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Old 09-03-2012, 06:25 PM   #1
kermit116
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Lightbulb Getting around WDW with grandma

We are working on planning a big family trip to WDW that will include DH's elderly grandma. While she is able to walk short distances, she is a little unstable on her feet, and she definitely will not be able to handle getting around the parks on foot.

Based on what I've heard on Podcasts, we're considering renting an ECV or wheelchair for her from an outside company so that we can have it with us in the hotel. We are more likely to get her a wheelchair than an ECV because she has never used an ECV and her eyesight is not wonderful (worried she would have trouble navigating crowds).

My questions are:

1. Will the outside companies that rent out ECVs also rent out standard wheelchairs? Will they deliver to your onsite hotel?

2. If we stay at Fort Wilderness cabin, I know the boats from MK are not all the same size and the smaller boats are not WC accessible. Will the smaller boats allow us on if we fold up her chair and carry it on with us? She'd be able to get on the boat with our assistance as she is still able to get up/down stairs and can walk short distances.

3. Would you recommend getting her a room at a monorail resort for easier accessibility/movement around property? It would be a stretch for our budget, which is why we were considering the Fort Wilderness cabin as an option so that she could have a kitchen and we could share the cabin with her to save some money on the trip.

4. If we are renting a car to avoid Disney bus transport, what would be our best option for hauling around a standard wheelchair? I'm guessing a mini-van would be best based on the wheelchair and size of our party. I'm also assuming that I'll need to reserve this pretty far in advance to make sure we get a vehicle that is large enough for all of us + folded up wheelchair.

5. If we decide not to rent a car, is it easier to get on a Disney bus with a fold-up wheelchair than an ECV? I'm assuming this would be somewhat like getting on with a folding stroller, but perhaps I'm incorrect.


This will be our first trip with someone with more serious mobility issues, although we did have one trip with a relative who required use of a wheelchair in the parks (but not getting to/from the car or on the bus). Any other tips you all can provide for our planning would be appreciated.

We really want to make this trip special for everyone, and want to make sure grandma is as comfortable as possible.
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Old 09-03-2012, 07:51 PM   #2
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I think your first thing would be to rent a wheelchair. The next thing that will answer most all of your other questions is to look at this link.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=595713

I only say wheelchair instead of ECV, is because you need to be on your toes at all times and be able to plan ahead with a ECV. With the lack of sight, this could be very difficult for her.

I use an ECV, and find that using Disney transportation, although sometimes frustrating, easy to use. No need to switch to a monorail resort to make the trip doable.
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Old 09-05-2012, 03:20 PM   #3
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I use an ECV at Disney, so I can't help you much, but I do have a friend who sometimes uses a WC. If you are just talking about transporting the WC and several people to and from the parks, with no luggage, you should not have a problem with the trunk of any midsized and most compact cars. Her folded WC fits easily in their earlier Ford Focus, and their current Hyundai Elantra, both compact cars. We have gotten both my ECV and her WC in my Hyundai Sonata, but it was difficult and some stuff had to go into the back seat.
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:00 PM   #4
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I go to WDW 2x/year as a traveling companion for a similar senior. She rents an ECV and does pretty well with it, but here is how we manage it---one person walks ahead (maybe 8 feet) and she follows that person. It works very well for us, but having her try to form her own path did not.

Re wheelchair: Is grandma very fluffy sized? If so, consider whether you will have several people to alternate pushing. IMHO AK is the worst with uneven pavement and seemingly more hills.

If possible, you MAY want to consider renting both. Use the WC for moving around the resort, to eat, DTD, etc. and the ECV within the parks.
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:23 PM   #5
kermit116
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Thanks for all the good advice. Grandma is not tiny, but also not what I'd classify as fluffy. There will be 3-4 strong adults on the trip, so I think we could alternate pushing a WC.

She has never driven any sort of vehicle in her life (car, scooter), so while I'd love the ease of an ECV I think it'd be too much for her to learn when combined with all the excitement of the big family trip, plus her first trip to WDW.
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kermit116 View Post
Thanks for all the good advice. Grandma is not tiny, but also not what I'd classify as fluffy. There will be 3-4 strong adults on the trip, so I think we could alternate pushing a WC.

She has never driven any sort of vehicle in her life (car, scooter), so while I'd love the ease of an ECV I think it'd be too much for her to learn when combined with all the excitement of the big family trip, plus her first trip to WDW.
Since she's never driven before, WDW is not the place for her to begin. Since you have strong adults who can help her, I would go for the wheelchair. Or you could have her practice with a scooter in Costco or Target and see how she does.

One other consideration -- is she able to climb stairs to get on/off the WDW bus? You could probably get the bus driver to lower the wheelchair lift/ramp if necessary.
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb in AZ View Post
Since she's never driven before, WDW is not the place for her to begin. Since you have strong adults who can help her, I would go for the wheelchair. Or you could have her practice with a scooter in Costco or Target and see how she does.

One other consideration -- is she able to climb stairs to get on/off the WDW bus? You could probably get the bus driver to lower the wheelchair lift/ramp if necessary.
I would agree with a wheelchair since she has never driven anything and has vision problems.
People driving ECVs need to be alert to what is going on around them - since she's never driven before, she would likely be nervous and her vision issues may make it difficult for her to drive safely and/or feel comfortable driving an ECV.

Regarding the buses, she can stay in the wheelchair to load onto the bus, but let the driver know that she will be getting out and you will fold the wheelchair.
Many people do that.
Then she would not have to worry about getting onto the bus and it would be faster since the driver does not have to fasten down the wheelchair.

For the boats, you are correct that not all the boats are accessible. To use the smaller boats, she would need to be able to step down into the boat and you would need to be able to lift the folded wheelchair on, which can be akward.
I would suggest just waiting for the next boat.
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