Walt Disney World is again changing its resort delivery policies, this time restricting drop-off of third party strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs at hotel Bell Services. In this post, we’ll take a look at what’s impacted and what is not–at least for now–along with the likely motivations for these new restrictions.
September 30, 2019 UPDATE: What had previously been reported by stroller and ECV rental companies as an outright “ban” on drop-offs and pick-ups at Walt Disney World resort Bell Services is now something very different. It’s an exclusivity deal with ScooterBug, the company that already provides all such devices at Walt Disney World’s theme parks and Disney Springs.
This new exclusivity deal begins October 1, 2019, and only impacts bookings made with existing, authorized third party mobility device services made after that date. This means that, theoretically, you could make a reservation today for a Walt Disney World trip in March 2020 with your preferred vendor, and they’d still be able to drop off your stroller, ECV, wheelchair, etc. Ultimately, it’s not nearly as cataclysmic restriction or change as previously reported or feared…
This new restriction focuses on ‘mobility’ rentals, and is a good news, bad news scenario. First, the bad news is that as of October 1, 2019, Walt Disney World will no longer allow third-party vendors for strollers and mobility aids to be dropped off at Bell Services prior to guests arrival at the hotel, nor can they be left with Bell Services by guests for vendor pick-up at the end of a trip.
The good news is that third party scooter and stroller rentals are still allowed from vendors that previously did the drop-offs and pick-ups. For reservations made after October 1, 2019, the only difference is that you’ll need to be present in person for the drop-off and pick-up of these devices. This will cut into vacation time, but it’s the same type of workaround that some guests have been utilizing with grocery delivery to avoid paying the handling fees.
The other bit of good news is that, per Garden Grocer, this does not apply to grocery delivery. Garden Grocer “managers have spoken to several different WDW resort bell services managers and employees and we have been assured that this new policy only affects mobility vendors (scooters, strollers, etc.) and that grocery orders will still be allowed to be left at bell services.”
Same goes for Owner’s Locker and other vendors that are not in the ‘mobility device’ business. Since this new exclusivity deal with ScooterBug only pertains to strollers, ECVs, wheelchairs, and that sort of thing, unrelated vendors are unaffected. At least, for now. As we’ve seen, Walt Disney World has recently made several policy changes in this area.
This isn’t the first change of the year concerning deliveries at Bell Services. As we relayed in our Tips for Grocery Delivery at Walt Disney World post, a $6 per item handling fee was implemented in April for each package that is received through the front desk or delivered to your room at all Walt Disney World resorts. Previously, this fee only applied to resorts with convention centers.
As huge advocates (and users) of grocery delivery, this is a relief to us…for the time being. We do worry that Walt Disney World will want to clamp down this more, and a similar exclusivity deal there wouldn’t be surprising. But for now, that is not the case.
Even with the latest update about Scooterbug, this is still a developing story and we’d caution against jumping to dramatic conclusions or worrying about the worst.
As of right now, the details of this story are still coming from third parties. Namely, the vendors that deliver mobility (and other) devices. We won’t know the full details until Walt Disney World publishes the official text of the new policy. (We’ll keep you posted on any new developments on this front!)
It’s been a tough year for third party vendors and guests who utilize these items. To us, it’s not all that surprising that Walt Disney World is implementing more onerous rules with regard to third party vendors. There are a couple of obvious reasons for this, with the first being the burden all of these deliveries pose for Bell Services.
With the proliferation of third party vendors and resources about them, these have become increasingly popular. There are now countless stroller, ECV, grocery, etc. services, and we see their trucks doing drop-offs at Walt Disney World resorts all the time.
Purely anecdotal, but I seldom recall seeing these vehicles a decade ago. It’s likely that the time Bell Services spends dealing with all of this has increased exponentially in recent years. Parking and moving all of these mobility devices and refrigerating all of that beer requires time Cast Members could be spending on other tasks.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, these companies are direct or indirect competitors of Disney (or in this case now that we have more details, Disney’s exclusive third party vendor, ScooterBug). Albeit at much higher prices, Walt Disney World also rents such devices. It should go without saying, but Disney also sells food (thought we’d let you know just in case you missed the hundreds of restaurants pretty much everywhere).
In large part, Walt Disney World guests are a captive audience, and their options for these things are either via third party delivery or directly from Disney. Creating barriers between vendors and guests nudges guests towards Walt Disney World’s own, more convenient options–be that stroller rentals or even dining out instead of preparing breakfast in their hotel rooms.
This is the kind of change that could impact vacation plans for many guests, resulting in new costs either in terms of time or money. It’s unlikely to prompt the type of outrage as occurred in response to last year’s snack price increases or hotel parking fees, but it will nonetheless result in guest behavior shifts. It remains to be seen what the actual, long-term outcome of this new policy is for Walt Disney World guests. We’ll keep you posted!
What do you think of this rule change? Does this make you more likely to rent directly from Disney, or just waste valuable vacation time dealing with this new policy? Do you think grocery delivery will be next to go? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!