Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strollers at Disney World

I just got back from my family vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida and I cannot wait to go back! While I am incredibly happy to be home I am not ashamed to admit that I am having a difficult time getting back into the swing of things. Disney World somehow produces a happy magical feeling inside me that is contagious. My entire family is ready to start planning our next trip! All of the ups and downs, ins and outs, tips and tricks of my Disney experience will be shared with you, just not all in this one post. This post is all about strollers at Disney World: Single strollers, Double Strollers, Stroller Parking, Stroller Locks, and Stroller Etiquette at Disney.

It seems really silly to write a whole post about the strollers at Disney, but if you are a parent of a little one planning a trip to Disney World and you plan on bringing your kids with you a stroller is simply a must. I originally did not plan on bringing a stroller with me to Disney, but after talking with my husband and my SIL we decided to bring strollers {yes that is plural, because we brought 2 strollers with us}. Those strollers were such an incredible blessing! I am so glad that we brought them. So here we go…
Strollers at Disney World #Disney #Strollers #TipsAndTricks

Single vs. Double:
If you are bringing one child obviously a single will do. But if you are bringing more than one child a double is a smart move. My five year old son used the stroller frequently at Disney. We have done six flags and other amusement parks and he has walked around just fine, but at Disney he was exhausted with all of the walking and needed to get off of his feet and rest a bit.

Also, it is hot. There is little to no shade at the various parks and you walk around in the hot sun a lot. Let me repeat that you walk A LOT! You are walking constantly throughout the day and then waiting {while standing} in lines for rides. It is a lot of time to spend on your feet. So if you are taking more than one child 5 years old and under I would highly recommend taking a double.

Please make sure that if you are taking a double stroller and plan on using it with an older child/children that you check the weight limits on the stroller. Plan accordingly. A broken stroller on a magical Disney trip does not a happy mommy make.  We took three little ones with us and used both a single and a double.

Strollers at Disney World #Disney #Strollers #TipsAndTricks #SingleStroller and #DoubleStroller

Side-by-Side vs. Tandem Double Strollers:
Disney is a very busy place and there are almost always a lot of people visiting the parks on any given day. This means that the walkways can get congested and a side-by-side stroller can be difficult to maneuver. At the same time tandem strollers can be difficult to collapse and set up if they do not fold with both seats attached. There is a lot that can go into determining which type of double stroller will best suit your needs.

I spoke to several mothers toting double strollers through the parks and their number one complaint about their double stroller choice was how hard a side-by-side stroller was to maneuver in the crowds and collapse on the bus ride. Also, stroller parking at the park can be a bit more difficult for the wider strollers {as in finding a good spot to park}. In the same breath these same people talked about how great the side-by-side was for getting children in and out of the stroller quickly and easily and how simple it was to collapse the side-by-side double stroller. Once collapsed the side-by-side stroller still takes up quite a bit of room and I observed the some parents having difficulty maneuvering the side-by-side on the transportation buses and boats. A huge bonus for the side-by-side stroller is that there is a ton of storage space for bags and what not. I saw quite a few side-by-side strollers on my Disney trip and quite a few napping toddlers in them – so it must be a pretty comfy ride. 

The tandem stroller is a great idea for navigating crowds. You take up less space and can weave in and out of traffic pretty easily. Finding stroller parking for a single is pretty easy as well. Depending on the tandem stroller you use you may or may not have storage space available for bags as some tandem strollers tend to utilize the basket space for the second rider. Also depending on the tandem, set up and collapsing the stroller can be a breeze or it can be chaos. The more pieces you have to remove to collapse a stroller the more pieces you are going to have to juggle while also trying the hold onto your children {this is not very fun at the end of the night when your kiddos are exhausted and falling asleep in your arms.

My suggestion is to go with a stroller that is easy to collapse, preferably in once piece {so that you do not have to take anything apart or put anything together while trying to rush to make a bus or dinner reservations}. If you are staying on site {which I highly recommend} you will need to collapse the strollers when you ride the bus transportation at Disney World from resort to park and/or park to park. The monorail and the boat rides did not require people to collapse their strollers, but if there are a lot of people and space is limited you may be asked to do so and it may be difficult to maneuver a stroller while it is open.

We preferred the tandem for our fast paced trip, but we were also rushing to and from one fast pass to the next reservation and enjoyed moving at a brisk pace. If you are taking a more leisurely approach to Disney a side-by-side might be perfect for you – especially if you are planning on being at the park all day and having your children nap in the stroller {we took a break mid-day and headed back to the resort for nap time.}.

Stroller Parking:
I was very intimidated by everything I read online about stroller parking. I don’t know what I really expected, but I must say that the stroller parking was great. It was usually clearly marked with a stroller parking sign, and if there was no sign there was usually a nearby cast member that you could ask.

The cast members working the stroller parking were friendly and polite and let me know each and every time that my stroller may not be exactly where I put it because they straighten the area up to make room for new strollers as they come in, but it would be in close proximity to where I parked it. And it was. Every time. I brought two Joovy strollers with me {the Orangie Groove stroller and the Lemontree TooFold stroller with rear seat} so my strollers were bright and easy to spot. Having such bright strollers probably made my stroller parking experience a lot easier – as I never had to look too hard for my strollers.

If you do not have a bright stroller I would recommend decorating your stroller with something bright so it is easy to see. In my entire time at Disney I only saw a few people tie an inflated balloon to their stroller. I thought this was a fantastic idea as you only had to spot the floating balloon over the mass of strollers. Shower curtains clipped to the strollers was a big hit on our first day, but that might have had more to do with the rain. I bought laminating pouches and made stroller tags that I zip tied to my stroller handles to deter theft and for easy spotting in a crowd.

For some attractions (we experienced this at Animal Kingdom more so than anywhere else) you will stroll your stroller right up and into the line and a cast member will take the stroller from you and park it near the exit of the ride to collect once you are done. But for the most part there is stroller parking at every attraction either along a wall/divider or in a "stroller parking" group area. We found it easier to park in a central spot and ride the rides in that area then come back for our stroller before we left that section - especially in Magic Kingdom.

Strollers at Disney World #Disney #Strollers #TipsAndTricks #StrollerParking

Stroller locks:
I bought a stroller lock specifically for this trip and I used it ONCE. The only time I used my stroller lock was when we were at dinner and I had to park on the side of a building near the restaurant and there was no designated stroller parking. Disney does not allow you to lock your stroller to any stationary objects, but I had read a few places that you could lock your stroller to itself. So I locked my stroller tires together using a BuggyGuard lock and I ate my dinner and when I was done my stroller was waiting for me. This was the only time I felt the need to use my lock. Every other time I left my stroller at stroller parking or to get on a ride I left my stroller unlocked {but took my possessions with me}. I usually did not have time to deal with a lock. Running to and from attractions, to various character meet and greets, to fastpass lines, to meal reservations… there was no time to dig out my lock, use it, and high tail it back to my group. But I did feel better having it with me just in case I wanted to use it.

Stroller Etiquette:
It is busy and congested and if you are navigating a stroller please be conscious of the people around you and try not to run over them. Disney is a magical place for EVERYONE, even people who do not have little ones in toe.

If you are weaving through people with a stroller - saying “excuse me” or “pardon me” or “can I squeeze through here please” makes a HUGE difference. Politeness is rewarded in kind. Ask nicely and give people a heads up and they are far more likely to accommodate you.

If you are strolling down the middle of the walk way please do not just stop and stand there. The polite thing to do for all of the people around you {and directly behind you} is pull off to the side so that you do not cause a pedestrian traffic jam and so that you do not get run over by the stroller behind you.

Stroller parking is everywhere and is usually clearly marked. Leaving your stroller in the middle of a high traffic area is not a good idea and it will probably not be there when you get back to it.

Strollers on Disney transportation can be hit or miss. I knew I would need to collapse my stroller before getting on the bus. I knew that I didn’t have to collapse my stroller for the Monorail. The boat I was unsure of. The boat I used took me directly from my resort to the Magic Kingdom and sometimes strollers were collapsed and other times they were wheeled right onto the boat with little ones resting in them. If you are using the Disney transportation you should be aware of how many people are trying to ride and how much space your stroller takes up. If there are no kids resting in your stroller, the polite and courteous thing to do would be to collapse it to make room for more people.
Strollers at Disney World #Disney #Strollers #TipsAndTricks waiting in the stroller for Disney Transportation {boat ride}

I am not delving into the world of stroller rentals, as I brought my own strollers from home and did not need to rent a stroller while in Disney. I will say that I saw plenty of off site stroller rentals being delivered as well as on site Disney stroller rentals being utilized in the parks. I chose not to rent because I have strollers and I love my strollers and I am familiar with my strollers and did not want to have to learn a whole new stroller system while on vacation. With that being said I will say that there are options for renting if you don’t want to bring your own.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I am writing based off of my own experiences and my thoughts and opinions may differ from others.

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