On our previous two trips to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I have had to use an ECV (mobility scooter) to help me get around the long days at the theme parks. While the Disney transportation is good with access for ECVs (and wheelchairs) on the Monorail, Buses, and larger ferryboats, there are times when we want to venture off Disney property – and I still need to use my ECV.
To make sure that I have access to my ECV when out and about, I have rented a disability/mobility van from Florida Van Rentals for the past two years. And it has given me the freedom to venture further than the Disney bubble! This year, Florida Van Rentals kindly provided me with a discount, but this does not sway my review in any way. As I found their service to be just as good in 2016, when we first rented from them, as in 2017.
Renting a Disability Van from Florida Van Rentals
At the time of writing, Florida Van Rentals have three kinds of disability vans for rental. These are:
- Rear Entry Mini Van which seats 4 people plus one in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. This is the kind of vehicle we had.
- Rear Entry Van which seats 7 people plus one in a wheelchair or mobility scooter, or which seats 6 people plus 2 in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
- Side Entry Mini Van which seats 5 people plus one in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Visit the rental page on Florida Van Rentals’ website for the most up-to-date information, as well as to check rates and reserve a vehicle. You will need to know the dimensions of your wheelchair (manual or electric), or ECV. As well as the number of passengers that will be travelling.
The staff are helpful and will advise which vehicle type is best suited to your needs. You can call them on their toll free line (in the US) 1 (866) 322-4400 or online. We did everything via email, so if you’re from overseas, don’t worry about your phone bill!
We also had to organise our own car insurance, which was really easy via Insurance4CarHire. Essentially you need to make sure you are covered for Supplemental liability insurance (SLI) and Collision damage waiver (CDW).
We picked up our disability mini van from Orlando International Airport (MCO) and as the driver, I took a moment to familiarise myself with the layout of the controls (lights, wipers etc) as well as adjusting my seat and mirrors. Since this is our 6th trip to Orlando, I’m pretty confident with driving out there, but it is wise to make sure you know how to operate the car, as makes and models will vary.
I’ve got 20 Tips for Brits Driving in Orlando that you may find helpful, if you have never driven over there before.
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We were picking up my ECV from our resort, so we didn’t have to worry about fitting both that, and all our luggage into the disability vehicle. This is something to be mindful of! However, in 2016 we managed the scooter and 3 large suitcases, and 2 small suitcase (cabin size) in the mini van we had – a Chrysler Town & Country (which is pictured below) – on that trip. They are all about the same size, but do check with Florida Van Rentals if you have any concerns.
Our car this year was a Toyota Sienna, which was really roomy and spacious, and a great drive. However a few days into our holiday we had an issue with a rattling sound from the exhaust, so Florida Van Rentals swiftly changed it for us – on a Sunday afternoon. That second car was a Dodge Grand Caravan, again, a great drive – but I did prefer the Toyota!
Both cars had sliding rear doors, and regular front doors. The ramp for the ECV is manual, so you have to unclamp it and fold it down. Navigating the ECV on board was easy as my son would drive it on, secure it in place, and hop onto his seat in the back of the car. If he wasn’t with us, my husband would manually wheel it on.
Here is a quick video tour of the car which I originally did as Instagram Stories when in Orlando. It’ll give you some idea of space inside the minivan.
To park in a disabled parking bay you must display a valid Blue Parking Badge. If you have one in the UK, you can take it with you and take it (along with your passport), a certified doctor’s letter describing condition and a utility bill to one of several local vehicle licensing offices in Orlando and pay a $15 fee for a temporary US parking badge. You can do this in advance too (recommended) so you don’t have to wait in line. Visit the Orange County Tax Collector website for further, and up to date information.
There is a $250 fine if you are parked in a disabled spot without displaying a blue badge. We had one provided in our vehicle. It hangs from the rear view mirror, and must be removed while driving.
If you have any questions about renting a a disability/mobility vehicle please contact Florida Van Rentals direct where they will be very happy to help you.
If you have any questions my experience driving a disability vehicle in Orlando, then please contact me, or leave a comment below and I will help you to the best of my ability.