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Author: Diva Viva

             The Walt Disney World Parks offer special services to non-English speakers from the US and other countries.  One of these services is the “Ears to the World” headphones that can be found at Guest Services.  These headphones are touted by Disney as a great way to enjoy Disney attractions even if you don’t speak English.  If you ask Disney a question about traveling to the parks in another language, they will certainly reference these in the response, but are they really “Ears to the World”? We will see….

                Getting “Ears to the World” is easy enough.  Near the entrance to each park is a Guest Services building.  The cast members at these locations seem to be extra-qualified to help with guests, especially non-English speakers.  Many are bi-lingual.  This is also where you will find the greatest assortment of non-English park maps and guides.  Though the Times Guide daily schedules are not printed in languages other than English, bi-lingual cast members can help or, if no cast member who speaks the language needed can be found, Disney reports that if you call 407-824-7900 or touch “Disney Information” on any Disney hotel in-room phone, Disney can help you with questions in most languages.  

To get the “Ears to the World,” you need to specify which language (French, Spanish, Japanese, German, or Portuguese) and sign a form as well as leave a deposit. Technically these are FREE as long as you come back to get your deposit.  The amount of the deposit seems to change since I read online that it was $100 a set but my husband and only had to leave $50 for two sets ($25 each).  The money does get returned to you when you turn in the headsets, but this can be a bit of a nuisance since you must have the cash on hand to leave at the desk.  They don’t take credit cards.
Spanish Language Maps and Information

                In Magic Kingdom, Guest Relations is right inside the park on the left of Main Street (if you are looking at Cinderella’s Castle) at City Hall.  This is where to get the “Ears to the World” for all Magic Kingdom attractions.  

Though they are big, heavy, and awkward to keep with you, I suggest getting them at the start of your day if you are planning on using them, because it can be annoying to walk all the way back to Guest Relations if you decide you want them for a specific ride. In Magic Kingdom, “Ears to the World” work on the Walt Disney World Railroad, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, and The Hall of Presidents.  I can’t imagine a non-English speaker actually enjoying The Hall of Presidents (or having any idea what was going on) without the translation, but the translation is not necessary for the enjoyment of many of the other rides.  My husband did the Railroad, Tiki Room, and Haunted Mansion without the headphones and still enjoyed them.  We did not do the Jungle Cruise, so I do not know how the often unscripted jokes work with the translator. 

Ears to the World info card
in Spanish

               In Epcot, Guest Relations is at the main entrance, directly to the left of the Spaceship Earth Epcot “ball.”  There you can get the “Ears to the World” for Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Living with the Land, The American Adventure, The Circle of Life, O Canada!, Journey into Imagination, Reflections of China, and the pre-show part of Test Track, Impressions de France, and Mission:SPACE.  This is the park where the “Ears to the World” are most necessary and most helpful.  There are more rides in Epcot that work with the headphones and more overall need for the translators in that park.  Again, though, get them when you are passing Guest Relations so that you don’t have to walk all over the park.  This was an aggravation when we entered the park through the International Gateway, though, because that Guest Relations site does not have the “Ears to the World.”  At this time, Adgent P’s World Showcase Adventure only functions in English, though it seems an easy upgrade to make it available in other languages and hopefully the Disney Imaginers will make that change soon. 



                In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guest Relations is to the left of the main entrance on the inner-side of the gate building.  The “Ears to the World” are available for Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, Muppet Vision 3D, The Great Movie Ride, The Magic of Disney Animation, and the pre-show of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  We did use the earphones here, but they were a bit silly for Tower of Terror’s pre-show, as for most of the pre-shows in other parks. 
                According to the map and “Ears to the World” information card, the headphones could be used at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the pre-show of DINOSAUR, The Wildlife Express Train, It’s Tough to be a Bug!, and the Kilimanjaro Safaris, but when we got to Guest Relations (located to the left of the main entrance) we were told that they no longer offer “Ears to the World” in Animal Kingdom.  They said that new changes to Kilimanjaro Safaris didn’t work with the translator and it wasn’t necessary to translate the other rides previously offered.  This meant that I translated for my husband on the Kilimanjaro Safaris (which honestly wasn’t that big a deal because seeing the animals doesn’t need language to be appreciated) and we skipped A Bug’s Life. 



                In my opinion, these headphones are bulky and hard to carry around.  They are also something you must plan to use so that you don’t have to run back to guest relations before every ride that may need them.  

In our week long trip, we pre-planned when we would need them and went to the rides that required them at the same time so that we did not have to carry them around with us all the time.  There was plenty to enjoy without them and most shows and attractions don’t need translation. 

I hope that Disney finds a new, more user friendly and universally accessible tool for translation in the future.  Until then, the “Ears to the World” are a must for The Hall of Presidents, The American Adventure, and The Great Movie Ride, but I think you can go without them and still enjoy the other attractions. 

* This information was accurate as of summer 2012

~ Diva Viva