Do we need a stroller for Disney World?

Do we need a stroller for Disney World?

Do we need a stroller for Disney World?

kid sleeping in stroller disney world

Sometimes you just need a nap in a stroller…

A 6 year old in a stroller – is that a crazy idea to you? If I told you that it’s a common image at Walt Disney World, you might think people are nuts. But it’s true! And guess what… I tell all of my clients with kids ages 6 and younger that they may want to consider a stroller for their Disney World vacation.

First of all, let’s start with how much walking happens. An average family will log 7 miles per day on their days in the parks. That’s a LOT of walking, not just for kids, but for adults. Plenty of adults remark that their feet hurt at the end of the day, or that they are definitely tired by the end of the night. Can you imagine a small child trying to keep up with all of that? And that’s just ONE day. Going for 5 days to the parks? Day 2 will be harder than Day 1 and so forth!

The stroller topic is often controversial among Disney goers, but my point of view is this: You are investing a lot of money in this vacation, and it should be fun, un-stressful and full of magic. Nothing is less magical than your child whining or crying about being too tired to keep going, or not wanting to go to the next ride because it’s too hot for them to keep walking. Maybe your child is not going to have that problem, but I say you know your child best. And your Disney World trip is not the place to start enforcing “big kid” walking if they aren’t great at walking long distances at home (or worse, if you’ve never attempted seeing how they’ll do with very long walks at home). Keep in mind that the weather may be a big change from where you live (high humidity) which can make it feel even harder for your child.

A stroller can be brought from home, but it’s even easier to rent a stroller from an outside company that will drop it off at your resort. Many times, I have families with two young children traveling, and I’ll reserve a double jogging stroller for them. These might be 5 and 2 year olds or 6 and 4 year olds, and at home the family may just have a single stroller. Having a double jogging stroller (and a very nice model that drives easily and collapses quickly) is a better option than the stroller they own, so I’m able to make that reservation for them, and it’s ready to go when they get there.

Why rent a stroller offsite rather than in the parks? Two reasons. 1) The in park strollers are hard plastic and not at all comfortable. They don’t recline, so it’s hard to have young ones take a little nap if they need to, or fall asleep at the end of the night. 2) They have to stay in the park and they have to be re-rented each morning, which means delaying the time before you can go to the first rides. By having an offsite rental, you get a comfortable, high quality stroller than you can take with you on the bus, monorail or boat. You can use it in Downtown Disney, and you can take it with you to SeaWorld or Universal Studios. Riding the monorail back from Epcot and your children fell asleep? No problem, just roll them on and they can keep sleeping until you get back to your room.

Extra perk? The storage area. Don’t want to haul your bag or backpack around on your back and get all sweaty? Pop it under the stroller. Want a nice place to store your drink? Cup holders on the top. Quite convenient, if you ask me.

So does every family have to rent a stroller to be happy? Of course not. But if your hesitation is simply that at home your child is “too old” for a stroller or that you think it will look funny, I’d advise to really think it over. In the parks, your child will not be out of the norm to hitch a ride in the stroller, and no one really pays attention to it. I say, do what will make your vacation the best experience possible for everyone involved. If your kids are walking pros and have experience walking for miles, days in a row, by all means, go stroller free. But if your kids have never attempted long hikes or haven’t tried it in high heat or humidity, consider the stroller. It goes a long way to creating a peaceful experience and avoiding many days of hearing, “Moooooooooooom, my feet hurt, I don’t WANT to walk anymore” and “Pleaaaaaaase can you carry me?” and “Let’s go back to the hotel, I’m too tired.”

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Meeting Anna and Elsa: Don’t let it make or break your trip!

Meeting Anna and Elsa: Don’t let it make or break your trip!

Meeting Anna and Elsa: Don’t let it make or break your trip!

Meet Anna and Elsa

Standby wait time in May! Photo by HarshLight via Flickr

 

Anna and Elsa, the most coveted princesses of the moment. Your daughter has watched this movie so many times you’ve lost count. You’ve sung the songs with her a zillion times. And now you’re planning an awesome trip to Disney World and you just KNOW that your daughter MUST meet Anna and Elsa or the whole thing is ruined!!

 

Right?

Meeting Anna and Elsa isn’t imperative

Maybe not. I know, this is probably a very controversial viewpoint that I’m writing here. It’s like blasphemy to say that meeting Anna and Elsa isn’t imperative. I mean, have you seen the videos of earlier this year with hoards of people running to meet them at the moment the parks opened? And then, even with all that rush, waiting in line for five hours? FIVE hours??

What’s the secret?

Ok, so let me tell you a little secret. I was just in Disney World in May. I have a 5 year old daughter who loves Frozen. She looooooves Elsa. She (like your daughter) has seen the movies a bazillion times and sings the songs and all that lovely stuff. And guess what? I love the movie (and Elsa), too. As I watched this ridiculousness unfold in the parks while I was planning our trip, at first I was panicked. Oh NO, this can’t be! My daughter has to meet Elsa. This is her THING, she will want this so badly! How can I make this work?

But the reality was, standing in line for 5 hours (or even two, or one) is not something my daughter would do well. Not even for Elsa. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought this just didn’t make any sense in our plans. But I was afraid my daughter would be heartbroken by this. So I approached her gently, and told her how long we would have to wait…how Daddy and brother would have to split off and go ride the rides while we waited if she really wanted to see Elsa. And do you know what she said? “Oh….well…that’s ok, Mommy, if we can meet Marie instead!” Um, yes child, that’s a deal! (By the way, if you don’t know who Marie is, she is the little girl cat from The Aristocats…. A character with virtually no lines!)

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FastPass+ May Not Be The Answer

Ok, but now you may be thinking: “That’s all well and fine but now they have a FastPass+ for Anna and Elsa! No more waiting! We’ll just do that!” Friends, I have some news – it’s not quite that easy. Here’s the thing: There are very few FastPass+ in any given hour of the day. This means that even if you log on EXACTLY at midnight, 60 days before your arrival date (if you are staying on property), that you may find that all of the FastPass+ options for Anna and Elsa are already gone. How can that be? Well, all of those people arriving just days before you can book all of their FastPass+ options before you can – for their whole vacation. That means if someone is checking in 3 days before you but staying just as long as you are, they (and all of the others like them) can take up the Anna and Elsa FastPass+ reservations before you ever get the chance to log on.

And if you do get one? Current reports are that even with the FastPass+ reserved, waits are 45 -60 minutes. Up to an HOUR even with FastPass+. Now while that may very well be worth it to you, it may still be hard for a small child to wait that long.  Disney has tried several variations on how this all works (including same day Fast Passes, no standby line allowed at all, etc), so I can’t say exactly how it might work by the time you are reading this.  This is just what I know up until this current moment.

Disney has so much too offer! Go see it

The other day, a colleague mentioned that a mom was having a hard time at Disney World because her daughter was not interested in the parts that the mom thought were important. This is a good reminder that sometimes we moms get so caught up in the “my child must do this because all children want to do this and I am a great mom for providing that opportunity for my child so she can do this coveted thing everyone wants” trap. I’ve been there, too.  All I’m saying is…don’t let meeting or not meeting Anna and Elsa make or break your amazing Disney vacation! There are so, so many wonderful things to see and do at Disney World and this is but one tiny option. Anna and Elsa can be seen elsewhere in the parks, outside of a meet and greet, and don’t forget all of the other wonderful princesses and characters that can be met (and rides and shows and parades and treats and fireworks and the list goes on)! Call me crazy, but I just think Disney World has so much more to offer than these two princesses (even though I do love them so).  If you can meet them, fantastic!  And if not – rejoice in all the rest of the magic that Disney World has to offer!

 

 

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A Disney Expert: What does it take?

A Disney Expert: What does it take?

A Disney Expert: What does it take?

Disney travel agent and Disney expert

Graduation at the Disneyland Agent Education Program

When you’re looking for help with planning your Disney vacation, a Disney expert is what you need.  But what is a Disney expert?  What does it take to be one?

 

A Disney expert is a travel consultant (also known as a travel agent) who specializes in planning Disney vacations.  Why is this so important?  Well, because Disney is a world of it’s own!  It’s huge and fairly complicated and ever changing.  Here’s the thing: not every travel agent is a Disney expert – not even close!  If what you are seeking is a full service experience with every aspect of your Disney vacation handled for you, the very first thing you need to do is to be sure that you are working with a Disney expert, and not someone who “sometimes books Disney.”

So what does it take to be a Disney expert?  Constant work and study!  Here are just some of the ways that I maintain an expert status:

  • Maintaining my College of Disney Knowledge certificate and education – a program run by Disney that is an in depth educational component
  • Daily research on the Disney destinations, including news sources, insider tips, blogs, etc.
  • Traveling multiple times a year to Disney Destinations to experience the destinations in depth, test out restaurants and shows, visit the different resort properties and more
  • Constantly keeping up to date with new attractions and shows or attractions under refurbishment to keep all touring strategies that are provided in my custom touring plans up to date and efficient
  • Attending events that I am invited to by Disney, such as the Adventures by Disney showcase I just attended last week
  • In depth study at Onsite Agent Education Programs hosted by Disney in the destinations.  These programs are super intensive with tons of hotel inspections including different room categories, seminar training, in park touring, sampling dining and more!

 

It’s this level of knowledge that you want your travel consultant to have when planning your vacation.  The best way to ensure that your experience is easy, stress free, magical and that you don’t have to overwhelmed with figuring out all of the details is to work with a Disney expert from the start!
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