June 5, 2011

Tip of the day—Disney Theme Parks and Strollers

CIMG3350 Today continues my daily tips about our Disney trip.  Note that the only Disney area that I have visited has been Disneyworld and some of the tips may vary from area to area.  I have been to Disney 4 times in my life now, and this trip with our young daughter was the best yet!  Today, we’ll talk a little bit about the pros and cons of strollers in the parks.

Our daughter is old enough that she doesn’t usually use a stroller, and we decided rather than lugging down our stroller to FL we would wait and see how she did.  We knew we could rent strollers at the theme parks if she became tired.  Even though we walked and walked and walked around the parks, we never found a use for renting a stroller.  We took breaks, enjoyed attractions and shows, and dined.  I pushed us way too hard the first day we were in the parks, and after that point, we knew we had to pace ourselves better.  We tried to take a “stop and smell the roses” approach and the other days were much more relaxed.  The only times that we carried or held her was when she needed to see something high (like the baby gorilla or the fireworks) or at the end of the day when walking to the buses.  Other than that, she walked everywhere.

Friends of ours had a completely different experience, and I’ll add some of the pros and cons below based on both of our experiences.  Remember that you know your family the best.  Your children might have different temperaments or needs.  Your family might be larger.  Ultimately, you have to weigh the pros and cons for your family and do what works best.

Why NOT to rent a stroller--

  • Now that we’ve been in the park, I cannot imagine trying to keep up with a stroller and weave it in and out of walking traffic.  We went to Disney on a week when it wasn’t as full as it is in the middle of the summer months, and I still saw mothers and fathers with strained looks on their faces as they were going to and from.
  • Disney parks have stroller parking areas where you can leave your stroller while you go to the various attractions.  Note that MANY people rent strollers from Disney which all look about the same.  They have an area near the handles where you can mark your name.  Even still, I can’t imagine finding one of those strollers when parked next to about 50 others!  One good idea I saw from another guest was to put a balloon or big bow on the stroller to help differentiate it from others. 
  • The kids in strollers seemed a lot grumpier than the kids outside of strollers.  I have two theories on this after talking to a few fellow theme park guests.  My first theory is based on the fact that most of the kids I saw throwing fits were ones in the plastic strollers you can rent from Disney.  Those strollers didn’t seem to breathe as well as a cloth seated stroller would have, and therefore they seemed a lot hotter.  The second theory is that those kids were very tired.  When you have a stroller, for the most part you can go at the parents’ or older children’s pace.  There isn’t as much of a need to stop and rest or return back to the resort early.  You can stay there from the time it opens to the time it leaves.  While that is definitely fun and you are getting your money’s worth from the trip, younger kiddos who aren’t falling asleep in the strollers are probably exhausted. 
  • It costs extra money to rent.  If you are bringing your own from home, you’ll have to make room for it in the car or check it through the airport. You won’t have to pay extra money, though.

Why TO rent or bring a stroller--

  • You can do more in a day.  Younger children can take turns riding in the strollers and taking a break from walking.  Parents or older children can push them and keep going through the attractions. 
  • If you have more than one or two children, it is easier to keep up with them if they are in the stroller.  One friend told me that she went with a group, and after each attraction they had to take count of all of the kids.  Knowing some of them were in the strollers and not as able to run off helped.
  • If you have a baby and are going in the heat, I would think it would be a must.  I was a baby wearer when our daughter was young and loved having her in slings.  In FL heat in the middle of summer, though, I would think that a sling would be hot for the both of you.  Babies in strollers seemed very content and I often saw them napping.  One family we spoke with said that they would not have been able to go if it weren’t for the stroller because their 4 month old benefitted from keeping her nap schedule. 
  • You have a place to keep your stuff.  Drink holders and that extra area to store your purse or bags makes bringing a stroller handy.  Yet, remember that if you go on a ride, you have to either bring your stuff with you or leave it there and risk it being stolen.  One couple said that they recommended a small backpack.  Being a person who was OFTEN hit by those big backpacks that parents were carrying while in lines and walking, I urge you to consider others and try and use something streamlined. 

Some other thoughts on strollers--

Rent a stroller through your travel agent from a company outside of Disney.  One of the families we spoke with said that their rental for the entire week of the stroller was right at $100.  If they had gone through Disney, they wouldn’t have had the stroller outside of the parks and they would have paid more. 

Rent something that breathes and consider the comfort of it for your children and you.  If you are going to rent, get something with an adjustable height so that you aren’t leaning over at an uncomfortable angle.  Look at what will be the most comfortable for your child.

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