Do we need a stroller for Disney World?
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.”