Wilderness Lodge or Epcot area resort for first time ECV user?
Sorry this is a bit long - we are new to ECVs and I tried to give enough detail that folks would be able to respond. I have read a bunch of threads on using them in the World, and directed my parents to the boards for their own research. We found some great information. I was hoping for some opinions for our next trip on the resort choice based on transportation issues.
My father will be using an ECV for the first time on our upcoming (January) trip to Disney. On the last few trips, he has been able to join the family less and less because of mobility difficulties. He has not been using any kind of assistance such as a cane or wheelchair. Although we had suggested trying a wheelchair or ECV so he could enjoy the parks more on past trips, he just wasn't ready. On the last trip - 10 or 11 days - I would estimate that he only visited parks on 4 or 5 of the days, generally for a limited time, like a meal or fireworks. He had 10 day tickets, and we didn't think to change them to no expiration tickets, so he just basically lost the remaining days.
He has stayed on site at POFQ, CBR and Poly and is familiar with the transportation options at each, although only using them without an ECV. (I have to say - even though he spent so much of the last trip at the resort and not the parks, he really enjoyed his time by the Poly pools!) This time, however, he mentioned trying out an ECV on his own, and my mother has already reserved one for him from Apple or Walker. In case it is relevant to this thread, I can say that he chose one of the three wheeled models, as we learned from the boards that they can be easier to maneuver.
Currently, my parents have a reservation at the Swan. They have never stayed in that area, but have visited when I was at the Dolphin and the boardwalk area seems to have a lot to offer (they are looking forward to Jellyrolls, and my dad is excited about the Boardwalk Bakery). They also just find the setting pleasant there. The key benefit to staying in the Epcot area is the ability to walk/ECV to Epcot and DHS. They don't care about getting to the parks for rope drop at all, so for MK, they planned on generally just going through Epcot to take the monorail. I stayed at the Dolphin last May with my husband and son, and they used this route to visit us, so they know how long it can take. My father does not rush - in part because he really can't. They are also not going to be closing down the parks, so no concern about the monorail not running late at night to get back, or Epcot being closed during MK EMH, etc. Since my father is new to ECVs and will be using one for the first time at Disney, he wanted to use the buses as little as possible with it. If they stay at the Swan, he would then be using the bus for AK only.
My parents also think the Wilderness Lodge looks like a nice option. As an added bonus, for much of the stay, my husband and I (now with two kids) will be at BLT a boat ride away. Although they are considering WL, they would not want to choose it over Swan if they would have to use the buses exclusively. Although I know many people have reported that using ECVs on the buses isn't as scary as it may seem, for a first trip using one, he feels better knowing he has other options.
From what I can tell, there are boats that can accept ECVs and boats that cannot serving WL, so they may have to wait for a boat that can take one.
I wasn't clear on whether the water level can ever be low enough that no boat from WL can take the ECV. Can someone clarify?
One other thought is that he has a lot of difficulty boarding certain types of rides, generally where he has to step down. He can do pirates, but I know he won't even attempt Space Mountain anymore. He had a hard time getting on and off that one in the past and isn't comfortable trying again, unfortunately. The moving walkways are also a little challenging, but he still can do those with some assistance from one of us. If my father can use the boats for MK and Epcot (via monorail for Epcot) with the ECV, that will really influence their choice. Then they will just decide based on the other merits/appeal of the resorts and value.
I think they are leaning toward staying with the Swan, but please let me know if you have any helpful thoughts on this one. I have never stayed at WL, and have no direct experience with using their transportation as a first time ECV user.
By the way - I have suggested that he try using the ECVs at Target or similar in advance to get a feel for them. He is planning on riding around the Boardwalk area if they stay at the Swan before trying to use it in the parks as practice. I assume he could ride around near WL if they choose to stay there for some practice, too.
Thanks SO MUCH! Your experiences will be a great help.
I have stayed at the WL twice while using my ECV and like it really well. At WL you use the bus for most parks. You can ride the boat to MK. They have two boats that run between WL and MK one is small and the other is big. He can take the ECV on the bigger boat only so he might have to wait a short time for the big one. It was never a problem for me nor has the depth of the water been. Sometimes the boat will come in a little low in the water and the captain just has the walking people unload first until the boat reaches the level of the dock. He will not be able to take the boat to the CR. It uses the small boat only. He could take the larger boat to MK and then take the monorail to Epcot if he wants an alternate route to Epcot. He could take it around to CR and meet you that way. I would like to say that the bus service is very good at WL when using an ECV. I know people complain about it, but it is the first stop so you are assured a spot. It does stop at other resorts to pick up, but we liked that because we could easily get to ADRs at the GF by just hopping on the bus then off at GF.
Very good reply by bedogged.
I will be staying at the Disney Swan resort for my first time this December and I am really excited about it.
I own my own mobility scooter and I drive down from Atlanta, Georgia. I reassemble my mobility scooter when at WDW and I don't use my car the rest of my vacation since it has become too difficult to lift it, take it apart, etc., several times a day.
I love using the WDW bus, boat launch, monorail, sidewalk systems everywhere at WDW.
It seems like you know pretty much everything about the transportation system or at least how to get about WDW without using the bus.
In the Epcot resort area, I suppose that you have used the boat launch and sidewalks to get around.
I love using the WDW boat launch and enjoy the views. As you probably know the WDW Epcot area boat launch travels from Epcot International Gateway to the Boardwalk Villa, Beach and Yacht Club, Swan and Dolphin and Disney Hollywood Studios.
Then the return trip follows the same reverse route.
Sometimes it can be busy at times when everyone wants to go to see Epcot Illuminations leaving DHS or other Epcot resorts, but that makes sense.
I ususlly go in December, so sometimes people leave Epcot after Illuminations and want to see DHS Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights when they are open later, but this makes sense too.
I take this into consideration when travelling and try to anticiapate heavy crowd levels like I would if I wanted to get on a boat launch or bus after a Magic Kingdom closing some nights.
Sometimes I would have to wait for another boat or another 2 to 4 busses from MK back to my resort. This is normal and makes sense to me.
But I really appreciate that WDW allows me to go just about anywhere on their property using their transportation.
Going back to Epcot resorts, like the Disney Swan resort, I love taking my time and using all of the sidewalks that go around the lake and even from Epcot Interational Gateway to Disney Hollywood Studios. I love to explore.
I couldn't do this without my mobility scooter.
As you probably know, the Boardwalk is alive and beautiful at nighttime with live entertainment and food choices. On Monday's nights, I love watching NFL Monday Night Football at ESPN.
And the very wide sidewalk from DHS back to the Boardwalk or bridges to the Swan resort are well llghted and relaxing.
I see that you mentioned that you would only need to take the bus to Animal Kingdom park by a bus.
I also like to go through Epcot and use the monorail to Magic Kingdom and back when I can just for the sights and sounds. I love it.
I just love the Disney Wilderness Lodge. Even when I am not staying there, I have to visit every December.
When staying at Disney Wilderness Lodge, you would still have to take a bus to Animal Kingdom park. There is no sidewalk to Magic Kingdom.
The two boats at WL are clearly marked. One WL boat launch is very large with an enclosed climate controlled area and even an outside area. The other smaller boat launch has steps going down into the boat and is not enclosed.
I enjoy going from Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom and back.
The larger boat launch goes from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness CampGround.
I have never used the smaller boat launches which travel the same route, but also have boat service on the same lake to Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort and Grand Floridian Resort. I can't use these boats because of the steps and it is not accessible for a mobility scooter. Some wheelchair folks can fold up their wheelchair and carry them down the three steps sometimes.
At Wilderness Lodge, I also love using the paved walkway or driveway to adventure to Fort Wilderness Campground.
As far a the lake level and the larger boat launch, some years their are severe droughts and the lake level is too low.
You may be used to using mobility scooter ramps on the boat launches at the Epcot resorts and on the monorail, but they do not use portable ramps at the Wilderness Lodge, Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness CampGround boat launches.
I have not had a problem in years when I go every December.
The weight of guest on a full or empty boat will lower or raise the boat level in relation to the boat dock.
Full boat and you drive on will mean that you will have a bump going down and driving on the boat launch at Wilderness Lodge. One time I had to get off my mobility scooter and manually drive it on and off the boat.
This was not a problem. Just do what you think that makes sense depending on the situation.
Sometimes when at Magic Kingdom, I use the sidewalk instead of the monorail to visit the Contemporary Resort.
As your experience suggests, there is no sidewalk around the lake to all of the Magic Kingdom resorts. But sometimes I like to use the sidewalks from Disney Transportation and Ticket Center to the Polynesian Resort. I also liked to use the sidewalk past the wedding pavillion to the Grand Floridian Resort. But, now that construction is going on the DVC at GF resort, I think that access is limited until completion of construction.
So many choices. So many adventures.
I would definitely try Wilderness Lodge Resort. I love the large lobby and sidewalks down to the wonderful pool and lake and beach. I love driving the sidewalk/driveway and explore Fort Wilderness Campground.
It may not have have a different boat launch and fewer sidewalks to get around to other resorts, but it will be a new experience. And you would be closer to Bay Lake.
I would use the sidewalk from Bay Lake DVC resort to the boat launch at Magic Kingdom instead of using the monorail everytime.
Any specific questions?
Thanks so much for these responses! My parents now have reservations at the Wilderness Lodge, although that could change.
I do have a question, Ray!
At ESPN Zone, would my father be able to park the scooter somewhere outside or inside if he wanted to go in to watch a game?
Actually - one more. Have you ever experienced not being able to use the boat to MK from WL because the water level was too low for the larger boat and were then stuck with bus only?
My dad may warm up to using the ECV on the buses once he tries it out. I just want to make sure that he knows that situation could arise if it has happened in the past.
Thanks to both of you for the opinions!
They will love WL! I have stayed there in January and it is very compact and cozy especially when the weather isn't.
I think the lobby will be a big draw for them in January! We had a very cold January Disney experience back in 2010. We could all have used a fireplace around then!
I love driving everywhere around the Wilderness Lodge. I love just sitting in the Lobby at different times of the day in the comfy leather chairs and looking at how the sun shines through the windows.
And sitting in a rocking chair in front of the huge fireplace.
And watching all of the excitement at the Wilderness Lodge Whispering Canyon Cafe as the kids ride around the periphery of the restaurant on the old time wooden horses.
And watching someone asking for "catsup"...lol. I won't spoil the surprise.
Sometimes on a quiet evening, I'll request a Whispering Canyon Cafe table back by their smaller fireplace to dine. Every now and thin, a child will come up holding a sheet of paper and say they are looking for a "hidden mickey" on the stones of the fireplace. So much fun.
And going up on the next floor and sitting by the other smaller fireplace in the comfy leather sofa and looking over the lobby. This is located directly over the entranceway. I take the elevator up, but there are stairs near the entrance.
There are other little nooks to visit and other porches overlooking the pool and lake that are fun to spend some time for reflection and relaxing.
You can also visit the Wilderness Lodge Villa DVC lobby next door and their common areas.
The pool and dock and beach pier are also cool places.
Ask for a map to show where the paved walkway/driveway is from Wilderness Lodge resort to the Fort Wilderness CampGround. I really love this ride through the woods and dining at FWCG for lunch or seeing Hoop-Dee-Doo Review.
They have a nightly movie and marshmellow roast with Chip and Dale, too.
They have their on boat dock and boat launch as you probably already know if you want to take the boat back. The walkway/driveway is not lighted very much at night, but I still use it sometimes.
[QUOTE=olive;46350103]Actually - one more. Have you ever experienced not being able to use the boat to MK from WL because the water level was too low for the larger boat and were then stuck with bus only?
Almost a decade ago, but you could really tell that there was a terrible draught that year at all of the lakes. I can't even remember the year.
I think the issue is that they don't use those portalble ramps like they do to get on the monorail or at the Epcot lake resorts or at Downtown Disney lake.
You shouldn't have any problem. You can always help him drive on the boat. I don't know if you have been on this MK, WL, FWCG boat launch before.
It is a little different from the Epcot lake and DTD lake boat launch boats/pontoon boats.
You enter and are facing the captain's tower wall where the captain sits up high like on a second story. This metal tower is directly at the boat entrance.
You can drive and steer toward the rear seats which has a larger space behind the captain tower thing.
Or you steer toward the front which as the door to the outside of the boat seats. I can actually drive all the way around the captain tower thing.
I would suggest driving toward the rear and parking parallel to the captain's tower.
I would also suggest entering and exiting forward and not backing out the entrance/exit just because it is easier.
The front of the scooter is always lighter, so if it is easier to get off the scooter and drive on/off then stand at the head of the scooter and steer the scooter. This way you can help lift slightly, not much, the front part to get over the hump. This is harder to do if someone is sitting on the scooter.
I can't remember the last time that I have done this.
But I alway drive on head on and straight instead of an angle.
You'll see what I mean when you get there. It really is very easy.
Drive on straight, instead of an angle.
Drive to the rear and realign the scooter close to the captain tower thing.
If on a very, very rare instance that the WDW Castmember asks all of the guests inside to move to one side or the other side of the boat. He is just raising or lowering the entrance/exit to make it level with the dock.
But I have only had this happen four times in 12 years. I just drove straight off the boat that was completely level.
A full boat can sometimes raise/lower the boat several inches depending on lake levels and that is why this happens sometimes.
No worries. Enjoy.
The busses at Wilderness Lodge are very good to use.
Most Walt Disney World resort and bus stops have a rectangle painted on the pavement near the bus loading.
Every resort or park may be a little different for line queues or no line queues.
You probably know that mobility scooters load near the rear side door and that is what I usually look for.
At Wilderness Lodge bus stop, I just go to the park or DTD bus stop that I want to go to and try to guestamate where the bus rear side door may stop at .
I wait for the bus driver instructions and then drive on and parallel park inside the bus.
Unlike parallel parking a car on the right side of the road, most of the busses have scooter spaces on the left side of the bus wall. There are a few nearer busses, especially at Fort Wilderness CampGround that have three and four spaces. If you get one of those, you could parallel park on the right side of the bus.
But almost all of the busses have two spaces inside the bus on the left.
I say all of this because at Wilderness Lodge Bus stop he could use that yellow box painted on the ground and practice parallel parking.
Just drive up parallel to the box and past the box, and slowly turn the wheel and parallel park like a car.
If it seems too hard, the bus is a flat surface, so it would be very easy for you to stand at the front of the scooter and use the scooter controls to steer the scooter yourself while he is sitting on the scooter.
Sometimes driving up a ramp requires extra power to go up the hill, but once onboard the flat bus service, always turn the speed dial to "turtle" speed to slowly park. Just common sense information.
I always take my time, too.
Sometimes at the parks, I may have to wait for another bus. But I am on vacation and love to people watch. Sometimes like giving away an extra WDW park "fastpass" that I don't need to another person. I will sometimes offer another guest behind me my space if they have a child or if there is a couple in a wheelchair.
Have a wonderful time and maybe you could come back with tips that you learned for me.
This is GREAT information! I'll make sure my dad reads it through. My parents are getting excited about Wilderness Lodge, and I think these responses will really put my father's mind at ease about the transportation. Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond.
I'll report back!
Olive we are headed to WL on Sunday and this is my first trip with an ECV due to severe knee arthritis. I will let you know how I make out with the busses vs. boats and what I find my experiences to be!
Ray I have a question re: your post:
I have no idea what propper ECV etiquette is!!
I have a question about an ECV in the Epcot resorts aea. I've never yet needed one, but will soon because of degenerating back issues. Would you recommend that people may just drive their ECV over to Epcot from their resort (mine would be BCV) rather than using the boat? What about driving the ECV over to DHS? Does that use too much battery or will you still probably be OK for the day?
Disneyfool - would LOVE to hear your thoughts when you get back!
Simba's mom - my dad is planning on riding the ECV to and from Epcot and DHS at least some of the time. We haven't heard yet that it could cause problems with the battery; he would plan on charging it overnight each night.
First time ECV user
A few years ago I took my Mom to WDW. She also had mobility issues & walked with a cane. I rented an ECV from Randy's & they delivered it right to our room & stayed to show us how to use it. I understand that some of the outside companies will just drop it off at reception. Anyway, after the guy left, she spent about an hour riding it around the resort hallways, backing up, turning, etc to get a feel for it before we got to the park. We were also at WL. Although she did OK driving it, she was very nervous about loading it on & off the bus or boat. She was especially scared of the boat - I think she was afraid the boat would move & she'd end up in the water. So I ended up doing all the loading & unloading of the ECV. Once we did that, she had a great time. We never had any problem with the water level being too low to load the ECV, but they did have people get off first to raise the level of the boat. Oh, one other thing, we got the canopy for the ECV to protect her from the sun. It wasn't worth the extra money & made loading onto the bus very dificult. We ended up removing it.
There is even a shortcut from the Beach Club Villa outside the BCV entrance, stay to the right side of the sideawalk that curves around the outside of the Beach Club resort until you see the main lake walkway.
Try to remember this exit from the outside so that when you come back, you will remember where to enter to go back to your BCV. It is the first gate door that you see when you come back from Epcot as you come down over the hill on your right. You will will understand when you drive and see it.
The passage is just a sidewalk behind the BC resort's rooms with sliding glass doors on one side and a border fence on the other side.
It is just a quicker way to get back to the BCV entrance and BC store area.
The sidewalks are continuous around the lake between the two parks and resorts.
I would definitely take the sidewalk from BCV and Epcot's International Gateway.
I also love taking the boat launches that travel in order from Epcot to BWV to B&YC to Swan & Dolphin to DHS. They then reverse the trip back in the reverse order.
I would do both just for the beautiful experience. At park closings and Epcot Illuminations or DHS Fantasmic shows, the boat launches can have very long waits before and after at each boat launch resort dock as a lot of folks like to go at the same time.
I just go with the flow and take my time if I want to take a boat launch.
There is no wait time to use the sidewalks.
To answer your question, you should be just fine with your battery all day if you conserve your battery usuage during the day. In my experience, if I drive using the sidewalks from Epcot International Gateway to DHS entrance, it usually takes 15 to 20 minutes at the most depending if you take a shortcut by the BW pool. Think about how long it might take you to drive around the Epcot lake and around all of Epcot areas. I have never timed going around the Epcot lake or Epcot area to entrance because I usually spot along the way, but you understand what I am saying. If your battery looks near empty, I would wait and take the boat launch if still running. The BW boat launches usually run up to one hour after each park closing.
I usually go to WDW in December. This year I will be staying at the Swan Resort and the BWV.
Here is what I do:
1. I completely charge my scooter battery every night at the end of my day in my resort run and plug it into an electrical outlet when I arrive at my room the very first thing and leave it plugged in until I leave my resort room the next day. I do this because some days I am up early and I leave the parks late.
2. My personal scooter comes with an exteral battery charger whick I take with me and put in a velcro bag attached under my scooter seat. I do this incase my battery does run low because of all of my exploring during the day. In December, I love to visit all of the resort's Christmas decorations inside and outside. I love to drive around the resort lakes and just explore. So this may use more battery usuage than usual. I just park near an electrical out, especially when dining in a restaurant. Sometimes you may see outside covered electrical outlets near parade routes, too. I usually don't have to do this, but I do this just incase I do run around all day.
3. When I am not moving, I always turn my power off. If I stop to look or talk, I turn my power off to conserve power. This is the main thing to do to conserve power besides recharging your scooter battery all night. Of course, turn the power off during parking, watching parades and shows.
4. When driving use nomial speed and never use fast or "rabbit" speed on your scooter speed dial. The faster you drive, the more power that you use. I try to set my speed dial at what other walkers are walking at. And when in a crowd, I use a slow or "turtle" speed for safety of others. You may need more power which is higher speed dial if going up hills, but then I turn the speed down on flat surfaces. When parking on a bus or boat launch or monorail or anytime in crowded situations, I always use slow "turtle" speed. All of this will save battery life.
5. I think scooter battery life for the day depends on how long the scooter was charged over night, how heavy the rider is, and how long you travel during the day, and if you conserve by not going fast and turning off the scooter power when not moving. If you do these things, you should be fine.
Here is Robo's map of the Epcot area sidewalks below:
Note: See where the pink line just starts after the blue line stops into the BC area and see the building on the right? See how the sidewalk shortcut will follow the outside of the BC resort back of the building until it gets to the entrance of the BWV. This is the shortcut.
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