Friday, November 6, 2009

Disney World "Power Scooter" Rentals Portend Doom

I just completed my second straight day visiting Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida with my family. Since it's currently off-season, the lines and crowds have been much smaller than I expected (and much lighter than I remembered from my last visit here as a kid in the summer of 1980). But I had not anticipated the new preponderance of those motorized wheelchairs for adults. Everywhere we went in the park there were two and sometimes as many as five or more of them powering along in the crowds around us.

After a while I noticed a few more things. In the entire time I have been here, I have seen hundreds of these morotized scooters and only one was occupied by someone (an elderly lady) who wasn't obese. Secondly, a surprising number of the drivers appeared to be in their 50s or even younger. And lastly, I noted with interest that many of them were left, like baby strollers, unoccupied and unattended in front of restaurants and attractions that did not allow them in, leaving me to infer that their drivers could freely get in and out of them and walk around when they wanted.

Curious, I asked around and learned that Disney World actually rents these things by the day on a first-come, first-served basis, and that they are referred to by Disney euphemistically (but tellingly) as, "Electric Convenience Vehicles." I am all for full access for disabled persons. But my experience here at Dinsey World is that hundreds of visitors per day seem to be renting them not out of necessity, but rather as a convenience (to avoid all that nasty walking and standing).

It's not far from a bad science fiction movie where the end of civilization in the future is foretold by an era of moral laxitude and endemic societal laziness, where everyone is fat, wears togas and floats around all day on their own little motorized hovercrafts rather then walk. Today maybe 1 in 1,000 visitors are renting these things. But what will tomorrow bring?

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