Thursday, July 31, 2014

Planning: Strollers in the Disney Parks

StrollersWondering what it’s like to manage a stroller in the Disney Parks or debating on whether or not you should use one? See how the Real Moms do it!

Do I really need a stroller?

Jenna: That depends...how old are your kids? Do they tire easily? Will they take a stroller nap (or a stroller rest)? During our first trip, our boys were three and four and we knew that there was no way they could handle all of the walking that Disney entails without one! During our next trip, we will still get a double stroller for them (they will be a few days shy of four and six). We are already planning another trip when they are almost five and almost seven and I will still probably rent a single for them to rest in. PS - I'll be renting from Simple Strollers.

Lindsey: If you have young kids, my answer is most definitely yes. We’ve used a stroller on a trip when Anniston was almost two and another where she was four. This coming December, when our next trip is, she’ll be five and we plan to use one then too. When I was 11 and my brother was five, we took a trip to Disney. It was the first trip for my brother and we didn’t bring a stroller. My poor, little mama had to carry him around a lot. His legs would just get worn out. I still remember how tired she was at the end of each day. Strollers can be a lifesaver for little legs and your arms!

Melissa: For our first trip, our kids were just-turned six and two and a half. We definitely needed one. Not only to contain the two year-old, but to give the older one a bit of a rest now and then. Little legs get tired! I’d say that if your kids are under five, a stroller is a must. Around five, you might be able to get away without one. It will just depend on your family’s touring style and your kids. For our next trip, they will be eight and four. Since the four year-old has boundless energy, I’m hoping we won’t need a stroller.

What kind of stroller should I use?

Jenna: We were flying and decided to rent a double Citi Mini. I didn’t want to take our personal stroller because I was afraid it would get stolen and that would be a huge expense for us to replace. We rented and purchased the optional stroller insurance. I would not personally recommend an umbrella stroller - I just don’t feel like they push well and it’s hard to pack things onto them. We like a sturdy stroller that folds easily, and has lots of compartments and drink holders.

Lindsey: When we were planning our first trip, I did a lot of research on strollers. We don’t use one much at home and so the ones I had were big and bulky. Not what you want for Disney. I talked to a friend that goes several times a year with three kids and she recommended the Cosmo Combi. It’s relatively inexpensive (slightly more than a rental), folds up nicely, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. We used it on our last trip as well and still loved it. This year we are renting a stroller and I’ll let you know how that one works out in December!

Melissa: We took the stroller we were most familiar with and used the most, which was a full-size stroller that came with our travel system. We took the big stroller for two reasons. First, in a pinch, both kids could fit in it. And second, it had a large basket underneath that would hold everything we would need with two young kids, with one in diapers. Don’t take something that’s difficult to push! A stroller with storage is a super smart idea. Since you’re already pushing a stroller, it should at least carry your stuff, too! A stroller that folds quickly and easily is a plus, too. And a canopy/sun shade is important.

But what about getting on/off Disney Transportation?

Jenna: I can’t speak to this point because we haven’t used Disney transport. We’re big fans of taking a rental car!

Lindsey: I’m with Melissa on this one. Getting on and off of the bus was tough. We only took the bus a couple of times (we rent a car for convenience) and one of the reasons was the stroller. If you rent one from Disney, it stays at the park and you don’t have to worry about it. If you have your own, or rented one from another rental place, make sure you have a plan for getting it, the kid(s), all your stuff, and yourselves on/off the bus. Remember, the stroller must be folded up. When we used the monorail or ferry, it was much easier. She was able to stay in her stroller. Not so much of a hassle! But, like Melissa mentions, it’s a small price to pay for having the convenience of a stroller.

Melissa: Getting on/off Disney buses were my husband’s biggest gripe about having a stroller at Disney. Mainly because the stroller must be folded before getting on the bus, which means that everything has to come out of the stroller before it’s folded. But I will say that even though it was a pain to take the kid, backpack, and whatever else out, it was well worth it. There’s no way we could’ve managed without a stroller. Having to unload and fold before getting on the bus was a small price to pay. I’ll also say that the bus drivers were always kind and patient with the stroller transition. We always had a plan for unloading and folding, and had it down to a fine art by the end of the week.

Are the stroller parking areas really safe?

Jenna: Surprisingly, yes, at least in our experience. Cast members do often move strollers around so that there is plenty of room for new strollers to park, so occasionally it’s difficult to find your stroller, but in general, it’s pretty easy. The only negatives that I have ever heard are stories from people who have rented Disney strollers. I can’t speak from personal experience here but I have heard that occasionally, if the park is really busy, you’ll find your stroller missing.

Lindsey: We’ve never had an issue with leaving our stroller. That being said, there were a couple of times where we would come out of a ride or a show and our stroller was moved. Not a big deal, but it did take some time to find it. However, I would never leave valuables, such as a camera, in the stroller. Always take those types of items with you.

Melissa: There are always risks, but hundreds of people park their strollers all over the parks every single day. We never had an issue with anything being tampered with. I’d just say not to leave anything super important in the stroller, just in case. Cast Members do sometimes move strollers in order to save space/keep things organized, so it might not be in the exact same spot you left it in.

Any additional tips for managing a stroller in the parks?

Jenna: Make a hangtag! If you’re renting, most strollers come with a 4x6” sleeve for you to place a card with your name in (check with your rental company). I made two hang tags for our stroller (one was a pirate Mickey head with our last name and the other was a red and white chevron (a little brighter and easier to find) with a black Mickey head and our last name. I flipped our hangtag up over the handlebar so that whoever went to push the stroller would see it right away. If you run out of time for that, buy a big Mickey head balloon. They last for quite a long time and make spotting your stroller a breeze.

Lindsey: Since I’m late to the party, Melissa and Jenna have pretty much covered it. To be honest, the previous two trips, I didn’t do anything to make our stroller identifiable. Our Combi is a pattern that isn’t common in the parks and so it is always easy to spot. However, we are renting a stroller for our upcoming trip and I’m going to make sure to use some of these suggestions!

Melissa: We labeled our stroller’s frame with Sharpie, and attached a luggage tag in the cargo area underneath. When we stayed late in the parks, we attached a glow stick to help identify it in parking areas. If your stroller is super common, adding some sort of quick identification is a good idea, even if it’s just a colorful ribbon tied to the handle. Because we were expecting frequent rain, we took a waterproof stroller cover that we bought on Amazon for about $10. I’ve heard that others have successfully used a poncho or even a plastic tablecloth.

That’s what the Real Moms think of using strollers in the parks. Be looking for Jenna’s rental review in November, and Lindsey’s in December!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment, email, Facebook, or tweet us. We love hearing from readers!

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