Written by: Roselle Baran, Travel Planner
Never thought I’d be booking an ) for myself or my family. But life happens and sciatica can be brutal. Didn’t even think about cancelling a recent Disney World trip, that would never happen. So travel planner, practice what you preach. Ordered an ECV for my husband. These are the things I learned…
After we’ve talked about your mobility limitations, the next step is figuring out which size best fits your needs. Your order is placed, done and done. Your scooter will be delivered to Bell Services at your resort. Familiarize yourself with the stop, go and speed controls. It can be tricky but definitely doable. Take it for a trial run around the resort.
It would have been very helpful to have an elastic wristband with us. You have the key to the ECV but you need to remove it from the ignition switch each time you leave the vehicle. Try not to lose the key! Better to attach it to the wristband and always have it handy when you leave the ECV. Found this on Amazon and made such a difference. No worries about losing the key
And decorate your scooter with lights so you can be seen in the dark. We found bike lights similar to these which will make you so much more visible.
You absolutely need to have a rear view mirror.
Because of the sciatica, it was too difficult to sit on the ECV seat all day. Butt saver.
When getting in an elevator, it’s best to drive directly in and back out. There’s much more room to maneuver this way.
Have your traveling buddy run interference in crowded areas, like Main Street and around really popular attractions. I walked in front of my husband so he could just follow behind me. Worked well. I could see obstructions or kids starting to run wild and was able to head off a few collisions! Because he’s sitting and couldn’t see what was happening ahead, I became his eyes.
Make sure you charge the ECV each night. One night, we didn’t realize the plug came loose and ended up with ½ charge the morning of Hollywood Studios. Disney cast members were so quick to help. They pointed out all the “hidden” electric outlets so we could plug in, have a snack, and “recharge” all our batteries! You can also charge while enjoying a table service meal.
Bus Transportation: When you get to the bus stop, find the wheelchair designation and wait there. The driver will lower the bus and activate a ramp. Let the bus driver take it from there. They place the scooter in neutral and park it for you. At your destination, the driver allows other passengers to exit, then tilts the bus, activates the ramp and off you drive. My husband thought he could do this himself. Then the bus driver said “is this your first rodeo?” Enough said. Maneuvering is not as easy as it seems. Let the bus driver do the work. That’s why they’re there.
Ferry Boats: The captain will direct you as you approach the boat. You’ll park and wait for instructions. Really easy. Drive right on, drive off.
Monorail: A cast member will direct you to where you need to be, they activate a ramp and you drive onto the monorail where they secure you in. The opposite when you reach your destination
Sky-liner: Go to the wheelchair designation at the entrance. Follow the signs to the entry point, drive in and the scooter will be secured. Reverse procedure at your final destination.
Rides and Attractions: Each ride handles scooters differently. It’s best to approach a cast member at the entrance to in order to get onto the ride. Some rides have you leave your scooter to the side of the entrance and then transfer to a waiting wheelchair since the entry lines can be tight with hairpin turns. Think Tower of Terror.
By far, the easiest way to figure out the accessibility is to look at the rides and attractions on the MDE app Tip Board. Tap on the ride name and scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Then look at the accessibility and other information. Viola! All the info you need. That was the biggest help of all!
Would we do it all over again? Absolutely. To be honest, wish we didn’t have to resort to using an ECV but now when I book one for a client, I can share our experiences first hand. You’d think being a nurse, I’d know about these things but until you’re in the “driver’s seat” you have no idea. Hopefully, the sciatica will resolve and it will be an ailment of the past but at least now, I know there is a plan B