I took a solo trip to WDW for spring break (March 5-10) and ended up needing to rent an ECV due to a broken toe. Searching this forum for tips on using an ECV was very helpful to me prior to my trip, and I wanted to give back to the community by sharing some of my own experiences as an ECV rookie.
- I rented from Buena Vista and I would highly recommend them: easy to work with, on time for drop off/pick up, and the scooter was compact, comfortable, and had a great battery that lasted all day. I also appreciated that the scooters didn’t beep when in reverse, like others I encountered in the parks. That would have embarrassed me.
- Someone on the interwebs (this forum maybe?) recommended if solo to bring a door stopper because otherwise you will struggle with getting in and out of your hotel room. WOW, this was a great tip. I don’t know how I would have managed without it.
- I watched a few YouTube videos on using ECVs at WDW, and they really helped me to get a sense of what to expect. This one - YouTube was particularly helpful as it demonstrated where to fit the scooter in a room at POP, and warned that if you have the added basket on the back it is much more difficult to parallel park on the buses (spoiler: they were right).
- Other great advice I read was: bring a towel to wipe off the seats in case they get rained on, fold down or cover the seat when you leave it parked so that raging Florida sun doesn’t burn your legs, and cover the console with a poncho when it starts to rain. This last tip seemed like a no-brainer to me, but a CM commented to me that she’d never seen someone do that before (maybe she was new?).
- Of course, practicing at the resort is a must before you head to the parks. Learning to figure out the right speed and how to control it takes some time, but I was surprised at how easy it was to drive. I did discover that every time I got back on the scooter it took a minute to reacquaint myself with the exact amount of pressure you needed to put on the handle to go at a comfortable speed. I would often start too fast, and have to adjust.
- If I needed a scooter again I would bring a pillow or back support. The chair was very comfortable, but too far from the controls. I couldn’t adjust the seat forward enough to allow me to sit with my back against the seat and drive, so I just sat on the edge of the seat the whole time. I’m sure not everyone would have this issue, but smaller/shorter folks might.
ECV General Thoughts
- I had a lot of stress about using an ECV for the first time. Were people going to say rude things to me? Was I going to run over a small child? Was some dude in an “I don’t do matching shirts” tee going to throw a cucumber they’d stolen from LwTL at me because they were annoyed at how slowly I was driving? Mostly that stress was over nothing.
- No one said anything rude to me. A few people made polite conversation with me about the ECV or made an attempt at humor (“Hey, I bet at the end of the day people would pay you for a ride on that thing!”).
- I didn’t run into anyone. There was a point at which a small child ran out in front of me, and the parent acted a bit dramatic in their response to the situation (given that I stopped immediately and didn’t come within 2 feet of hitting their child), but there were no other similar incidents. I definitely followed all the advice I’d read and drove slowly in crowds. Yes, it was sometimes stressful, but so is walking in Disney crowds. You have to always be ready to stop suddenly because people step in front of you or stop in front of you. But I was able to avoid all people-related accidents.
- I did have some non-people accidents. I ran over a few curbs. I hit and moved a pole in a queue at an EP festival booth because the space was too narrow to navigate. I scuffed a few walls trying to park in the hallways of resorts. My worst experience was at Trattoria al Forno, which I’ll talk about later.
- Exploring the resorts always sounds like a fabulous idea until I’ve already walked 25k steps in the parks and my feet hurt. Having the scooter enabled me to explore Riviera, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Pop Century without my feet cursing me for it. One of the most relaxing things I did was drive around Hourglass Lake several times on my last day.
- Similarly, the walking path between EP and HS is much more appealing when you can drive it! I really enjoyed zooming around in wide, open spaces. It was a very pleasant way to travel.
- Riding the Skyliner is sooooo easy with an ECV. You just drive straight on and back straight off. You don’t frustrate anyone because the cars are pulled off the main line so you’re not holding up the line for everyone else. And since I was solo, I always got a car to myself, which was lovely.
- MY GOODNESS now I realize why I hear people complain when their children outgrow strollers. I have never had rolling storage space before and I enjoyed this so much! No having to worry about how much I was packing for the day because I didn’t have to carry it! I even got a resort mug for the first time because I had paid for a cupholder attachment.
- I did find it frustrating in the parks that you have to ask a CM what to do at each ride, because the procedures for ECVs vary wildly from ride to ride. This usually means that you have to drive up to the entrance, only to sometimes be told that you need to turn around and find someplace to park. This can be problematic if there are a lot of people behind you or if turning space is tight. I’m not sure why there can’t be signs with this information on it at each attraction.
- A great deal of my scooter- related anxiety going into this trip was about riding the buses. I have heard lots of people complain about ECVs on buses. I’ve read negative comments on chat and the forum, and I’ve witnessed many negative comments in person. People complain that people on ECVs get to cut in line, that it takes a while to load them, and that they take up space on full buses. (They also complain that their family members get to board with them, something that wouldn’t be an issue for me on this trip.) While I didn’t agree with the spirit of those comments/complaints, they made me nervous. Given that I am the type of person who is very self-conscious when I think I’m inconveniencing someone, I was stressed. I am also terrible at parallel parking, so I was worried about getting loaded properly on buses. I KNOW that I shouldn’t have let these things be issues for me. But not all of us are Elsa’s who can let it go, and I didn’t want to be stressing on my vacation.
- So once I broke my toe I decided to change resorts and change plans. I would move from Movies to POP so I could ride the skyliner to HS and EP. I go to WDW enough that building my whole trip around these two parks would be perfectly fine.
- This plan worked great until it rained later in the trip and I had to take a bus back to the resort. And then later I got stuck at Riveria when the skyliner closed for rain. Twice. The first time I was able to wait out the rain, but the second time it rained for hours and I ended up having to take the bus.
- My most frustrating rain situation was the day I had gone to Riveria for breakfast with the intention to skyline back to POP to change clothes, only to have the skyliner shut down and therefore be left with no simple way to get back to my resort. Normally I would have just gotten an Uber, but that wasn’t an option with the ECV I had.
- While it mostly went well, there were two very frustrating (and embarrassing) incidents.
- I majorly embarrassed myself at Trattoria al Forno by running into the front door. HARD. It was raining so I didn’t want to leave the ECV outside, but there was no automatic handicapped button on the door. I couldn’t figure out how to get through the door solo, so I made a bad error in judgment and decided to hold the door open with one hand and drive with the other. Add to that the fact that I forgot to turn the speed down to low, and I ended up ramming the door really hard which sent the host running out to see what had happened. I was mortified. I apologized profusely, and the host helped me inside. (Why didn’t I think to go in and ask for help from the start? Who knows.) My humiliation only got worse when the host couldn’t find my reservation (I think he misheard my name).
- I failed at bus parallel parking. I had carefully planned my trip to avoid buses, but of course the rain had other plans. I ended up riding the bus on two days due to rain. I had rented a basket for the back of my scooter before learning that the baskets make it hard to load onto the buses. I ended up leaving the basket in the room for the whole trip because of that, but on checkout day I didn’t know what to do with it, so I ended up re-attaching it. Of course that was the day I needed to ride the bus twice. The first CM took the controls and parked me, having a bit of difficulty with the basket, but ultimately managing to get in the correct spot. But a shift change meant that a different CM unloaded me, one who wanted me to steer myself. This was a disaster. That basket made it almost impossible to maneuver out of the tight spot, and it took many, many tries. DO NOT GET THE BASKET if you are as bad at parallel parking as I am!
The scooter saved my trip. I was reluctant to rent one for many reasons, but I knew it would be the only way I could avoid canceling the trip. There is just so much walking, and even with the scooter, I ended up putting more stress on my toe than I should have. I am very grateful that I was able to still go, and have a (mostly) good time. It was also a nice experience doing six days at Disney and not having sore feet at the end of each day!
Experiencing an ECV for myself has made me realize how difficult it is for people who are mobility-challenged. It took longer to do things and go places. I had to ask for help more often. I noticed how the smallest design choices affect people in wheelchairs or on scooters (for example, it is NO FUN to drive over bricks or boards or pavers). I realized how hard it is to find accessible entrances or elevators, even when they exist. The concerns I had for this trip are concerns that many people deal with every. single. day. That was humbling, and good for me to experience for myself.