An Analysis of Guest Accessibility Accommodations at Orlando Theme Parks


Arielle Spencer - PhD Student -  Planning, Design, and the Built Environment - Clemson University
Winifred E. Newman, Ph.D. - Mickel Professor of Architecture; Assoc. Dean for Research and Academic Affairs; Director, Institute for Intelligent Materials, Systems and Environments (CU-iMSE) - Clemson University

About the study

This project aims to examine the current state of accommodation programs in Florida theme parks to better understand how they’re developed, used, and incorporated into the design and management of theme park projects. By examining accommodation programs and options for guests with disabilities at the four largest theme parks in Orlando, discussing their development and use with people who work with them, and comparing options and use across parks, the project can develop a more universal understanding of guest needs and see where current issues with the design of parks or attractions lie. The goal is then to use these commonalities and pain points to shape a global minimum program to be applied to other parks and discover areas where accessibility is lacking that can be considered for the future. Additionally, the long-term goal is to use these findings as a basis for increasing universal accessibility in theme park design, particularly incorporating it early in the design process, rather than creating secondary accommodations.


Data collection for the study will take place in a single video interview session using a video calling platform which you will schedule based on your availability from a list of choices online. The interview itself will be a one-on-one semi-structured conversation with the researcher, Arielle Spencer, and will be slightly tailored to fit your company and role. The questions will all be focused on describing the current accommodation programs at the park, their use, and development (see “Types of Questions'' below for more detail). The interviews will be video recorded and the recordings will later be transcribed using a speech to text program and checked by the researcher for accuracy. Once transcribed, the videos will be deleted and the transcriptions will be deidentified. The deidentified transcriptions will then be analyzed and coded for emerging themes and patterns by the researcher.

Depending on the number of responses and participant schedules, the interviews will take place over the course of several weeks. Individual interviews will be transcribed and member-checked (shared with the interview subject to confirm accuracy, adjust responses, or add additional information as desired) soon after the interview. Analysis and coding of interview data will be ongoing as more interviews are taking place.

Data Privacy and Protections

Participation in the interview portion of the study is completely voluntary and participants may stop the interview at any time without consequence. Participants are able to refrain from answering any questions that make them uncomfortable or that they feel could cause them problems.Videos and transcripts of interviews will not be shared outside the research team, will be deidentified and stored securely, and video files will be deleted after transcription.Participants will be given the option to indicate how they wish to be presented in the published research, either by including their name, title, or company or by having their quotes be presented anonymously. They will also have the option to specify more minutely which quotes and opinions may be attributed to them directly, which can be generally included, and which will be omitted from the published research. Further, participants will have multiple opportunities to review data during the research and writing process to ensure it is an accurate and fair representation. Based on their preferences, participants will be provided their transcribed interview and given the opportunity to change, add, or retract anything in it. They will also be shown the coded data, or themes, at the end of the analysis process and given the opportunity for feedback again. Finally, they have the option to receive versions of the final work, either as a draft, the final, or simply a summary of findings, before it is officially submitted for publication or presentation. Though interviews are designed to be exploratory and impartial, participants may feel uncomfortable when asked to give their opinions on certain topics such as the efficacy of programs, difficulties in making accommodations, or other issues where they feel they may be saying something unflattering to their employer and we recognize that negative opinions about their company could cause professional risk to participants. Due to the small, tight-knit nature of the industry, focused scope with a wide degree of difference between companies, and limited participants within few positions of interest, complete anonymity of participants cannot be guaranteed. However, every precaution will be taken on the part of the researchers to limit privacy risks and, by providing opportunities for review and feedback throughout the process, participants can ensure their information is represented accurately.