Walt Disney World’s EPCOT has transformed into a wonderland, brimming with festive cheer and cultural delights. The International Festival of the Holidays, running from November 25th to December 30th, 2023, invites guests to embark on a joyous journey around the world, exploring diverse holiday traditions and indulging in seasonal treats.
Highlights of the Festival:
Holiday Kitchens: Embark on a culinary adventure as you savor delectable holiday dishes from over 25 food and beverage booths scattered throughout the World Showcase. Each kitchen offers unique flavors inspired by different countries and their holiday customs.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season: Immerse yourself in the soulful sounds of gospel, R&B, and holiday music at this uplifting concert held daily at the World Showplace.
Candlelight Processional: Witness the heartwarming retelling of the Christmas story, narrated by a celebrity guest and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. This beloved tradition takes place nightly at the America Gardens Theatre.
Holiday Storytellers: Gather around in each World Showcase country to hear enchanting tales of holiday folklore and traditions shared by captivating storytellers.
Meet Santa Claus: Jolly old St. Nick awaits your visit at the Odyssey Pavilion, ready to spread Christmas cheer and capture memorable photos from November 24th to December 24th.
Cookie Stroll: Delight in a sweet scavenger hunt as you purchase delicious cookies from designated locations and collect stamps in your Festival Passport. Upon completing the stroll, you’ll receive a complimentary specialty cookie.
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition: Join Olaf on a festive quest to discover holiday customs from around the world, adding stamps to your passport as you go along.
Holiday Illuminations: As dusk falls, witness the dazzling spectacle of EPCOT’s nightly fireworks display, set to a medley of holiday music.
Whether you’re seeking culinary delights, heartwarming entertainment, or simply the spirit of the season, EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays promises an unforgettable celebration. Come and experience the magic of holidays from around the world!
I’ll be visiting the Festival next week and will come back with tips and reviews!
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a long-running dinner show held nightly at Fort Wilderness’ Pioneer Hall. My brother remembers taking my niece there as a baby and she’s getting married next year! We’ve never seen it ourselves, though, and finally got the chance to do so this fall, when we stayed at The Cabins at Fort Wilderness.
You can attend Hoop-Dee-Doo whether you’re a Fort resident or not, of course, but getting there can be an extra hassle. There’s a boat to and from Magic Kingdom, so that’s one option. And of course Disney’s buses go to the Fort, but only to the front of the resort. Fort Wilderness is HUGE. So many camping sites, cabins, and facilities. Pioneer Hall is located in the Settlement area, and that’s almost a mile away from the front of the resort. You can’t park your car at the Settlement, so you need to use the internal bus system to get there, or, if you’re staying at the Fort, you may have rented a golf cart for the duration of your stay there and you can get there that way. Lastly, there’s always Disney’s Minnie Van service, which will take you directly to the Settlement bus stop and pick you up from there as well, but that, of course, is at an additional cost.
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show happens three times a day, at 4 PM, 6:15 PM, and 8:30 PM. Reservations are required, can be made. 60 days in advance, and must be prepaid. Pricing, as of September 2023 (this is subject to change at any time):
Category 1: Adults $74, Children 3-9 $44
Category 2: Adults $69, Children 3-9 $40
Category 3: Adults $66, Children 3-9 $39
Note that wheelchair-accessible seating is located in Category 1 and Category 2. Category 3 seating is located on the second floor of Pioneer Hall, which has no elevator access. Prices include tax and gratuity.
Here is a diagram of the seating, from the Walt Disney World site:
We had the misfortune of going to Hoop-Dee-Doo on an evening when it was pouring rain. Worse, the procedure to go into the show involves going back behind the Hall to get your table assignment/ticket, out in the pouring rain, then scurrying back to the front to crowd under the awning and wait to be seated. My husband and I had ponchos on, thank God, because it was a deluge. I wish there had been a better way to handle that process that didn’t involve us being almost washed away.
We attended the 6:15 PM show, and sat in the balcony, in Category 3. I had done some research and poked around on Google, and thought the view from upstairs would be good — and it was:
We could see the stage very clearly and the performers also circulated in the audience, both upstairs and downstairs.
The one thing I didn’t like about sitting in Category 3, though, ended up being the difficulty of eating and watching the show at the same time. Downstairs you pick what side of the table you’re on and can sort of turn a bit each way. Upstairs, you can only sit facing away from the stage at your table. All the seats (including those downstairs) swivel all the way around so you can watch the show that way. But I’d assumed that dinner and the show itself would happen at separate times, and truthfully they overlapped. At one point I was torn between eating, or watching the show and letting my food get cold. I should also mention that as a person with back problems, I found the chairs to be profoundly uncomfortable. The good thing about being upstairs with no one behind me, then, was that I could stand up and stretch when I needed to.
There’s a set menu at Hoop-Dee-Doo. For a picky eater like me, that’s always a tough situation. It’s also important to note that there are plant-based options available, as well as accommodations that can be made for those with allergies. Make sure to note this on your reservation ahead of time.
Now, I’m going say something a little negative off the bat. We had a server that was, for whatever reason, less than helpful. He didn’t go over the menu with us, he didn’t ask anything about preferences. We had to try a couple times to get his attention when we needed something. He wasn’t rude, and it wasn’t awful, but something was a little off. All I can say is, always remember to have patience and stay polite, in that kind of situation. It’s Disney, but it still happens.
On to the food!
When you’re taken to your table, salads and cornbread are waiting for you. There’s a green salad with a vinaigrette dressing and there’s also coleslaw. The salad was perfectly fine but nothing special. I did like the tang of the dressing.
The cornbread was delicious. To be perfectly frank, I could have sat there all night and eaten loaf after loaf of it. Terrific taste, and a really nice texture. I like cornbread but sometimes it’s a little too grainy. This one absolutely wasn’t. The whipped butter was nice, and for those who want extra barbecue sauce with everything, there was plenty of it.
Shortly after this the performers came out into the audience to a big round of applause.
The show began, and it was very high energy. Dancing, singing, and not a few puns. Is it corny? Yes. Very. That’s the charm of the show. If you’re going to roll your eyes at cowboy jokes and silly skits, this might not be the show for you. But if you enjoy that kind of thing, it’s very good. The cast members were all very talented and had great voices. Each went out into the audience multiple times, asking where people were from and singing out the answers. There was a round of happy birthday for anyone celebrating, as well as a nod to those there for an anniversary. One couple in our crowd had just gotten engaged. There was also a bit of audience participation at the very end, with five guests chosen from the audience.
Sometime during the performance our main entree and sides were delivered. This was where I had some problems with the timing. We had to choose between eating while it was hot and missing some of the show or letting the food get cold. We did our best, but It think they could time when the food was brought out a bit better.
I’m not much of a rib eater and fried chicken isn’t a big favorite of mine, but my husband had both and said they were good. The mashed potatoes were very smooth and flavorful. The mac and cheese was a very pleasant surprise. I’ve found a lot of cheesy mac at Disney to be watery and lacking in flavor, but this was very creamy and tasted great. You can order seconds (or thirds, even) of anything they bring you, but we were plenty full already.
There was a break in the show here (which is when I wish they’d brought the food out) and when it resumed there was more music, dancing, and audience participation. Keep those checkered napkins handy! They also bring around some washboards for the big finale.
Dessert is so yummy here it has its own song — Strawberry Shortcake! I can only say wonderful things about it. The shortcake was light but tasty and the strawberries were great. We enjoyed this a lot.
And with that, dinner was over. Hoop-Dee-Doo can be a lot of fun, and the food served is good, as long as it’s to your liking. I will say I didn’t leave hungry, even though I just had sides and dessert. The main negative I would say is that it’s not the easiest location to get to. Once you’ve figured the best transport for you, though, it can be a fun evening out.
This review was written in September, 2023. Prices, options, and offerings are always subject to change.
I love it when I get a chance to watch the Green Army Men in Toy Story Land, part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World. Usually we only catch the tail-end of their performance, but this time I happened to be front and center when they marched up, so I caught the whole performance to share. These guys are always a ton of fun!
As any Toy Story fan can tell you, the Green Army Men never stop until a mission is com
It’s been teased for nigh on a year, but a recent tip from a Cast Member leads us to believe that Fantasmic, as well as Fantasmic Dining Packages, will be announced any day now.
We’ve got a trip coming up at the end of November and have been having the dickens of a time making dining reservations for Disney’s Hollywood Studios– at restaurants that don’t usually sell out so quickly, on weekdays, etc. We’ve already made a few fruitless calls to Dining but one particular CM let slip that the reservations aren’t full but held back… possibly for Fantasmic Dining Packages. Could it FINALLY be time for Fantasmic to come back to Hollywood Studios?! Keep watching, it might be soon!
There were a lot of big Marvel reveals yesterday at San Diego Comic Con! Miss Minutes popped up to introduce Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer of Marvel, who was joined on stage by moderator Ash Crossan to deliver Marvel Studios’ long-awaited live-action panel. Feige didn’t disappoint the enthusiastic crowd, showcasing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s upcoming slate with trailers, special looks, Q&As with talent and filmmakers, major announcements and a live, show-stopping performance. Here’s some big highlights:
The Marvel Cinematic Universe will include Phases 4, 5, and 6, all part of the Multiverse saga, concluding with two all-new Avenger films, AVENGERS: THE KANG DYNASTY, releasing May 2, 2025, and AVENGERS: SECRET WARS, which is slated for November 7, 2025.
Fans won’t have long to wait before the next installment of Phase 4. SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW premieres exclusively on Disney+ on August 17, 2022. Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany)—an attorney specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases—must navigate the complicated life of a single, 30-something who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk. The nine-episode comedy series welcomes a host of MCU vets, including Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/the Abomination, and Benedict Wong as Wong, as well as Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. The crowd went wild at this presentation, which began with a live performance by Baaba Maal (vocals), Massamba Diop (tama) and dancers and drummers. Feige was joined on stage by director Ryan Coogler and cast members Mabel Cadena, Michaela Cole, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Tenoch Huerta, Florence Kasumba, Alex Livinalli, Lupita Nyong’o, Dominique Thorne and Letitia Wright for a Q&A and first look at the film’s first trailer, which you can view HERE.
In Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation, the film also stars Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livanalli. Feige also shared that the film is the final title in Phase 4. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens in U.S. theaters Nov. 11, 2022.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA: Phase 5 kicks off in 2023 with the next Ant-Man installment, opening February 17, 2023, directed by Peyton Reed and starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors and Kathryn Newton. Super Hero partners Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) return to continue their adventures as Ant-Man and The Wasp. Together, with Hope’s parents Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
SECRET INVASION is a new series that launches on Disney+ in Spring 2023. Cobie Smulders, who reprises her role of Maria Hill—a decorated spy and Nick Fury’s loyal #2—was on hand to talk about the new show. SECRET INVASION stars Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos—characters who first met in CAPTAIN MARVEL. They are joined by Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman and Regé-Jean Page. The crossover event series showcases a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls who have been infiltrating Earth for years.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 heads to theaters on May 5, 2023. Our beloved band of misfits are looking a bit different these days. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.
PHASE 5 : New details emerged regarding a host of previously announced titles in Phase 5.
Streaming exclusively on Disney+ in 2023 are highly anticipated series currently in production, including ECHO, which is slated for Summer 2023; LOKI SEASON 2, also debuting Summer 2023; and IRONHEART, streaming Fall 2023. AGATHA: COVEN OF CHAOS begins filming later this year with a debut date in Winter 2023.
Phase 5 theatrical releases include: THE MARVELS, directed by Nia DaCosta, which hits theaters July 28, 2023. BLADE, which begins shooting this October and opens in theaters November 3, 2023. CAPTAIN AMERICA: NEW WORLD ORDER opens in theaters on May 3, 2024. DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN, an 18-episode season with Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio returning, streams on Disney+ in Spring 2024. THUNDERBOLTS, featuring an exciting new group of heroes, is slated for theaters on July 26, 2024.
PHASE 6: Looking ahead, Phase 6 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe promises compelling storytelling and Marvel Studios’ signature style of adventure. FANTASTIC FOUR hits theaters on November 8, 2024. Production kicks off next year for the feature film that introduces Marvel’s most iconic family. AVENGERS: THE KANG DYNASTY opens in theaters May 2, 2025. AVENGERS: SECRET WARS is slated for release on November 7, 2025.
Reported this week at Walt Disney World, characters are signing autographs again! Additionally, autograph books are for sale once more in gift shops around WDW.
Keep in mind that it’s only been confirmed that characters are signing autographs again in Walt Disney World, Florida. No news on the other Parks, and as of this writing, there are still no autographs on Disney Cruise Line (character meets are still distanced there).
I’ve been on just two cruises before, both Disney, in 2013 and 2016. Because I’m prone to something called mal de debarquement syndrome (which basically means you still feel like you’re on the boat after the cruise, sometimes for months) I stopped cruising. Then there was COVID, of course, and we all stopped cruising. Now, I decided (under advice of my awesome ENT) to give a Disney cruise another try. We cruised for four nights on the Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral, with stops at Castaway Cay and Nassau, in the Bahamas.
I researched the heck out of my previous cruises and I prepared the same way for this one. There were a few surprises, though, and almost none of them having to do with the pandemic.
While the rest is in no particular order, this is the most vital piece of information I need to pass on to any potential Disney cruisers out there: they DO NOT sell Pepto Bismol on the ship. Nope, not in any of the stores. So if you get a jumpy tummy and you’re thinking that cool pink liquid would settle things down? Better bring it with you.
In happier news for me, but probably not as useful for others, it turns out a shorter cruise (4 nights vs 7 nights) made my post-cruise dizziness/balance issues much lighter and easier to deal with. There’s still a little bit of woozy, but not much. Manageable.
There’s a bit of a dining dilemma imo. So, there are two seatings in the MDR (Main Dining Room) each evening, Main or first Seating and Second Seating. These vary a little by ship but they’re at about 5:45 PM and 8:00 PM. We used to do the Second Seating. We’re two adults, no kids, and by nature of the timing there’s fewer kids in the later slot. That’s true, but we’re older now, and honestly, I just can’t eat a huge meal after 8 PM anymore (keeping in mind it’s close to 9 before you’re done). So we tried the early Main Seating, and it was a bit of a disaster. I expected there to be more kids, and there really, really were. So it’s basically constant shrieking. More to the point, your serving team has very little time to spend with you because they’re running from the second dinner starts to get food into little ones’ mouths right away to keep them from melting down, then the adults, and then back to kids again. When we did Second Seating on our earlier cruises, we really got to know our serving team (Note: With Disney’s rotational system, you have the same servers every night as you move through the rotation of dining rooms.) to the extent that I practically cried saying goodbye to the first crew — Sasha and Gedde, we still talk about how amazing you were. They told us about their jobs, the ship, their lives; we were on our honeymoon and Sasha had just gotten married and his wife worked at Palo. She came to say hi when we ate there. They were friendly and attentive and knew our drink orders after the first night and had them waiting for us when we got there each following night. We took pictures with them at our last dinner, and honestly, who am I kidding, I did cry a little. At Main Seating, this time? Our servers were very nice and all, but way too busy to do any of those things. So, it’s a bit of a rock and a hard place, if you’re like me. Second Seating is too late for us to eat, and Main Seating is a madhouse. Honestly, we would have skipped the MDRs after the first night and gone to Cabana’s for dinner, but it hasn’t reopened since COVID. In the future, assuming it comes back, that’s what we’d do. Or book Palo, or even just room service.
We didn’t get to know our servers very well, but our stateroom attendant, Windy, was just amazing. We kept telling him he made our cruise. He just took such great care of us and got us everything we needed. He also did great towel animals
Our cruise was from May 2 to May 6, therefore May the 4th happened while we were onboard. However, Disney didn’t have a single Star Wars event/character meet/merchandise/movie showings/mention. Some cruisers dressed up in Star Wars gear and outfits, and many of us wished each other May the 4th Be With You, but that was it. I have to be honest, folks were a little disappointed there wasn’t SOMETHING to acknowledge it. My guess it that Disney feels that Cruises = No Star Wars except for the specialty Star Wars Days at Sea Cruises. Which this should have been, but wasn’t.
Speaking of movies, we’ve gone to the movie theater before on other cruises. It’s nice, and there’s free popcorn. We saw The Force Awakens there, for example, in 2016, with a great crowd. But this cruise all they were showing was Encanto and Frozen, alternating. They’re both great, but they’re both available on demand in your stateroom. There was a late night showing of the premiere of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at 11 PM on our last night, but this was never announced and only put on the schedule a few hours before it was shown. I’m guessing most people didn’t even know about it.
Character meets in general are still slightly distanced, but no masks, and there are tons of them all day long. The Navigator app (which is the only place to see the day’s schedule now, no more paper version) had them all listed, but not by name. We asked for more information on which characters were meeting when, but were told Disney purposely leaves that information out because they don’t want people to start lining up in advance. Instead you’ve just got to show up (most happened in the Atrium) and see who’s there. I will tell you that by doing that in the afternoon on our Nassau port day, I got to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Stitch, and Captain Hook & Smee, all in pirate costumes, all with no waiting.
We came very close to not being able to have our day at Castaway Cay because the winds were too strong for our first attempt to dock. We were soooo close to the island and then had to back away, it was gut wrenching. Luckily things cleared up a bit and the captain made a second attempt later, and we ended up with a beautiful day on the island. Disney tries their best and I was told that in some cases, if the entire day is a wash, they can attempt to use a scheduled sea day to visit CC instead. I’m sure it’s rare, but it does happen that weather can prevent a safe docking, so keep that in the back of your mind. We rented a cabana on Serenity Bay, the adult-only beach, and enjoyed it immensely. I recommend water shoes for going in the ocean and to watch out for ocean life. I’ll never forget the woman on our second cruise who was up in arms because she “hadn’t been told” there would be fish in the water. “This is Disney! Couldn’t they keep the fish out?!” Personally, I love the little guys that are everywhere right near the shore.
Back on the ship, I saw a number of cruisers using ECVs (scooters) without too much difficulty. The elevators, though, were rather tight. I also didn’t see any accessibility for the pools, and personally would have dreaded navigating one around any of the dining rooms.
One of my favorite things on previous cruises were the hot tubs in the adult-only section, which have glass bottoms and look out over the ocean. But the jacuzzi jets were on the lowest possible setting, barely stirring the water at all, so that it was basically just sitting in very hot still water with other people, which is weird. Several of us asked the pool attendants if they were malfunctioning, but we were assured they were working just fine. It so happens that we were staying Concierge on this cruise, and up on the Concierge-only deck, the hot tub was working just fine, with jets at full blast. No idea what that was about.
I haven’t said much about staying Concierge because I honestly couldn’t say if we’ll ever be able to do it again — it’s pricey. But for what it’s worth, we did enjoy it very much. The lounge is a nice home base and the staff all very helpful. We stayed in a one-bedroom suite and it was an insane amount of space. Including a whirlpool bath tub. Which I used several times. I mean, a tub on a cruise? Crazy.
Even in our fancy schmancy room, though, there were hardly any electrical outlets. One near each side of the bed, but the one on my side was being used by the phone. One in the bathroom. Two in the living room area. And then a couple more near the floor in hallways, I’m assuming to facilitate cleaning and housekeeping. We had a rough time getting everything we needed powered up. You’re not allowed to bring power strips on board, but you are allowed to bring a USB hub. If we’d done that, it would’ve been no problem.
Going on a cruise is a lot of fun, but does require some planning — you’re out in the middle of the ocean and you can’t run to Walgreens for anything you forgot. Hopefully some of these tips help you plan your trip.
The tour has a maximum of 12 persons (over the age of eight), which means it’s bound to be a small, intimate group. Amazingly, our first time through back in 2019, we were the only two people on the tour! These days, though, now that enchanting extra experiences are up and running again at Disney, that’s very unlikely to happen. Our second tour was full, but I will tell you it made for a fun-loving and congenial group. We loved getting to know everyone on our tour, as well as the excellent Cast Members who guided us.
Our tour began at 4:30 in the afternoon (times may shift depending on the time of year). We were asked to check in at least 15 minutes before that time at this booth just outside the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safari.
There was a quick form to read and sign and we were ready to go. Entering through the safari ride area, we got onto a special vehicle that would take us out onto the savanna, utilizing slightly different paths than the regular ride vehicles. The Savor the Savanna bus has seats in a u-shape around the perimeter. There is a little jostling around to be aware of. I have a less than perfect back, so I made sure to sit in a corner where I could better brace myself. Meg, our guide, was seated next to me.
The adventure begins with a drive through the west savanna where we saw plenty of animals — wildebeests, rhinos, and of course giraffes.
We also got a chance to speak with one of the savanna’s zookeepers, where we were encouraged to ask any and every question we had about the savanna and the animals that live on it. We definitely had a lot of questions! We also got to get a lot closer to those giraffes by taking a different road than the one regular safari vehicles follow.
Then it was time to head to our boma right there on the savanna — if you’ve taken the regular safari tour you’ve surely seen it in the distance.
Here, cast members treated us to a yummy tapas-style meal, with a sampling of African-inspired cuisine, paired with a selection of regional beer and wine offerings. And there was also a never-ending supply of POG juice, aka Jungle Juice, the most delicious fruit drink every Disney fan knows and loves.
We were welcome to as much as we cared to eat, though with a full tour we did run out! There was dessert offered as well. Our guides were on-hand to answer any questions we might still have. There is also a restroom available at the boma, which was a welcome amenity.
Soon it was time for the second part of our tour, traveling through the east savanna and getting a chance to see elephants, cheetahs, and the safari’s famous three lions. We caught the male waking up from a nap:
The second half of the tour went by quicker, and I should tell you that it was quite a bit more boisterous — there was wine and beer available with dinner, and many of our companions imbibed joyfully. It made for a lively and fun bunch. We enjoyed meeting everyone and were very glad we’d done this tour again. I doubt it will be our last time Savoring the Savanna.
Savor the Savanna is $174 per guest and should be booked in advance. Guests must be at least eight years of age and if under 18, need to be accompanied by an adult. All guests on this tour should be in good health and free from high blood pressure; heart, back or neck problems; motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not participate. Guests in ECVs need to be able to transfer to an available wheelchair. Theme park admission (as well as a park reservation) is required and not included in the price of this tour.
A few years ago I published an article in two parts on how to use an ECV, also known as a scooter, as Walt Disney World. These can be foundhere (part 1, the basics) and here (part 2, don’t stress and here’s why). There are some updates to WDW policy and recommendations I’d like to share with you. And remember, if you have any hesitancy about using a scooter, maybe because you feel funny or a little embarrassed (and you shouldn’t, but we all know how it is), please make sure to read part 2 because I give a great pep talk. 🙂
You can still rent ECVs from Disney right at the Parks, each day. The current cost (as of 3/2023) is $50 per day, plus a refundable $20 deposit. You can also rent them at Disney’s Water Parks and at Disney Springs, but the refundable deposit there is $100. Park-owned scooters are fine and a good choice if you drove there, just need a scooter for the day, or don’t want to have a scooter on Disney transportation. Disney’s scooters were all replaced with newer models in early 2023, and these are, in my opinion, a big improvement over the older machines. The seat is comfortable and the steering column’s tilt can adjust back to reach you as desired (This helps me, personally, hugely with recline). Most importantly, the old models were four-wheeled and had limited maneuverability. The new scooters are three-wheeled and have a great turning radius. However, some drawbacks remain. You cannot prebook or reserve the WDW scooters. They do sell out early at Magic Kingdom in particular, however, so keep that in mind. Also, they do go a bit slower than offsite models. Still, it’s a good, solid choice if you need it, and very simple to rent one.
You can also rent an ECV from a third-party vendor and there are many to choose from. I’m going to talk about the three I have the most experience with here. The biggest change to be aware of, though, is that as of 2020, the only third-party vendor that can drop off your ECV at your onsite resort so that it is waiting for you when you get there (and likewise, you can return it to Bell Services any time before you go) is ScooterBug. ScooterBug is Disney’s Featured Provider, which means they have an exclusive contract with Disney for delivering ECVs directly to the resort. You can learn more, and make a pre-order, here.
I have rented from ScooterBug a number of times. It is convenient to have the scooter waiting for you at Bell Services, that’s for sure. We drive to the Parks, and aren’t always exactly sure what time we’re arriving, or departing. They have several different models available, as well as a variety of accessories. If there’s a problem, Disney can work with you to remedy it. Once, for example, the wrong model scooter was delivered (more on scooter selection in another post coming soon), and Disney was able to arrange for ScooterBug to drop off the correct one later, while we made do with the other and headed straight to the Parks. We made the tradeoff later. Their scooters are in decent shape, but not shiny and new. I had problems with a battery dying on me in EPCOT once, and they were able to meet me in the Park with a new scooter. Their basic seat backs aren’t adjustable, and their ECVs do show some wear and tear.
Another third-party company I’ve rented from is Buena Vista Scooter Rentals. They also have various models and accessories, but I feel they’re less than top tier when it comes to quality. I noticed a lot of wear, as well as had issues with the scooter stalling out unexpectedly — once in the middle of Rise of the Resistance, and I was humiliated to be delaying the ride for everyone. The cup holder attached to the arm and kept tilting over to the side, and ended up being unusable. Another issue is pickup and delivery. Buena Vista can’t leave the scooter at Bell Services like ScooterBug can; none of the other third-party providers can. But Buena Vista has a very set schedule of times they will bring you your scooter or pick it up. These times weren’t always especially convenient for us and we had to change our plans more than once to work around them.
The third-party company I most highly recommend is Gold Mobility. And to be honest, I doubt I’ll ever rent from anywhere else again. Using their ECV (and I rented the Pride VICTORY 10 3-Wheel Mobility Scooter) after renting other third-party scooters felt like going from a Yugo to a Cadillac. They replace their scooters every nine months, so you’re always in the newest product.
All Gold Mobility scooters come with a fan, front basket, cell phone holder, drink holder (more on that in a second), and a USB port by default, as well as all the usual features such as a battery, rain cover, ponchos, etc. I didn’t think I’d use the cell phone holder but I did, a few times — just remember not to park your scooter and leave your phone behind. You can add a cane, walker or oxygen holder or a rear basket at no cost. Victory 10 scooters can add a sunshade. The scooters are so well cared for it feels like they just came off the factory line. New, clean, and very comfortable.
The seat on the Gold Mobility scooter is fully adjustable. This was a huge plus for me. Other scooters I’d rented did not allow me to change the tilt of the seat back. The Pride Victory 10’s seat could lean quite far back or be more than upright. As a person who absolutely needs back support, this was vital for me. I’ve finished scooter days in agony because there was no support from a non-adjustable seat that was set at too much of a recline. Not the case at all with Gold Mobility’s scooters.
And the cup holder! I know this seems like a small thing to be excited about, but it’s so conveniently placed below the steering wheel, roomy but snug enough that you don’t have to worry about your drink being jostled.
Gold Mobility can’t leave your scooter with Bell Services, but they do offer “white-gloved personalized delivery.” This means *you* get to pick your delivery and pick up time, no need to work around their schedule. A very polite employee of the company brings it right to your resort at whatever time you specify, and answers any questions you might have.
Now, one caveat. Gold Mobility only rents their scooters by the week, not by the day. If you only need the scooter for four or five days, for example, they’ll come pick it up at that time, but you’re still paying the one-week rate. That gave me some pause at first, but truth be told, the cost difference isn’t much. All the ECV rental companies work on a sliding scale so that the first day is the most expensive, and the last the least. In other words, the difference between paying for five days and seven isn’t much no matter where you go.
These are only three of the third-party ECV rental companies out there, and there are quite a few more (Walker Mobility, Apple Scooters, etc.) Look around for reviews on those or try one of the companies mentioned above to find what suits you the best.
COMING SOON: Part 4, how to choose the right ECV for you.