Thursday, February 27, 2014

ECV/Scooter Rental at Walt Disney World: A Detailed Guide

Walt Disney World is one of the most accessible vacation destinations for those with mobility limitations.  Due to a history of cancer, I have used ECVs (Electric Convenience Vehicles) during most of my trips over the past 3 years.  After 35 years of traveling to Disney World, when I suddenly needed a scooter I found myself totally clueless on what to do.  I was concerned that it might ruin my trips.  Fortunately, using an ECV has allowed me to continue returning to Disney World as much as I’d like with very few restrictions.

This is a rather detailed description of some frequently asked questions about ECV rental at Disney.  I will discuss the differences between renting an ECV from Disney verses ordering one from an off-site rental service.  Also, I have included a review of my personal experiences with using both Disney ECVs as well as one off-site rental company, Walker Mobility.  I have also included photos of both types of ECVs that I have used.  I hope that this information helps those of you who are considering using an ECV for your next Disney trip.  

If you have any additional questions, please post them below or message on Twitter @JeanieBlue114

Who can rent an ECV?
Anyone!  You do not need a doctor’s note or any documentation to rent an ECV. Simply call an off-site rental company and request a rental or go to the Disney ECV rental location inside any Disney park. If you feel that all-day walking and standing will be too demanding, rent an ECV!  Trust me when I say that it will add to the quality of your vacation as well as those with whom you are traveling.  Disney vacations usually involve many miles of walking each day, often in high temperatures and humidity.  There is no reason to be uncomfortable during your vacation or feel sick and exhausted.  If you think that you may need one, get one.

Will I go to the front of the line with an ECV?
No!  Unless you have an additional medical reason that makes waiting in lines in the ECV difficult for you, simply being in an ECV (or wheelchair) does not get you to the front of the line.  Many attractions allow ECVs to enter in through the standard queue line.  In most theater-style attractions, there are select seating areas that allow you to remain in the ECV during the show.  Some attractions, such as Toy Story Mania, require those in ECVs to load in a separate area.  In my experience, this created an even longer wait than normal because we had to wait for the special ride cars to come around to that loading area.  Disability guide maps are available for each park.  They list where to enter for each ride, transferring information, and accessibility.  Cast members are available to help at all attractions as well.
What is the Cost of an ECV?
Disney ECVs are $50 per day plus a refundable $20 deposit.
(Downtown Disney $50 plus $100 deposit.)
Off-site ECV rentals vary based on type (regular vs. heavy duty), length of rental, and any additional options that you may choose.  Typically expect to pay $25-$50 per day.  Several companies have detachable canopies available, damage insurance, and delivery fees all for an additional charge.  Some offer discounts for multiday rentals or frequent customers.
Can I Take an ECV Anywhere on Disney Property?
Disney owned ECVs may only be used inside the parks and Downtown Disney.  They may not be removed from the location where they were rented. (However, a complimentary wheelchair can be used during other times of your trip if available.)
If you park-hop, you must return your ECV and use a voucher at the next park to get another ECV there.  You cannot take a Disney owned ECV with you when park-hopping or to your resort.
Off-site ECV rentals can go with you everywhere during your trip.  Disney resort hotels are large and require a lot of walking. So, you may want to have one while at the resort.  Additionally, there may be a significant amount of walking from your car or Disney transportation drop-off spot to the entrance of each park. (Even from the handicap parking areas, the amount of walking to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom in particular can be substantial. )
Off-site ECV rentals are also useful to take to the Disney Water Parks.  There are accessible paths throughout the water parks.
If you may need assistance during these times, an off-site rental would be more beneficial.
Can I use an ECV on Disney transportation?
Yes.  ECVs can go on all Disney buses, monorails, and boats with the exceptions of the small wooden resort boats (these are only at limited locations and alternative transportation methods are available).  However, each one can only carry a limited number of ECVs at a time.  So, during busy times you may be required to wait for the next bus or boat.
(This does not apply to Disney ECVs, since they may not be removed from inside the parks.)
What if the ECV battery dies?
If you rent a Disney scooter, a new scooter will be swapped out if available.
Off-site rentals from Walker Mobility (and probably the other rental locations) come with a portable charger pack that easily slips into the pouch on the back of the seat.  There is a gauge on the scooter that tells you how much charge you have left.  You can charge at any outlet.  Each night the scooter should be plugged in to recharge fully.  I have always found enough room for the scooter in Disney resort rooms to plug it in for charging.  Even with 4 people in a moderate resort, it was not a problem.  A full night charge usually is enough for a full day of use.  I keep my charger with me and plug in if needed during meals or breaks.
How do I rent an ECV? 
Disney ECVs are on a first come first serve basis.  Simply go to the rental location inside each park and ask for a rental.  Photo ID is required. The guest who rents must be 18 years old.  There are standard sizes and larger size models for those who would like more leg room (not adjustable).  The larger models are in a limited number and tend to run out much sooner than the standard models. 
They do not accept reservations.
Off-site rentals should be ordered in advance for guaranteed availability.  ECVs can be delivered to your resort.  However, recently Disney has limited the amount of companies allowed to drop-off with resort bell services.  The following companies are permitted to leave ECVs with Disney owned resorts bell services: Scooterbug, Care Scooter Rentals, Buena Vista Scooter Rentals, Best Price Mobility, and Apple Scooter.

Other off-site rental companies, such as Walker Mobility, can still deliver to all Disney resorts, but you will have to make an appointment to meet at your resort for drop-off and pick-up.  If you choose a resort that is not Disney owned, the ECV can be dropped off with no appointment.  The only off-site company that I have used is Walker Mobility.  I have never had any issues with picking up or dropping off an ECV.  Walker is required to meet guests in person during drop-off and pick-up if staying at a Disney owned resort.  During this time, you will receive a quick tutorial and troubleshooting lesson for your scooter.  This can be very beneficial for those renting an ECV for the first time.
Do I prefer a Disney ECV rental or off-site rental service?
I strongly prefer using an off-site rental for my ECV needs.
I have rented from both Disney and Walker Mobility, an off-site rental service, regularly over the past 3 years.  I have no personal experience with any other off-site companies so my rental review is based exclusively on those two rental locations.

The main factors for choosing Walker Mobility over Disney owned ECVs are cost, comfort, and convenience.

*Off-site rentals are cheaper than Disney rentals no matter which provider you choose.  I have had many rentals with Walker over the past 3 years.  They have an additional discount program for those who need frequent rentals or more than a week of rental at a time.  This program saves me more than 50% off the cost of a Disney rental for the use of an extended range heavy duty scooter.
*Disney scooters are not as comfortable or as easy to use as a Walker scooter.  The steering arm on Disney scooters is not adjustable.  The Walker scooters have adjustable steering arms.  The arms are also removable on Walker scooters so that it’s easier to go through shops and doorways without bumping into things.  Disney scooters have a larger “footprint.”  They are extended in the front and are difficult to navigate through tighter areas or to get close to things. (I’ve banged into counters trying to reach for napkins at quick-service restaurants.)  Walker has canopies available for a small fee if you would like to have shade from the sun ($20 per rental).  

*Walker scooters go in reverse with the same button used to go forward.  Disney scooters require you to stop, flip a button to change to direction, then go.  Then you must stop and flip the button back to go forward again.  This can be awkward when other guests are trying to move around you.  All of these factors make the Walker scooters more comfortable for me than a Disney scooter.

Walker Mobility portable extended-range heavy-duty scooter with new nylon waterproof seat, storage pouch in seat back, storage basket, portable charger, and easily removable adjustable arms.
Walker Mobility portable extended range, adjustable, portable, waterproof

Walker Mobility scooter design
Walker Mobility scooter design

Disney in-park-only scooter rental design
Disney in-park only scooter rental design

Disney in-park-only scooter rental design
Disney in-park only scooter rental

*Having an ECV for the entire length of my stay is more convenient than using an in-park-only Disney scooter.  As stated earlier, Disney resorts are large and there also can be a lot of walking from the park parking lots to the ECV rental location.  Waiting in line at the park to get a Disney rental also can take a bit of time at the beginning of the day.  At the end of the day, you must also wait in line to return the scooter to Disney to get your refundable deposit.  Waiting in more lines is the last thing that I want to do during my Disney trips.  This makes using a Walker rental more convenient for me than a Disney ECV.
Some other reasons why I rent with Walker as an off-site company are:
*Guaranteed availability:  I have been in EPCOT on a busy day when only one larger ECV was available and it was down to a half charge.  I was told that if the remaining charge was used up before I was done for the day that I would not get another scooter unless another one was turned in and that they would not charge it for me.  That was a bit of a stressful day of being worried about being abandoned in the park.  Anyone arriving after me who wanted a more roomy scooter would not have gotten one.  Walker has had a guaranteed scooter for me each time that I call and sometimes with less than a day’s notice.
*Excellent customer service:  Any time that I’ve had a scooter issue, a representative from Walker has met me in the park with a new scooter within the hour.  They also work with you to recommend what type of scooter would work best for your body type and vacation needs.  They even have a new PINK PRINCESS DESIGN SCOOTER now (available in the standard model).  This design rents for about $30/day and part of the proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Fund.  In an interview with John Walker, the owner of the company, he informed me that they are in the process of a large expansion and upgrade of their fleet including new seats and baskets.  In addition to the pink princess design, a sleek black model will also be available soon. (see photos)
*Portable Extended-Range Heavy-Duty Scooters:  I prefer using the heavy-duty scooters to avoid needing to recharge during the course of a long day at the parks.  I always have a car when I am at Disney.  Walker has the ONLY EXTENDED-RANGE HEAVY-DUTY scooters that I have found in the Disney area that can be broken down into pieces and transferred in the trunk of the car.  Other locations offer heavy-duty, but they are NOT portable in your own car.

Breakdown of a Walker Mobility scooter for portability
Breakdown of Walker Mobility scooter

Scooter in the trunk of a Ford Taurus Sedan.
Scooter in the trunk of a Ford Taurus Sedan

*Waterproof Scooters:  It rains a lot in Florida.  Disney ECVs are waterproof.  However, some off-site rentals do not offer scooters that are waterproof.  They require you to take the scooter indoors during any rain or it may stop functioning.  This can be nearly impossible to do with sudden Florida rainstorms and a lack of shelter in the parks (particularly Animal Kingdom Park).  Walker provides a small plastic cover that simply slips over the key control box on the scooter and there are no issues with rain incapacitating the scooter.  I have been caught in many Florida downpours and have tested the scooters to be very waterproof.  They are still easily driven while using the waterproof plastic cover.

Walker Mobility keypad with speed control and one-finger touch lever for forward and reverse driving.  Waterproof cover for keypad included with each rental.
Walker Mobility waterproof easy-touch key control pad

If you are considering renting an ECV for your next trip, I urge you to do so regardless of which rental service you use.  It can take a lot of stress off of you and your family and let you enjoy your vacation without exhaustion.

My Tinkmobile

On your next trip to Walt Disney World, if you happen to see my Tinkmobile wings go by please stop me and say hi and I'll give you some swag!
For more information on Disney ECV rentals, please see their website
For an easy video on how to disassemble a portable scooter, please see
Thank you to John Walker of for his interview time and sharing information about ECV rentals.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from Regal Mobility.