View Full Version : Tips With A Wheelchair
07-15-2008, 07:32 AM
I need your help with any tips or suggestions. We have been planning our Oct. 08 trip for some time now and in the past month my mother has been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer. At first we were going to cancel the trip but my mother is set on going and that is all she is worried about doing. She is now pretty much stricken to her wheelchair. She can walk a few steps every now and then with someone assisting her and aid of her cane. She refuses to use an ECV. She rather have one of us push her in her wheelchair and my Dkids (16 &13), dad and myself are ok with that. We want to do whatever it takes to make and keep her happy. So what I am looking for is any tips to dealing with using a wheelchair in WDW. I will thank everyone in advance for your suggestions!!!
07-15-2008, 09:35 AM
First, I'm so sorry for all of you- this must be quite a shock for your family. But your Mom sounds like she's stil living life to the fullest- good for her!
A few hints from my past experiences (others will have more ideas). Will she be bringing her own wheelchair? If not, arrange with a local company to rent one for the duration of your stay. Don't rely on just renting one at each park.
DIsney used to have a special booklet for "Guests with Disabilities;" I assume they still do. Call WDW (or your TA) and have one sent to you.
Even in Oct, the sun can be hot- bring a light-colored, big towel (like a beach towel) to line the seat (& back) (bring safety pins to hold it in position). Also, think of some way to attach her cane to the wheelchair, so she doesn't have to keep it in her lap (where it will catch on anything going by- like other people). DH needed crutches when not in the wheelchair, so I made a holder out of an old pair of jeans. I sewed closed the bottom of one leg (cut the other leg off) and left enough of the body of the jeans to use as a tie around the handle of the wheelchair. The crutches stood up in there out of the way. With a cane, you may just be able to "bungee-cord" the curved handle to the back of the wheelchair.
I can understand you Mom not wanting an ECV; they can be tricky to use and control for the first time. (For instance, EPCOT's World Showcase will be crowded while you're there, so maneuvering around all the booths and lines would be intense.) Since you have several people to help push, you should be fine.
07-15-2008, 10:06 AM
I'm so sorry about your mom. I think it's great that she is looking forward to this trip, and I'm sure all of you will have a wonderful time!
If you are staying on the Disney property, you can get a wheelchair from the hotel. I have done this on at least 4 occasions for family members I have gone to the World with. I think they are technically supposed to be returned each evening, but I have ALWAYS been told to hold onto them until the end of the trip when we check out (this was at All Star Movies, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Wilderness Lodge).
If you are staying off the property, I believe we used ABC Rentals in Orlando the last time I was there with my grandmother. We found them in the phone book at the hotel, and they delivered the chair right to our room. They also had different sizes and models. I remember them being very reasonably priced.
I also call the airline that we are flying and arrange for a wheelchair to be available at the check-in area of the airline, and at our destination in the tunnel, as soon as we exit the plane. Many times they will send one of those golf carts as well.
We always try to tie something to the wheelchair to identify it as ours if it is going to be left anywhere. However, CMs are great about keeping track of wheelchairs if you choose to "transfer" (get on a ride w/out the wheelchair). CMs are also great for helping you get into the specialty wheelchair vehicles (like boats at Small World, for example). They are always very good at it, are always respectful, and never make a big deal out of it/call attention to you.
Before waiting on a line, always speak to a CM in front of the attraction. Some of the attractions' main lines are not handicap accessible, and you can use a separate entrance which allows you to completely cut the line (which is GREAT when it's crowded and hot!) :)
Better yet, you may want to consider getting a letter from your mother's doctor explaining her condition. You can bring the letter to guest services at the front of the park (I think that is the location), and they can issue you a special medical pass that will allow you to bypass some of the lines for the length of your trip. My sister suffers from a chronic, serious illness and she did this during her last trip in June. It helped a lot because of her strict eating and medicine schedule. Also, it helped because it limited her time in extreme heat. I'm sure other people on here know the process better than I do and can fill you in. If you don't get the info you need, feel free to PM me, and I can ask my sister for the correct term for this pass and what documentation you need.
I hope you all have a FANTASTIC trip! :magic:
07-15-2008, 11:05 AM
Thanks for the advice so far!!! We are bringing her own wheelchair. We are also renting a car. So I will take her with me when we get to the airport to get the car and my Dkids and father are taking the Magical Express. This way with the suitcases in my fathers and the kids names we will bypass picking up the luggage. We are also staying on property with two rooms at AS Movies. I also contacted Disney Dinning and they adjusted our ADR's to show 4 adults and 1 adult in a wheelchair. Slowly but surely I am piecing everything together!!!
07-15-2008, 12:01 PM
You can get a wheel chair to use for the duration of your stay for free if you are staying on property. We do this for DS and we have never had any problems and it was always free of charge.:mickey:
07-19-2008, 08:31 PM
I have been pushing my Mom around the world for many years. Having helped her, and other loved ones, through many health issues - I am sure this will be an emotional trip for you. Thankfully, my mother's cancer was removable -- she will be traveling with us again this summer -- but I surely remember our trip to WDW when she was weak from treatments . . . and we were capturing every but of magic we could. WDW has been a great escape for all of us -- it was especially that summer.
You will be glad to be pushing her. As you lean forward pushing up the hills, your head will lean in to hers -- take these moments and share them. If you are worn down, you may be puffing and panting, but still -- point out that guy over there in the funny t-shirt. This is something you both need. You want to capture these moments -- and your Mom wants to not feel a burden. Even after years in her wheelchair, there are times when my Mom worries that she is spoiling your fun -- making too much work for you. Your Mom may feel bad about it, too -- especially on hills. If your children like to push her (at 10, my son begged for chances) -- be sure to let them (even if their speed may run her nerves ragged occasionally.) Consider her chair an excuse to get close -- make sure she knows that its like holding hands with her again.
WDW is the most accessible place we know. Yes, some attractions have entry hills that are steep -- but there are more that do not. She will be able to enjoy most everything. At WDW, there is no disrespect from cast members and few places that are inaccessible. At WDW, my Mom feels so welcomed. . . . As her pusher, if your Mom isn't one to complain, be sure to watch the ground. There are spots with rough ground. There are many areas with bricks / cobblestones that make for a rough ride -- watch though, very often, there is a smooth section only a few feet away -- on which she will feel more comfortable. While the outside world is hard and health problems don't really go away -- at WDW you can forget. With all that you do have to worry about -- simply trust -- WDW is not hard in a wheelchair .
07-20-2008, 10:36 PM
My Gram used a wheelchair for at least 4 or 5 of our trips to WDW. Although I don't really have any specific tips - except maybe to try to take turns pushing (it can get tiring, especially at AK), I just wanted to say I hope you have a great trip!! :mickey: :magic:
07-21-2008, 04:52 PM
First off, let me say kuddos to your mom for wanting to go considering her situation. I have used a wheelchair all of my life for I am paraplegic. I can give you the following tips:
1. Ask your mother's doctor to write a letter stating her limitation and diagnosis so they know how to best assist her. Take this letter to Guest Services at the first park you visit and ask for a Guest Assitance Pass-it will allow you to make shorter lines or no line at all in some cases.
2. PACE yourselves, and drink plenty of fluids.
3.If you are using DME have them make a note in your reservation so that they will send a bus with a ramp to pick you up.
4. Make sure you ask for an accessible room at your resort and for items like grab bars and bath benches, as they will be provided.
5. Maske sure you are in place early for fireworks and parades as spaces are limited.
6.Make sure she wears very light breezy clothing if weather permiting, specially in her leg area.
7. Reaply sunscreen often.
8. The Companion restrooms in the first aid stations are much more comfortable to use than regular ones and one of you can assist her.
9.Get a Guide for Guest with Special Needs
10. Have guest relations in each park give you a list of all companion restrooms locations for that park.
Try and do most of the attraction where she can join you in her wheelchair. Let the receptionist who makes your ADR's know there will be a wheelchair involved.
As others have said, let this be a special trip and do not let her think for one minute she is a burden. Plan something special for her like a nice dinner just for her and your dad.
Hope you enjoy! As someone who has had cancer and has been lucky enough to survive, know our prayers are with you...:thumbsup:
07-21-2008, 07:22 PM
My only tip is to take your time and enjoy every minute. We went in May and brought my mother with us( she had not been in 25 years). Mom just could not walk for long distances. I knew this ahead and had a wheelchair waiting for when she needed. The first day she left the chair in the room, but soon realized it was much easier on all of us. We stayed at All Star Music, all the castmembers are very helpful in directing you to the correct entrances, most of the rides he will have to transfer out of the chair.We had been to disney many different times, but this was by far our most enjoyable!!!:mickey:
07-22-2008, 12:06 PM
Im sorry to here that :(. But i do know that when my aunt (25 currently) broke her leg (gymnastics insident). She went in a wheelchair. Disney has made almost everything there wheelchair friendly. I know you said you wouldn't mind pushing her around, but you do alot of walking... if it is in your interest you might look into renting an electric wheelchair of some sort. That way your not tired. :). I can't think of any rides that don't have a wheelchair friendly way to get on the ride! :mickey:
I hope you have a good time, :D
07-26-2008, 07:12 PM
My mother, who has since passed away, loved visiting the parks when she came here and used wheelchairs to get around. During this time, I had my two daughters who were about 13 and 11 and had to lift the wheelchair in and out of the car trunk by myself. I sometimes could get them to assist me, but many times I was alone traveling and shopping with my mother. I found that a wheelchair called a "companion chair" was extremely light weight and was easy to put in the car trunk. It basically looks like a lawn chair on wheels and we put a lot of mileage on this.
Also, when she did get out of the chair to walk short distances she relied on a cane. She found that a folding cane was an excellent aid and when she was back in her wheelchair, she would just fold the cane up, wrap a rubber band around it and put it in her purse. They are available through mail order catalogs and are not expensive.
I myself when I visit the parks use an ECV due to severe back problems and have a folding cane which fits nicely in the basket of the ECV.
Hope these help and that you have a wonderful time at WDW. Enjoy every minute. :mickey:
08-01-2008, 08:07 PM
A couple of tips I haven't seen mentioned...
If possible, have someone in your party "take point" by walking slightly in front and to the side of the w/c. You'd be amazed at how many people don't "see" the w/c and will almost fall over it because of their own excitement and gazing around. This really helps to prevent that problem. People also can't hear you say "excuse me" (when trying to make your way through a crowded area) very well from behind the w/c or from the person sitting in the seat, but they'll hear the person "on point" very well.
After a show, such as fireworks, find a place to hang back and wait for the bulk of the crowds to disperse. It'll be a whole lot less stressful for your family to exit when the crowds are a bit thinner.
I hope you all have the time of your lives!
PETE FROM NYC
09-02-2008, 04:46 PM
About 20+ yrs back,we took my DWs parents with us. Her Dad had knee surgery that was not good.Tried him with an ECV,but he kept crashing,so we had to push him in WC.He could walk/stand only for a couple of minutes at a time.What he had was a cane that opened up into a tripod seat.That allowed him to sit on something besides the WC,and support his very short walks.Alot of folks wanted to know where he bought it so they could get one too.
09-07-2008, 08:41 PM
I haven't read all of the previous posts so I will probably repeat much of the information that has already been provided.
My Mother had osteoporosis in her legs and it affected her walking quite a bit. On the trip when she finally gave in and consented to use a wheelchair, we had been in the world for 10 days without visiting the MK. I won't go into the details which finally led to my taking matters into my own hands. Let's just say that I checked with Guest Services at the CBR and they had a wheelchair available, so we finally went to the MK on the 11th day. This was the first of many more happy WDW trips with a little twist - the wheelchair became an integral part of our vacation. Mom had finally realized that using a wheelchair really added to her enjoyment, so the battle was worth it.
Mom's last WDW vacation included my brother's family. She looked forward to sharing WDW with her grandchildren. But, there was a possibility that my brother was going to have to cancel. When Mom found out, she was disappointed but tried not to show it. But things changed and thankfully the trip was back on. You never know what's going to happen. Three months after the trip, Mom was in the hospital and she never came home. She passed away 2 months later (5 months after her last WDW vacation), and the memories of all of our trips, bus especially the last one, are priceless. It's almost 7 years since she passed away, but whenever I visit WDW now, I'm constantly reminded of our experiences and all of our happy memories and I'm thankful that I have them.
I'm really glad you're going to take the trip. It will be good for your family and especially for your Mother. Have a wonderful time, and make lots of happy memories.
Here are some of our experiences:
The WDW bus drivers are the best. With only one exception at DTD, we never encountered any problems. Mom would always apologize about the time it took to "strap her in" but the drivers would always joke around with her, and most importantly, treat her with respect.
In the parks, there are always going to be people who aren't paying attention and will walk into you or in front of you. They just don't understand that a wheelchair won't stop on a dime, especially on a slanted walkway. But the majority of people I encountered over the years were wonderful.
On the other hand, there are many more people who will see you coming and hold a door open for you, or move to one side; in other words, make you forget the people who may have been rude or inconsiderate.
Characters have a tendency to pay special attention to someone in a wheelchair, even if that someone is an adult. I remember one day while we were at the Studios, we saw Chip and Dale. (Mom's favorite characters were Dopey, Chip and Dale.) They saw her and walked over to greet her; then, each one sat on a wheelchair arm and played "squeeze the lemon" with Mom as the lemon. She loved the attention.
The CMs must have radar. On many occasions, as we were approaching a particular attraction, before we even decided to visit, a CM would come over to us and offer assistance.
Theme park pathways are not always level, even if you think they are. The hardest thing to do is to control the chair on a pathway that not only slopes down, but slopes to the side. Putting the brake on partially (just enough to touch the wheel but not damage it) helps to control the chair by slowing down the wheels.
Pushing it uphill can be a little tough, but when you remember that your Mother is having a great time being with your family, you won't feel the discomfort.
I had aches, pains and pulled muscles on every trip once Mom started using the wheelchair, and I lived on Aleve every day. But she never knew. We were having a wonderful time, making lots of wonderful memories, and I wouldn't have changed a thing.
The booklet for guests with disabilities for each theme park is available at Guest Services at each theme park. They contain lots of information, including a brief description of the attraction, wheelchair access, etc. Guest Services at your resort may have the booklets available. If your resort doesn't have them, check at Guest Services at the first theme park you visit; many times I've been able to get all 4 booklets at one location.
Because the Imagineers are so great at creating an authentic experience, the worst walkways for pushing a wheelchair are in Animal Kingdom. There are cracks, "tree roots", etc., but as long as you take it easy you'll be fine. If you need to get out of the heat, 2 of the CS locations, Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus, are so large, that you'll be able to stop into either of them for a bit of air conditioning.
Many of the attractions have wheelchair entrances; sometimes she will able to stay in the chair and other times she will have to transfer to the ride vehicle. We never had any problems; as I've said before, the CMs are great.
Most of the theaters have clearly marked wheelchair entrances and wheelchair seating areas where your Mother can stay in the wheelchair. The CM will help you. Once in a while, you may have to wait for the next show at one of the theaters, depending on how many wheelchair guests are waiting.
Take breaks during the day. Find a nice shady outdoor area to have a snack or just people watch and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you're in a park at closing, don't rush to the exit. Most people always seem to be in a hurry to leave the park, then wind up waiting in a long line for a bus, the monorail, the parking lot tram, or a boat. It's much more fun hanging back and listening to the sounds. By the time you're ready to leave, the lines will be much shorter or nonexistent, and you will have a much more enjoyable ride back to your resort (or a tram ride to your car).
Put a folded towel or a pillow on the wheelchair seat, for comfort.
If your Mother wears shorts, remember to put sunblock on her kees and exposed areas of her thighs. On one trip, Mom never thought to put sunblock on her legs. At the end of the day, she had 2 stop lights for knees.
If it rains, the WDW ponchos are large enough that your Mother won't get wet.
09-10-2008, 03:16 PM
Just a reminder that with some attractions, you wheel the wheelchair through the queue and with others you will wheel the wheelchair into the exit and get on the ride there. Make sure to always ask the cast member at the front of the attraction.
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