Aug. 7, 2018 – Navigating Walt Disney World when handicapped is an arduous task. Every aspect, from ﬁnding accessible parking to using accessible restrooms can be nerve-racking, to say the least. Many people consider renting a scooter as a solution. Carlos Figueroa, a representative at Scootarama, a scooter rental company based in Orlando, Florida, has some advice to offer for those finding themselves in this situation.
According to Figueroa, many people are unsure of what to look for when renting a Disney World scooter.
“At Scootarama, we specialize in mobility solutions due to underlying conditions such as multiple sclerosis, partial paralysis, arthritis or ﬁbromyalgia,” says Figueroa. “Although we primarily focus on mobility solutions for theme parks, you can still use this valuable information if you are disabled, handicapped or disadvantaged while attending large college campuses like the University of Central Florida, which has one of the largest college campuses in America.”
Figueroa adds that anyone planning a trip to Orlando should reserve their scooter rental in Orlando well in advance.
“Depending on the time of year it will be almost impossible to reserve a scooter rental the same day you arrive at your resort, condo or villa. Thanksgiving through New Years are usually very busy months, so most reputable scooter companies will be out of inventory. June through November are also busy months, but there’s a 50% chance you will be able to acquire a same day rental.
“January through May are slow months, unless of course there’s a major convention in town. Make sure you check the events calendar at the Orange County Convention Center to verify if there are any major conventions during your planned vacation. If so, be sure you reserve your scooter rental for Disney World or Universal studios in advance.”
Figueroa has discovered that not all scooter companies are equal in terms of equipment and service. As an example, some companies advertise that they will beat all competitor’s prices or ‘guaranteed lowest prices,’ which for Figueroa is usually a ‘huge red ﬂag.’
“ECV’s (Electric Conveyance Vehicles) are expensive when purchased from legitimate manufactures like Pride Mobility because all of their equipment is assembled in the USA which means quality,” says Figueroa. “The batteries being used to power the equipment is just as important as the equipment. Be sure to ask the company what brand of batteries they’re using to power their mobility scooters. 80% of companies are using cheap batteries manufactured in China, while most reputable companies use Gel Cell batteries by MK that are also made in the USA.”
Figueroa recalls seeing countless guests stranded in the theme parks as a result of cheap off- brand model ECV’s.
“You have to decide if it’s worth it to save a few dollars per day with an increased likelihood you will incur problems. Remember the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ – well it deﬁnitely applies to mobility scooter rentals!”
Many people are unsure about the difference between an electric scooter and an electric wheelchair. The answer can be complex, depending on the handicap or disability.
The main difference between an electric wheelchair and electric scooter is the fact that an electric wheelchair is operated by a single joystick and does not use a key to operate. The joystick can be installed on the right or left side as some guests suffer from paralysis after a stroke which usually renders one side of the body useless. The electric wheelchair is perfect for the guest who is partially paralyzed, an amputee, or uses an electric wheelchair at their home. An electric scooter utilizes a seat with handle bars and comes in either three-wheel or four-wheel. Some guests prefer the four-wheel because of the illusion that it has more stability. Figueroa personally recommends the three-wheeled scooter because of its zero turning radius.
He explains that there are usually three types of scooter rentals in Orlando:
The lightweight travel scooter is usually a scooter reserved for light use with a weight capacity of up to 250 lbs. This scooter is commonly used for grocery shopping, shopping malls and cruising the neighborhood. It is not recommended for use in theme parks because it also uses a lightweight battery which drastically reduces battery life. The expected battery life on a lightweight scooter is three to five hours depending on the person’s weight and the type of battery used.
The standard travel scooter is used by most scooter companies for extensive theme park use. This scooter usually has a weight capacity up to 300 lbs. The batteries range between 12 and 36 amps. 12 amp batteries are usually cheap Chinese batteries and 36 amps are the U-1 gel cell batteries by MK. Travel scooters can also be disassembled into ﬁve pieces and can ﬁt into the trunk of a mid-size sedan if the guest is not staying in a Disney or Universal resort. The expected battery life on a standard travel scooter will be 8 to 12 hours, depending on the weight of the passenger.
The heavy duty scooter is primarily used for guests exceeding 300 lbs. Some manufacturers suggest that you could disassemble this type of scooter but Scootarama does not recommend this, as it is considerably heavy even when disassembled. For guests not residing at a Disney hotel or resort, the best way to transport this scooter is with a wheelchair taxi. Twelve volt batteries are used in this scooter with the batteries ranging between 18 to 36 amps. U-1 gel cell MK batteries are recommended for this type of scooter. The expected battery life on a heavy duty scooter will be 6 to 12 hours depending on the weight of the passenger.