. Any suggestions for shows or other rides? Are there rides with stationary seats he might enjoy? Thanks!

After I started a mental inventory of NC’s request, the proverbial light bulb went off – why not develop a chart for those with sensory issues? Although I send everyone to the Universal Orlando Rider’s Guide for Rider Safety & Guests with Disabilities (PDF file) for assistance, I realized that both the online version and the paper copy of this flyer are difficult to keep combing through, especially when you have someone who doesn’t quite grasp the concept of “wait” and is anxious to try a new ride.

After compiling the information into chart form, I sent it off to Maureen Deal of Autism at the Parks for her insight and to fill in the blanks for the attractions my family doesn’t ride. I wanted to touch on all the sensory issues that can cause distress for those with cognitive disabilities, autism, and similar disorders and knew she would be my best help in this endeavor. She also has an older son on the spectrum and, like us, loves Universal Orlando.

After two weeks of research and tweaking, I am very proud to provide our readers with the Universal Orlando Rider’s Guide for Guests with Sensory Issues. We’ll get to the downloads in a moment. Before we do, we just have to mention this detail: we’re very happy to have compiled this information for you, but because we’re not representatives of the resort, and because Universal can change aspects of their attractions at anytime without notice, we cannot make any guarantees regarding the accuracy of our information.

Now that our disclaimer is out of the way, here is the guide presented in two file formats, followed by a image of what you can expect:

PDF File – Universal Orlando Rider’s Guide for Guests with Sensory Issues

Excel File – Universal Orlando Rider’s Guide for Guests with Sensory Issues

A portion of our Universal Orlando Rider's Guide for Sensory Issues.
A portion of our Universal Orlando Rider’s Guide for Sensory Issues.

I sincerely hope that this guide will be useful even for those without special needs – those with certain kinds of motion sickness, for example. My husband doesn’t do circular rides well; carousels are off-limits for him.

One more special thanks to Maureen of Autism at the Parks for helping out with this project.


Can you help us?

Our guide is fairly complete, but there are still a few holes, as it’s sometimes hard to remember certain ride movements when they don’t stand out for us. So I’m asking for your feedback. Please visit me at the SNAU forum and leave a comment!


DISCLAIMER: Neither the author of this post nor any of us here at Orlando Informer is an official representative of any theme park in Orlando. While we work diligently to provide you with the very best advice from our collective expertise and experience, it is still your responsibility to verify your plans with each theme park. Thanks for your understanding!

View all of our Special Needs Are Universal blog posts

Do you have a Special Needs Are Universal question for Debi? She is available to assist your family in the SNAU section of the OI Forums. Registration is free, and once you have an account, we invite you to join the conversation or ask a new question.


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9 Comments on "Special needs are Universal: Rider’s guide for guests with sensory issues"

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Allison Tornai

This is such a great list! Very helpful 🙂


You list the mummy as having no water sprays, but there is a part towards the end with a kind of mist spray you pass through which some people may not be happy with 🙂 its enough that I can never see out of my glasses when I get off because of the water! Just a thought to consider, excellent job!


Idean X Sarshory – Kinda, but not totally. We ended up using the word “nearly” on the guide.


@Sammy Thanks for the feedback – that’s a good point. I think we’ll change it from “no” to “mist” when we compile our next update.


What a fantastic resource!  Thank you

What a great resource and a great site overall! Quick question, I will be coming in the fall with my 11 year old son. I have a bad back so I can’t go on the thrill rides. He’s old enough to go but young enough to be anxious if separated from me the whole time waiting on long queue’s with crowds and strangers. Will I be able to wait with him on line and then go wait to meet him when he gets off? Do I need to check with the park or ride attendants on this? I read about… Read more »

@KatieHi Katie! I’ve started a new topic and answered your question at

In regards to some elements, there are some which aren’t mentioned in the spreadsheet. One example is in Poseidon’s Fury which has a “loud noise surprise” moment in which “Taylor” is trying to get his/her megaphone to work in the first room in the dark, then suddenly there is a loud feedback. As for the IOA water rides, I am definitely not a fan of getting soaked in the face, but one thing to cope with that is by bringing in a pair of traditional swim goggles, and wearing them prior to any area where there’s a major amount of soaking (i.e.… Read more »

StevenMiranda debi here – I did say that Poseidon’s Fury has loud sounds on the “other” column. There really is no way to tell exactly where every sound occurs as I don’t wish to ruin the rides for non-disabled riders. The chart is still a “work in progress” as others help fill in the blanks.

Thanks for the hint about bringing swim goggles – I’m sure it will help some prepare.