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Walt Disney World: to Stroller or not to Stroller?
I feel like I need to explain a few things before I begin. The first of which is that I don't have children. There, I said it. So why is a person without children giving advice on stroller usage while on vacation? Simple. I am a habitual visitor of the parks. I have seen all kind of guests, and I know the best ways to get around the parks. Yes, even with small children.
The second is that I do not mean to offend anyone. I am not judging how people parent or the way their kids behave. I am just making simple statements based upon what I have seen at the parks. That's all. Will I think you are a horrible parent if you refuse to let your child ride in a stroller? Nope. Will I second guess your parenting skills if your five year old spends the entire day sitting in her stroller? Not a chance. Judging isn't my place and it isn't my thing. I just call things like I see them.
As there are stroller rentals available at every park on the Walt Disney World property I will not list getting a stroller to your vacation destination as a pro or con. Yes, the stroller will take up space in your car. Yes, you might be charged a fee to check the stroller. Yes, if you decided to rent a stroller at the parks it is going to cost a little. So in my mind the pros and cons even out on this one.
Do your kids need a stroller at the parks? Can they walk for the entire day? If you think your children should have their stroller, or a rented one, then bring it. If you think they can though it out then don't. After all, you can always rent one of the Disney strollers if you change your mind once you get there. Even if you don't want to rent one of the Disney park strollers you can rent from several different rental companies in the Orlando area.
On rainy days I have seen people with custom rain covers for their strollers. I have even seen families that have made their own stroller poncho out of adult ponchos. The covers keep the kids, stroller, and everything in the stroller dry. Sounds like a pretty neat idea to me. Though, it might get a little hot and humid under the cover during the summer.
I will admit that it looks super convenient to be able to pop everything under the stroller poncho and continue on in the rain. That and you don't have to worry about the little ones running around in puddles and getting their feet wet.
Strollers are very useful. Just ask any mother with a heavy diaper bag, a screaming two year old, and places to go. Guess what? They are great for theme parks too. If you have read any of my other Disney articles then you will know that I feel very strongly that there are somethings that you need to bring with you to the parks. (ie water, sunscreen, camera, money, and snacks if you have small children.)
Strollers are great for more than just carrying your kids. Most strollers have a place where you can store your diaper bag, and let me tell you that is something you don't want to carry around the parks unless you have to. As a matter of fact, a lot of strollers have the storage capacity for all of your family's daily needs.
Most strollers have a sun shade for the kids. This can be very important in the hot Florida sun. It might not keep them too much cooler but it will at least keep the sun off of their sensitive faces. As a bonus it creates a shaded area that just might help a cranky toddler take a nap on the long walk from one side of the park to another.
There are some children that are comforted by their stroller. A full day at the parks is enough to make anyone a little cranky, especially a young child that isn't used to so much excitement. Not only is there stroller a safe place for the child it is a perfect place for them to rest when they get tired.
If you had young children, would you bring a stroller to the parks at Walt Disney World?
I have seen a few articles on stroller theft at the parks. It sounds like the perfect crime because who, besides you and your family, is going to know someone is taking a stroller that isn't theirs?
With this in mind do not keep any valuables in the stroller while it is unattended. As I have mentioned there are several rides and attractions that will make you park your stroller. I strongly recommend taking important items with you.
There are a lot of cons to bringing a stroller to Walt Disney World. Have you ever tried to push a stroller through a sea of people? Sounds like fun right? There are lots of people at the Disney parks, and they are all trying to get somewhere. Strollers take up a lot of room and can make traveling from place to place in the parks difficult.
You will have to push that stroller all day. If you decide that you need to bring a stroller with you to the parks then you are stuck with it. It doesn't go away just because its 4 in the afternoon and is raining cats and dogs.
You will need to break that stroller down to get onto any form of transportation. Before you can get onto a bus that stroller needs to be as compact as possible, and that is going to take time. Depending on the time of year and how busy the parks are you might be asked to breakdown a stroller for boats and the monorail too.
Going through the security checkpoint is going to take a lot longer with a stroller, especially if you have a lot of bags or storage compartment.
There are some rides and attractions what will make you check your stroller. This means that your child is going to have to stand or be carried while you wait in line regardless of whether or not you have a stroller to begin with.
There area lot of strollers that look the same at the parks. This is just a fact. Chances are pretty good that you bought your stroller from a store, as opposed to making it yourself, and that is exactly what everyone else did too.
The bigger the stroller the more tempted you will be to load it down with stuff. Will you need a full set of clothes for the entire family? Who cares, it fits on the stroller anyway. It is exactly that line of thinking that will make that stroller heavier and harder to push, and come 4 in the afternoon you just might be regretting bringing some many extra things.
If you do decide to bring a stroller there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Sometimes people change when they get behind a stroller. They mow down people walking in front of them and deliberately take up more room than needed on walkways. This is just plain rude. There is a reason most people without strollers at Disney dislike stroller people.
- Have the stroller compacted BEFORE it is your turn to get onto the bus/boat/monorail. You know you are going to have to do it, so why wait until you are boarding? This is one of my biggest issues with strollers at the parks. Everyone now has to wait for you to get your stroller ready to get onto the bus, it takes extra time and it is just plain.
- Don't push your stroller into groups of people. Yes, you are trying to get somewhere in a timely manner but that doesn't mean that you have to run people over to get there.
- Don't leave your empty stroller, or one with a child in it for that matter, in the middle of the walk way unattended. If you need to step away for whatever reason set it off to the side or in a corner, just don't leave it where it will cause traffic problems or have people trip over it.
- Have everything ready for the security inspection before it is your turn. You know that you will need all zippers unzipped and bags ready to go on the table. Save yourself and everyone around you a little time and have it ready.
Finding Your Stroller
As I said before there is a very high chance that you will find people with the exact same stroller as you in the parks. You might even run into this problem when you go to pick up your stroller when you get off a ride. With this in mind you might want to do some things to make identifying your stroller easier.
- Put an ID card on it. State the last name and maybe the hotel you are staying at.
- Add something colorful to the handle. Paint, a scarf, a keychain, something!
- Decorate the wheels. Some strollers have spokes, you can put bike wheel decorations or ribbons on them.
- A lot of people use a balloon tied to the stroller handle to help identify their stroller. If you do this I would recommend still having some other form of identifier since the balloon trick is so popular.