Marie Kuhn's October 1998
Trip Report

 

I just returned from an 8 day trip to Walt Disney World. The trip was made possible by my being able to rent an ECV (electric convenience vehicle). I have a few tips and thoughts for those who need an ECV and may those in wheelchairs, too.

I rented a 3 wheel scooter from Care Med in Orlando, so that I would have wheels everywhere and not just in the parks. Care Med offers free delivery and pickup to your hotel. It was $200 for a week and $25 for each extra day. I think the daily rate is $25 or $30. They have a toll free number, 1-800-741-2282 and their E-mail address is www.caremed.org. Be sure they give you one that has enough leg room. The first one they provided didn't have enough legroom and I had to put my legs on the outside of the basket. That got old fast, so we called them and they had another one delivered in less than an hour. The Care Med scooters are faster (you can adjust the speed) than the four-wheelers at the parks and they seem to maneuver much better.

Since we decided not to get a disabled room at the All Star Music Resort (we wanted double beds), I was given a tub "bench" that fit across the tub, so I could sit down and not have to stand or try to get down into the tub. The only disadvantage was that I had to use the ice bucket to get wet and rinse off, because their was not portable shower head. It worked for me. The Disabled rooms at the All Star Resort have kingsize beds and come with a refrigerator. If you want a refrigerator in the regular rooms, it'll cost you $6 a night. While we were there, Disney was installing a dispenser for body wash and shampoo. They hadn't been filled by the time we checked out, but I'm wondering if this will mean the end to the Disney soaps and shampoos that are so cute.

On to the buses. Every other bus is handicap accessible, and the buses come about every 15 minutes. This was during off season. There is a notice on the CareMed rental papers that says, "Beware of the Bus Drivers". Apparently if you back up your ECV all the way, the bar on the back will catch under the lift and bend it outward. Then the ECV will no longer fit on the lift. When backing up, you'll probably have to pull forward enough to make sure that the metal bar is clear before the driver raises the lift. Once up, you need to make a hard turn to back up to the space provided. It's easy once you get the hang of it. I found that I felt safer when I got off the ECV and rode on one of the bus seats. They strap down the scooters and wheelchairs, but there are lots of curves in the roads which can make you feel unsteady. You are strapped in well, it just "feels" unsteady.

At the parks: As I've heard before, watch out for people who dart in front of you, especially when there's a crowd. Some people seem totally oblivious of scooters and wheelchairs, and you have to stop short to keep from hitting them. This creates a problem for those following behind you, because they have to stop short, too. There were a few kids that nearly had their ankles run into. My husband, who walked beside me, had to shout "watch out" a few times when people would just stroll across my path.

Each of the parks has it's own "Guide for Guests with Disabilities". It's of great help, and has extra information in it that the regular maps don't have. You get them at Guest Services at each park. All of the Disney employees (cast members) were very helpful at all of the parks. I was impressed.

For those going to Animal Kingdom. There are so many hills and the road is rough that the battery runs out of charge quicker. I had to stop and plug mine in around 1PM. I probably should have plugged it in while we were having lunch. The scooters come with a battery charger, but it's easier to just plug it in. Otherwise the ECV's lasted from 7 AM until about 4PM without a charge. Sometimes, we went back to the hotel in the middle of the day for a rent and scooter re-charge. If you're staying on Disney property, this is really easy to do.

At Animal Kingdom, the Discovery River Boats were closed down until April, 1999, but I was glad to see that the Wildlife Express train to Conservation Station is now ECV accessible. Make sure you see the Lion King show there. It was fabulous.

Other miscellaneous notes. The Friendship boats from Epcot to the Boardwalk and the hotels in between, are now ECV accessible, which was great for us. We finished up our second day at Epcot and then took the boat to the Boardwalk for a few hours (not too much happens during the day at Boardwalk, though), and then from there we took a bus to the Downtown Disney Market place for supper at Capt. Jack's and a tour of the shops. Then we got another bus back to the All Star Music Resort.

Buzz Lightyear is open at the Magic Kingdom now (Oct., 1998). You go with your ECV or wheelchair through the regular lines, and then go through a door that takes you to the exit, where you park your wheels and get into the ride vehicle before the rest of the people. You step down into the "space vehicle", and each person gets to fire a laser gun at "X"s on the targets throughout the rides. There is also a control that can spin your car 360 degrees. It was fun. My husband scored 185,000 points, but I only managed 25,500. If the ride has to stop momentarily, you can really rack up the points. The adults seem to have as much fun as the children on this ride.

We went on Alien Encounter. You can stay in your ECV or wheelchair for this ride. Children might be frightened by this ride. I went on Star Tours at GM and Body Wars at Epcot and I didn't have any trouble with the ride being too rough. I have arthritis in my back and knees and didn't find it that bad. I did chicken out when it came to Countdown to Extinction, because I had seen how rough the ride is on a TV commercial. Also I didn't try the Tower of Terror, but I heard that it's not as bad as it's advertised to be.

I went on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain railroad. You need to transfer to the ride seat, but it wasn't too rough for me. I'm glad I decided to give it a try, it was great fun. We also went on the Disney Railroad, leaving my scooter at one station, and making a round trip ride. The only major ride I didn't try at the Magic Kingdom was Space Mountain. I remember what it was like the first time I rode it, so I passed on it this time.

If you go on "It's Tough to be a Bug, The Muppet show at MGM, or any other 3-D ride, sit in the the theater chair if possible, because some of the special effects can only be experienced this way.

If anyone hasany specific questions, that might be able to help with, my E-mail address is mariek@fwb.gulf.net

Another points, take the buses everywhere if you're staying on WDW property. It's so much easier and more convenient trying to find your way around, parking and loading and unloading a wheelchair of ECV. I hope your Disney trip will be as much fun as ours was. Happy planning. Marie

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Last Updated:10/30/98