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By Tangled Diva
Our last trip to Disney was this past January, and, unfortunately, my husband was sick the entire trip.  We later found out he had walking pneumonia.  After three days of him missing everything and my son asking why Daddy can’t ride with us, I had had enough.  I decided I was going to rent a wheelchair and just push him around because he was mainly just too weak to walk Disney.  So, before he could object, I got a 3-day wheelchair rental.  The rentals are $12.00 per day or $10.00 per day if you are renting for multiple days.  The rental is for an entire day, so even though the wheelchair cannot leave the park where you rented it, if you park hop, you just take them your rental ticket, and they will give you a wheelchair without having to pay again.  And, all of the rental places are conveniently located at the front of the park (See map at bottom of this page for specific locations – 

When you rent your wheelchair, they give you a card, and you write your name on it and slide it in the slip on the back of the wheelchair so that you can easily identify your wheelchair.  My son especially loved the cards because he got to pick which Disney character he wanted on our wheelchair’s card.  Wheelchairs are also available at Downtown Disney ($12.00 per day + $100 refundable deposit) and Disney Resort Hotels (complimentary + $315 refundable deposit). 
Obviously, you are allowed to bring your own wheelchairs inside the Disney Parks.  But, for those that do not have a specialized wheelchair, older patrons such as grandparents who may not be up for the miles of walking you do in Disney, or people like us who did not foresee needing one; the rental option is a great alternative to traveling with one.
My biggest concern with the wheelchair was getting around Disney and having easy access to the rides.  But, these concerns were quickly alleviated.  Now, certainly don’t expect patrons to get out of your way, because wheelchair or not, they really don’t care.   But, we had absolutely no problems getting around or through the lines.  Because my husband did not have a true disability that required a wheelchair, we did not take advantage of the handicap access to the lines, because we didn’t feel right doing so even though the cast members offered numerous times.  And, having a wheelchair doesn’t automatically get you to the front of the line at most places although at some point in most lines you are separated from the main line to get to the handicap accessible loading area.  You have to have a Guest Assistance Card that has more specific information about your need to not wait in line in order to bypass the lines, and I would assume that they are not easy to come by (especially given the recent NY Times article about people abusing the system by “renting” people with disabilities to jump lines).  They also recently made changes to the Guest Assistance Card policy.  You can read about those changes by clicking here!

We did take advantage of the special seating for the MK parade, though, because I knew my husband couldn’t stand the entire time, and he would have missed it if he had to sit behind people.  It is located in the circle with the Walt Disney/Mickey statue in front of Cinderella’s castle (I assume that they have it at other parks as well).  The guest in the wheelchair, as well as everyone in their party, is allowed in the special seating area.
We did joke the entire trip about my “transferable” husband.  A lot of the rides require that the person in the wheelchair be transferable (i.e., the wheelchair itself cannot get on the ride, the person must be able to walk on the actual ride or be assisted on the ride – Cast Members are NOT allowed to assist).  Some rides (Thunder Mountain, Toy Story Mania, Small World, and others) actually allow you to ride in the wheelchairs.  I almost told them he wasn’t transferable on Thunder Mountain because I really wanted to see how they strap a wheelchair on a roller coaster, but I didn’t.  If you are not able to transfer in and out of the wheelchair, be sure and check the ride before you wait to make sure that they allow wheelchairs on the ride.  Once you transfer to the ride, a Cast Member takes your wheelchair, and it is magically waiting for you when you get off the ride.
Another perk to the wheelchair was that my son had a place to ride when he got tired, which was not very often.  But, he thought it was cool to be able to sit in Daddy’s lap and be wheeled around Disney.  Mommy; however, was completely exhausted after the trip.  I have a new-found respect for people that have to push these around on a daily basis.  I am always exhausted after Disney, but this time I absolutely could not have pushed him one more day.  At one point, an extremely kind gentleman–watching me struggle to push him up a very steep hill at Epcot–came over and took the wheelchair from me, wheeled him up the hill, and gave it back to me with a wink.  My husband had no idea 😉. 

The wheelchair truly saved our Disney trip as my husband would have missed the entire trip had it not been for the ability to rent them.  The Cast Members were all extremely accommodating and helpful in instructing us where to go when an alternate route was required for wheelchairs.  Our only problem now is that my son thinks we need to rent one every time we go because he thought Mommy pushing him and Daddy around was the best ride of the trip!  In his defense, he did help push Daddy around a good bit too.  We will rent him out, but the deposit is very, very high!

Diva Tips for Wheelchair Use:

  1. Wheelchairs are cheap, so use them if you need them.  (The rentals are $12.00 per day or $10.00 per day if you are renting for multiple days)
  2. Utilize the special viewing area for Disney parades.
  3. If you are fully confined to the wheelchair (i.e., can’t transfer at all), check the ride before you stand in line to make sure wheelchairs can actually go on the ride.  The park brochures when you go in will give you this information.
  4. There is a separate map/brochure that gives all handicap accessible entrances to rides, if you can’t find one at the entrance to the park, ask a Cast Member where one can be located.