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View Full Version : Any Tips for Doing WDW with Grandma in a Wheelchair?


nexttripdisney
05-03-2010, 01:36 PM
This year, we've invited my in-laws along to Disney World with us. They are both 80-ish and grandma will be in her wheelchair.

We should be OK in our resort but I was wondering if anyone has experience and can offer suggestions and tips for navigating our way through the WDW transportation system and parks with someone who is wheelchair-bound.

She can walk short distances so I think that we can park the chair some but she would be unable to stand in a line for more than a few minutes. She would definitely want to experience some of the low key rides.

lovetoscrap
05-03-2010, 07:41 PM
Check out our disABILITIES board and in particular the FAQ thread at the top. There is a lot of information that will help you navigate WDW and the attractions with a wheelchair.

Have a great trip! :)

everylastbreath
05-04-2010, 01:58 PM
Totally agree- Disabilities board will give you way more help than here, I suggest you get Grandma a motorized scooter, once you push that wheelchair one day, you will understand why- It get's very heavy and there are little hills that you are not even aware of until your pushing those things. Recommend Randy's Mobility highly!

nexttripdisney
05-06-2010, 10:12 AM
Thanks, I'll check it out.

There are only a couple of boards that I frequent and when I scanned all the boards, somehow I missed the disabilities board.

pepe of ohio
05-06-2010, 12:53 PM
Totally agree- Disabilities board will give you way more help than here, I suggest you get Grandma a motorized scooter, once you push that wheelchair one day, you will understand why- It get's very heavy and there are little hills that you are not even aware of until your pushing those things. Recommend Randy's Mobility highly!

I agree on the motorized chair but here's my experience. When my mother was living, we rented a regular wheelchair first, let me tell you, after pushing it for 2 days, I had blisters where I never had them before. WDW is not flat, may seem so but isn't, very, very tiring but it was my mother and I was going to endure. The 3rd day she decided to use a motorized wheelchair rented from Disney. We rented it at AK and my mother had never used one before. Let me tell you, it was horrible. She didn't understand the controls and couldn't get the hang of them and if you ever tried to tackle one of these chair, it's not recommended. She panicked and couldn't release the throttle and I tried to stop her from mowing down people, wish they had a remote cut off switch that another person could wear and power down the unit in case of an emergency, but after that we took it back and went back to the regular chair.

Recommend taking the person to a store that has motorized chairs there for shopping and see if she can manage and get the hang of it before trying in a Disney crowd.

Ryansdad0727
05-06-2010, 01:02 PM
Apply the brakes and run. Just kidding. Haven't done this one but maybe that will get a few chuckles.

lovetoscrap
05-06-2010, 01:21 PM
I agree on the motorized chair but here's my experience. When my mother was living, we rented a regular wheelchair first, let me tell you, after pushing it for 2 days, I had blisters where I never had them before. WDW is not flat, may seem so but isn't, very, very tiring but it was my mother and I was going to endure. The 3rd day she decided to use a motorized wheelchair rented from Disney. We rented it at AK and my mother had never used one before. Let me tell you, it was horrible. She didn't understand the controls and couldn't get the hang of them and if you ever tried to tackle one of these chair, it's not recommended. She panicked and couldn't release the throttle and I tried to stop her from mowing down people, wish they had a remote cut off switch that another person could wear and power down the unit in case of an emergency, but after that we took it back and went back to the regular chair.

Recommend taking the person to a store that has motorized chairs there for shopping and see if she can manage and get the hang of it before trying in a Disney crowd.

The ECV's that Disney rents are very difficult to use. If you really need to rent one it would be much better to rent one offsite where they are easier to handle and their controls are easier to use. The biggest thing to remember is if there is a bad situation just let go! Hard to remember when you panic though. I absolutely agree that it is a great idea to practice at Walmart or Target or a place like that before going out on your own. And if you can use those the rentals will be a piece of cake. But if you have trouble with them or if the relative is really not capable of safely driving them due to reflexes, vision or diminished capabilities then it is best to stick with a manual chair and hope you can trade off pushing. A transport Chair is another good option that can be easier to push and use and is not very expensive to purchase-- usually less than $200.

But also the wheelchairs that Disney rents are not in great condition and will be much harder to use than a person chair or one rented from an offsite Medical rental location. It sounds like the OP will have a personal wheelchair so that should be easier than using a rental.

Apply the brakes and run. Just kidding. Haven't done this one but maybe that will get a few chuckles.

:laughing:Heheheheh! I have wanted to do that with quite a few store ECV's because they are so awful.

I have my own ECV but will use ones at a store because there have a large basket or if I am not feeling well enough to get mine out of the car. I do wish it were so easy though, most people don't realize that ECV's have NO BRAKES! In order to stop you just let go of the throttle and that cuts the power, but of course forward momentum may keep it moving a little. Sometimes it does stop with a hard jerk that can hurt the user (depending on their needs) and causes those behind you to trip over you! But I have used many store ones that are in such bad shape the throttles are broken so when you let go the thing keeps going:eek: I have used ones that will go backwards when you let go, and one that would start moving on its own from a complete stop without touching the throttle at all!

everylastbreath
05-06-2010, 01:37 PM
We rented it at AK and my mother had never used one before. Let me tell you, it was horrible. She didn't understand the controls and couldn't get the hang of them and if you ever tried to tackle one of these chair, it's not recommended. She panicked and couldn't release the throttle and I tried to stop her from mowing down people, wish they had a remote cut off switch that another person could wear and power down the unit in case of an emergency, but after that we took it back and went back to the regular chair.

Recommend taking the person to a store that has motorized chairs there for shopping and see if she can manage and get the hang of it before trying in a Disney crowd.

OMG Pepe, you just reminded me of the first time my Mom used a motorized one, same thing- Panick and she got faster!! I just remember her backing off the monorail- FULL SPEED :scared1: without even turning her head to look behind her... I got mad at her, because she drives a CAR!! Come on!! if you can handle a car, this should be nothing!! It had some very funny moments, fortunately no one got injured, but I feared for the ECV sometimes.. a remote cut off would have came in handy, but she did get the hang of it, and it was a lifesaver, couldn't have done the parks without it.

lovetoscrap
05-06-2010, 02:58 PM
OMG Pepe, you just reminded me of the first time my Mom used a motorized one, same thing- Panick and she got faster!! I just remember her backing off the monorail- FULL SPEED :scared1: without even turning her head to look behind her... I got mad at her, because she drives a CAR!! Come on!! if you can handle a car, this should be nothing!! It had some very funny moments, fortunately no one got injured, but I feared for the ECV sometimes.. a remote cut off would have came in handy, but she did get the hang of it, and it was a lifesaver, couldn't have done the parks without it.

In her defense driving an ECV is really NOTHING like driving a car. I am a very good driver and have bumped into many things (no people, yet!) with ECVs. And ECV has no brakes, and no convenient speed control. You can't jam on the brake to stop quickly. It will sometimes continue it's forward momentum when you release the acceleration. Usually the speed is controlled by sliding or turning a knob on the tiller. You squeeze the hand lever and if it is on high speed it will TAKE OFF! Some have the ability to adjust speed by how much you depress the accelerator handle (like when pressing a gas pedal) but it is no where near as responsive as a car and usually really only offers 3 options: stop, crawl and full speed (to what ever the speed knob is set at). And it is easy for that knob to be moved if you lean on it, a kid plays with it while you are distracted and sometimes you just forget that it was on high speed previously. So if I am at a normal speed to get ON the monorail or into an elevator I will forget to turn the speed down for the backwards trip out which is a trickier maneuver, especially since I spend the entire time making sure people don't have their toes and kids in the way. You would never let yourself or your kids stand right up next to a backing up car, so why would you stand that close to my backing up vehicle? It may not kill you if I hit you but it will sure put a damper on your day (and mine).

And some of the rentals (including Disney and also some store ones) have a switch on the tiller that you have to press to go in reverse or forward. That is especially a pain for me since on mine squeezing the right side goes forward and squeezing the left side goes backwards. I forget that I have to actually press a switch to go the other direction when on another type of ECV so I will end up forgetting to push it and go the wrong way.

There is also the fact that your mother (and many ECV users) have been driving for many, many years but only using an ECV for perhaps a few days/weeks or months. I am certainly a much better ECV user now than I was 3 years ago when I first used one, just as I am a much better driver now than when I first started when I was 16!

Mrs D
05-07-2010, 07:09 PM
My FIL rented an ECV from Buena Vista Scooters and my Mom has rented from them as well. Both experiences were positive. My ECV riders are in their 60's and did just fine with operating the rental ECVs. My Mom did rent a Disney ECV on a short trip and she mentioned that it was slower, bigger and slightly more clunky to operate versus the BVS scooter.

Here was the big difference between my FIL using a scooter and my Mom using one. My FIL sat on his scooter outside of every ride and waited for us. Despite telling him that every ride would accommodate him he felt like it was too much trouble to actually ride with us. My Mom is the exact opposite.

My Mom loved finding out how each ride works with guests on ECVs! She found it fun to take a service elevator directly to the ride vehicles or take the "servants" entrance into the Haunted Mansion. The only ride we found ourselves kind of waiting round due to her riding up on an ECV was Kilimanjaro Safari. They have a separate ride vehicle and we've always had to wait until that ride vehicle returned. On It's a Small World they have a special boat that you don't need to lift your leg over to get in and it has individual seats rather than benches.

I really encourage you do some research (the disABILITIES board is a GREAT resource, you can also get excellent info on allears.net (http://allears.net/pl/special.htm)) on what you think Grandma would enjoy riding and don't let her sit on the sidelines. While she can stand and walk for most rides she can wait in queue (or they will direct her/your group to a special queue) in her wheelchair/ECV then just transfer to the ride vehicle.

I hope you all have a magical time at the World! :wizard: