The great stroller debate is a very common issue facing people planning a trip to Walt Disney World with small kids. We have been to Disney World with and without a stroller. We didn’t take the stroller on our first trip, because our oldest son, Tigger (not his real name in case you are new around here!) was old enough to walk. I had budgeted to rent a stroller from Disney if we needed to. With the exception of one night where he flat out fell asleep in the middle of the street during Wishes, he kept up like a champ.
Best Stroller Tips for Disney Vacations
For the first trip with our youngest, we took our then 2 year old son Roo (also, not his real name), and our full size stroller. I had done tons of stroller research. Options included renting from Disney, renting from an outside company, or just bringing our own. We usually fly to Disney so that was also a factor when making our decision. Keep reading for a few thoughts you need to consider when deciding on what stroller situation works for your family.
A Few Things to Consider
The Disney strollers are hard plastic and don’t recline at all. I knew that if we had any prayers of Roo taking a nap in the stroller, that we had to make it comfy for him. His personal stroller reclined, was soft and very comfortable for him.
Flexibility of the Child
Roo was very used to his stroller, so I didn’t want to rock the boat and throw a hitch in my touring plans by renting a stroller.
Is your stroller easy to travel with? Will you be riding Disney transportation? If you take a stroller on the Disney bus system, you have to collapse the stroller down completely to allow more people on the bus. Is this easy to do with your stroller? We test drove my sister’s jogging stroller to see if we would like it for our Disney trip. We decided against it because of how long the stroller system felt to me. When space is limited, such as in crowds at WDW, I didn’t want to feel like I was driving a limousine down Main Street when navigating the stroller. If you are flying to/from Disney, you can gate check your stroller right before you board the airplane, and it will make it much easier to get to your terminal with a child strapped in as opposed to them running like a wildebeest stampede through the airport.
In case you didn’t know, thousands upon thousands of people visit Disney parks daily. Most are honorable and honest however there are always the bad apples that enjoy ruining other people’s days. Theft can happen at Disney, even under the best circumstances. We have been hearing about a Florida mom that has been charged with felony theft for stealing a $1800 Bugaboo stroller from Hollywood Studios, leaving a family stranded at the parks. Under that stroller was the families keys, wallets and even an Epipen. The woman that has been charged has been accused of several thefts of high end strollers from the parks. If you park a $500 stroller outside Space Mountain and you come back and it is gone, you are going to be devastated and very, very angry. Keep that in mind when deciding your stroller plans.
You can take food and drink into Disney. Make sure your stroller has a basket underneath for storing your diaper bag or backpacks, cup holders, and anything else you deem worthy of taking into the park.
Use of the Stroller
Only you can determine the answer to this question. The average person walks 7-10 miles per day at Disney. That’s a whole lot of steps for little legs. Unless you plan on carrying your child around the parks in the blazing heat, I highly recommend bringing a stroller. Otherwise you are going to be moving at a snails pace through the parks. And also, sometimes even older kids just get worn slap out from all the walking. Just keep that in mind.
Make Stroller Life Easier
Disney has designated stroller parking areas, generally indicated by a roped off area or signage around the park. Cast Members (CMs frequently moves the strollers around within the parking area to make room for new strollers. Imagine walking up to a stroller area and there are 50 strollers that look exactly like yours! We attach a personalized stroller sign to our stroller handle bar with zip ties. You can either use a plastic sheet protector or laminate your sign to protect it from water. This way, even if our stroller has been moved by a CM, we can glance around and easily spot the “Wade Family” sign. You can also attach bright colored balloons, fabric, etc. Basically, anything to make your stroller stand out in a sea of strollers.
Make it Difficult to Take
99% of the time, this won’t be a problem. However, there is always that 1% that could really ruin a vacation. I bought a cheap, flexible combination bike lock and loosely locked the wheels together. If a CM needed to move my stroller, it could still be moved. However, had someone tried to steal our stroller it would have looked ridiculous to wheel outside the park. PLEASE don’t leave valuables in your stroller at any time. Cameras, souvenirs, wallets, money, cellphones….just don’t do it. They will disappear and you will be very sad at your misfortune. And who wants to be sad on a Disney vacation? I can’t count the times I’ve walked past unattended strollers and spotted $$$$ cameras just hanging from the handlebar or purses tucked in the storage bin. Just don’t do it.
Easy to Transport
Keep things in a backpack or soft sided cooler in the basket under your stroller so you can just grab and go when it is time to collapse your stroller before loading onto a bus. The last thing you need is to be frantically trying to hold everything (and your kids) as you are boarding the bus.
Before your trip buy a $2.00 clear plastic shower curtain to keep in your stroller. Before leaving the stroller parking areas, if there is even a hint of a dark rain cloud, throw the shower curtain over the stroller and tuck it into the crevices. If a pop up shower occurs, and they do a lot in Florida, your stroller will stay nice and dry. If it keeps raining, you can even keep the shower curtain over the stroller as you wheel through the park, and your kiddo will stay nice and dry. Consider it a stroller sized poncho. You kid will be happy and will feel like Super Mom. Trust me on this. Even a CM commented to me about what a genius idea it was. Let’s just say, I’m a Mama that does her research!
Make it Fun and Relaxing
You don’t want your child kicking and screaming when it is time to ride. Have snacks and drinks handy, and recline the seat back when it is nap time. A sleepy child is much easier to push through the parks than to tote. Trust me on this!
I hope these best stroller tips help you on your next Disney vacation. Leave us a comment if you have any other tips that could help other parents as they plan their trips!