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Posts Tagged 'stroller-as-a-wheelchair'

Disney Bus Transportation for Guests using Wheelchairs and ECVs 076

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round! Today we’re talking about wheelchairs, ECVs and special needs strollers on the Disney bus transportation system!



photo: WDW for Grownups

If you’re like me and you’re a Walt Disney World fan, you’ve probably racked up hundreds of rides on the Disney Bus System and that is the topic of today’s feature. It’s been ages since we’ve done a Listener Tea Party so I’ve invited three listeners (Mike Greer, Bruce Sherman and Meriwyn Travisano) to join me for a discussion about mobility and special needs on the Disney Bus Transportation System and believe me, we had a lot to talk about:

– Accessibility of Resort and theme park bus stops

– Safety Issues for wheelchairs and ECVs in transit

– Attitudes of non-disabled guests (including “Scooter Shaming”)

– Pediatric wheelchairs vs. regular strollers and the stroller-as-wheelchair tag on the Disney bus system

…and much more!


Be sure to read this Special Mouse BLOG concerning the options required for a pediatric wheelchair (special needs stroller) to be used safely on a Disney bus in transit!

Safe for Transit on Bus-

For more information about the Convaid pediatric wheelchairs mentioned in today’s show, please visit the official Convaid website.


According to At Disney Again: Pictures from Around the World, Disney has purchased new ECVs (electronic convenience vehicles) or scooters for rental in the Florida theme parks.  Several pictures of the spiffy new vehicles were posted on Instagram and it seems the new ECVs are equipped with a USB charger for your phone, allowing guests to power up their devices while they ride!

Thanks to listener Maureen Deal for sharing AND for confirming that the new ECVs are indeed in use at the Walt Disney World parks.

For information about ECV rental at the Walt Disney World resort, visit the Disney website.


Tip of the Week

This week’s tip comes from listener Lori Hope Fries!

If you are planning to use an ECV (or scooter) in the parks, bring along a shower cap to cover the controls, that way they are protected in case it rains.

Thanks, Lori – great tip!


And thank YOU for listening!



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Stroller as Wheelchair on Walt Disney World Buses?



Let’s clear up the confusion surrounding use of the stroller as wheelchair accommodation and safe transit on the Walt Disney World bus system!

The stroller as wheelchair accommodation offered within the theme parks is designed to help children with disabilities and medical conditions to access attractions. Disney says:
“Guests with disabilities—including those with a cognitive disability—who need to remain in a stroller while in an attraction queue should visit the Guest Relations Lobby at the theme parks in order to obtain the appropriate identifying tag.” This accommodation can be used with any stroller, from a top-of-the-line Maclaren to the throwaway umbrella you picked up at Walmart just for the trip.

It can also be used for actual wheelchairs.

Lightweight, folding pediatric wheelchairs are often referred to as strollers – special needs strollers, adaptive strollers or medical strollers. It can be difficult for Cast Members to tell the difference between them and some of the fancy stroller models available today! That is why I typically recommend that parents who utilize pediatric wheelchairs for their children request the stroller-as-wheelchair tag for use in the parks, simply as a convenience. Yes, you know it’s a wheelchair and I know it’s a wheelchair, but who wants to have to explain the difference to Cast Members over and over all day long?

So, you’ve had a fun day at one of the parks and now it’s time to return to your resort via the Disney bus system. Here is where things seem to get a bit fuzzy in people’s minds when it comes to the stroller as wheelchair accommodation at Disney! Strollers must be folded when boarding the Disney buses…



This applies even if you have a stroller as wheelchair tag. Remember, this accommodation is provided for theme park attraction access only. There is no way to safely secure a child in a stroller while on the bus – period.

But hey! What about those special needs strollers we mentioned earlier? Many times I’ve read comments from parents who were annoyed because they were unable to wheel their child onto a bus and allow the child to remain in their stroller. “But, it’s not a stroller, it’s a WHEELCHAIR!” they protest.

True. However, not all pediatric wheelchairs are equipped to be bus transit safe!

Let’s look at one of the most popular suppliers of special needs strollers (folding pediatric wheelchairs) — Convaid.

Convaid makes a variety of wheelchairs; most can be outfitted with an additional transit package:

Transit Option – Required Items:

  • Headrest Extension

  • Trunk Positioning Belt

  • Foot Positioners

  • Four Bright Red Anchors (manufacturer required installation)

According to Convaid, their wheelchairs are only transit safe if they are outfitted with this transit package and are secured in a forward facing position. (For more information, you can download the Convaid Transit brochure HERE.)

This is why not all children in special needs strollers (wheelchairs) are permitted to remain inside them while on the buses — it simply is not safe. And, to insist that the bus driver transport your child in this manner when the chair is not equipped for transit is asking him or her to go against safety standards.

So, if you want to be able to transport your child in his or her special needs wheelchair, make sure that it is equipped with the necessary transit options.

Safe for Transit on Bus-

Thanks for reading!

For more about special needs at all Disney travel locations, listen & subscribe to the Special Mouse podcast.



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Magic Kingdom TR: First Visit for Child with Multiple Special Needs 069

Emmalee Disney 2


Today’s feature is a magical one-day mini trip report from Wayne Cordova, father of a 4-yr-old Emmalee, who has multiple special needs: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hypotonia (muscle weakness) and developmental delay. Wayne enthusiastically shares his trip-planning strategy and how he and his wife, Tina, structured their one-day visit to the Magic Kingdom so as to ensure a successful experience for their daughter. Emmalee was able to access her must-do experiences (meeting Mickey Mouse and Anna & Elsa and riding it’s a small world) with help of the DAS and the stroller-as-a-wheelchair tag.


Emmalee Disney 5



Wayne believes that parents of children with multiple special needs have access to numerous planning resources that can help them ensure successful Walt Disney World trips for their families. He shares some of his resources here:

“Easy WDW was the first Crowd Calendar I looked at” –

“The first blog I read about the DAS card” –

“I then turned to podcasts for some info… and found WDW Radio episode 384” –

“Which led me to your podcast!”

Special Mouse #045 –

Special Mouse #050 –

(I’m thrilled that our podcast was able to help the Cordova family!) You can connect with Wayne and Tina here:

Tina’s Blog

Wayne’s Blog

Wayne’s Podcast


* * * * * * * * * *

Tip of the Week:

The DAS system is expected to go digital this week at the WDW resort and there will be a slight change in procedure. Our tip is to assist you during the transition period.

Here is how it will work:

1.) Visit Guest Relations in any park and request the DAS – The person in need of accommodation will need to have the entire party present.

2.) The Guest in need of the DAS accommodation will have a picture taken and his or her name will be entered into the system. (Up to now, the procedure is the same as before.)  Now the information will also be placed on the guest’s MagicBand.

3.) To use the DAS, the Guest will go to an attraction and have their MagicBand read via the Cast Member’s scanner. The photo and information of the Guest needing the DAS will come up and the CM will verify that it matches the guest wearing the MagicBand.

The scanner will then provide a return time.

4.) Upon return to the attraction, the Guest who had the DAS assigned to them MUST scan his MagicBand first, followed by the rest of the party. If not done in that order, it won’t register.

The picture and name of the Guest needing the DAS will then be verified by the CM before the group will be allowed to enter the attraction.


Naturally, there may be a few bugs in the system during the first week or two, so today’s tip of the week to help you through the transition comes to us from two Special Mouse listeners.  Maureen says,

“As a precaution so we don’t lose them, I’m going to take a screen shot of my FP+ times before I load any DAS return times into the MDE app. I know they are supposed to be in two different parts of the system, but they still have issues with FP+ messing up and I don’t want to take the risk.”

And this is echoed by Sue, who says,

“We’ve used the MDE for Fastpasses on 4 trips now and we always take screenshots.

You can go back to view them in the MDE app whenever you want, but sometimes the wifi in the parks is better than others.

So, rather than use up phone power trying to connect to wifi or use phone data time, we just do screenshots at the beginning of the day and each time we make a change.”

* * * * * * * * * *

MY sincere thanks to all of you who have pledged to support the publication of Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide and for tolerating the many, many messages about it that I’ve been sharing this month on social media. I promise that they will stop on May 7th when the campaign ends!

If you or someone you know will be traveling to WDW with a teenager or a child on the autism spectrum in the near future, pledging to the Kickstarter is a way for you to pre-order the book so that you have it on DAY ONE of its release.

There are lots of additional rewards for pledging and so I urge you to visit the page before the campaign ends on May 7th and thank you again for your friendship and your support!



~ Kathy

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More Autism Awareness: Using Disney’s Stroller-as-a-Wheelchair Tag



We continue our month-long celebration of autism awareness and Disney with a guest post from Melissa at the Autism Mommy Avenger Blog!

Riding Along at Disney

When it comes to taking vacations with a child with Autism, it can be a little stressful to think about how the kid will be with crowds, lines and long waits. This was definitely a worry of ours before we took our son to Disney last December. Billy has meltdowns when he is in large crowds, when not moving for a bit, and when he is over stimulated by something. We knew that we would have moments of waiting on a line, or fighting a big crowd when at Disney and were worried he may have a complete meltdown. When we are out somewhere at home, we have his stroller with us in stores. He is always calm when he sits in his own stroller. We made sure when we flew to FL to take his stroller since he was comfortable with it.

When we arrived to Disney we asked for the DAS card for our son, and also asked for the sticker for our stroller. This sticker allows you to use your stroller as a wheelchair. So, my son would be able to just stay in the stroller on lines when we would have a bit of a wait, or when there were a lot of people around…


To read more, please visit Mommy Adventure Blog

Thank you, Melissa!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Autism Awareness Month Blog Celebration is brought to you by Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide on Kickstarter. Please support the publication of this book, today! (Ends 5/7/15)



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Disney DAS Card Survey Results 050



Maureen from Autism at the Parks  joins Kathy to discuss the results of her informal Disney DAS Card survey, which was performed in September/October of 2014.  Maureen observes that, “The most significant conclusion drawn from the results was that almost half of the respondents are having difficultly using a system that is supposed to be helping them while visiting the parks.”

143 people responded to the survey. Elements of the survey included the following questions:

Demographics (age) of guest requiring the DAS accommodation.

How would you rate the difficulty of obtaining the DAS Card?

Did you receive any accommodations in addition to the DAS Card, such as the Stroller-as-Wheelchair Tag or Re-Ads?

Please indicate how difficult it was to use the DAS Card at the parks.

After we covered the survey results we discussed recommendations to help improve the DAS Card experience while remaining an equitable accommodation for guests with disabilities.


Here is the LINK to Maureen’s blog post where you can read about the DAS Card survey in detail.

You can connect with Autism at the Parks on TWITTER, on FACEBOOK, and on PINTEREST.




Congratulations to the following listeners who are advancing to Round 2 of the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search, 2015: James & Lisa Cameron, Didi Marie, Jackie Psarianos, Nora Stevens and Missy Sizemore. We wish you the best of luck! About the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

Listener Mark Sumonka shared that his service dog, Bingo, was featured on the Animal Planet TV Special, America’s Cutest: Disney Side Howl-o-ween.

And finally, the announcement you’ve all been waiting for, the winner of the Special Mouse podcast 50th Episode $50 Disney Gift Card Giveaway is — Matt Harbin! Matt is a disabled veteran who uses a wheelchair. He lives in the state of Washington and although Disneyland is his “home” resort, he is planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon. That gift card should come in handy then! Congratulations, Matt, and thanks to all of you who have supported the show throughout the past 50 episodes!


~ Kathy


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A Cast Member Conversation About Disability Services – 039

exclusive-stampA Walt Disney World Cast Member chats with Kathy anony-MOUSE-ly about her experiences serving guests both with and without disabilities…

I was thrilled to be able to connect with a current Cast Member to discuss Walt Disney World and Guests with disabilities, both visible and invisible!

Cast Members Only

Some of the topics that came up during our conversation:

  • New Cast Member training regarding working with guests who are differently-abled
  • The role of Guest Relations in distribution of accommodations for guests, such as the Disability Access Service Card (DAS), Alternate Entrance Accommodation and the Stroller-as-Wheelchair Accommodation
  • The role of Attractions Cast Members in providing the above accommodations
  • Whether or not Guests without disabilities should be permitted to sit in areas designated for those with disabilities

You can connect with our guest on Twitter @mainstreetfairy


This episode of Special Mouse is brought to you by Up and Up Travel, a Disney-dedicated travel agency that specializes in planning vacations for guests with special needs and disabilities.

And by Orlando Scooter Rental, serving Disney World and Universal Orlando – all hotels, resorts & residences.


Tip of the Week:  In honor of Independence Day here in the U.S.A. this week’s tip concerns the fireworks spectaculars at Walt Disney World!

We’ve talked many times about assisting sensory-sensitive individuals with the use of earplugs, earmuffs, or noise-cancelling headphones during Disney fireworks to dampen the sound.  You can also prepare your child ahead of time by watching (and listening) to the nighttime spectaculars with him/her on YouTube. 


Start with the volume on low and gradually increase the volume to just above your child’s tolerance level and repeat the sequence as often as needed. This is called GRADUAL DESENSITIZATION and it’s a good way to help your child become more comfortable with things that are sensory-difficult.

It is important, however, that you are prepared to bail out in case the sensory stimulation during the show is too much for your child. Position yourself close to the park exit, or even just outside the exit, just in case!


I am encouraging contributions to the Special Mouse Community Blog, Use Your Words. Submissions should be 500-100 words and covering a topic that is relevant to Disney travel with special needs.

>>> Don’t forget to click on the link in the sidebar, upper right, to receive our monthly Special Mouse Community Newsletter! <<<


Thanks for listening,

 ~ Kathy


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Using a Stroller as a Wheelchair and The Gingerbread Run 5K to benefit GKTW 009

Kathy discusses the Guest Assistance Card and using a stroller as a wheelchair in the Disney parks with Kristin Zarchan from Pixie Vacations. A brief announcement regarding the 2nd Annual Special Diets Illuminations Dessert Party, hosted by Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free at WDW is followed by visit with Lisa Bertin-Queena, Director of Special Events at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, FL. Lisa and Kathy talk about the annual Gingerbread Run 5K coming up in November that will benefit GKTW Village, a storybook resort where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to week-long fantasy vacations.


More information about the Special Diets Illuminations Dessert Party can be found HERE.

You can connect with Kristin Zarchan on Twitter @MagicalKristin and on Facebook at Kristin’s Pixie Vacations.

Please visit Give Kids the World and register for the Gingerbread Run! Walk, run, roll or stroll!


Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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