ECV and Wheelchair Safety, Procedures and Etiquette at Disney World
Disney World is truly a world of its own, with its own rules and procedures. Here are some things you’ll need to know to safely and comfortably manage your ECV or wheelchair while you’re there.
Riding in a wheelchair or ECV, is actually a big responsibility. Especially an ECV – They‘re heavy and can travel fast. You can really do damage if you hit someone or something. Even rolling over a foot or hitting someone while moving slowly can really hurt or injure them. So let’s start with the most important topic!
1. People will not watch out for you, so be careful.
Know this: People will make it challenging for you not to hit them.
There’s a phenomenon at Disney that you should know about:
Others on foot may not be watching for you, especially in the parks and in Disney Springs. People will often suddenly pass right in front without looking.
Aside from the fact that this is really annoying, it can be dangerous. But it’s Disney, and people get completely distracted by all the unusual sites and sounds. Plus they have lots of extra Adrenalin, and they’re are always people hurrying from place to place.
So it’s up to you to be very careful. Sometimes you’ll need to politely alert people as you’re passing by if your moving near them. And with any type of wheelchair or ECV, keep in mind that you’re taking up a lot more space then you would if you were standing and walking. It may take some time to get used to this, so stay vigilant when you first start so that you don’t roll over a foot or worse.
2. You may find it challenging to watch out for others, so plan for that.
As much as others tend to not watch carefully, it’s easy for an ECV user or someone pushing a wheelchair to get distracted by all the wonderful sights. You can quickly lose track of the people around you.
TIP: If you know you’re looking at your surroundings, try slowing down or stopping so that you don’t crash into someone by mistake. Make sure to look around for pedestrians as you move. Let large groups pass by so that you can drive safely while you look.
If you’re driving an ECV and are inexperienced, be sure to take a few minutes to practice before you head into public areas or into the park. But… before you practice, be sure to read our article on How to Drive an ECV (mobility scooter) at Disney World really carefully before you go. It’s full of safety tips.
I want to emphasize that you should always, always, always keep your ECV on a lower power setting when you’re in a crowded or tight area. You will not have the same control if it’s at a high speed, even if you’re not giving it a lot of “gas”. When you’re traveling in a fairly clear area you can increase your power and speed.
Don’t get stressed in tight situations
If it takes some time to maneuver your chair safely, such as in a tight queue, don’t worry. The people behind you will usually wait with patience. Just do your best, be polite and don’t get nervous. If the occasional person behind you does act impolitely, don’t let it ruin your mood. It’s their problem, not yours! It’s your vacation and it’s time for fun. For the most part we’ve found that guests are usually kind, patient and pleasant.
More Safety tips for driving a wheelchair or ECV/mobility scooter at Disney World
The following is an article written by Megan VanWaus, a former Disney World employee. It’s loaded with great tips on wheelchair/ECV safety at Disney World.
While traveling in an ECV at Disney, keep an eye on the road below you, especially at intersections. A small incident occurred to a guest traveling with her family from a sidewalk onto Main Street where her ECV tipped over. The guest admittedly assumed that there was a ramp or a break in the curb that lines Main Street for wheelchairs and ECVs to pass over. While most intersections and corners of the sidewalk that border Main Street do have such ramps, there was no ramp at this specific junction. The guest was immediately assisted by several cast members and was fine.
The guest suggested that there be some sort of warning, such as bright paint lining the curbs, a sign, or the addition of a ramp at that site. There are reasons why there’s no bright colored pain on the curbs or warning signs in this area of Magic Kingdom. Many design elements on Main Street, U.S.A. are inspired by Marceline, Missouri, the small town where Walt Disney grew up. A four-year-old Walt and his family moved there in 1906. Therefore, the theming of Main Street may not be as suitable for new technology as Tomorrowland would be. Also, not only is Main Street designed to reflect the settings of an early 20th century town, but it’s also equipped to present an average of three parades a day with thousands of viewers. Cast members ask guests to sit or stand on the curb, and not in the street. This is for the safety of everyone involved, from the guests to the characters and performers. So the curbs serve a purpose here.
This type of theming is unique to Main Street, but is something to be aware of everywhere you go in Disney World! While Disney is always concerned with the safety of their guests, its attention to detail and impeccable theming is a large part of why you, the guest, comes to stay. So, the next time you feel like you’re going back in time, or to another country, or into the future, don’t forget to keep an eye on the road!
Do you have more tips or thoughts on this topic?
Please feel free to post them in a comment below. We’d love your input.
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