New stroller and wheelchair rental policy at Walt Disney World has some mobility-impaired guests worried

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PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN LAMBERT/UNSPLASH
  • Photo by Christian Lambert/Unsplash
With very little notice, Disney has changed a significant policy that is sure to affect thousands of guests. Beginning Oct. 1, guests will no longer be able to have third-party deliveries dropped off at their hotel bell service.

Guest previously were able to have strollers, electric wheelchairs, and other mobility devices delivered to Front Desk Bell Services and then retrieve them at their convince. The new rules require guests to meet the third-party mobility-device vendors in person, with no deliveries of the devices being accepted.



This abrupt change comes just months after Disney introduced new stroller policies that eliminated many of the highly-themed third-party strollers. Strollers themed to topics like fantasy horse carriages, pumpkins, or spaceships and included items like in-carriage electric fans, interior lighting, built-in phone chargers, and functioning doors became the latest must-have rental for families looking to add that extra touch to their Disney vacation. But just as these over the top strollers began getting national media coverage, Disney issued new rules banning all strollers over 31-inches wide and 52-inches long. This was a decrease in size of 5 inches from the previous, rarely enforced stroller policy.

The new size requirements, now strictly enforced via a luggage-like size chart found on the sidewalk at security checkpoints, also eliminated some non-Disney, double-wide strollers. Stroller wagons, like the popular Keenz brand ones, were also banned. These wagons sit lower than more traditional prams and strollers, causing them to become especially difficult to see in the crowds that regularly fill Disney parks.



The new rules will likely cause another big hit to third-party stroller and wheelchair companies. After announcing the most recent rule change, different vendors issued conflicting statements regarding when the new rules would go into effect.

Unlike the previous the changes in rules, this new change also affects wheelchairs and Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECV), better known as electric scooters. Some have expressed concern regarding how the new rules may limit access to accessibility equipment needed by some guests.

Despite multiple requests for answers sent to WDW Guest Services, the company had yet to respond to one frequent visitor, Ed McCann, who turned to Twitter to find answers. His wife requires a shower wheelchair that Disney itself does not rent, and he is unsure whether he can receive one now, without spending extra time from their vacation to wait for the delivery. In a thread on Twitter, he explained,
“Getting on my soapbox, I have a problem with this no outside mobility vendors, there are lots of medical equipment besides scooters that are required for a vacation. My wife needs a shower wheelchair to roll into the shower, it's a piece of equipment that Disney doesn't carry with…out these providers there are a lot of people who won't be able to enjoy their vacations. I sincerely hope @WDWToday @WDWGuestService reconsider this policy! No outside vendors @WDWGuestService @WDWToday? So can I call down to the front desk and have this brought up to my room? This is only the tip of the iceberg for equipment people require.”
Despite being tagged multiple times within the Tweet thread, Disney has yet to respond, even while responding to numerous other guest questions and comments.
IMAGE VIA JAMES BUSECHER | TWITTER
  • Image via James Busecher | Twitter
The concern for how the new rules would affect their vacation plans – due to having to wait to receive medically necessary equipment – wasn’t enough for some Disney fans to sympathize with users online, turning on those who require the medical equipment and telling them that if they didn’t like the new rules then they just shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World, which is otherwise known as one of the most mobility-impaired accessible vacation destinations in the world.

Wheelchairs are available for rent at the water parks but not the WDW hotels. Disney also does not accept reservations for wheelchairs or ECVs and Disney wheelchairs have a 350-pound weight limit, while ECVs have a 450-pound weight limit.

After days of uncertainty surrounding wheelchair and ECV availability at the resorts, Disney announced a new partnership local mobility rental company ScooterBug. As the exclusive Disney "featured provider" of mobility devices, ScooterBug retains access to the Bell Services with guests who reserved their mobility devices through ScooterBug not having to deal with any of the newly created hardships. While ScooterBug does offer many of the most basic strollers, ECVs, and wheelchairs, it currently does not offer the medical chairs that some guests, such as Ed McCann, require.

So far, it is unclear how Disney plans to address access to the medically required equipment that guests previously were able to pick up at their convenience at the bell desk. What is clear is that the new rules should push more people to rent Disney's own strollers, scooters, and wheelchairs, even if they are more inconvenient.

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