When visiting the world-famous Orlando theme parks, the amount of exercising you’ll be doing is probably the last thing on your mind. Especially at a spot like Disney World, known for its exceptional guest service and accommodation, you may overlook the fact that visiting the theme parks requires a lot of walking. If you are visiting the parks with someone in your family who might not be able to get around quite as easily as the average guest, you should be looking into ECV (Electric Conveyance Vehicles, though I have also heard them referred to as Electric Courtesy Vehicles) rentals for your park days. The following guide will provide everything you need to know about why renting a scooter can be a wise idea, how to navigate the crowded parks while in a scooter, and, of course, the best option for renting a scooter for your Disney World or Universal Orlando vacation stay.
Why Should I Rent an ECV?
Before we get into the details of which ECV rentals might be best for you, you should take a minute to understand exactly why you may need to rent an ECV. Though any issue with mobility is a good reason to rent an ECV, here are some scenarios you (or someone in your family) might be facing which make renting an ECV a good idea:
Time and time again I have heard Disney World guests reiterate the fact that they decided to leave their grandparents at the hotel all day while the rest of the family toured the parks. If you are bringing the whole family for your family trip, everyone needs to be included! Though your Granny and Grampy may be much slower than they used to be, there’s no reason why they can’t visit the parks with everyone else! Having a mobility ECV allows them to save their legs and avoid walking everywhere in the park. As long as they can still wait in a few lines (or even if they can’t – more on that later in the guide), they can see and do everything with the rest of the family. Even if the younger members of your family are trying to do all the thrill rides, older visitors can still easily entertain themselves with other attractions in the park.
Difficulty with Strenuous Exercise
For whatever reason, some park visitors are not cut out for running around a theme park all day in the excessive Florida heat. Though buildings have plenty of air conditioning, the parks are still mostly outdoors – and attractions are spread over a large area. For example, the promenade around the World Showcase in EPCOT is about one and a half miles – and that area only loops around the back half of the park! If you’re trying to see and do everything, you can end up clocking five or miles of walking a day. If you are just a bit out of shape, this can be managed with frequent breaks and an emphasis on indoor shows and attractions during the afternoon when the temperatures peak. However, if someone in your party might struggle with excessive exercise, an ECV can work wonders to mitigate becoming extra tired or suffering worse side effects like heatstroke.
While working in the Disney Parks, I would commonly see guests (particular young sporty ones) with physical injuries which required medical boots on their feet. These guests have all the confidence in the world, but did not always take into account the amount of walking they would need to do which their boot. Though they have had no problems going about their days since the injury, they probably haven’t been called on to walk miles and miles in a single day. If someone in your group has any sort of injury that inhibits their mobility, an ECV can save them a lot of pain and struggle while in the parks.
In general, having an ECV simply makes moving about the theme parks much easier than having to walk it yourself. Even athletic visitors will start to feel the strain in their legs over the course of their vacation after walking multiple miles per day for a week straight. Therefore, if you are on the fence about whether renting an ECV is a good idea, it is always best to play it safe and go for the rental. If you feel like you don’t need it, you can always skip a day or return the rental early.
Where Can I Rent an ECV in Orlando?
Though any theme park you visit will happily rent you a stroller, the easiest way to rent is through 3rd party services. There are multiple perks to renting a scooter from outside providers, but also a couple of drawbacks.
Reasons to Rent an ECV from a Third Party Vendor
- Save Money
- The main reason you should be renting an ECV from a 3rd party provider is to save money. ECV rentals are far cheaper from outside companies, for example Scootarama has scooters priced starting out at only $30 a day. In comparison, if you rent directly from Disney or Universal Orlando, the price for an ECV is a whopping $50 per day (not including deposits). If you pay that for each day and visit the parks for 5 days, you’re down a quarter grand!
- Save Time
- While at the theme parks, you want to save as much time as you can to maximize the value of your vacation. Part of that value is getting to the parks early and riding all the rides while other guests amble in later in the morning. However, if you are renting an ECV from Disney, you have to wait in line to actually rent the scooter. Waiting in lines for something to get you to rides where you will only have to wait in more lines is not fun – and it gets even worse. You will have to wait in a line to rent an ECV every single day you are in the parks. Since Disney and Universal only allow you to rent one day at a time, you can’t take your ECV with you. Every day, you will have to waste about 20-30 minutes picking up your ECV and getting everything together before you are ready to go. It’s a huge hassle to deal with, and something you can avoid by renting from a 3rd
- Guarantee Your Rental
- 3rd party ECV and scooter rentals will lock in your reservation and guarantee they have enough to supply to all of their customers. Meanwhile, Disney and Universal have a limited number of rentals available. Though most days they won’t run out, it is possible that they do run out during busy times of the year. If you plan on renting straight from Disney or Universal and they happen to run out, you will be out of luck. The best thing they can offer without ECVs are wheelchairs, which are far more difficult to push around.
- Better Selection
- 3rd party vendors each offer multiple ECV and scooter options for guests to choose from. They also offer additional features, like sun shades, extra storage space, or even holders for things like oxygen tanks. Disney and Universal only offer the same basic ECV rental to every visitor, which means you will not be able to select customized features that can enhance your vacation. Plus, when in the Disney Parks in particular, your ECV might get lost in the crowd of other ECV’s, since they all look the same. When renting from a 3rd party vendor, your personal scooter or ECV will look a bit more unique, and therefore easier to keep track of.
- Better Mobility
- Though it depends on which type of ECV or scooter you end up selecting, most 3rd party rental options have better features which will ensure a better experience. A big detriment to the ECVs that Disney and Universal rent is that they are gigantic. They are extremely big and bulky, which means driving them around the parks can be difficult. You won’t want to run anyone over, but at the same time, people are usually not very patient with people in the ECVs. That means people will be trying to walk around you, pass you, and cut in front of you. However, since they are so big, you won’t be able to fit through tight spaces! This is also a big problem in some queue lines with switchbacks, where you will have to showcase some expert driving skills to U-turn back and forth. Rentals from 3rd party vendors offer flexible options, all of which are less bulky than the Disney rentals. By using them, you can more easily navigate the parks and work better with the crowds.
- You Can Take the ECV or Scooter with You
- When you have your own ECV, you can do whatever you want with it! You can use it in the parking lot to get to the parks faster (and save yourself from trying to find and return the courtesy wheelchairs provided by Disney), you can take it outside of the parks, and more! This is a huge benefit if you want flexibility in your vacation. For example, you might like to take your ECV to eat at the Yachtsman Steakhouse along the boardwalk area during your visit to EPCOT. If you have a Disney rental, they will stop you and make you return it when leaving the park. If you have your own rental from a 3rd party, you can continue on, and more easily get in and out of the parks! This also comes in handy when visiting multiple locations in a day. If you plan on spending your morning at Animal Kingdom and then heading over to Disney Springs after the park closes, you can more easily make the transition with your rental from a 3rd Again, with Disney, you would have to return the rental at Animal Kingdom, travel to Disney Springs, and then rent another one all over again!
Reasons Why Renting Directly from Disney or Universal Is Better
- You Don’t Have to Take the ECV or Scooter with You
- Though this factor is also the last positive point about renting from a 3rd party vendor, it can also be a detriment. Remember, if you are in charge of the scooter, you will need space in or on your car to transport it when you’re going around the theme parks or back to your hotel or rental home. If you are selecting between rental options from a 3rd party vendor, be sure to pay attention to the dimensions of each scooter or ECV. The smallest option from each of the top 3rd party vendors can easily be slightly disassembled to fit in a regular car trunk. Other larger options may not have the same features and ultimately not fit in your vehicle.
- You Won’t Have to Charge It
- If you rent from Disney or Universal, the ECV or scooter will be charged up and ready for you as soon as you go to rent it. If you have your own 3rd party ECV, you will need to make sure you spend the night before plugging it in to make sure the battery is charged and ready for another day of travel. Keep in mind that batteries usually last the entire park day, but could cut out if the weight on the ECV or stroller is heavier and the battery is being strained all day. To avoid this, be sure to turn the vehicle off when not in use and/or take a minute to charge it at an outlet while in the parks. Just keeping an eye on the battery level can help you avoid this stress!
The Best 3rd Party Vendors to Rent an ECV or Scooter From
The previously mentioned 3rd party ECV and scooter vendor Scootarama is the best option for your rental needs. Scootarama’s Disney scooter rental services offer prices cheaper than Disney World as long as you rent for multiple days, they will deliver your rental directly to you for free, and they have multiple rental options available for you to choose from. You can visit any of their website to easily browse rental options, select and reserve a time and date for delivery or pickup, and add on any extras that might suit your needs. However, there’s a clear winner that edges out the others due to its price: Scootarama. With a lowest price option of only $30 per day, Scootarama will save you enough money to make your ECV rental well worth it. Their site is also easy to navigate and understand, making it a simple transaction.
General Things to Know About Navigating the Theme Parks With an ECV
If you plan on renting an ECV, there are a few things you should keep in mind about how to use it most effectively during your theme park days. Here are a few perks and other things to consider about your ECV rental:
To start, plan out how much stuff you will be bringing into the parks. Often times, a family will bring a backpack of light snacks and a couple of water bottles, and then end up purchasing (and paying for) lots more while in the theme parks themselves. However, if you are using an ECV, you can plan on fitting lots more in the front or rear basket. Companies like Scootarama offers options to add on a rear basket for additional storage space. Scootarama’s price is only $5 for that add on and allows you to fit a lot more. Keep in mind that $5 is less than what a single soda costs in the parks. Utilizing the extra storage space on the ECV can actually save you lots of money if you bring in more food, drinks, or other items that can be stored on the ECV instead of carried around all day by other family members.
As you actually sit on the ECV or scooter and move around in the parks, it can be a little tricky to navigate the crowds. Lots of guests will see people moving slowly in an ECV and end up cutting people off or passing around them, making the person in the ECV have to start and stop. Other times, the person in the ECV or scooter ends up turning the speed all the way up, and speeds through the crowds. While working in the Magic Kingdom, I was actually hit by one of these people! Other users keep the speed up at max, but end up having to lurch forward and stop repeatedly to move forward in a slow-moving crowd. All of these scenarios are not ideal, and should (and can) be avoided. Be sure to take a minute to practice driving with the ECV before you get into the crowds in the park. You should also adjust the speed depending on how many people are around you. It doesn’t help to go extra slow, and it doesn’t help to go extra fast where there are people in front of you. Simply match your speed to the rest of the crowd flow, and you’ll move faster than if you were trying to pass everyone. Remember, you can’t just barrel through everyone!
If you are using Disney transportation like monorails or buses, be sure to get the attention of a cast member so that they can put down a ramp for you to drive up. This process is relatively simple, but those driving skills will come in handy!
ECVs and scooters are usually treated similar to strollers, depending on the user’s level of mobility. If the person in your family using the ECV can still travel short distances on their own, you can simply park the ECV in the designated parking areas (usually with the strollers) outside an attraction and pick it up on the way out before moving to your next destination. This may, however, not be ideal in certain scenarios, especially for rides that might require long waits (standing for an hour can be a big issue for most ECV users). To avoid having to stand for long periods, you are allowed to drive your ECV through almost every queue at Disney and Universal. That way, your whole family can stay together throughout the line. Once you get close to the loading area, a Cast or Team Member will take the ECV for you and park it at the exit of the attraction. You then ride the ride and just pick it up on the way out!
Keep in mind that if you are using the ECV for storage, you do not want to leave valuables on an unattended ECV. It is Disney World, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Overall, if you or anyone in your family is thinking about renting an ECV due to mobility issues, it is usually best to err on the side of caution and go ahead with a rental. If you are planning ahead, it’s almost always better to rent from a 3rd party vendor, since the transaction and delivery are easy (and you’ll save some money). In general, the 3rd party vendors all offer similar services, but Scootarama edges out the competition by providing the lowest prices. Once you get your ECV, be sure to take some time to practice driving it and be safe in the parks! Always move at the same speed as the rest of the crowds to keep up with everyone else and avoid falling behind. With an ECV or scooter, everyone in your party, no matter their abilities, should have a great time in the Orlando theme parks!