by Angel, CPT (Mickey's Angel)
Many people who go to Disney World make the decision not to ride in a wheelchair or scooter based on pride. Well, I am here to tell you that if you have a disability of any kind that you have to get past the pride issue and remember that this is a vacation and you must do what is best for your body.
I have severe Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, herniated discs in my back and recent knee replacement. There are days that I have a very hard time getting out of bed. On those days the thought of walking around the parks would mean the end of a fun vacation. I am 46 years old and by looking at me you would never guess that I have so many issues. For a long time I avoided wheelchairs because I was worried about the looks I would receive. Anyone with a disability, visible or not, will tell you that you are going to get “looks”. It is time to put away the pride and enjoy your vacation.
Remember, a wheelchair or scooter will not get you to the front of the line on the rides in Disney World. Disney has done a wonderful job of making all ques handicap assessable meeting the Americans with Disabilities standards. It is now possible to stay in the regular que with your family.
Now you have to decide what is right for you… a wheelchair or a scooter.
A few things to think about when deciding:
- Can the person walk long distances or stand for a long period of time?
- Will the person want to go off alone for a day in the park?
- What type of illness/injury are you dealing with
- Is the person capable of working the controls or wheeling themselves?
- Will sitting all day cause more harm than good? (I will explain this one)
The first thing to consider is whether or not the person will be going out alone. I can tell you from experience that everything in Disney seems to go up hill. I do not know how that is possible, but it sure feels that way. If the person will be going out alone then a scooter is the way to go. If you have an elderly parent or relative with you that will have a hard time with the controls, then a wheelchair is the way to go. Just remember that this takes away their independence. Please try to keep this in mind and remember to ask them what they would like to do. It is their vacation too.
There are also canes available at any medical supply that has a seat on them. This might be an option for someone that can not stand for long periods of time but is not ready for a wheelchair.
What type of illness or injury? If a person has MS or partial paralysis or any other illness that causes weakness then a chair should be used. Why wear yourself out and ruin your trip? Why risk falling and injuring yourself? If you get a chair and feel well enough to walk then walk and push it. Do not worry about what others think!
Will sitting all day cause more damage than good? This is one that most people do not understand. With Arthritis things can change any moment. I feel better walking most of the time. (Unless I am having a flare up) Walking and exercise is good for anyone with Arthritis. If I sit all day I stiffen up and the pain is much worse. So please do not lecture someone about riding when they do not want to. Sitting in that chair leaning forward to reach the controls, constantly looking out for other people and stopping and starting really is exhausting. At the end of the day you are physically and emotionally drained. (Thank goodness for the Jacuzzi tubs at DVC… another reason I am glad we bought in)
A few safety tips for scooters:
- If you get out of the scooter, take the key with you
- If you are stopped turn the key to the off position. I have had scooters move without touching the controls
- Never let young children drive
- Read and follow the user’s guide and remember to charge every night
- Bring a cheap poncho to cover the controls and seat if it rains.
- Remember that you are lower than everyone else and they can not see you. Do not get up set if they run into you.
Please remember that being in a wheelchair or scooter is not something that anyone of us wants to do. Be patient when you are around someone in a chair. Open a door… stop a line so we can get across… believe our apology if we clip your heals. It is not easy to stop sometimes and we do run into people that stop short.
And for those of you that were wondering if you should get a wheelchair or not, I hope this helps with your decision.