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To Stroller, or Not to Stroller?

Every year it seems as though a new topic is added to the list of taboo Disney discussions that you just can’t talk about without causing a kerfuffle, even amongst friends.  In past years it was as simple as mentioning a selfie stick that could send Disney fans into a side-taking frenzy of spirited love-hate discussion. More recently, 2017 saw Pandora’ join the list as fans began arguing over appropriate wait times, Banshees and everything in between. Soon after, 2018 added a more seemingly mundane word to the archive of no-go topics of Disney fandom where the mere whisper of the word straw showed park-goers aligning themselves with aggressive environmental vs. convenience opinions.

That brings us to 2019 where a subject of discussion that had bubbled away at the surface for many years has finally boiled over. This years word of contentious debate, able to antagonize the masses with a single word is, ‘stroller’.

I thought this might make for an excellent opportunity to face the haters on both sides and break down the stroller questions one at a time.

Photo by freestocksorg on Unsplash

My stroller is slightly oversize, should I bring it anyway?

Ever since the new stroller regulations were announced earlier in 2019, Disney guests have been partaking in the quite spirited debate about what should and shouldn’t be allowed in the parks. Once the new restrictions were actually implemented on May 1st, 2019, stories of stroller sizes printed on the ground started to emerge as families began being pulled aside to discuss the discrepancies in their stroller dimensions against park regulations. As usual, conflicting reports tell different stories with some park guests report being on-site for a week at a time, not once seeing any such sizing graphics or any sort of inspection process for strollers.

If you are tempted to bring your slightly oversized stroller when only the handlebars are insignificantly bigger than the allowed dimensions, I get it. I completely understand where you are coming from. However, it all comes down to the experience you want your family to have. Sure, you may be able to get away with it, you might get to keep your stroller some of the days but what happens if at the last moment, amongst all the security line chaos, your child needs to be removed from their comfort zone because suddenly it is noticed that your stroller doesn’t measure up?

I get it; I promise I do. Renting a stroller is expensive and puts your child in an unfamiliar seat that doesn’t have all the convenience that your one from home does. But, do we really go through the months of Disney planning only to end up feeling caught off-guard at the last minute over a stroller? Is the risk worth it? To me, it isn’t. Save yourself the apprehension and just commit to getting something local or taking a smaller stroller for your trip. You will never know what it was worth that you did not have to worry about it when you get there though that is also the beauty of taking care of these things in advance. The stress and risk are removed, leaving room for more fun and excitement.

Photo by Dylan on Unsplash

I am leaving valuables in my stroller because I don’t want to carry them, no one will take them, right?

Um, no. If you leave your wallet, or phone, or anything valuable unattended in plain sight in your stroller, there is a good chance that it will be stolen. Sure, the likelihood that the average person is more focused on their own family than what has been left behind in your stroller is higher in Disney theme parks than other tourist destinations, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t or won’t happen just the same.

Anything you are planning to store in your stroller needs to be securely hidden from sight and never leave anything behind that would be a deal breaker if someone magically liberated. If you are set on leaving your purchased items in your unattended stroller, remove them from their retail shopping bags and store them in a plain looking canvas bag you brought with you; do anything you can to disguise them as nothing special. If you leave brand new items sitting pretty in their Disney Parks shopping bag, there is nothing to stop anyone from coming along and picking up the bag before walking away as though nothing happened. After all, thousands of people are carrying those bags around the parks, can you really think of anything more inconspicuous?

Stollers at Disneyland

If I leave my stroller in the correct spot, why can’t I find it when I come out of an attraction?

Dude, where’s my stroller? We’ve all said this many times. Just because you leave your stroller in the correct place does not mean it will still there when you return. In fact, I struggle to remember a time that I left my strollers near an attraction and they were in the same position when I came back to them.

Cast Members are constantly moving them around to accommodate the growing lines, those stroller parkers that aren’t following the rules and the movement of surrounding crowds. Some CM’s are lovely and do their best to keep them close by to where they are left. On the odd occasion, you will come across a CM that will move your stroller and belongings to the moon if it means they get them out of their way.

If you have a common brand of stroller, be sure to attach something identifiable to it so you can find it more easily and other people are less likely to walk away with it, easily able to see it isn’t their own. Choose something colorful but not valuable, perhaps an oversized novelty luggage tag or an old scarf/bib/ribbon attached to the handlebars, anything you might be able to recognize from a distance.

Why are people giving me dirty looks because my children in separate strollers insist on holding hands while we stroll? Isn’t it cute?

Sure it is cute for a moment, maybe even a photo but when you and your partner are pushing two strollers, forcing them through crowds side-by-side you become part of the Blocker Family, preventing the flow of traffic by taking twice as much room as you need to in tight spaces.

For you, it might be cute to look down and see two little hands intertwined, for those around you it becomes a five-foot-wide wall of stroller-pushing through the people. Save the inter-stroller hand-holding for the photos so you can move as swiftly and efficiently as possible when pushing strollers through crowded areas.

Photo by Micael Widell on Unsplash

Should I bring a stroller for my older child?

In my experience, Disney is the exception to the stroller rule for children. In your home life, you might find it easier to encourage your child to walk around the food market or not bother taking a stroller on walks or trips to the park. Disney theme parks, however, are a whole different story. If you are planning on hitting the parks hard, you might be walking from the early hours of the morning, miles and miles until the late nights of fireworks and after-dark celebrations. Those are not conditions that children are used to. If you have an older child that is 6 – 8, I would still consider bringing a stroller for them to rest in. More so in Walt Disney World than in Disneyland where it is easier to transfer between parks and nearby hotels.

Could you get away without one? Absolutely, the question is more will it be easier, more enjoyable, and more comfortable for them with one? It doesn’t have to be anything large; just a small umbrella stroller will do, the last one I used many years ago was bought in a local department store for around $18. It came in handy storing my child in the wet weather with a poncho over the top while saving her little legs from exhaustion as the day went on. On our last day, we donated it to another family who was struggling with a wearied child.

You don’t need to use it every day; perhaps if you are taking a resort break mid-day, you bring it in for the evening only. There are no rules as to how you do it but just keep in mind that a Disney day is not your regular day for anyone, especially children who are easily overwhelmed.

People are slow, should I ram them with my stroller to speed them up?

Call us crazy, but people don’t generally respond well to being physically injured just to prove a point. I know, we are all delicate little tulips but try not to weaponize your stroller and instead keep your patience in check.

Maintain a reasonable distance between the person ahead of you and the front of your stroller just in case they stop suddenly.

Photo by Dylan on Unsplash

If you have any additional stroller grievances to air, add your feelings down below.

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Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.

Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.


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