By Disney Bride Diva
I have always loved being active; whether that’s hiking with my dogs, going out dancing or power walking through Walt Disney World. That all changed four years ago when I was involved in a serious car accident.
My mobility has never been the same since. I have good days and bad days, but overall, I cannot walk or stand for long periods of time anymore. As someone who travels to Walt Disney World once or twice a year, I worried this was going to be a problem.
I began to research my options for getting around the Parks. I’ve seen many guests using ECV’s (Electronic Convenience Vehicles), but I’d never used one. Where would I get one? Are they easy to maneuver? Do I really need one all the time? What about getting around my resort? Can I take ECV’s on Disney transportation? These were the questions that began to flood my brain as I planned our first family visit post accident.
I thought that writing about my first experience with renting an ECV could be a help to others thinking about their own options, or what options would work for a member of their family while at Walt Disney World. By no means am I an expert. These are just some observations and tips that I can share to hopefully help others.
As a veteran of Walt Disney World, I knew that the walk to resort bus stops as well as the walk from the bus drop off locations to the front entrance of the Parks can be long. There is also the added standing while waiting in the bag check security lines at busy times of the day.
After doing some on-line research, I came to the conclusion that I had two options: Renting an ECV at a Disney Park for the day, or renting from an outside vendor.
- Renting an ECV at the Parks:
Each Park has ECV’s available to rent for the day from Guest Relations. They cannot be removed from the Park and they are on a first-come, first-served basis. The daily rental charge is $50 and requires a refundable $20 deposit at the Theme Parks, and a refundable $100 deposit at the Water Parks and Disney Springs. The risk with this option, is if you don’t to get there first thing in the morning, a scooter may not be available. Then what do you do? The next best option would be to rent a wheelchair if one is available. The issue with a wheelchair is that it requires another member of your party being able to push the wheelchair around all day. If you are planning to visit more than one Park in a day, you only need to pay the first $50 rental charge. At subsequent Parks, if an EVC is available, just present your receipt and you will be provided one without having to pay a second time. For more detailed information on renting from Walt Disney World click here.
2. Renting from an outside vendor:
Disney has a list of recommended vendors (see the list in the link above). These vendors are allowed to drop off and pick up the ECV’s through Bell Services at each resort without the Guest needing to be present. If you choose a vendor not on this list, they can still drop off and pick up the scooter from your resort, but the Guest needs to be present. I’d suggest reading reviews on-line to find a company that has positive ratings and you feel comfortable renting from.
I was staying at the Art of Animation Resort in the Little Mermaid section. For those of you who know the resort, it is very large and spread out. I knew that I would need access to a scooter at my resort as well as in the Parks, so I chose to rent from a Disney preferred vendor. After doing my on-line research I found a company and easily set up my rental agreement. My scooter would be delivered by 8am to my Resort on the day of my arrival. The cost per day of $30 was cheaper than a daily rental from Disney and I had use of it everywhere on property. I also didn’t have to worry that one wouldn’t be available at the Parks.
The following are some tips I’d like to share that will hopefully help other first time ECV users:
- Practice, Practice, Practice…The scooters are very easy to use. When I picked mine up, the staff at Bell Services showed me how to use it and also helped me with adjusting the seat to the correct position. Once I picked it up, I practiced steering it to see how tight a turn I could make, (which came in handy for some ride queues). I tested out the speed dial to the slowest and highest speeds and then found a nice compromise in-between. I also practiced stopping short. You will use this skill multiple times a day as other guests will cut you off frequently.
- Many guests choose to bring something from home to tie on their rented scooter to quickly identify it in a sea of scooters. The scooter I used had a number displayed on the basket and I just memorized the number, but having a bright coloured ribbon or fabric attached does make it stand out.
- If you are able to get out of the scooter at times, remember to fold the back of the seat down. Many of the scooters have black seats. These seats become skin burning temperatures in the hot Florida sun. Believe me, you will only forget to fold your seat down once after you’ve sat down and burnt your thighs!
- If you are like me and can do some walking, feel free to park your ECV and walk around an area. The ECV’s are usually parked in the same areas as the strollers. There are a couple of designated ECV parking areas, but just ask any Cast Member and they will direct you. You’ll also be able to see where other ECV’s have parked. I frequently parked the scooter and walked to some of the rides, gift shops and restaurants within a particular area (i.e. Tomorrowland). Disney Cast Members are not timing how long you’ve left it – you won’t get a ticket!
- If you do leave the scooter unattended, make sure you haven’t left anything in the basket that you don’t want to go missing. Remember to take the ignition key with you if it’s unattended.
- ALWAYS check the speed dial if you leave the scooter unattended. I learned this lesson the hard way. I had parked it on the upper level with the other scooters in The Land Pavilion at Epcot. When I returned, I turned it on and began to back up. The scooter flew backwards at the highest speed possible. It was a good thing I made sure I had lots of room behind me, or I would have hit someone for sure. While the scooter was unattended, someone had turned the speed dial up to the highest setting. Once I realized what the problem was I quickly adjusted it. Then I checked the other scooters that were parked along side mine and someone had turned all the dials up to the highest speed, so I changed them all back down.
- Remember to charge the battery every night, (no matter how much of it you drained). Start each day with a fully charged battery. I had no issues with running out of battery life. Make sure during the day that if you are parked for more than a minute, (parade, castle show etc…) that you turn the ECV off to conserve the battery. If you do this, the charge should last all day.
- If you can do some walking, I recommend it for the gift shops and restaurants. These are very tight quarters with many guests and it can be extremely frustrating to maneuver around. If you are unable to walk, then I would suggest doing some shopping earlier in the day when the shops aren’t quite as busy.
- Most of the rides and character meet and greet lines allow you to stay in your ECV. There are a few exceptions where you will be asked to transfer to a wheelchair. Disney provides all this information on-line for guests with mobility disabilities.
- I was probably most nervous about driving the ECV onto the busses and maneuvering it into place. Each bus allows for two or three, (depending on the bus model) wheelchair / ECV’s. There are rows of seats that can fold up and the scooters are parallel parked. The ECV’s are then safety belted into place. Guests have the option to stay in their ECV or transfer to a bus seat. The ECV’s are first to load the busses and the last to exit the bus. The best advice I can give is have the scooter on the slowest speed that it will go to drive onto the bus. The drivers are all very helpful in directing you where to go and will even verbally assist you for when to start cutting into the space. They will even drive the scooter for you, or hold onto the wheel and help steer some guests. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be, ( and I rarely even parallel park my car). The trick is to go slowly, it leaves more room for error and you can correct easier if needed.
- When exiting the bus, make sure to drive straight down the ramp until your back wheels are competley off before beginning to turn left or right. The ramp on the bus has guards along each side. If your back wheels are not totally off the ramp before you begin to turn, the those back wheels will mount the guards and tip the scooter. I have seen it happen to other guests.
- Don’t worry about what other people might think! Believe me, other guests are busy with their own families and getting to their next FastPass+ or dining reservation on time. You will probably never see any of these people again. If you need an ECV, then use one!
This brings me to my last tip and probably the most important one. If you think you will need to rent an ECV then rent one. Don’t try to be the hero! Unfortunately, this last trip I didn’t heed my own advice. I was recently at Walt Disney World for a short solo trip. I only had three Park days, and was not planning on spending a full day at any of them. I debated whether or not to rent a scooter. I was travelling by myself and figured I could take as many breaks as I needed and not feel like I was slowing anyone else down. This was a mistake. While I managed to get through the first two days, I was very uncomfortable by the third day. I also realized that I wasn’t seeing everything I wanted because it would have required me to double back across a Park and I couldn’t do any extra walking. At the time, I thought it was no big deal, but then I realized I had cheated myself out of an experience I would have totally done if I had just rented an ECV. I would have been able to zip back over to the Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland, or go back down Main Street U.S.A to Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom to have my game re-set when a portal was frozen. It became very apparent that I missed out on many opportunities and I will NEVER make that mistake again.
Hopefully this article has given some helpful tips if you, or someone in your group needs to rent an ECV for their first time. If you have experience with ECV’s and have some tips of your own to share, please leave them in the comments below.
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