A few months ago our family took a trip to Walt Disney World. If you know me, this is nothing new. We love Disney and typically go every year, once in a while we are lucky enough to visit twice in one year. This past trip, however, was much different from many of our former vacations. This time we were traveling with a family member with disabilities requiring a wheelchair. We had five people in our group, I was nervous, to say the least. Would we manage to keep up the fast pace we are so used to, getting the most out of every second of the day? What would it be like moving through the crowds at each park? Let me just tell you, this was our best trip yet! Disney did not disappoint. Their attention to detail in providing excellent costumer service exceeded my already high expectations. We made some beautiful family memories that we will always treasure as well as some much needed quality time together. I can’t wait to do it again. Here is what we learned from our experience… Tip #1 Take your own wheelchair or scooter… We traveled to Florida by car, so we were able to take our own wheelchair with us, saving money and a lot of time waiting in line to rent one each morning in the park. Having our own wheelchair was very convenient, but many people don’t. If you are unable to travel with your own wheelchair but don’t want to wait in the long lines at the park to rent one, try checking local mobility rental companies to see how much it would cost to rent one for the week. It may be worth it, I’m not sure you save money but you will certainly save precious time that could be spent in the park and not waiting in rental lines each day. Cost to rent at Disney: Wheelchair Rental – $12.00 per day or $10.00 for a multiple day rental ECV (Electric Conveyance Vehicle) – $50.00 per day Tip #2 Use a wheelchair NOT scooter… If you’re trying to decide between a wheelchair or a scooter (ECV electric conveyance vehicle) I suggest wheelchair. I know what you’re thinking…someone has to push it all day. Yes, that is correct. Obviously you will only be able to use a wheelchair if you are traveling with people who are able to push you. We had four able bodied adults that had no problem taking turns with the wheelchair. Florida is flat! It is extremly easy to push the chair. So, the reason why we chose the wheelchair over the scooter can be summed up in one word: CROWDS!!! It’s my experience that traversing the chair through the crowd is much more convenient than the big scooters. Our family member in the chair used a scooter the previous visit and saw a remarkable difference in how we were able to manage the crowd. I noticed a lot of people struggling to maneuver their scooters through the crowds and buildings. It’s a matter of personal preference I guess but if given a choice, we choose wheelchair. Tip #3 Always check in with a cast member before each attraction/show Everything we wanted to do provided wheelchair accessible queuing areas. Some rides allowed the guest in the wheelchair to wait in the usual queue and transfer to the ride while other attractions have what Disney calls an auxiliary entrance where the disabled guest and five family members may wait together. The only caveat is if the disabled guest is able to transfer on their own to the ride or if they must stay in their chair. This is why it is absolutely essential to check in with the cast member and get assistance. They will know just what to do in either scenario. Another quick tip on accessing rides: don’t be afraid to ride the continual moving attractions. The cast members will stop the ride to allow the guest to board safely! There are even designated viewing areas during the parades for those in wheelchairs, but get there early because they fill up quickly. Tip #4 Take Breaks! We take breaks…we go strong when we’re in the park but we are not afraid to get out of the park and rest for a bit. This would be a tip I would give to anyone visiting Disney whether disabled or not. The parks are at their fullest typically between 11:00 and 4:00 and they can get hot depending on when you go, so we usually go back to the resort for a couple of hours during time frame. It is great to get a bite to eat, cool off in the room or by the pool and then go back in to the parks in the evening feeling refreshed and ready to get back at it! The bottom line is that Disney is a great place to visit, don’t let a mobile disability stop you or anyone in your party. For more information on services available at the Disney Parks and Resorts check out disneyparks.com or call (407) 560-2547.