As hinted yesterday, my November vacation was Disney World! For a week! Yes, it was fantastic. We stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, visited in-laws, did Mission: Space, Soarin’, ate Moroccan food, laughed at Ellen & Bill Nye, geeked out at Spaceship Earth, loved Big Thunder Mountain and Test Track, enjoyed lunch with an Imagineer, and so on. The man of the house got to ride the remade Space Mountain — unfortunately a warning light blipped and they closed it down right as I got to the head of the line.
I didn’t encounter any overt weight restrictions. The only ride I considered that I couldn’t ride was a Raytheon item in Innoventions where you could plan your own thrill ride and then ride it in a simulator. I was not able to fit in the simulator seats. (The man of the house could and setup a ride based on a plane flight, complete with a loop.)
I also didn’t get to try the Space Mountain capsules, though the man of the house thinks (based on how well he fit) I would have been fine.
Ah, you may be wondering – how did I handle the walking? Um. I didn’t. I had planned to build up my walking ability before the trip but ran into problems. By the time I was getting on the plane, I was using a cane.
Disney World, if you’ve never been, is very much A Land of Much Walking. Especially spread-out is Epcot, my favorite part of Disney World. Just walking from my room to the resort’s bus stop was a quarter mile; at the parks it would routinely be a quarter- to half-mile walk from the bus to the actual park entrance. Now, I could do a quarter or half-mile with my cane, but then I’d be done walking for a while. What to do?
Well – I was fortunate: I was able to throw money at the problem.
Disney rents scooters
Wheelchairs of various widths can be rented at the parks for $12 / day. So can “electronic convenience vehicles”, aka mobility scooters or ECVs. These can’t leave the parks, but once you’ve rented one at, say, Magic Kingdom and return it (and get your $20 deposit back) you can get another one at, say, Disney Studios by just showing your paperwork and paying another $20 deposit. I paid $45 / day for ECVs, which was NOT cheap, but it was worth it to me.
Many attractions require you to transfer from the scooter or wheelchair (mostly rides) but some allow you stay on the scooter or wheelchair the entire time. The Disney website has information on how each attraction works. The cast members are also very good at telling you how to cope. Since standing was more painful for me than walking, I generally rode the scooter “in line” if allowed.
The weight limit posted on the Disney ECVs was 450lbs. I did not have to worry about charging them — in fact, I was told that if the battery died or I had any other problem I should call the rental office and they would bring me a new ECV.
Drawbacks to the Disney rentals: ECVs and wheelchairs are rented inside the parks, so if you can’t walk a quarter- or half-mile a couple times a day, then you’d be better off making other arrangements. It’s also possible for a park to have all it’s ECVs or wheelchairs already rented when you arrive. (If so, ask if they’ve got a waiting list.)
For me, this worked pretty well. I’d definitely get some walking done each day (spread out through the day) but NOT so much that I was in constant pain or re-injuring myself. I was walking better when I came back than before I left.
There are several companies that market mobility scooter rentals in the greater Orlando area and cater to tourists. They will deliver the scooter to your hotel so that you’ll have it as soon as possible. If you’re using Disney transportation to get around, the buses, boats, monorail, and other Disney transport around Disney World are all scooter/wheelchair accessible. Often these rentals are priced by the weight rating. The rentals I saw that were up to my weight were $40-$50 a day, similar to the park ECVs, but if you don’t need a heavy-duty model you can get one a lot cheaper.
Of course, if you have one of your own you can bring that too.
This is the blue cane I picked up at the drugstore a few weeks before my trip. Note the bend! That somehow happened while I was on one of the rides; I left the cane with my scooter, came back, and found…something had happened. Ow. I am pleased to say that Disney’s customer service was very helpful — they referred me to a pharmacy that delivers anywhere on the Disney property, and paid for both a replacement cane and its delivery fee.
So my old cane got put into the trash before we left. But I got this picture, and just had to include it. :)