We recently visited Disney World and Universal Orland and needed to use an ECV. I wanted to share some of the things you will want to know. I am in physical therapy and so I needed to walk about 7000 steps per day and so could walk for portions. I think most people in ECV’s are similar so I will focus this on people who can transfer and walk short distances. I have also taken my Father-In-Law during normal times in an ECV and when confined to a wheelchair so I will make some comparisons to normal and COVID times. At Disney, wheelchairs and ECV’s typically will start off in the main line and then separate at some point for the wheelchair section. It is very easy at Disney in all parks overall. It is much more difficult at Universal and I will share my experiences with you. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at Marilyn@MDVTrips.com.
We do not ride most of the rides in Fantasyland and so I do not know how most of those work. We did ride It’s A Small World, which has a separate wheelchair/ECV entrance. It was easy to use. We also rode Peter Pan which required me to leave the ECV and go through the line in a wheelchair. There is a space between Peter Pan and the entrance to Liberty Square that has several places to charge your scooter or phone. It is a specific spot that has seating where you can rest and recharge devices. There is some shade in this area so it is easy to keep the seat cool but little protection from rain. Space Mountain also requires you to transfer to a wheelchair. There are spots at the outside of the exit where you can park your ECV and plug it in. The plugs are near the benches against the building. No protection against rain but maybe against sun, depending on the time of day. Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion both had a virtual queue for ECV’s due to social distancing. I went to the Fast Pass entrance and was given a return time. The line with physical distancing, is not accessible by wheelchair and they will take you through a different entrance. This was easy to use once I knew about it. We got return times for both rides, then went to Splash Mountain and then returned to these two attractions with no wait. Tom Sawyer's Island does not allow ECV’s and you will need to leave it in the open if you take it through the line. If you are able to walk the distance, I would leave it near splash mountain. There is an area as you come out that has a place to charge that is covered. It is near the playscape at the exit of Splash Mountain. All other rides we rode were easy with the ECV. If the line was past the entry point, I started going to the people at the beginning of the lines to ask how it worked for ECV’s and had the rest of my party go ahead and get into line. This gave me time to find a place to park if needed and get to my party before they got to the main entry. As for restaurants, we went to Be Our Guest and it was very ECV friendly. I left it inside of the building near the bathroom and was able to charge it. At Liberty Tree Tavern, I had to leave it outside and I could not find a good place to park. If you can walk the distance, I would probably leave it in the charging spot I referenced near Peter Pan. Do not leave it under the shade near the Hall of Presidents. It may get moved if there is a line. I saw that happen while I was in the Hall of President’s line. Overall I give MK a B.
By far, the easiest park to have an ECV was Epcot. I cannot think of anywhere that I had to leave my ECV and transfer to a wheelchair. The only places that I was asked to leave my ECV outside was while eating at the Coral Reef Restaurant and Rose and Crown Pub. At Coral Reef, I asked if I could leave it inside to charge and the one spot was open so I was able to use it. Rose and Crown was on our first day and I was not yet looking for plugs and shade. I parked it where they directed and the seat was very hot when I came out. I would look for a spot near the bathrooms across the street next time. We ate at Le Cellier and San Angel Inn and both had space indoors for me to leave the ECV. Spaceship Earth still has the wheelchair entrance to the right of the building about halfway around the building. No need to go to the normal line. At all other rides, I started off in the normal line staying in the ECV. I do want to point out that all of the restaurants on Disney property, I was asked if I would be able to transfer and if I had asked to stay in the chair for meals, I would have been allowed to do so. I would give Epcot an A+ for being ECV friendly.
Hollywood Studios had the same restrictions as it always has been with no difference at this time. Most lines were ECV friendly. The only rides I was not allowed to take in the ECV and had to transfer to a wheelchair were Rock n Roll Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Neither had an indoor space to leave it. It was raining when we went to ride these rides so I searched for somewhere dry to leave it. My recommendation is to park it at the exit to Tower of Terror. There is a covered spot as you leave the building that will keep the ECV dry in the rain and cool in the sun. If you are able to walk a bit, just leave it there and walk to RRRC. If you need to immediately transfer to a wheelchair, near RRRC, look to see if the food stands near there are open. They were closed when we were there and I could keep it mostly dry and cool by parking behind the stand. You can also check at the nearby Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy and depending on the time of day, you might find some shade there. At Star Tours, you will miss the pre show but that was not a big deal to me as I have done the ride several times. We ate at 50’s Prime time and they would not allow the ECV in the building and there are not a lot of places to keep it dry and cool in that area. On a past trip, we parked a wheelchair under cover and it was moved. It subsequently rained while we were inside and the seat cushion was soaked. My FIL is paralyzed on one side so he tries to walk short distances and get out of the chair when possible and this was a mistake. It took all day for the seat to dry. Disney did give us a voucher to get him a change of clothes as we did not realize it was wet until after he sat on the soaked cushion and they should not have moved the chair. The seats are not water proof like on ECV’s. For ECV’s make sure you always cover the electrical parts when you leave it, just in case the rain comes unexpectedly. At Brown Derby, we were able to park inside and there were 2 outlets available for charging. If you just need a charge and want to be out of the sun, you can also go to the alcoves near Muppet Vision or there are some plugs near the ABC Commissary. Overall I give Hollywood Studios a B for ECV’s.
Animal Kingdom was also easy for the most part. The ECV was able to go through most lines with no issues. I would be aware that the Kilimanjaro Safari ride will not leave with a half empty car and if you are one of the first ECV/wheelchairs to get on, it may be a few minutes before you leave. We rope dropped this ride and while we were the 3rd group in line, we were in the 4thvehicle to leave. Not a big deal but if the other group behind us had not been 14 people, we would have had to wait even longer. They are supposed to have 5 rows full to leave. All of the wildlife treks were ECV friendly and I can’t think of any rides where I had to leave the ECV in the open. We did have to leave it outside while we ate at Yak and Yeti. There is plenty of shade available but I did not see anywhere to plug in. Overall I give AK a B+
The buses currently have limited capacity. In normal times, they have space for 2 ECV’s per bus. Right now, they will only allow 2 ECV’s if they are in the same party, otherwise one ECV per bus. This seems fair since there are only 6 parties allowed per bus. We had one time that we were waiting in line and while there were only 2 buses worth of people there were 4 ECV’s in front of me. We were at Disney Springs heading back to the Contemporary. The Polynesian line did not have even one full bus of people waiting so I moved to that line and then took the monorail bus to the Contemporary. The monorail has been closing early so they started a bus that travels to the monorail resorts so people can eat dinner at the other resorts.
Universal Studios and Isle of Adventure:
Universal was not as ECV friendly. Basically, if a stroller is not allowed in line then an ECV is not allowed. You will be directed to park the ECV in stroller (or Pram in Harry Potter sections) parking. Even shows that had entrances that an ECV would easily have fit, they did not allow them. It was difficult to find anywhere to charge and half of the plugs I tried did not actually have power going to them. There is a working plug in Pram parking across from Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and since that has moved to a normal line, you can probably get a good charge in while you wait. We ate at Mel’s Diner and they directed me to a place near the outdoor seating that had a plug, but it was not working. I did find a plug against the next building that was working and provided some shelter. If you have someone in your party willing to push you all day, save your money and just rent the wheelchair instead of an ECV if you are only doing Universal Studios. I like to have an ECV for more independence and to not burden others with pushing me all the time, but you really don’t get to use it very much at Universal. I did get to take it onto the boat from Hard Rock to the main gate. I give Universal a D for ECV friendly.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at Marilyn@MDVTrips.com.