Los Angeles

Welcome to the city of angels… the city of dreams… the city I live in… the city I love.

Hi. I’m Jill. While I grew up in Sydney and that is still sort of home, I fell in love and married an American, so here I am, living in downtown Beverly Hills. The director of Cane & Able Travel, Ian, asked me to join him in this venture because I’m an Aussie who has travelled extensively Australia, because I have a background in hospitality and because I, like Ian, have Multiple Sclerosis.

And it is the Cane & Able Travel philosophy to only talk about destinations and attractions we have personally experienced, as a ‘local’ as well as a visitor.

While I am more the able end of the MS disability spectrum, it does sure throw up its share of challenges and gives a different perspective on getting about and participating fully in what’s on offer. Even if your mobility is great or you might use a cane for security and assistance, a wheelchair for some attractions can give freedom, peace of mind and a lot less fatigue! And it is great that most LA attractions offer assistance in this area.

Los Angeles has so much to see and do and is one of the world’s most disabled-accessible cities.

Attractions include Disneyland (of course!), Venice Beach, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Santa Monica Pier, The Dolby (Kodak) Theatre, the Hard Rock Café, Aquarium of the Pacific & Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, The Grove, museums, art galleries, Rodeo Drive & The Beverly Centre, the Los Angeles Zoo and much more!

Following you will find an overview of the city’s main attractions, disability access information and accommodation options.

First, let’s go shopping!!!!!!!

The Beverly Center is on La Cienega, San Vicente and Beverly Boulevards at the edge of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The Center is right in the heart of America’s TV and film industries so you might a few celebs swishing about.  There are 160 specialty boutiques including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, D&G and True Religion. Point of difference retailers like Salvatore Ferragamo, Henri Bendel, Traffic, Ben Sherman, Desigual and J. Lindeberg make the Center a unique shopping experience. There’s also Tiffany & Co., Prada, Fendi, Omega, Superdry and The Capital Grille.  Open week days 11:00am to 9:00pm, Saturdays 10:00am to 8:00pm and Sundays 11:00am to 6:00pm.

Complimentary wheelchairs are available at Guest Services in Center Court on Level 6. A refundable deposit is required.  Handicapped persons must park themselves if driving a modified vehicle; valet employees are not trained to operate modified vehicles.

There would be very few people who haven’t enjoyed Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman character shopping on Rodeo Drive (which is a short walk from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel) but chances are you won’t bump into Julia… or Richard Gere… or any celebrities – because this street of boutique shops is so famous, it attracts more tourists than movie stars (they have a few more discreet haunts) BUT you will feel ‘special’ browsing the Drive (it is actually a few streets) even if you are only window shopping.  And if you aren’t in the market for windows, try on some clothes.

Having said that about celebrity-spotting being a difficult sport, depends on where you go.

For example, when Ian was once in LA he went looking for a nice restaurant and, on heading into the dining establishment,  he saw someone he recognised walking out towards him.  He waved and said, “Hi, what are you doing here?” thinking it was a lady he worked alongside in his son’s school canteen but mistake, big mistake – she was out of context and he recognised her from inside a cinema – it was Michelle Pfeiffer and hubby David E. Kelly.  Because of his forward approach, Michelle looked for a moment like she should have known him – luckily Ian recovered enough to stammer, “Sorry, mistook you for someone else…”  ‘Who else?’ she must have thought, ‘Shirley Bloody Temple?’…

I have had a few brushes with fame… (ETC)

Of course, there are oodles of tours to take visitors to see where the rich and famous Hollywood stars live today or once lived – we are currently seeking out the best operators – but chances are you won’t see the ‘twinkles’ out front pruning the roses or up a ladder cleaning out the gutters but it is still fun to see where the stars live.

If you want to see the resting place of lots of entertainment’s greats, probably best to head to Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park (1218 Glendon Avenue, Westwood).  Marilyn Monroe is here, as will Hugh Heffner one day – he has reserved the plot next to Marilyn!  Other graves include Eddie Albert, Eve Arden, Jim Backus, Truman Capote, John Cassavettes, James Coburn, Rodney Dangerfield, Peter Falk, Farrah Fawcett, Eva Gabor, Janis Joplin, Gene Kelly, Don Knotts, Burt Lancaster, Janet Leigh, Karl Malden, Dean Martin, Walter Matthau, Elizabeth Montgomery, Roy Orbison, Minnie Riperton, George C Scott, Robert Stack, Natalie Wood and Frank Zappa.  Email us if you would like a map showing who is where!

While we will get to Disneyland soon, one of LA’s newest architectural and cultural gems, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the LA Philharmonic – it took 16 years to build, $274 million and 30,000 architectural drawings!  There are guided tours as well as concerts.  The acoustics are simply amazing!

There is seating for patrons in wheelchairs (and their companions) in all price sections. Ushers are not permitted to physically assist patrons in transferring into theatre seats. Music Centre Guest Services representatives will assist patrons with mobility impairments by escorted wheelchair transport to and from the theatre. Reservations are necessary. Ramps and seating spots without fixed chairs are part of the design.  

One of Hollywood’s biggest attractions is Universal Studios.  There is a Studio Tour and rides and attractions include King Kong 360 3-D, Transformers The Ride 3-D, The Simpsons Ride, The Revenge of the Mummy The Ride, Shrek 4-D, Jurassic Park The Ride, The Adventures of Curious George, Terminator 2 : 3D, Waterworld, Special Effects Stage, The Blues Brothers, Universal’s Animal Actors, House of Horrors and Characters in the Park.  It is huuuuuuge!

Many of the rides, shows and attractions are wheelchair accessible.

For thrills and no spills Six Flags Magic Mountain is famous for its adrenalin-packed rides – there are 14 roller coasters, and over 100 rides, games and attractions to keep all the family happy.

Six Flags Magic Mountain prints a disabilities guidebook so that visitors will know exactly how to approach rides, shows, games, shops and restaurants. Rental wheelchairs are available at the Plaza.

If you are into aquariums, LA has a couple of beauties… At the Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach) you can get up close with 12,500 critters – fish, birds, turtles and sharks (there are 150 in Shark Lagoon you can touch!)

Wheelchairs are available at the Information Centre and they can get right up to the tanks.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (San Pedro) is smaller than the Aquarium of the Pacific but is equally rewarding and only features marine life found off the coast of California. The building was designed by Frank Gehry of Walt Disney Concert Hall fame.

The museum is all on one level and wheelchairs and canes can get right up to the popular touch tank on the rear patio. The museum loans sand wheelchairs (the ones with big, fat wheels) that permit disabled visitors to explore Cabrillo Beach (across the parking lot).

L.A. Live in Downtown LA is a dazzling complex of dining, shopping and entertainment, including restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, Club Nokia, Nokia Theatre, the Grammy Museum and ESPN studios.

It is the entertainment centre for LA and boasts more music per square foot than anywhere else in the United States!

Nokia Theatre offers accessible seating.  Visitors are not allowed to remain in their wheelchair during a performance. Pre-purchasing of disabled parking spots is highly recommended.

The Dolby Theater is the new name for the Kodak Theater, home to the Academy Awards Oscar night.  Apart from that one night, it is home to the magnificent Cirque du Soleil for the rest of the year and the current show is Iris – a journey through the world of cinema.

At the Dolby, wheelchair and special seating can be bought from the box office in person or by phoning (323) 308-6300. Courtesy wheelchairs are available free of charge at the coat check on Lobby Level 2, or by requesting assistance from the Event Manager on duty.   There are accessible bathrooms on all seating levels and accessible parking is available in the structure directly below the theatre with access from Highland Avenue or Orange Drive. 

We’re sort of going shopping again but The Grove (back to back with the Farmers Market) is much more than just a shopping mall. There is a nice eclectic mix of shops for retail therapy but also restaurants, and loads of atmosphere.

The brick streets and sidewalks are easily manoeuvrable if you are wheeling about the restaurants, shops (major stores have handicap assisted doors), central park and water fountain. Wheelchairs are available from the Concierge Desk at the parking structure (tons of handicap parking spots on the coveted first floor).  The Grove’s popular trolley has a wheelchair lift to take visitors to the Farmers Market next door.

Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade is another one of LA’s all-year open-air strolling areas.  And there can be a bit of shopping involved – it is the place for vintage clothing, CDs and books.  You get entertainment from the sk8boarders, hippie art vendors, street performers and buskers.  Very cool.  Because it is a pedestrian mall (closed to cars except at cross streets) there are broad walkways, plenty of ramped curbs and easy-to-cross streets.

Santa Monica Pier is not just a fishing pier but the heart of Southern California beach life – swimming, surfing, volleyball, beach gymnastics and outside chess with an amusement park, restaurants, bars and a gaggle of clever street entertainers.  Or should that be a ‘giggle’?

If you have mobility issues, the secret is to park on the pier-level lot, not below. Then it’s an easy journey down to the end of the pier, where you can see the amazing sweep of the coastline at its absolute best.

Moving on to the legendary Venice Beach Boardwalk.

This is one of those places that has to be experienced in person to believe – the place vibrates with an exciting buzz and ambiance from the daredevil skaters to the iron pumpers on Muscle Beach to the wildest of street performers and crazy vendors hawking wares and cheap eats.  It’s sort of Cirque du Soleil without the discipline or rehearsal.

It’s flat, it is accessible if you are in a wheelchair and if you just want to sit, the parade will pass you.

Historic Olvera Street has lots of atmosphere, too.  Charmingly restored it is like a trip south of the border with restaurants and cafes serving up carnitas, tacos and cactus salads with strolling mariachis providing the musical ambiance.

The street is cobblestone, but the stones have been well-worn over the 75 years this Mexican marketplace has existed.  With a bit of a keen eye, canes and wheelchairs will be fine and it is mostly on the flat. 

The Getty Center has a huge collection of antiquities, paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography.

It is a fascinating collection and admission is free (1200 Getty Center Drive).

The Center is very accessible.  It is a smooth run from the underground parking up to the tram station and then up one more elevator to the acropolis itself. The centre is a complex of galleries around a central courtyard. Wheelchairs are available for hire.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (San Marino) is an oasis of art and culture set in 207 acres.

There are fabulous gardens (including the new Children’s Garden), a tropical conservatory, the Chinese Garden, four art galleries, a library with collections of rare books and a bookstore.

It has been well-planned for disabled art and garden lovers. A color-coded map of the grounds is available online and also included in the Visitor’s Guide, showing recommended routes for wheelchairs and the few steep areas that should be avoided. Wheelchairs are available for loan at the entrance arcade. Many of the gardens are accessible by gently sloped paths.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has a world-famous collection of post-1940 art.  There are 5000 pieces in the permanent collection and that is being added to all the time and there are always exciting temporary exhibitions.  Click here to check out what’s on – http://www.moca.org/

The MOCA is wheelchair accessible by taking a wheelchair lift up to the office level (rare chance to get behind the scenes!) and then into the gallery levels which are connected by large elevators. Wheelchairs are available for loan.

The terrific Los Angeles Zoo is at the 5 and 134 freeways.  It is home to 1,200 rare and endangered mammals, reptiles and birds and highlights include the Campo Gorilla Reserve, Sea Life Cliffs, Winnick Family Children’s Zoo, Red Ape Rain Forest and the Chimps of Mahale Mountains.  It is fine to take a picnic and makes for a great family day out.

The zoo terrain is a little hilly and it covers a large area but visitors with disabilities can experience all the animals by hopping on the Safari Shuttle that loops around the roadways.  Both traditional and electric wheelchairs can be rented at the International Marketplace.

The Natural History Museum is the city’s second oldest cultural institution and the largest natural and historical museum in the western United States with more than 33 million specimens and artifacts. I wonder whose job it was to do the stocktake?

The museum’s historic structure has front steps that defy disabilities, but disabled visitors are taken care of by entering at the staff entrance on Exposition Boulevard. Wheelchairs are available for loan at the Expo entrance.

Nearly time to go to Disneyland, but first…

Getting around Los Angeles isn’t difficult on public transport – the Metro bus and rail system can accommodate all types of wheelchairs and offers reduced fares for disabled passengers.

We have chosen only a few accommodation properties to promote for the quality of their accommodation and recreational facilities, the location and their disabled facilities.  We will add to this shortly but, as an example, the Montage Hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills offers luxury at an affordable price, is handy to all attractions and it has a select category of guestrooms to cater for disabled guests.

  • Extra wide door frames
  • Roll-in showers in select rooms and convenient hand bars in others
  • Connector availability
  • Shower chairs and toilet seat risers are available from housekeeping

And, of course, we will feature an Anaheim property!!!

Apart from in-house hotel dining, we know where there are some terrific eateries and which Comedy Stores have the best acts for a fun night out.  Will update shortly but, as an example, there is a fantastic French restaurant off the courtyard at the Montage Hotel called the Bouchon Bistro.  I think ‘bouchon’ means ‘plug’, so it sounds better in French.  I think IU’ll go for the Gigot d’Agneau (roasted leg of lamb  with eggplant, tomato fondu, crispy panisse & lamb jus – not inexpensive at $33, but not expensive for the quality presented by renowned chef, Thomas Keller, especially if you get a table next to George Clooney.

The Bouchon Bistro is wheelchair-friendly but the bathroom doors are a tad on the heavy side and the bar, like most bars, is not wheelchair height – guess if it were, it wouldn’t be a bar, it would be a bench seat for the ambulatory patrons!

Woo hoo… it is finally time to go to Disneyland!!!  There are actually two parks and you need more than a day to do them justice – we reckon a three day pass with nearby accommodation would be perfect for a family wanting the real Disney experience.  Remember, imagination is the destination and it is no place for curmudgeonly grown-ups who might try to dampen a child’s reward with a slap of reality!

A quick overview of some of the attractions within this world famous attraction – and thanks for the vision, Walt!

Main Street, USA is the entrance to Disneyland Park… classic American architecture and vintage vehicles recreate a bygone times.  Yes, there’s merchandise, but it is from an old-time Victorian general store full of all kinds of Disney memorabilia.

Fantasyland is just beyond Sleeping Beauty Castle.  Here you’ll find princesses from the royal realms of Disney films such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Be enchanted.  Very enchanted.

Tomorrowland used to be soooo yesterday when today was the future at Disneyland, but the Park has always kept pace!  You can rocket into outer space and battlefields galactic with Buzz Lightyear or dive below the waves to find Nemo or get into Star Wars or Michael Jackson’s EO.

In the French Quarter of New Orleans Square you can celebrate Mardi Gras all year round. Pay your respects to the 999 ghostly residents of the Haunted Mansion then join the Pirates of the Caribbean for a swashbuckling voyage.  And what be a pirates favourite letter of the alphabet, kiddies?  No, you’re wrong if you said “RRRRRRRRR’ because a pirate’s favourite letter is ‘C’ – yes, the pirates love the C!

To Adventureland and embark on a bold expedition into a lost temple on the Indiana Jones Adventure and discover dark jungles on The Jungle Cruise.

Over at Critter Country there’s the rumble of railroads and waterfalls… there’s Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood is a honey of a place to be.

Frontierland is full of trailblazers, settlers and other heroes of the American Old West. Jump the Big Thunder railroad car, check out the Golden Horseshoe Stage and the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.

In any garden there’s always time to sniff the roses, at Disneyland there’s always time to sniff the mice.  Mickey’s Toontown is a miniature interactive metropolis full of topsy turvy architecture and screwy sculptures. As Elton John sang, comic book heroes never grow old – and these toons are here for the taking.

Don’t head home early – no trip to Disneyland is complete without the fireworks exploding over Sleeping Beauty Castle!  Ahhhh… when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true!  And less dangerous than pulling on the wishbone of a chicken.

While times and performances are subject to change, you can plan ahead by viewing the Disneyland Resort entertainment schedule online.

Disability Info:

Walt Disney World Resort offers accommodation for Guests with mobility disabilities, including access to most attractions and offering rental wheelchairs and electric convenience vehicles (ECVs).

Many of the transportation systems at the Walt Disney World Resort are accessible to Guests with disabilities.

All bus routes are serviced by buses equipped to accommodate various types of wheelchairs within the following guidelines:

  • The wheelchair must fit the wheelchair lift without being forced; the standard bus lift is 32 inches x 48 inches.
  • The wheelchair must be securely fastened in the wheelchair restraints.

Watercraft access varies depending on the type of watercraft and the existing water levels and conditions. Contact a Disney Cast Member at the watercraft dock for information and assistance.

Guests may access the Monorail by proceeding up the entrance ramps, or using the elevators provided at these locations:

  • Epcot Theme Park
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Wheelchair rentals are available (from $12 a day) on a first-come, first-served basis at these locations:

  • Magic Kingdom theme park entrance
  • Epcot theme park entrance
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park entrance
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park entrance
  • Downtown Disney Area
  • Disney Resort Hotels (limited quantity)

For convenience and comfort, Guests may take their own wheelchairs. Rental wheelchairs may not be transferred from park to park, but personal wheelchairs, of course, can be transferred.

Most Walt Disney World attractions, restaurants, shops and shows are accessible to all Guests. In some cases, however, Guests using wheelchairs may need to transfer from their wheelchairs onto an attraction vehicle. Disney Cast Members are not permitted to physically lift Guests from wheelchairs.

We therefore recommend that Guests plan to visit with someone who can physically assist them, when necessary. If traveling with a large party, Disney Resort Hotels have spacious rooms for five guests or more.

Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) rentals are also available on a first-come, first-served basis at the same locations that rent wheelchairs. Quantities of these vehicles are limited; plan to arrive early. Guests must be 18 years of age or older to rent ECVs. ECVs are designed to be single-rider and not to hold more than one person.

ECVs are available only on a same-day basis and may only be used in the Park where they are rented. ECVs will be held if Guests wish to leave and return to the same Park.

Guests planning to visit more than one Disney Park on the same day should retain their wheelchair deposit ticket from the first Disney Park they visit. This will enable them to obtain a replacement wheelchair or ECV on the same day, if available, at the next Park with no additional charge. Note: Wheelchairs or ECVs may not be available at the second Disney Park.

Walt Disney World Resort strives to provide mainstream access to attractions, entertainment, sports & recreations and special events whenever possible; that is, all Guests use the main entrance.

However, accessibility for Guests with mobility disabilities varies within Disney Parks and may include:

  • Auxiliary entrances for wheelchairs.
  • Designated viewing on parades routes and show areas.

The Guide for Guests with Disabilities and Park Guide maps use the following symbols to indicate boarding procedures for each attraction. In addition, Guests should contact a Disney Cast Member at each attraction before entering.

Parade Route and Show Areas

For added comfort, all parade routes and some show areas have designated viewing places for Guests with disabilities. These places are filled on a first-come, first-served basis; arrive early, as space is limited and viewing spaces cannot be reserved or guaranteed.