I love to travel, especially to the Disney Parks. There is something about escaping the every day and exploring other realms that I find uplifting and nourishing to my soul. As I grew older though, my chronic illness began to take a greater toll on my body. Spending a day or two on my feet touring began to leave me in bed for weeks later dealing with increased pain and fatigue. I just couldn’t seem to get my pacing right when it came to vacation. Like many, I struggled greatly with admitting that I might need some extra mobility help. After an outright intervention by my friends and family, I saw that if I wanted to travel I would need to make some changes. It was time to decide if a mobility scooter at Disney was right for me.
I live with invisible illness everyday, but I can usually pass for “normal” at home. As is typical of fibromyalgia patients, I don’t “look sick” on most days; and if I do, I tend to stay home. My life is arranged in short excursions that I can manage on my own, and my family acts as “service humans” to make sure I am OK. However – at Walt Disney World the average guest walks 8-10 miles as day, has to stand in queue for long periods of time, and is exposed to direst sunlight and high temperatures. These things combined with crowds, noise, and general vacation stress would overwhelm me while on vacation. What was supposed to be an enjoyable time spent with my family, would often end in my family having fun, while I had to surrender to my limitations and sleep in the hotel room.
How do you know if you are ready for a mobility scooter?
I tend to make this decision for each trip that I take, because sometimes I start in better condition than others. Using a scooter and the accommodations provided by Disney has greatly enhanced my overall travel experience. Though I routinely still head off to Florida thinking “I can make it on my own,” my family would all agree that everyone has a better time when I take the extra steps to take care of myself. It took a lot of self reflection for me to get into a scooter, especially as young as I was when I began to use one. However, my quality of life (errr… the quality of my vacation) has gone up considerably since I did.
As a travel tool, using a mobility scooter helps me to conserve strength, reduce fatigue, and lessen my chances of falling. I don’t really care how I get to Disney, it’s how I spend my time once I am there that matters. Having mobility assistance takes away the anxiety that my chronic illness causes me by worrying how long it will be until my next crash. My family also tells me that it eases their mind in the same manner. They have to be on guard a little less, because they know that I am conserving my strength and energy. We all tend to have a better vacation.
A few questions to ask when making your decision.
- Do you plan on spending most of your days in the Disney Parks?
- Are you able to stand in line for long periods of time in the heat and sun?
- Do you have a chronic health condition that limits your mobility or endurance?
- Is it acceptable for your disability needs to be out in the open? In a scooter you become both invisible and a side show at the same time. People can be pretty rude. I even had a grown man sit on me once.
- Are you able to drive and control a scooter in crowds and tight spaces? There is a slight learning curve to driving a mobility scooter. While it’s not hard to pick up on, you must be willing to do so in Disney crowds.
- Will the ground transportation you are using accommodate a scooter? If driving does the scooter fit in your vehicle?
- Are you willing to wait a bit longer or be split from your party when using Disney complimentary transportation? Most Disney transportation can only carry a maximum of two scooters, so sometimes you need to wait for the next ride.
- Will using a mobility scooter at Disney Parks make things easier on your travel companions, or give them more confidence in traveling with you?
Using A Mobility Scooter at Disney Parks
Walt Disney World, and Disneyland are fantastic places for the mobility-impaired traveler. There are ample accessible parking spaces, ADA compliant ride queues, complimentary wheelchair accessible transportation, and even a Disability Assistance Services program that takes into consideration your specific needs. Disney is well aware that when it comes to guest with disabilities, one size does not fit all.
Renting a mobility scooter at Disney Parks is an excellent choice for people who can manage without help at home, but have conditions that are exacerbated when traveling. In fact, using a mobility scooter at Walt Disney World my be the easiest and most convenient experience you ever have when considering such options. It’s the perfect place to experiment with your mobility requirements, and there are ample rental options for numerous types of devices.
No matter when or how it happens to you, making the choice to use a wheelchair or mobility scooter is a very personal one. I can only say that for me, using a mobility scooter at Disney Parks has helped me keep touring like a pro. It has made for a vast improvement in my trips again and again. Have you been thinking about using a mobility scooter on your Walt Disney World vacation? Or maybe you are trying to convince a loved one that it would be best? Either way, leave a comment below and I would be happy to share my expertise.
Pacing. Surrender. Improvement.
This post is part of the June Link-up on A Chronic Voice.