Is Walt Disney World Really the “Happiest Place on Earth” for ALL? : Digital Accessibility Review

The entertainment-resort complex, Disney World, located in Orlando, Florida, is famously heralded for being the “Happiest Place On Earth.” This year Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th anniversary. While the company and the world reflect on the joy and innovation Disney has achieved throughout the years, has it really lived up to its name? 

The 5th Key of Inclusion

Disney’s 5 Keys

Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world. On average, Walt Disney World receives 58 million visitors annually [1]. Among Disney’s visitors include visitors with disabilities. To accommodate the rich body of visitors and cast members who wish to experience the magic of Walt Disney World, Disney added a 5th key to their core values. The keys are meant to serve as a blueprint for cast members to guide their interactions with visitors and create a great user experience for all. This 5th key includes the “key of inclusion,” which features: a reimagination of site attractions, a diverse representation within the Disney supply chain, diversity and accountability across the organization, and freedom of expression and individuality for cast members [2]. Although the experiences for those with disability was not explicitly mentioned within the details of this key, it can be assumed that these visitors are included within this key value.

Web Accessibility of Walt Disney World

To serve the Disney community and maximize this key of inclusion, we believe that Disney needs to accommodate all visitors, especially those with disabilities. When thinking about being inclusive, Disney should focus their attention on being accessible. For many, the experience at Walt Disney World starts by planning their visit and purchasing tickets to theme parks online. Since web accessibility is a crucial part of planning one’s experience to a Disney resort or park, our team set out to assess the web accessibility of Walt Disney World.  We used the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) tool to review the website and ticketing process against several Success Criteria (SC) across the Levels A-AAA. Our evaluation revealed that the Walt Disney World website is not accessible and can be improved significantly to accommodate those with visual and cognitive disabilities. The website failed accessibility guidelines in several areas such as: 

  • color contrast
  • consistency and visibility of navigation throughout the ticketing process
  • touch point target sizes for interactive elements
  • providing transcripts for audio-only / video-only media
  • keyboard accessibility 
  • Lack of options to pause, stop, or hide moving / animated content 
  • adjusting time limits during ticket checkout 

What Key Changes can be Implemented to Make Walt Disney World More Accessible?

To make the Walt Disney World Website more accessible for those with disabilities, we made a few key changes to the design such as:

  • Reduced animated / image content from the ticketing hero section to guide the users directly to the main content of the website.
  • Change the colored gradient background on the top Navigation to plain Black making the text on top of it accessible.
  • The call to action buttons were implemented with a darker color background which made the content over it readable and accessible.
  • Utilized breadcrumbs throughout the entire ticketing process.
  • Incorporated a progress indicator so that users know how far they are within the ticketing process / don’t have to rely on short-term memory. 
  • Added a table based calendar that filters by clicking on a certain day or month.
  • Designed buttons adjacent to month letting users follow a simple path rather than a date picker which makes it complex for users.


When discussing his proposition for the addition of the key of inclusion, Josh D’ Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said, “We’ll never stop working to make sure that Disney is a welcoming place for all.” Disney needs to make all digital content web accessible to continue making these strides towards inclusion. Once these changes are implemented, Walt Disney World will live up to being the “Happiest Place On Earth” for all visitors.