Mobility assistance at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is a huge resort, and all of the theme parks give you quite a lot of territory to cover within their grounds. For those with mobility issues, this can pose a problem. However, Disney and many third-party rental companies have come to the rescue of those in need of assistance in getting around.
Mobility scooters – also known as electronic convenience vehicles (ECVs) – and wheelchairs are available for rent inside each of the four Walt Disney World Parks and Downtown Disney as well as from local third-party rental companies. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers both public and private businesses and requires open access for ECVs that meet the ADA guidelines.
The Guest Assistance Card
Anyone may utilize a mobility scooter at Walt Disney World without the requirement of anything special such as a handicap sticker, placard, or doctor's note; however, those guests with disabilities who may be using a wheelchair, electric wheelchair or ECV at Walt Disney World theme parks can stop by any Guest Relations facility and get a “Guest Assistance Card”. This "GAC" is a special card that will allow cast members to "provide the assistance you have requested where applicable.”
The card can be presented to "the greeter or first host or hostess you come in contact with at each attraction.” Guest Relations will stamp the card with a universal handicap sign that states “GUESTS MAY ENTER ATTRACTIONS THROUGH THE STANDARD WHEELCHAIR ENTRANCE.” The card is valid for use at attraction locations in all four theme parks. Some attractions have alternate entrances for guests with disabilities. These are intended to offer guests using wheelchairs/ECVs or with service animals a more convenient entrance to the attraction. Guests with disabilities and up to five members of their party may enter through these entrances.
Renting an ECV or wheelchair at the parks
To rent an ECV from Walt Disney World inside the theme parks, you pay $50 per day, plus a $20 refundable deposit for the key. Wheelchairs cost $12 per day, with a discounted rate of $10 per day when buying "length-of-stay" tickets. The renter/rider must be at least 18 years of age and multiple people may not ride on the wheelchair/ECV. You can't reserve a wheelchair or ECV in advance and they are rented on a first come first serve basis, per park. During peak season, there's a good chance that you will have to wait a little while to get one. If the ECVs are sold out, which they may do first thing in the morning, they will take your cell phone number and call you if/when one becomes available.
Disney wheelchair and ECV rentals are good within each theme park. If you are park hopping, you must return your wheelchair or ECV before leaving the park, and then get a new one at the destination park, if available. Hold on to your rental receipt to get the new wheelchair or ECV at no additional cost (you'll have to put down a fresh deposit for ECV rentals at the new park).
The ECVs have been specially designed for Walt Disney World. The four-wheel models have been reported to have a weight limit of 350 pounds. If you have experience with ECVs, you will find the Disney version a bit slower than standard, and their four wheel model reportedly does not maneuver as easily as a three wheel version.
Renting an ECV from an outside vendor
If you expect to need an ECV for getting around outside the parks, if you don't want to deal with the rental lines each time you enter a park, or if you want to look at getting a discount on ECV rentals, you will want to look at renting an ECV from an outside rental company. There are several reputable companies in the area. The companies will typically let you reserve your ECV as far as one or two years ahead of time, and have cancellation policies up to 48 hours before your delivery time.
Things to consider when renting from an outside company include:
- Do they have an ECV model that will meet your needs? (For example: Do they have a model that will support your weight? Is there enough basket storage space for everything that you bring to the park with you?)
- How much can you find out about their models from their web site?
- Will they provide support for your rental 7 days a week, including holidays?
- Can they provide support within the theme parks?
- What hours will they provide support?
- Do they provide a maximum time guarantee for repair or replacement, if needed?