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Old 09-19-2012, 04:13 AM   #1
Earning My Ears
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Should we get a wheelchair or ECV?

I need your insights. I searched the net and the boards for hours and could not find an answer, but if you can find a thread, please direct me to it.

We are planning a trip next April with myself, husband, 16 month old daughter and almost 3 year old son, my brother (age 27), my mom (age 51) and my dad (age 52). We are already planning on 2 lightweight strollers (with optional stroller connectors) for our kiddos.

Both of my parents are pretty healthy and have never used any kind of mobility assistance. They garden, my dad hunts, builds tree stands and is always working on at least one project. To top it all off, they are foster parents to teenagers. However, my dad was in an accident a few years back and has some lingering issues. While he manages to do all these things, he's worried about how his back will hold up to all the STANDING in line. He told me to expect there might be times when he just needs to sit down for a while and take it easy. He doesn't mind walking in general and it doesn't bother him on a daily basis, but I fear the extensive walking may take it's toll. While he would probably be fine for a single day, I worry that after a few days it will all start to add up.

When we went with my grandmother, she used an ECV, but I'm not sure my dad will have the patience for that. It can be difficult to navigate through crowds and you get cut off a lot. I can't see him doing well with that, especially as he is not used to it. Plus, I can't see him sitting in the ECV all day, but we wouldn't want to leave it somewhere, lest he need a place to sit in a line. He will want to walk some.

I considered a plain wheelchair. We could push it around empty when he wants to walk and it would be a little easier for navigating. Then when he gets tired, one of us could push him, and we could push him through the queues, so he has a place to sit. Plus, the wheelchair is much easier to navigate than an ECV through the lines. (I'm not going to lie, I can also see some advantages to having this with us in a queue, as our toddlers could sit on Popi's lap for a while.) We could even leave it behind altogether if the line was pretty short. A big concern here is, will people judge us when they see us pushing around an empty wheelchair? Does anyone else do this? I know we would not expect for him to be treated as "handicapped." But will people sneer at us because they think we're trying to abuse the system somehow? I wouldn't want it to put a damper on our trip. I think it is better now that they send most wheelchairs through the regular queue for most attractions. There really aren't that many attractions where the wheelchairs get any advantage. But not everyone knows that either... Also, with already having two strollers to push, I'm afraid the rest of us will wear out faster too by having to push either a stroller or a wheelchair all day.

I also thought of a rollator, but I feel like if he did need a break from walking, you can't push him on the rollator.

Maybe if the lines aren't too long, we can just take it slow and take some breaks and not use anything. Then if he started getting tired, we could rent a wheelchair in the park. I really don't think the lines will be that long, but there were a handful when we went with my grandmother that were difficult for even me to tolerate.

Or maybe we should just get an ECV or wheelchair and park it in each land and let him walk some and retrieve it when he wears out or there's a long wait for us. But again, how will it look when this generally healthy looking man walks over to his ECV or wheelchair, hops on and heads for an attraction?

Anyway, I'm at a loss here, so I would appreciate any insights you might have to offer.

(I do know what the ultimate solution is, though. More Dumbo-like queues where there is a place to sit down while you wait!)
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:11 AM   #2
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From what you are saying, you are probably right in that a wheelchair might be the best. However seeing as how he is really a pretty active kind of guy, maybe the better thing to do would be to switch off and on with shows and rides, where he can sit for an extended period of time and rest, then a few rides the shows type of plan.

I think not knowing if his back will be an issue at all, I would just wait and see how he does, and if you need to go rent a wheelchair at the parks. He may just surprise you.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:20 AM   #3
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Since there is no place to sit in line, a wheelchair seems like a good option for you. As to people judging, why should that bother you? People judge me all the time and I use an ECV in my daily life. I can't get to the mailbox without it!

I resisted for a long time after the doctor offered it to me because of other people judging and the mistaken idea that having it would affect me negatively. I have reached the point where I realize that if someone judges me--THEY have the problem--not me. I now do what is best for me without worrying about what other people say. They don't live my life or with my pain--I do!
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:21 AM   #4
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Arrow Your first priority has to be with your dad

and helping him and to be much less concerned with what others think. You won't see any of these people again. Besides, most people are so absorbed into their own pleasures they won't even notice you and your family. If anyone does speak out just say there's a problem and to please respect your situation. You don't have to say anything, but if you are bothered by it this is an option. I would say there's maybe a 5% chance you'll run into a jerk at the park or wherever.

Just to let you know there are people with invisible diseases and handicaps that don't allow them to walk in the parks all day. They look perfectly fine to everyone else. An example are those with fibro. They have to use help with getting around and I have heard all the diability aids being used as you mentioned. Many of these individuals need to walk through the day to stretch their muscles or whatever; so, sometimes they use their handicap aid and sometimes they don't. Then, there are those with temporary problems that may need an aid in the park and they look perfectly fine.

Everyone has a different approach to Disney World and you can walk from 6 to 12 miles a day depending on your time at the park. I really don't believe this compares to his regular routine; it will be harder for him at Disney. Your dad could try out a scooter before you leave. The more bulky scooters at the stores are a start. The scooter he'll have to rent will be better and easier. The store scooters are not travel scooters. I feel if you drive a car you should be able to handle a scooter. Practice yourself on a scooter; so, you can give him easy instructions; so, he won't be frustrated by it. Go through the store with him and praise him every chance you get if he's doing well with the scooter. Encourage him when he does well; so, he feels good about using the scooter. Next, I would go to a local zoo for a day; so, he could practice on a rental scooter at the zoo for your day. This will be similar with crowds and such; so, he can be prepared for Disney. It still will be harder at Disney. If you are staying on Disney resort property and you need to use Disney transportation (bus, monorail, or boat) to get around then someone else may have to get the scooter on and off the transportation vehicle; this can be hard for some. You need to position it very carefully into the correct location and that can be more difficult. There are a few times my husband and I would just lift the scooter to get it parked in the precise location on the bus.

When using a scooter at the parks there are enough people in your group to shield you dad; you can be all around him. If he wants to walk some then someone else can drive the scooter until he needs to sit down again if you are doing a ride. I really believe this is your best option. Besides, it's probably a good idea to start learning about scooters, now. You make it sound like this injury is not going away; so, he may need an aid more and more in the future (hopefully not).

If the scooter doesn't work out then the wheelchair would be the next best choice. Take turns (three younger adults) and no one should be out of breadth. I know you still need to push the strollers, but that will be easier then pushing the wheelchair. The trick here is to alternate your activities with shows and rides. At the shows you have a chance to rest. Eating times, parades, and fireworks are all ways to get a break from pushing a wheelchair. Portable travel push wheelchairs can be as light as 15 pounds. You can buy one for $99 on sale sometimes. If you are flying this will help at the airport to get him around and the wheelchair flies free. The ones at the parks are probably 35 pounds or more; so, I would get a portable travel wheelchair. I'm not sure about renting a travel portable wheelchair, but call some rental places and see if they handle them. Believe it or not there are dual function rollator/wheelchair combinations available, but they are a little more costly. To me this sounds like it could fit your needs, too. I would say it would be near impossible to rent one of these any where; you would probably have to buy one.

Talk to your father's doctor. There may be prescribed pain relievers that may help or even a shot where the pain is the worse to relieve pain for the trip. Also, make sure your doctor agrees this trip is all right for him and what suggestions the doctor may have about getting around. You may want to talk to the doctor yourself ahead of time; so, the doctor can encourage using a scooter, for example. This may make your father more willing to use a scooter.

If you make a choice for a wheelchair be very careful that no one complains about pushing one; this would break your father's heart. Infact make a fuss as to who gets to do it next. I pushed a wheelchair for my mom for about 5 years and I did it all by myself (female) at Disney World; we averaged 8 hours a day at the parks. I wasn't in the best shape, either. She passed this last July. You already have a head start; because, you have been pushing a stroller all along.

The memories with your father and your kid's grandfather is worth every minute of pushing his wheelchair. And by all means use FASTPASS every chance you get to avoid longer waits.

If you are really going to try going without any aid your father may have to sit out some rides on a bench in the park. You should take turns keeping him company. Again, don't make it a big thing if you can't go on a ride. I don't really suggest this course of action. I think everyone will have more fun if he uses an aid. Also, if he doesn't complain and he's really in pain it could be a diaster for the trip. I wouldn't take that chance.

Our prayers are with you.

Last edited by Bete; 09-19-2012 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:45 AM   #5
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Have you considered a cane/chair. I have 2 different styles that I use when I know I am going some place where I have to stand in line. It is much easier to carry around all day than a rollator and because he gets around most times its easier than a wheelchair/evc.

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:14 AM   #6
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I took a look at one on Amazon

Originally Posted by powellrj View Post
Have you considered a cane/chair. I have 2 different styles that I use when I know I am going some place where I have to stand in line. It is much easier to carry around all day than a rollator and because he gets around most times its easier than a wheelchair/evc.
and the cane/chair costs under $30 with free shipping and has a weight capacity of 250 pounds. I don't believe they look comfortable enough or sturdy enough to sit on them for too long. Also, I would be very careful getting on and off this aid; so, you don't fall. He may need assistance for this part. The previous poster may be able to shed some light on that part. Obviously, they seem to be meant for use without assistance, but if he's not use to one you need to be careful.

You could probably hang it on the stroller when when he wants to walk if he doesn't want to hold it.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:38 AM   #7
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I have a balance issue & push an empty w/c often. When I need it.. I NEED it right then. Because I tend to sway severely a cane isn't an option. And I find rollerseats aren't helpful longterm as my dizziness can last hours or days. Canes aren't an option. Do people judge me? Yes, I'm sure they do. My older kids tease me that I am going to become known as the crazy lady that walks around with an empty wheelchair. I tell them they better behave, or I
It used to bother me, and sometimes smay put a doll in it & begin to talk to it, or my imaginary friend. Yes, I'm sure people judge. I hated the idea of being known as "one of those" who take "advantage" in disney. But I have found first hand it doesn't always get you quick access to a ride, or better seats for a show. I have waited 40+ mins in the wheelchair area, when the standby line was 10 or 20. Bottom line, is it something that is needed? Will it increase comfort for someone you love? Then what others think is a small price to pay.

On a side note, since being in a w/c I have to laugh at those that think anyone would choose to be in one. Trust me the view from standing is MUCH better than the view from.... "below & behind(s)".

Best of luck & I hope you have a wonderful memory filled vacation!!
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:31 PM   #8
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DH pushed his mom in a wheelchair around WDW and DLR. The parks aren't as flat as they look, and pushing can wear you out in a hurry. He did some permanent damage to a knee. DMIL wasn't fond of riding in a wheelchair because she didn't want to impose on anyone to push her, but she didn't have the reflexes to drive an ECV.

Several years later -- now DH has two artificial knees (and bad ankles, and bad back) he really can't walk all around the parks, but wouldn't consider a wheel chair, partly because he knows how hard it is to be the pusher, and also because he really enjoys driving an ECV. As a PP recommended, have your dad test drive an ECV around a store or a zoo, or wherever -- try it out and see what he thinks.

If your dad doesn't want to drive an ECV all over WDW he can park it with the strollers and take the key.

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Old 09-20-2012, 06:14 PM   #9
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Thanks for the advice!

Thanks for all the advice!

I do kinda like the cane idea, as it's so small. My only concern with it is that in a long line, he'll have to get up and move a lot. But considering the fact that he really is fine for a while, he could stand for a while and then sit on the cane seat for a while and we could just let a little space build up and then let him move. It really is so few attractions with a long wait, but last time we went, we waited about an hour for Toy Story Mania (Fastpasses ran out for the day). If my dad had been there, that would be too much. But I know that's not the norm. We also had to wait about 15-20 minutes in the fastpass line for Soarin.

Does anyone have experience with the cane seats? Is it annoying to have to get up so much, or does it make a big difference? I have never seen a cane seat being used. But most people who would have a cane, would use an ECV in the parks

If we decide to go this route, I'd probably bring some velcro straps to attach it to the stroller when not in use.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:45 AM   #10
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The only issue with the seat cane is that if a CM sees you using it, they might stop you, plus the line is continually moving and those that are behind you when you let space build up will not appreciate it.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:51 AM   #11
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Arrow I believe Disney has a policy

dead against all portable chairs even if it's a cane, too. Whether a Disney CM will catch you, say anything, or whatever who knows.

I know the cane/chair is less conspicuous and I know you have a high concern for anyone seeing your dad with an invisible disability, but you really need to be concerned for your father's well being and safety. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. I still don't think this is a good solution.

If you really are going to do this then I would again practice at a zoo/museum with the chair/cane and have your dad sit on and off of it to see how it goes. He could fall and hit his head or whatever and I think that's just awful. What if he tries to get on and off without your assistance? To use one for a longer trip I think is looking for trouble.

I wanted the one using one, here to share their thoughts more, but it hasn't happened yet.

I agree with peemag that you might be more noticeable using the chair/cane trying to help your dad and you could frustrate those around you waiting in a ride queue each time he sits and gets up from it.

From the sounds of your first post I would not considered this option as a good solution. If I'm wrong, God Bless.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:07 AM   #12
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I don't know if you plan on watching the parades or fireworks, but I do know for a fact that he won't be able to use the cane chair while watching them. The only way people are allowed to sit for these is if they are using a wheelchair or scooter or get lucky enough to find a bench or on the edge of the curb. Chairs any other way will not be allowed.
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:04 AM   #13
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Bummer..we just bought some pocket chairs for parades and long lines. Sigh...
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:05 AM   #14
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Smile Do yourself the favor and rent the wheel chair...

I live in Florida and go to the WDWR 4 to 5 times a year. I also rent an ECV from and outside company every time so that I can use it at the resorts as well as in the parks. In your Dads situation I would recommend getting him the wheel chair and renting it from an outside company. Disney is not known for their great level of upkeep on their rentals. Disney has also been making alot of changes lately to how they deal with people on ECVs and in wheel chairs in their que lines. You can always leave the wheel chair in the stroller parking for a ride if he feels fine and then take it with you to the next. The key is it is better to have it than be wishing you did and not. Also for parades there are specific areas set aside for people on ECVs and in wheel chairs which also allows the persons family to join them in the area.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:35 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DisDad72 View Post
...Also for parades there are specific areas set aside for people on ECVs and in wheel chairs which also allows the persons family to join them in the area.
I wanted to clarify about the statement above...they may only allow 1 family member to accompany the w/c or ECV into the reserved section. The rest of the family could have to find another location. I suppose that might depend on how crowded the parks are and how many are in your family's party (we are 3 and were allowed to have 1 sit in front and another stand behind), but I would never expect them to allow a large family to all be allowed. ECVs and w/c are not required to watch from the reserved areas, and we've actually found better viewing by claiming our spot early and using that as a rest break - get a snack or beverage and have some downtime while holding your spot and people-watching and maybe planning the rest of the day or tomorrow.

Enjoy your vacation!
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