When I first planned a trip to Walt Disney World with young children in 2014 (I was a foster mom at the time), I wondered: Do I even need a stroller? We had a stroller but rarely used it. I thought it probably would just be a hindrance. However, I ended up bringing one and I am so thankful I did.
Now I go to Walt Disney World Parks about 8 times a month or more. About a third of the time, it’s just me and my daughter that go. I have learned a lot about strollers at Disney since I first asked myself if I needed a stroller four years ago. And now I’m here to offer you some thoughts and suggestions. Here are some things to ask yourself and answers to help you make a decision.
Can I go to Disney stroller-free? If you have one child who can walk part time, travel lightly and/or go for short periods of time, you may be able to go stroller-free easily. Also, there are moms I know who love to go stroller-free and don’t mind carrying all the babies and all the stuff which I totally respect. I take my stroller into Disney about half the time. I do babywearing alone half the time. There are pros and cons to both having the stroller and not.
Pros for stroller:
- Can carry stuff like diaper bags, etc.
- Gives a place for the child to sit for breaks, longer walks
- Safe and clean space for the child to eat a snack
- Offers a cool, shady spot for a child on hot summer days using a fan and stroller cover
- Some children love napping in strollers
Pros for stroller-free
- There’s no navigating crowds with a stroller – which can be a serious pro, especially on a busy day.
- You don’t have to run back to a different area to pick up your stroller where you left it. You may leave your stroller several hundred feet from the ride and have to back track to get it.
- On busy days, finding your stroller can be a task. Having an identifier like a large ribbon or sign helps. Sometimes cast members move them for different reasons like to consolidate them or to move to the stroller parking area.
- There’s worrying about the stroller or items in it getting stolen. Although a generally safe place, strollers and items in strollers do occasionally go missing. We do not leave anything irreplaceable or difficult to replace (whether in sentiment or value) in the stroller, ever, period. This is a good rule of thumb!
Will you have more than one child with you? If you will, you may want to consider either two single strollers or one double stroller. With a double stroller, you have just one stroller to worry about and both children can take a break at the same time. With two single strollers, you will have to have at least two adults to push all the time. This may be worth it if you have siblings who need space away from each other. Also with two single strollers, you can leave one in the hotel room if you know one of the children will be able to handle the walking for the time you are going.
Do you carry a lot of “stuff” with you? If you don’t travel lightly, I highly recommend at least a small stroller to help carry the stuff. It can be long, exhausting days without even the factor of feeling like a pack mule carrying a child and a heavy bag.
Does your child walk? If so, how much? Even older little kids can benefit from having a stroller. Don’t let other people’s judgements deter you from doing what your family needs. If your child gets tired easily and fits into a stroller and you want to use it, do! Do what’s best for your family. If your child has any medical conditions which prevent him or her from walking, you may also inquire at Guest Services about “using the stroller as a wheelchair” as well.
Can you carry your child? I can carry Elodie for pretty long times, but as she has been in the 99th percentile for height her whole life, I often find that navigating the stroller through crowds strongly outweighs me carrying her and our stuff 100% of the time, especially when we go for over four hours at a time. The breaks, even if they are short, are worth it! My husband can hold/wear her for very long periods of time and not get uncomfortable, so he often prefers just the carrier and a small backpack.
What kind of stroller might be best for you? This is a very important question and is not a one-size fits all answer! I personally find my top priorities are: 1. a stroller that’s easy to push and 2. the child can face me. These two are my top two priorities because 1. I do not want to be pinching my fingers or have added physical difficulties of a difficult stroller. 2. I like the child to be able to face me so that I can see if she is overwhelmed, staying cool, and staying safe while snacking, etc. Other priorities to consider are: ease of breaking down for the tram and bus, under basket storage, sun coverage and recline ability for naps.
What about renting a stroller versus bringing one with you? There are pros and cons to both of these. Bringing a stroller with you means you have the comfort and ease of your own stroller and can choose which of the features are the most important to you. Additionally, you have the use of a stroller while traveling like flying . We use it to hold car seats and luggage while wearing baby. With renting a stroller, you don’t have the risk of loss or damage during flight which is a real risk and airlines carry little to no responsibility for damage even with gate checking it. Some families also prefer not to manage the extra bulk of a stroller while flying or driving.
What about renting a stroller from Disney versus an outside company? If you have decided to not bring your own stroller but want to have a stroller, you have the option of renting from Disney or an outside company. There are Disney strollers available to rent in the parks. They are mostly large, brown, hard strollers that can be single or double. They do not recline and are probably not very comfortable overall. They do have strollers for younger children but I believe they only have a few and I would not rely on this option for younger children. In my opinion, if you have an older child/children and just want the ease of a stroller for a day, this could be a good option. Otherwise, renting from an outside company makes much more sense. When you rent from a local company, they will let you choose from a few options including brands and single/double. They deliver to and pick up from your resort so you have access to it your whole vacation. You also have some of the extra features like they usually fold down well, have good storage and recline. Additionally, you can add insurance so that you don’t have to worry about losing it!
What’s your favorite option for strollers at Disney? Tell me in the comments below!
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Some of my favorite strollers and favorite stroller products:
Favorite Strollers :
Uppababy Vista or Cruz (https://amzn.to/2B0r1gv)- both offer smooth rides and can face either direction (note: the newer models do use leather in at least one part which is not vegan but can be switched out for this tray )
Bob Flex Revolution (https://amzn.to/2AYRjQ9) – super smooth ride for baby is easy to use
Favorite Stroller Accessories:
Skip Hop Cool Touch Stroller Liner (https://amzn.to/2qDucEU) – it helps keep the child cooler and is machine washable!!
Guzzie & Gus Cup Holder (https://amzn.to/2qHD7oK) – absolutely worth the extra money to have drinks condensation and spills happen away from the stroller