My mom was part of our recent trip to Disney World, and while we focused on making it the best for our almost-three-year-old, we took great care to make sure she had fun as well. The problem was that she has limited mobility due to injuries to both legs, so she can’t walk very long and standing is even more difficult. She also struggles with stability and chronic pain.
To limit her pain and maximize her enjoyment, we researched and planned and still learned along the way.
Here are six tips for navigating Disney World in a scooter or electronic conveyance vehicle (ECV).
1 – Rent a scooter
Disney World’s website offered recommendations for multiple scooter rental companies. We chose Best Value Scooters and we were very pleased with their service! We completed a reservation prior to our trip and paid in advance. For our five-day trip we paid between $200 and $300. Best Value delivered the scooter to our resort before our arrival and it was waiting at the luggage assistance desk when we arrived!
2 – Choose the right one
When exploring renting a scooter you will find various options. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your scooter.
Smaller scooters will be easier to navigate in crowds but larger scooters, like the Maxima my mom chose, provide more comfort.
There will likely be some options available. We added a rear basket and a cane holder. We found the cane holder to be a problem right away. It was attached to the back of the scooter and in the way when backing up in tight spaces (especially when accessing busses – more on that later). The rear basket had some value, but the scooter also had a front basket, so if you don’t need the extra space you may not need the extra basket. Since you can have your purchases delivered to any of the Disney resort hotels for pickup later on, you won’t need to carry your purchases, but if you have any medical devices like an oxygen tank that you have to carry with you, the front basket will not be large enough, so the bigger basket on the back would be useful. If you don’t need it, don’t get it because it can make navigation in small spaces very difficult.
3 – Charging your scooter
The other thing you need to consider when choosing a scooter is battery life. My mom’s scooter had excellent battery life, but we talked to some other guests who were experiencing issues. Make sure you choose a scooter that will hold an adequate charge to last your entire day and charge your scooter every night!
We had a Lion King Family Suite at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. While this is a Value Resort Hotel, the family suites are in hotel not motel style. Therefore, while we had plenty of space in the room to store the scooter overnight, we were able to charge in the hallway and save the space in the room. Plus, there was an electrical outlet just outside our suite in the hallway. Our resort allowed us to park the scooter in the hallway to charge overnight.
4 – Protect your key
Whenever you park your scooter whether it’s for lunch, getting on a ride, or going into your hotel room, you will need to take your key!
It didn’t come with a lanyard, so if you have one, it might be a good idea to bring it so you can wear your key while you’re not using the scooter. We didn’t have one, but we were able to repurpose a water bottle holder to hold her key. Whatever method you choose, it’s good to wear your key on your person.
5 – Visiting attractions
Most places are accessible with your ECV. We visited many shows like It’s Tough to be a Bug in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Enchanted Tiki Room, and she was able to ride her scooter right in. However, if you can walk, you might want to transfer to a seat. If you’ve ever visited It’s Tough to be a Bug, you know why! Also, if you can walk, you might want to park your ECV when visiting gift shops and especially those in World Showcase in Epcot and Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom.
Some rides like It’s a small world are handicap accessible. They have specially designed boats that can accommodate wheelchairs with no problem. There’s even a separate line so you can load separately.
Some rides will require you to move from your ECV to a manual wheel chair like Pirates Of The Caribbean. If you ride any of these attractions, you will park your ECV (don’t forget to take your key!) and transfer.
Some rides are not accessible, and you will have to walk to board. My mom can walk short distances, and she was able to step into some rides. These include Omnimovers which posed a special issue for her because she is unstable when walking on ground that shifts or moves. If you have a similar issue, you can ask the operators to slow or stop the conveyors. Rides like The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover can’t be stopped, but they can be slowed, which helped her significantly.
Often handicapped persons are directed into different lines than other visitors. The Cast Member will direct the disabled person to be first in their group. Your group will stay together and the Cast Members were all very helpful and considerate of her needs. We also found that Cast Members were very helpful with moving her ECV to the unloading area so she didn’t have to walk back to the loading area.
6 – Transportation
One thing that made my mom very nervous with her scooter was how she would get around. I assured her that Disney had this covered!
Most transportation around Disney World is accomplished by bus transportation. There are bus stops at all theme parks, and Disney Resort Hotels, and entertainment districts like Disney Springs. Each bus stop has a designated handicapped row. Visitors in wheelchairs and their family (up to six guests) can wait in that row until the bus driver directs you to the bus. As with rides, the person in the wheelchair will load first and by him or herself unless they need help boarding the bus. Before boarding a bus, remember to set the speed setting on your scooter to low. The bus driver will direct you to drive your wheel chair onto the bus, but if you are uncomfortable doing so, most drivers will take over for you or help you manage the controls and park on the bus safely. Most bus drivers were fine with my mom remaining on her chair and since the chair secured with straps and the rider is given a seat belt, it is safe to do so. All wheelchairs will be loaded first, then family may board. After everyone is loaded, then the regular line will be loaded.
We also used the monorail to get to Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for our character breakfast. The monorail was even easier to access than the bus!
Overall, Disney World did an excellent job accommodating her mobility issues! There is no reason to hesitate to visit if you need assistance!
Have you ever used a scooter (ECV) in Disney World?