Here are a few tips for those who either are physically disabled or are making plans for someone in their party who has issues with their mobility.
Super Huge Parks = Rent a Wheelchair
The Walt Disney World Resort covers over 30,000 acres. If you or someone traveling with you has problems with their mobility, especially with their balance, walking and / or standing for hours at a time, you will want to rent a wheelchair for them. Even if they are able to walk some distance, everyone will be able to keep the same pace.
If you’re going to spend any amount of time in one of the parks you’ll want to consider bringing your own wheelchair or renting one from the park. Disney and all major theme parks in Orlando, including Sea World, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the surrounding areas of Busch Gardens and NASA Space Center, have manual and / or motorized wheelchair rentals. Most motorized wheelchair rentals require that you have a valid U.S. driver’s license in order to rent in the park; private rental companies do not have the same requirement for the user.
Renting a Wheelchair is Like Renting a Car
If you’re going to be spending a week or more you need to do the math on rentals. Some parks will charge you a deposit and daily rental of about $20 a day. If you rent an electric or motorized wheelchair for more than three days, you are better off renting it from one of the many local wheelchair rental companies who will deliver and pick up from your home or residence. If you rent from the park, you will need to return the rental and transfer to a manual chair to get to your vehicle.
Renting a Minivan
If you’re staying at a Disney hotel you’ll have free transportation to the Disney parks, but nowhere else. If you’re on vacation for a week or two, you’ll definitely need to get a car for your convenience. When you’ve spent all day in the park, the last thing you want to do is wait for your bus along with all the other vacationers, along with a wheelchair or worse yet you only have the rental in the park.
When you rent a car, consider paying a little more and renting a mini-van to transport your wheelchair. Even if you decide to purchase a transporter wheelchair at one of the local drug stores, you’ll find that a minivan will make loading and unloading the chair much easier. Most all of the motorized wheelchairs come apart for easy storage and loading into a large trunk, check with your wheelchair vendor.
Finding a great deal on a hotel room in Orlando is no problem. Finding one that can guarantee you a handicap or wheelchair accessible room is another. Some hotels have barely enough room for the wheelchair to get around the room because the bathroom takes up more space by needing to be wheelchair accessible.
Check if you need a roll-in shower or one that has grab bars. If you say you just need a shower with grab bars, that’s exactly what you will get, a regular tube which some mobility challenged people will have difficulty lifting their legs over the tub to grab onto the wall bars and get into the shower area. Some hotels offer shower chairs.
In most cases if you find a great deal on the hotels website, you can call them almost immediately to request a wheelchair accessible room. Be careful though, if you need two beds, they may tell you that you can only get an accessible room with one King bed and they could charge you extra for a roll away, which may not even fit in the room.
Here’s a suggestion, if the hotel tells you they can’t promise you an accessible room because it’s based on first come first served, that means they don’t have many accessible rooms and you may be left out on a limb. Cancel your reservation and move on.
Many extended stay hotels are roomier and have kitchettes, if not full kitchens and often don’t cost more than a regular hotel room. They may not have as many amenities, however you’re only going to use the room to rest and shower and you need to be sure after a tiring day at the parks; you have the features of safety and space.
AllEars.net – Wheelchair/Scooter/Electric Convenience Vehicle FAQ
Disabled and Productive: Accessibility for People with a Mobility Disability in and around Disney World