Scooting Around the World: Exploring Walt Disney World on a Scooter or ECVby Deb Kendall, PassPorter Message Board Guide (Moderator)
Last modified 11-17-2010
About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For those not familiar with this, it is a connective tissue illness that causes all-over pain, fatigue, and "brain fog." The first few years I didn't want to accept this diagnosis and tried to do Walt Disney World on foot. I found that after one day of walking the park I was in so much pain I couldn't take a step without tears in my eyes. It made for a non-magical vacation.
Even on a scooter you can have a wonderful day at the food & wine festival
I decided it was time to get a scooter (also known as an ECV, which stands for Electrical Conveyance Vehicle). It is a whole different "world" going to Walt Disney World on a scooter. You have to learn how to board buses, boats, and monorails. And it's not as easy as it looks!
I was luckier than most people because I had my own scooter at home and had learned to drive it pretty well. Driving the scooter at Walt Disney World is still a whole different animal--lots of people everywhere not looking where they are going, kids dashing out in front of you, doors closing in your face... you really need to be on the lookout at all times. You also must be able to drive backwards, and parallel park on buses, etc.
The first thing I learned is to be very aware of my surroundings, especially keeping an eye out for "dashers." Most people think scooters have brakes. They don't! There is an accelerator--when we push it the scooter moves, when we take our foot off, the scooter stops. It takes a little bit of space for a scooter to stop when we let off the accelerator. Please be aware of this when you stop in front of us.
Here's a tip for those on foot, when you or your group decide to stop, please move over to the side of the pathway so you don't cause a hazard for those of us on wheels. We really don't want to crash into you or have to suddenly swerve and possibly hit someone else. Please remind kids to also look before they run off. It is so scary for us driving scooters in crowds at closing time or when shows let out. I usually pull off the pathways till things thin out because I get so nervous, fearful that I will clip someone.
Some other tips regarding folks driving scooters or ECVs: It is fine to hold open a door for us--I really appreciate everyone that has been helpful to me. I have found most people I encounter on solo trips are wonderful, polite, and treat me with kindness and respect. We are lower to the ground than most other people and do encounter obstacles, but we love to interact with everyone and are friendly people, too. We love Walt Disney World and PassPorters love to chat!
Buses: Scooters are loaded first, but exit last. We are loaded first because we need the scooter to be strapped down. When parking on the bus I always parallel park. It takes some practice but once it is mastered you can get the scooter in place pretty fast so the rest of the guests can load. Buses can only carry two scooters and there are times we wait bus after bus till we can get on one with room for us. We know you want to get on fast and we apologize for making you wait. Thank you for your patience.
Riding the monorail is fun! It's easy to get on and off with the ramp. But I always worry that they will forget to let me off. When I travel alone I always ask someone exiting to let the cast member know I need the ramp. The worst that could happen is another trip around. It is a great means of transportation for those with wheels.
Tip: Securing Wheelchairs on Buses
To help Disney bus drivers speed along the process of securing my boyfriend's power wheelchair, I put colored ribbons in the appropriate places for tie downs. This helps the driver avoid fumbling for sturdy places to tie down the chair for transport. - tip contributed by Tracy
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Like the monorail, boats also have similar ramps and are also easy to get on and off of most of the time.
Some people think that because we are on scooters we get "front of the line passes"--this is not true. We actually wait longer in some cases because we load at different entrances on some of the rides and must wait for other scooter people before us. The only queues I have used alternate entrances on are the ones that have queues that are too hard to navigate through. The difference between entrances is strictly easier access to the ride loading zone. Most rides now have mainstream lines that can accommodate scooters, so we all go through the same queues as you.
Having a scooter has made my Walt Disney World trips more enjoyable and less painful. I have learned that people are very kind and helpful to me. If you need mobility help, a scooter is the way to go. There are many off-site companies to rent from for the duration of your trip. They will deliver the scooter to your resort and pick it up when you leave. PassPorter's Vacationing Your Way: Your Special Needs forum has lots of information on this subject.
Getting on the Monorail
Using the ramp to get on the monorail at the Contemporary Resort
About the Author: Deb Kendall is a Co-Guide for the PassPorter's Vacationing Your Way: Your Special Needs forum Message Board. She is a Disney Vacation Club Member and is always looking forward to her next Walt Disney World Vacation
Recent Walt Disney World Articles:
Very well written. DW has used a scooter in the past, and we have encountered the same experiences
I was the same also, diagnosised with fibromyalgia and other issues as well and too proud I did Disney and was miserable on foot! In tears every night but did nothing but complain. The next year I did the scooter and will never put myself or my family through that pain again! I do also wish people would look around a little more, I can't tell you how many people I almost but can say I know 1 I did. She literally jumped over the front of my scooter and in a crowd going into Fantasmic show in the normal entrance line I couldn't stop. :( Love the article!
Thank you Deb for a thoughtful article!
Well said Deb!!!!
Good Job Deb!
Great article, would be great if the head of WDW would have to spend a day or so in each park to see what it is like to be on a scooter. Live 12 miles from Disney and spend a lot of time on a scooter in the parks and see a lot of people who don't understand but still fun hope to see everyone some time.
My best friend has fibromyalgia and on a recent trip to WDW we contemplated using a scooter but we decided against it. All the trouble with learning how to drive it and avoiding all of the 'trouble' with other guests, made our choice for us. Instead of going to both parks as we planned, me friend took a spa day while the rest of us hit that second park. I wish for her sake using a scooter was easier.
Thanks for such an informative article. There is an etiquette when dealing with others at a Disney park and it would be so nice if people paid attention to themselves and their group when it comes to people in wheelchairs, scooter and strollers.
Great job Deb :applause: :applause:
All the rental scooters need now is a little platform on the back for your friends to hop on :rofl:
I too have fibromyalgia as well as severe asthma and have cruised the world the last 2 times on a scooter. I tried day 1 without the scooter as well with the same result. It is difficult to look "young and healthy" and still need to utilize a scooter, but I use one at the big stores here at home too and have found it to be a wonderful help. Went rent a scooter from Buena Vista when we go to WDW and have loved the experience. The batteries have only come close to running out on us once and we tour ALL DAY LONG! On our last trip, we even learned that you can cover up the whole front of a scooter with a rain poncho and steer through the "head hole". Another poncho covers me, the seat, and the back of the scooter. The boys LOVED getting drenched in the rain at EPCOT and we ALL found our "laughing place" that day. We are planning another trip in a year or two and I plan to scoot around the world again. Thank you for your wonderful article!!
I'm going on my second "scooter" trip to WDW in two weeks. Because my first scooter trip was so fabulous, I had no hesitation in scheduling another, longer trip. I, too, rent from Buena Vista. They deliver the scooter to the bellstand at your hotel and pick it up after you leave. Coming out from dinner at Narcousee's on my last trip, the scooter didn't start. A very nice groundsman at Grand Floridian wheeled it to the front desk for me. The people at the front desk tried to get it started but couldn't. We called Buena Vista and got the owner who started to trouble-shoot with me, but I'm so non-mechanical that one of the bell guys got on the phone with the owner and together they solved the problem--the battery had jiggled out of place when I rode it over a bump on the porch. I tell this story, not to say the scooters are unreliable because they are very reliable, but to show how helpful everyone was--right down to the owner interrupting his dinner to solve my problem.
Your article was very comprehensive and the comments were great, too. One thing I would add about battery life. It is about 6 hours, and since I'm on the go from dawn to late at night, I charge it up during every meal. Restaurants have been very nice about finding a place for me to park it next to an outlet. The take-home message is to bring the charging appartatus with you! Another tip-not all the boats can accommodate scooters, so if time is pressing and you have a choice between a boat and a bus, keep that in mind that sometimes you have to wait for the right boat. This is especially true for boats to and from the Magic Kingdom to Wildnerness Lodge and campgrounds.
As others have said, people are very nice and helpful, both the cast and other guests. I had only one slightly negative reaction from someone in a bus line when I was loaded first. I heard him mutter about favoritism, and then I heard someone from the line say loudly--don't worry, mister, we'll all let you go off first if it's so important to you. Wow--what a put-down from a stranger. After the man got on the bus, he came up to me, embarrassed, and apologized. So it all ended well.
I could go on and on with stories about scooting around the World. I encourage everyone with mobility issues to give it a try. It's fantastic.
My husband had to use a scooter to get around Disney due to degenerative arthritis. We found a local company called Walkers that delivers to the resort. We have used them several times and have been very satisfied with their service.
Thanks for all the great comments
I always use Scootarama, They have always treated me great..
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Updated 11-17-2010 - Article #543
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