As those of you who read/participate over on our discussion boards know, my personal DISDads Convention plans were thrown a bit of a curveball when my 10-year-old daughter injured her leg. She’s on crutches right now, and by the time we leave for Walt Disney World, she won’t even be quite half-way through her prescribed physical therapy. All that means that we have to presume that she won’t be ready to walk around the theme parks at Walt Disney World nine days from now.
She’s been using crutches now for over a month, and while she’s getting adept at using them, using crutches to maneuver around the parks would be exhausting. We considered renting an ECV for her, but 1) I don’t really trust a 10-year-old without much experience using one driving an ECV around WDW; 2) ECV rental would run us over $100 for the week; 3) ECVs have to be kept charged up; and 4) ECVs are relatively heavy to load in/take out of a car trunk (we’d already planned on renting a car for this trip). So instead of an ECV, I decided to rent a wheelchair. I think it’s the safer option, we won’t have to deal with charging, and it’ll be easier to get in and out of the rental car. (Ed. Note: Turns out I didn’t really need to go through this internal debate. I have since learned that Disney requires ECV drivers to be over the age of 18).
It was unclear to me whether the new rules regarding “approved vendors” and ECV delivery/pick-up at Disney resorts also applied to wheelchairs, but I decided to go through an approved vendor, just to play it safe. Approved vendors are permitted to drop a wheelchair at bell services at Disney resorts for guest pickup, and will retrieve the wheelchair from the resort at the end of the vacation. Working with an unapproved vendor means that you have to coordinate receiving the delivery and returning the wheelchair to the vendor personally. We’ve previously experienced the convenience of pickup/drop-off through bell services with stroller rental, and it really makes things easier.
I first contacted Buena Vista Scooters – or, rather, tried to contact them. They are recommended by the folks at AllEars.net, and I’ve heard good things about them generally. But my own experience was very disappointing. First, I went to their website for information. They offer lots of good information and the pricing was reasonable. But when tried to make an online reservation, I was greeted with the message that, “This product is currently unavailable for online rental.” Frustrating, but their phone number was prominently displayed. I called the phone number and the recorded message told me that the company had office hours from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. but that no one was available to take my call, and asked me to leave a message. OK. An additional hassle, but no big deal. So I left a message. Two-and-a-half hours later, I still haven’t gotten a return phone call.
So I decided to try another approved vendor about whom I’d heard good reports, Apple Scooter. Apple Scooter already leapfrogged Buena Vista Scooters by offering multiple sizes of wheelchairs. I was able to specify a chair that will likely be much more comfortable for a 10-year-old, as the seat is less deep. I did run into problems with Apple’s online reservation system as well. It kept throwing database errors. But this time, when I called, a live person answered the phone immediately. He was happy to take my reservation over the phone, and assured me that it was no problem to have the wheelchair delivered to one resort, but picked up at another (since we’re staying at Pop Century before the Convention, and Port Orleans-Riverside during the Convention). Thank you Apple Scooter. I’ll post another review after we get back from the Convention, looking at the service and quality we receive after the sale was made.
Note: I am renting this wheelchair as a regular consumer, paying full retail rates. I have not received any promotional consideration for using or reviewing any particular wheelchair or vendor.