Scooters - at Disney World
You know what scooters are, right? Also called handicap scooters, power scooters, and motorized scooters, they’re battery-powered vehicles with seats and wheels. Some have three wheels and some have four. Scooters were a godsend on our recent trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando. I just recently had knee surgery, and my husband has a bad hip and a heart condition that limits his mobility and his endurance. I had planned beforehand to rent a mobility scooter at Disney World because I didn’t want my bad knee to ruin our visit, but hubby didn’t think he’d need one. After he trekked around the Magic Kingdom awhile with the grandkids, he changed his mind. Once we took the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot, he decided he needed a motorized scooter, too. Our scooters made all the difference in the world! Believe me – the Disney scooter rentals fees were well worth the price. We were able to navigate easily around Epcot and see everything we wanted to see. Below are some guidelines and tips for renting and operating scooters at Disney World.
How Big Is Disney World
How big is Disney World? If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, it’s hard for you to imagine the sizes of the theme parks. The Disney Parks include the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. In addition to the four main Disney theme parks, there are also two water parks, golf courses, sports venues, the Boardwalk area, and numerous resorts. In total, Disney World covers more than 30,000 acres. That’s a lot of walking – unless, of course, you rent a scooter.
The Magic Kingdom includes six different “lands.” They are Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, and Main Street, USA. In all, 107 acres make up the Magic Kingdom. The way the park is laid out makes it fairly easy to find your way around, and there are lots of benches and other seating areas if you need to take a break.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios includes 135 acres, making it just a little larger than the Magic Kingdom. Like the other Disney parks, there are plenty of places where you can take much-needed breaks.
Epcot sprawls over 300 acres, and you have to navigate much of the acreage in order to see everything. I’ve spoken with people who are in good physical shape who said they were worn out after walking Epcot. Needless to say, for anyone with mobility or stamina issues, Epcot presents a daunting challenge.
Animal Kingdom spreads over more than 500 acres, making it the largest of the Disney Parks. You have to remember, however, that much of that area is taken up by animal habitat, so it’s not like you have to walk over the entire area in order to see and do everything.
If you rent a motorized scooter from Disney World, you can’t access the scooter until you’ve entered a theme park, obviously. That means you’ll still have to do some walking on your own, unless you use one of the free wheelchairs and you have someone to push you. You’ll have to walk from the parking lot, unless you’re lucky enough to catch a tram. By the way, we never saw a tram in the disabled parking lot, so we walked to the transportation center. From there, we took the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. If you’re walking, the boat requires less work than the monorail does. With the monorail, you have to climb the ramps. This wasn’t a problem for me, but my husband’s bad hip didn’t like it at all. The ferry was much easier to board, and there were several guests on the boat with scooters.
Electric scooters are powered by a battery. The battery can be recharged by plugging it into a standard electrical outlet. Most scooters have a gauge that lets you know how much charge is left on the battery. How long the battery will run on a charge depends on the weight of the rider, the speed at which the scooter is operated, and on the terrain covered. The scooter and battery themselves also play an important role. You can conserve energy and make a charge last longer by driving your scooter at a slower speed.
The electric scooters at Disney World are comfortable, and they’re fully charged when you rent them. Each motorized scooter has a wire basket on the front, with a clear plastic envelope hanging from the basket to hold a card with your last name. That’s so you want get your scooter mixed up with someone else’s scooter when you leave it to see a show or to ride a ride. Yep, you’ll see lots of other handicap scooters at Disney World! If you already own a scooter, you can use it at Disney World as long as it adheres to the size requirement. The vehicle has to be 48 inches x 32 inches or smaller.
All the Disney World scooters we saw had four wheels. They’re super easy to operate, and you can increase or decrease the speed by turning the power knob button on the steering column. There’s also a switch you use to determine whether you want to go forward or backward. And, just in case you need it, there’s a horn. Another great thing about Disney scooters is that they all have baskets on front, which are great for holding items. My scooter basket carried my heavy, voluminous handbag for me, and hubby’s held his camera, his video camera, and his large camera bag. Each power scooter holds up to 450 pounds, and you have to be at least eighteen years old to rent one. By the way, the scooter rentals staff won’t ask you why you need a scooter. All you need to do is go to the counter and ask for a scooter. You’ll need a current driver’s license.
Some people have reported problems navigating through the crowds at Disney World on electric scooters, but we had no problems, even though we went during spring break. The Magic Kingdom and Epcot were fairly crowded at the time, but we didn’t have any major problems. If you’re not used to operating a mobility scooter, don’t worry – it’s really easy. If you’re a little apprehensive, just go to Walmart or some other large store that provides power scooters for their customers and try one. Most power scooters are very similar in the way they’re operated.
If you haven’t spent much time on a motorized scooter, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how agile they are. Hubby and I learned this when we decided to ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends. To reach our “clam mobile,” we had to navigate a long stretch of hairpin turns in the dark. At first, we thought there was no way our scooters would make it to the ride cars through all the tight turns, but they did – with no collisions!
Scooter Rental Disney World
Disney refers to motorized scooters as “electric conveyance vehicles,” or ECVs. Scooter rental at Disney World is easy to find. At all four Disney parks, scooter rentals are located just past the entry gates. At the Magic Kingdom, veer to the right once you enter. You’ll find scooter rentals just before the overhead railroad tracks. At Epcot, the scooters are rented to the left of Spaceship Earth (the big ball) as you enter. To rent scooters at Animal Kingdom, veer to the right as you enter the park. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, rentals for power scooters can be found to the right, just past the entrance to the park.
You’ll need to show your valid driver’s license and sign a rental contract. The rental fee is $50, plus a refundable deposit of $20. Once all this is taken care of, a scooter will be brought out to you, along with a key. The attendant will show and tell you how to use the vehicle, and then you’ll be off. Be sure to fill out a name card to place in your scooter’s front pouch.
If the scooter loses its charge or breaks down during your visit, just call the scooter rental counter or alert a Disney employee. Someone will help you get back on your way quickly. When you get off the scooter, be sure to take the key with you. You don’t want another Disney guest taking off with your power scooter! Keep the key in a place that’s secure but easy to find. I kept mine in the outside zipper pouch of my handbag.
Once you’ve finished with your scooter, you turn it back in at the same place you rented it from. Give them the scooter and the key, and show them your rental agreement, and you’ll bet back the $20 deposit. If you’re going to another one of the Disney theme parks on the same day, you can’t take the scooter with you. You can, however, get another motorized scooter at the other park, without paying an additional rental fee – provided there are any scooters available. You will have to pay another $20 deposit, but that will be refunded when you turn in the scooter. If you’re going to return to the same park on the same day, tell the scooter attendant. They’ll have your vehicle recharged and waiting for you when you return. Just be sure to have your rental agreement and receipt so you won’t be charged again.
The only bad thing about renting scooters as Disney World is that they can’t be reserved in advance. It’s done on a first-come, first-served basis. You might want to arrive early so you can be sure of getting a power scooter. Of course, you can always rent scooters from vendors other than Walt Disney World, and they can be reserved. The problem here is that outside scooters can’t be delivered to the Disney theme parks, although they can be delivered to many Orlando Resorts. You’ll have to transport the scooter to Disney World yourself, so you’ll have to make sure the scooter folds down and that it’ll fit in your vehicle. From what I can find, handicap scooters aren’t allowed on most standard shuttle services to Disney World.
Disney World recommends several vendors in the Orlando area that rent power scooters. Remember – these outfits can’t deliver the vehicles to Disney theme parks, but they can deliver them to most Orlando resorts and to all the Disney resorts. This might actually work out better for you. Many Orlando resorts are spread over acres and acres, so having a mobility scooter to use would be very handy. If you’re staying for several days at the resort, you could rent a scooter for the length of your stay. The rental places will deliver it and pick it up. And if the scooter takes apart, you can use it at Disney World, too. One advantage to renting motorized scooters from an outside vendor is that you can reserve one in advance. Below are the Orlando scooter rentals approved by Disney World:
Apple Scooter: 321-726-6837
Best Price Mobility: 321-402-5955
Buena Vista Scooter Rentals: 866-484-4797
CARE Medical Equipment: 800-741-2282
Scooter Bug: 800-726-8284
For scooters rented at Disney World, you’ll find that some attractions have wheelchair ramps, and you might not even have to exit the scooter in order to enjoy an attraction. With some attractions, you have to leave your scooter and transfer to a wheelchair. Hubby and I didn’t need to use wheelchairs. We went straight from our scooters to the ride vehicles. There are some rides and attractions that allow guests to remain in wheelchairs, however. For example, the Mexico boat ride at Epcot has a special wheelchair boat that includes wheelchair ramps. Other attractions in the Magic Kingdom with wheelchair ramps so that you can enjoy them while remaining on your scooter include Mickey’s PhilharMagic, The Hall of Presidents, Cinderella Castle, Liberty Square Riverboat, Jungle Cruise, Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, Enchanted Tiki Room, Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Epcot attractions with wheelchair ramps that you can enjoy without leaving your scooter include World Showcase Players, The American Adventure, Impressions de France, Innoventions, Circle of Life, ImageWorks, Mission: SPACE Advanced Training Lab, National Treasures, O Canada!, Reflections of China, Journey into Imagination with Figment, and IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. And, of course, you can enjoy all the sights, sounds, and flavors of all the “countries” represented in the World Showcase without ever leaving your scooter, along with the aquarium.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also equipped with lots of wheelchair ramps, and there are some attractions you can enjoy while remaining in your ECV. They include Extreme Stunt Show, The Magic of Disney Animation, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Studio Backlot Tour, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun, Muppet Vision 3-D, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.
There’s a lot you can see and do at Disney Animal Kingdom while remaining on your mobility scooter or ECV, too. You can enjoy It’s Tough to be a Bug!, The Boneyard, Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade, Wildlife Express Train, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, The Oasis Exhibits, The Tree of Life, Conservation Station, Discovery Island Trails, and Maharajah Jungle Trek.
For guests who brought their own scooters or rented motorized scooters from an outdoor vendor, you’ll be happy to know that the monorail has wheelchair ramps, so you can ride your scooter onto the train car. Disney World is very considerate of its mobility-impaired guests, and practically all areas of the Disney parks and Disney resorts have wheelchair ramps, including shopping and dining venues and theaters. As I explained, however, you’ll have to leave your vehicle in order to ride most rides. If you can walk just a few steps, you’ll probably be able to enjoy all the rides in the parks. When we rode rides at Disney World, we didn’t usually have to stand in line. We were directed to a special parking area for scooters which was located very near the ride-boarding area. Don’t let your physical handicap or mobility problems prevent your having a wonderful Disney World vacation! The cost of renting scooters at Disney World is some of the best money we ever spent.