Part 3 in my Doing Disney Disabled series
I’ll be doing a special series the next few weeks as my family gears up for our Disney World trip! I’ll be doing posts on the following topics:
*The DAS Pass
*Why we joined the Disney Vacation Club
*Packing for Disney
*DIY Disney Countdown Calendar
*Our Disney Trip: flying with a disability
*Our Disney Trip: Lodging
*Our Disney Trip: Dining, including with Food Disability
*Our Disney Trip: The Parks
*Our Disney Trip: Overview and final thoughts, recommendations, as well as tips and tricks
Is there something you’d like to know? I’m all EARS!
In addition to the DAS Pass, we also decided this year to rent me a scooter (also called an Electrical Conveyance Vehicle is ECV). We used wheelchairs on our trips in 2010/2012, but we didn’t have a child at those times. Now we do. Brian needs to be able to help both of us, and he can’t do that while pushing a wheelchair. In addition, he wrenched his back (right before Disney, of course) and pushing a wheelchair would not help him enjoy the trip.
Renting a scooter can be a bit of a hassle. There’s several options: rent from a local company, or rent directly from Disney. First, here’s some info about Scooters directly from Disney:
Walt Disney World’s ECV Rentals
If you rent directly from Disney, there’s several things to be noted. First, it’s only available in the parks, and they cannot be taken from park to park. If you decide to go to another park, you’d need to turn the scooter in and transfer to the other park without one (you only pay once; present your receipt at the second park). They are first come, first serve- once gone, they are gone. That becomes a bit risky if you truly need one. And the cost: at $50/day, plus, the refundable $100 deposit, renting one for one day is fine, but every day for a week long trip is an astronomical price.
There’s also renting from one of the many Scooter Rental Companies in Orlando. When renting one from an outside vendor, you want to start with the Disney approved ones, for multiple reasons. The biggest reason is their employees are considered Cast Members by Disney; this allows them to enter the parks and fix your scooter if something happens to it. Disney Approved Vendors often offer more discounts, like DVC and Annual Passholder discounts (almost all scooter companies also offer a returning customer discount). Disney Approved Vendors are allowed to drop the scooter off at the resorts without you being present; Disney requires other vendors to meet and hand over the scooter in person. Finally, if you are in a resort where you cannot get your scooter to your room (say, a 2nd floor villa in a building without an elevator at Old Key West), you can store your scooter at Bell Services if it’s a Disney Approved Vendor.
The Disney Approved Vendors are listed below:
After calling around to both Disney Approved as well as regular rental companies, I decided to go with Apple Scooters for multiple reasons. The biggest reason is they are the most affordable option, by far. For 4 days (Sunday 5p through Thursday 7pm), it came to $138; the next closest was $163. They gave me a 10% off returning customer discount (even though I am technically not a returning customer- I could have sworn I used them when we went to New Orleans in 2009, but apparently they don’t have a location there. So now I have no idea who I used. But when the guy heard plus being a DVC member, he graciously offered the discount anyway); that brought the price down to $124. They include insurance in their price; many of the others don’t, so it would have been $163+ plus whatever the insurance cost was (around $20-25). And the employee graciously offered to make a note on my ticket that even though it’s a 4 day rental scheduled for pick up Thursday at 7pm, they won’t pick it up until early Friday morning (we leave Friday around 9:30a), and it avoids adding the cost of another day onto my rental.
There’s some things to note about using scooters at Disney (and much of it applies to wheelchairs as well).
Your scooter or wheelchair should fit fine in your room with no issues. You may have to move the table and chairs in the room, but usually there’s more than enough room for both. As stated before, you can store your scooter at Bell Services if it’s from a Disney Approved Vendor. Charge your scooter every night!! You’ll want to bring your battery with you to the parks to charge your scooter (most have baskets on the front). Most restaurants (I believe all table service restaurants) have charging locations available while you eat. The battery lasts about 9-10 hours, but I’m one who doesn’t like to risk it, especially if it’s going to be a long or rigorous day.
You’ll want to pack an old towel or 2 as well as poncho for park days, in case it rains or is really hot. That way you can throw a poncho over the scooter and have a towel to wipe off the seat if it gets wet. On hot days you’ll want to sit on a towel- trust me, those vinyl seats are uncomfortable when sweaty.
You’ll want to use the Disney Transportation System, especially the buses, with either scooters or wheelchairs. When lining up at a bus stop, you’ll see a second line towards where the back of the bus will be, often marked with a wheelchair symbol. Your entire party should wait in that line. When a bus arrives, wheelchairs and scooters are first to board. The driver will have you get on via a ramp then strap down your scooter. They will then have your family board. Once the disability parties are on board, he will then have the regular guests board. The same thing happens in reverse when getting off. If for some reason the bus is too full or there’s multiple (3+) disability guests on the bus, find the Cast Member manning the bus stop. They can radio for a bus to come straight to you, instead of you having to wait for the next bus (and risking that one be full as well!).
I will say this, and it’s the only not so positive thing I will say. Be prepared to encounter lots of grumbling from regular guests. Since the scooters go where there are seats (the seats flip up), guests will be asked to move or stand. I have had people say not very nice things to me on Disney buses because they had to move and didn’t want to, especially if they had to stand. My suggestion is to keep spreading the magic and fairy dust- you don’t have to respond in kind. Also, give your bus driver some extra magic; they deal with a lot of grumpy gills all day long.
When it comes to using the scooters in the parks, you’ll need to keep flexibility and extra time needed at the top of your list. It will most likely take longer to get through the crowds with a scooter- from having to wait for large crowds to constantly braking for people darting in front of the scooter, you’ll rely heavily on patience too. That’s okay though- it allows you to enjoy the beauty of the parks even more!
When it comes to rides with scooters, there will be 3 possibilities: stay in your scooter for the ride or show, Transfer from your scooter to a Disney wheelchair to the ride itself, or transfer from your scooter. The scooter would then be stored in an area outside the ride. Be prepared to ask a cast member exactly where, because it’s not always right next to the ride.
Hopefully, these tips about using an ECV/Scooter at Disney helped you better understand the in and out of scootin’ around Disney. Keep your eyes peeled for the next addition to the Disney series!