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Disney with Disabilities

Posted by on Nov. 6, 2008 at 5:36 PM
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My father has not been able to walk since he was in college.  When I was a child, I learned that my dad could do almost everything other dads could do, just in a different way.  I am so proud that Disney puts so much care into ensuring that everyone can enjoy their parks, no matter what their abilities are.

Here is some information, taken from the disABILITIES FAQ:

It's hard to understand how much walking is involved in a trip to WDW until you have been there. People who manage very well at home often find they can't walk the distances involved in a WDW trip. This information will help you plan.
Distances - DIS posters estimates of how far they walked each day at WDW. I've seen other threads where people estimated they walked between 3 and 6 miles.


  • also called electric scooters or power scooters
  • 3 or 4 wheeled battery powered mobility devices.
  • usually steered with a tiller (sort of like steering a bicycle)
  • ECVs for rent at WDW parks were new in 2007 and all parks have the same type
  • Park Rental ECVs are heavy duty. Weight limit is 350 pounds

This is a picture of the park ECVs that WDW got in mid 2007.

Wheelchairsfor rent at WDW parks or possibly for loan at resorts:

  • sling seats (similar to a director's chair)
  • do not have elevating or adjustable footrests
  • most are adult size. Some larger adult and a very small number of small adult/large child

General information about wheelchairs and ECVs at the parks/resorts

  • Wheelchairs and ecvs are available, first come, first serve at all parks. They may not be reserved ahead of time. Power wheelchairs are not available.
  • There is a pretty good supply of wheelchairs, but ecvs are in limited number and frequently are all rented out by mid-morning. Guests must be at least 18 years old to rent/drive ecvs.
  • Ecvs and wheelchairs may be used only in the park where they were rented. (You can't transfer them from park to park).
  • If you are planning on returning to the park or visiting another park on the same day, keep your wheelchair/ecv deposit ticket. This will allow you to obtain another wheelchair or ecv, if available, at the next park at no additional charge.
  • If you plan to return to the same park later in the same day, ECVs can sometimes be held for you when you leave the park.
  • Length of Stay rental ticket for strollers and wheelchairs allows you to make a one-time payment for as many days of rental that you will need. Upon visiting a theme park, show your receipt at the stroller/wheelchair rental location and you will be directed through the queue with little or no wait. THIS IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR ECV'S.
  • Current costs at WDW:
    Single strollers: $15/day (no deposit) OR $13/day Length of Stay rental

    Double strollers: $31/day (no deposit) OR $27/day Length of Stay rental
    For the length of stay rentals, you purchase an individual ticket for each day of your stay. Turn it in at the stroller rental area at a park each day to get your stroller.

    Wheelchairs: $10/day rental (no deposit) OR $8/day Length of Stay rental

    ECVs: $45/day and $20 key deposit that you will get back when the key is returned (so you pay $65 and get $20 of that back with the key return)

-If an ECV/wheelchair from the Magic Kingdom is not available, a guest can be waitlisted by providing their cellphone number. (If the guest does not have a cellphone, they can ask any Cast Member for access to a house phone.) If one becomes available, they can pick it up at the main entrance rental location. (This is from the WDW website and is subject to change)

Current costs at Downtown Disney:

  • Single or infant (newborn to 9 months) strollers: $10/day (with $250 credit card imprint required for deposit); $8/day Length of Stay rental (limited quantity) Note: Double strollers are not available.

    Wheelchairs: $10.00 per day + $250 credit card imprint deposit
    ECVs: $35.00 per day + $5.00 deposit + $500 credit card imprint deposit

    Rental Locations:

    Marketplace: Guest Services (wheelchairs and ECVs)
    Pleasure Island: DTV (wheelchairs only)
    Westside: AMC Guest Services (wheelchairs only)

    This information is from the WDW official webpage of information for Guests with Disabilities. I had read that there is a very (very - like less than 5 ECVs) limited number of ECVs available to rent at DD, so if you need one, it's not practical to rent one at DD. It's also possible that they stopped (or could stop at any time) renting them, but have not changed their webpage. (This information was updated 1/08)

At WDW resorts
The WDW resorts have a limited number of manual (push) wheelchairs available to loan to guests. They are first come, first served and can't be reserved ahead of time.
Some DIS posters have had good experience with borrowing from the resorts. Others have found that what was available was either not in good condition or not what they needed (ie, extra wide when they needed regular or vice versa). People have posted that it took anywhere from several minutes to several days to get a more appropriate wheelchair.
Here is what the WDW website's Guest Services page about wheelchair and ECV rental has to say about getting wheelchairs from the resorts:

Wheelchairs are available in limited numbers for Walt Disney World® Resort Guests at each Resort. Contact Guest Services or the Front Desk for assistance. A $315 deposit will be held on the Guest room account charged only if the wheelchair is not returned. Guests wishing to guarantee the use of a wheelchair throughout their stay should contact local area rental companies to make arrangements.
But, the written Guidebooks for Guests with Disabilities for each park, dated January 08, says:
Walt Disney World Resorts also offer wheelchair rentals to their Guests. Quantities may be limited. Please contact the Front Desk for assistance.

There is a company called Buena Vista Scooters, that started renting ECVs in Spring of 2007 at the Boardwalk in the same area where surrey bikes can be rented. Here is a detailed report about them. I have seen the ECVs for rent at Boardwalk and they appeared to be in very good shape (like new). Their phone number is (407)938-0349 or toll free (866)484-4797. Buena Vista Scooters is not a sponsor of these boards and has not paid any fees or favors for promotion on this board. We listed them because many posters were asking about an 'on-property option'.

Off site rental companies
Many people prefer to rent from an off-site company for the length of their stay.
This is a list of companies that DIS posters commonly report good experiences with. They are in alphabetical order, in categories. Walker Mobility is a sponsor; they are listed here as another option along with other companies.
None of the other companies listed are sponsors and none have paid or given anything for promotion.
The specific companies are listed because DIS posters have used and recommended them over the years. The companies are listed in alphabetical order to be fair. The companies with little feedback are listed along with that information.
We will NOT list a company on the FAQs thread without a significant number of recommendations from established posters. Also, there are some companies that encourage/promote allowing children to ride as passengers on scooters. We will not knowingly post a link to any company that encourages that behavior because it is unsafe and companies that manufacture ECVs specifically warn against allowing passengers in their instruction manuals.

Full Service Medical Companies can rent wheelchairs, ecvs and other medical equipment/supplies.
Examples of other equipment would be things like lifts, reclining chairs, hospital beds, commode chairs, bath chairs, etc.

The off-site rental places will usually not rent ECVs for use by someone under 18 yrs old (they may occasionally make exceptions for older teens who are experienced ECV drivers - for example a teen with a chronic health problem who does use ECVs in stores, etc).

Power wheelchairs (they are driven with a joystick) take more practice to drive. The joystick controls both the speed and the direction that the wheelchair goes at. Even though they look easy to drive, it takes a lot more practice to be able to drive one than to drive an ECV.Rental companies will usually ONLY rent a power wheelchair to someone who already has/uses a power wheelchair regularly. Some owners of power wheelchairs choose not to travel by plane with them (afraid of damage); those are the people who rent power wheelchairs. Power wheelchair renters are expected to be experienced power wheelchair drivers and will be asked for some settings from their current power wheelchair so that the rental chair can be set up to match.
Link to a thread that compares driving an ECV to driving a Power wheelchair.

Note that Buena Vista Scooters (see two links above) will also rent power chairs. They also will do repairs to personally owned ECVs, power chairs and regular wheelchairs. Their warehouse and shop is on Disney property.

Full Service Medical Companies

Companies that Specialize in Mobility devices (chiefly scooters)

  • RANDY'S Mobility is in Kissimmee 407-892-4777
    According to information from Randy, they have a London, England phone # that conects directly to their US. Office.
  • Scootaround Not as much feedback as Randy's, Care and Walker, but people who did post about them reported they had no problems.
  • Scootarama Not as much feedback as Randy's, Care and Walker, but people who did post about them reported they had no problems.

Randy's requires that someone be there for delivery and pick up. The rest will deliver to Bell Services and leave it for you.

Strollers & Special Needs Strollers
A Baby's Best Friend rents strollers and other equipment for babies and toddlers. Check the weight limit for strollers because some are only up to 40 pounds.

Orlando Stroller Rentals rents a variety of Baby Jogger brand strollers. The weight limit for a single stroller is 50 pounds, double stroller is 100 pounds, and sit and stand is 40 pounds for the front seat and 50 pounds for the rear seat or platform. There has been some good feedback from people renting from this company for both regular and special needs strollers.

If you want to rent a larger stroller for use outside the parks, here are some places that rent them:

Medical Travel (These 2 web sites look the same - I don't know if it is really one company with 2 websites/names.
All About Kids - they don't have any pictures, but their website does say they rent children's size wheelchairs.
Florida Mobility Rentals
Discount Mobility -Aug 08 review from poster ecki reported the stroller they got was beat up, missing the 5 point harness and footrest was hard to fold.

I don't have reviews of any of these places and 3 of them appear to rent the same kind of strollers (MacClaren Major strollers). They are listed without reviews because they rent specialized equipment I could not find other sources for and few posters have reported using them.

Accessible Vans
We have little feedback about these companies. Check when making a reservation about how and where the van will be delivered to you and how it will get back to the rental place.

Links to Official Disney website

  • WDW Main Page General info about resorts, parks, etc. and you can do Searches for more information. There is also a 'Contact Us' link for email to WDW.
    The following are links to the internet version of the Official WDW Guidebooks for Guest with Disabilities.
    You can get copies of them from Guest Relations in the parks and often from your WDW resort.
    It is possible to have WDW mail them to you by using the email 'Contact Us' link, but it may take a long time to receive them. It's usually easier to look at them on the internet and get a copy when you arrive.
  • WDW parks Guests with Disabilities general page. General information on touring WDW with disabilities. On the top of the page, there are links to specific information on each park. The park pages include a short description of each ride/attraction.
  • Mobility Page Includes a list of rides/attractions with Mainstream Access (where wheelchair/ecv users wait in the same lines with everyone else). List of attractions where you may stay in the wheelchair/ecv for the whole attraction and attractions where a transfer needs to be made.
  • Visual Disabilities Page. Basic information about services available for people with visual disabilities.
  • Hearing Disabilities Page. Information about captioning, assistive listening and sign language interpretation.
  • MK Guidebook
  • AK Guidebook
  • Epcot Guidebook
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Guidebook
  • Blizzard Beach Guidebook
  • Typhoon Lagoon Guidebook

by on Nov. 6, 2008 at 5:36 PM
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by Group Owner on Nov. 8, 2008 at 9:22 AM

I forgot to mention the Guest Assistance Card...

What is the Guest Assistance Card, or GAC?

The Guest Assistance Card (GAC) at Walt Disney World is also called the Special Assistance Pass (SAP) at Disneyland. Both refer to the basically the same thing. The GAC used to be called the Special Assistance Pass.  The name was changed to Guest Assistance Card a few years ago because some people thought it was a “front-of-the-line” pass, which caused some confusion between guests and cast members. Some people think there is a back door into most rides that they will get to use if they have a GAC and that's almost never the case -- many attractions have mainstream access. Always ask the Cast Members at the attraction how to proceed, and please do not expect front-of-line access.

The GAC is not used to jump the lines, it is used to help special needs travelers get access to attractions that they would otherwise not be able to see due to health, mobility, or major developmental and psychological issues. You may be allowed to bypass the lines, but you should still expect to wait.  Examples of people who might benefit from using the GAC include folks of all ages and backgrounds, whether their need is temporary or permanent:
  • People with mobility issues that would keep them from being able to stand in long queues who are not using wheelchairs, ECVs or canes;

  • People who are particularly heat or sun sensitive to the point that it endangers their health or safety because of health conditions such as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis, or people who are on certain medications;

  • Families traveling with special needs children or adults who have health, psychological or hypersensitivity issues that make it difficult to remain in crowded queues;

  • People who are easily fatigued or in pain due to serious health problems (heart, emphysema, arthritis, etc.) who plan to be ambulatory inside pavilions and attractions but park their wheelchair or ECV outside, or choose not to use wheelchairs. They get access to the seating without stairs in shows, for example. Also use of alternate entrances in places where the queue is not mainstream and there are stairs or a climb.

How do you get a GAC?

You can go to Guest Relations at the entrance of any of the Disney parks and request one. You don't need a doctor's letter or any evidence to show that you need one, although many people do take a doctor’s letter for backup. You do need to be able to explain what your problems are and what assistance you need.  The GAC is not a convenience; it is a tool for access.  Guest Services Cast Members are responsible for determining who will be given the GAC... it helps to be prepared and know what to ask for, and how, before you go.

How long is it valid?

If you are given a GAC, it will be good at all the Disney parks for the length of your vacation. You don't need to get one for each park or for each day. You do need to get a new card on your next vacation to WDW; it is only good for one trip.

What does it allow you to do?

The cards all look the same, but each card has different instructions stamped on. We are aware of 5 different messages; there may be more.
  • Allows a stroller to be used as a wheelchair in mainstream queues and at alternate entrances. ECVs and wheelchairs can be taken into any building or line without having any pass or card. This allows strollers to use the same alternate entrances.

  • Allows a waiting spot shaded from the sun if the line is "in the sun for an excessive amount of time." Fo most of the lines, the largest part of the line inside a building or under a roof or shade. Some of the outdoor lines are even air-conditioned to avoid getting too hot.  This is helpful to people who are sun or heat sensitive.

  • Allows an alternate entrance waiting area for people who can't wait in line. This one is mostly used for children/adults with conditions like autism, ADD or other health problems that make waiting in line difficult or dangerous for them or the people with them.  This would also apply to people who suffer from agoraphobia or severe panic attacks that would make waiting in line in close contact with other people impossible. Also, this is used for people who are immunosuppressed and need to avoid infection.

  • Allows ‘front and center’ seating at shows, for people with severe visual impairments
  • Kids at WDW thru the Make A Wish or similar organizations. This card allows "front of line" access because these kids are very fragile and have a life threatening condition. These cards are arranged thru WDW and Make a Wish or Give Kids the World as part of their visit.
 For the first 3 categories, you will be asked to use FastPass if available and you are told that the card will not allow immediate access to rides/attractions. You will often still need to wait; it just may be in a different place.

Do you need a GAC if you have a wheelchair or ECV?

Maybe, maybe not.  If you have a wheelchair or ECV, cane or crutches, you will not need a GAC unless you have a medical reason not to be in the mainstream lines. 

If you have a legitimate reason for a GAC as outlined above, then you need to advocate for yourself at Guest Services in order to get the GAC.  They may try to tell you that you do not need the GAC because the wheelchair or ECV will be enough to let the CMs at the attractions know that you need to use the accessible entrances.  This is true if your reasons for being in the wheelchair or ECV are only due to mobility issues.  However, if you plan to leave your wheelchair or ECV at the entrance of an attraction or pavilion and walk inside, having a GAC will alert the CMs that you need to use the accessible seating or boarding areas inside the attraction.  

If you have medical or major psychological issues that would prevent you from being able to use the mainstream, wheelchair-accessible lines along with all other guests to the point that you would have to miss the attraction or it would endanger your health, then you will need the GAC.  

About using the GAC when you need it...

Many people feel embarrassed, or like they are cheating if they ask for a GAC.  Please don't think that using the GAC to get to alternate waiting or boarding areas is just a 'bump in' to the line... remember:
  • You are paying the same as everyone else at the park.

  • It will take you longer time and more physical energy to move from one attraction to another.

  • You will most likely not stay in the parks as long as average guests.

  • You will need to spend more time resting and refreshing in between attractions.

Perhaps other people arrive at the line ahead of you, but you have every right to enjoy the attractions at your pace. Disney has this program in place to help you get the most enjoyment possible from your visit to the park   It isn't something for you to feel embarrassed or self-conscious about, when you really need it. It is not the same as a front-of-line pass, and there will be times when you may wait longer than people in the regular queue.

About using the GAC or wheelchairs when you don’t really need them, to get into attractions ahead of other guests…

Better not let any of US catch you trying to pull a stunt like that!  Every time someone does this, they cheat everyone. It causes resentment among other guests and cast members towards everyone who uses the special accommodations for legitimate reasons, and makes it harder for people who really need the accommodations to get them.

by Group Owner on Nov. 20, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Effective 11/20/09, wheelchair and ECV rental prices increase

Wheelchair rental prices at theme parks

  • Wheelchairs will now cost $12/day (no deposit)
  • Wheelchairs for length of your stay will now cost $10/day (no deposit)

Wheelchair rental prices at Downtown Disney

  • Wheelchairs will now cost $12/day ($100 deposit)
  • Wheelchairs for length of your stay will now cost $10/day ($100 deposit)

ECV rental prices

  • ECVs will now cost $50/day ($20 deposit)
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