A dream home in the sun for everyone
Tips & Links
Grand Reserve, Orlando
4 Bedrooms, 10 Guests
Useful tips for your holiday in the USA.
The US is so refreshing to visit as a disabled person, life seems easier and more dignified than anything available in Europe. Disabled parking bays are huge, people talk to you and not the wheelchair, almost everything is accessible. In short don’t worry if you haven’t been before, but if you have any queries then get in touch.
The Flight Over – There are so many direct scheduled services to Orlando International, including Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. In addition many of Europe’s charter airlines offer direct flights to Orlando Sanford. We have flown both direct scheduled and also charter from our own local airport and have never had any major problems (and in over 20 years that’s pretty good I’d say!) When boarding the plane normally you will be able to take your chair to the door of the aircraft at which point you can if you wish be lifted by two big guys (provided by the airline) to the special narrow aisle chair which takes you to your seat. At this point they will lift you into the seat. Your chair is loaded directly into the hold after being taken down from the aircraft door. The aeroplane crews are generally very helpful whilst you are flying and you can make arrangements for special requirements before you leave with the special assistance team which all airlines now have – most of it can usually be done online with no problem at all. Arriving in Florida is generally even easier than departing than the UK I think because travel and tourists are their trade and they are generally very well organised for assisting and handling disabled people.
Getting about in Florida – If you are able to drive using hand-controls then all the major car hire companies can provide you with a suitable vehicle. If you are unable to drive then it is easy to rent wheelchair accessible vehicles to be driven by able bodied members of your party. Click here for details of adapted vehicle rental companies
Is Disney World accessible?– Absolutely, more than you could imagine. Many of the rides take wheelchairs, even electric wheelchairs, although if you wish to ride on the really high energy crazy roller coasters then you will need to transfer to the ride vehicle. Another benefit is that disabled visitors can obtain an assistance pass from guest services in the park where they will be only too happy to help! Disney publishes a useful disabled visitors guide for each of its parks, see below for link.
Where exactly is the house and is it close to Disney? – We are situated on a development known as Grand Reserve, this is close to the Champions Gate development at exit 58 of the I4. We once timed the period it took to go out of the front door, load up the wheelchair, drive to Disney Animal Kingdom (the furthest Disney park from the house), park, unload the wheelchair and buy our tickets and enter the park…. total time was 21 minutes!
What is the booking and arrival process? – After we have agreed dates, you will be sent the booking form to complete, sign and return with the booking deposit of £150 ($250). Confirmation of booking will then be given. Remaining payment must be made prior to 60 days before arrival. When you send in the final payment we will send out driving directions for finding the villa and the key combination for the main gate and the front door. Remember that if you cancel at short notice i.e. less than 5 weeks before arrival, whatever the reason, you will be charged in full.
What about hurricanes? – The hurricane season runs from June to the end of November. Our personal view on hurricanes is clear – they are rare, Orlando is inland and hurricanes lose their power rapidly over land, and the house is built to the latest hurricane regulations. We were actually staying in the villa when Hurricane Irma hit in 2017 – the worst hurricane to hit Florida in decades. The anticipation and build up by the press was actually the worst part of the experience. The worst of the storm went over us overnight (and we slept through it!) and our only damage was a small tear in the pool screen. Because we are on underground electric powerlines we had no loss of power and when we went out next day apart from debris and a few tree branches down it was almost as if nothing had happened at all! The authorities are so well prepared and organised to cover all eventualities.
Mobile phones and other electrics? – European phones work in the US, we have a contract that allows us to use our phone in the US as if were at home –though generally call and internet charges on mobile phones are high – so check with your provider before you leave – and switch off data roaming!! Several of the mobile phone companies in the shopping malls in Florida sell packages to use just for your holiday – worth looking into if you do intend to use your phone there. Most mobile phone chargers work at both UK and US voltages, you just will need a travel adapter. There is a US to UK voltage adapter for UK guests to use, which has a normal UK plug and voltage. This can be used with electric wheelchair chargers.
When is the best time to visit? – Any time! With Spring, Summer and Autumn temperatures in the eighties and winter months typically in the seventies the climate is great. Expect brief but heavy rain on summer afternoons – it doesn’t cause a problem and often includes spectacular lightening. The parks are busiest during US holiday periods.
Which parks are best for wheelchair users? – Everybody has their own favourites, the Disney parks do it so well, Seaworld and Busch Gardens are also excellent and have lots of shows and attractions as well as rides. Our particular favourite is Epcot. In all of the parks the more high energy rides generally require transfers. But there is so much to see and do without ever setting foot on a ride and lots of the rides are wheelchair accessible anyway. Both Disney and Universal have undergone huge changes over the last few years, with renewals and additions to the parks. With this has come more carriages to their rides that can take a wheelchair without a transfer and even better disabled access in general which is great. In all of the parks everyone is so helpful and always go “the extra mile” to get you to where you want to be.
Wheelchair accessible van hire
Medical Travel – http://www.medicaltravel.org/
Accessible Vans of America – http://www.accessiblevans.com/
Wheelchair vans of Florida – https://www.wheelchairvanrentalfl.com/
Disability equipment hire (wheelchairs/beds/scooters/oxygen etc)
Orlando Medical Rentals – https://www.orlandomedicalrentals.com/
Vienna Medical – http://www.viennamedical.com/handicap-equipment-rental.html
Quest Mobility Solutions –https://www.questmobilitysolutions.com/medical-equipment-rentals
Florida and Park Guides for the Disabled and general info:
Official WDW disability advice page – https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_GB/faq/guests-with-disabilities/
Unofficial WDW disability advice page – https://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/disabgeneral.htm
All ears – http://allears.net/
Crowd Calendar (are the busiest /quietest days in the parks) https://www.undercovertourist.com/orlando/crowd-calendar/2019/
Mousesavers.com – https://www.mousesavers.com/ (sign up for their news letter – a great resource )
(We have used all of these companies at one time or another –basically it pays to just shop around)
Undercover tourist – https://www.undercovertourist.com/– American website but tickets are sent by a UK agent – usually very competitive
American Attractions – https://www.americanattractions.co.uk
Floridatix – https://www.floridatix.com
Orlando Ticket deals – https://www.orlando-ticket-deals.co.uk
Disney holidays UK – https://www.disneyholidays.co.uk
Golf at Championsgate – https://championsgategolf.com/