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Parenting in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
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Adrienne Krock, editor
BYOS (Stroller that is..)

Yes, it's true, Matthew was just 19 days old the first time he visited Mickey's house. At the time, the Disneyland strollers were the metal frames with a vinyl chair-like seat. They definitely were NOT a good choice for a 19- day old baby. 

Fast forward a couple of months: my husband and I were on the parking lot tram with Matthew, our stroller and diaper bag. A cologne- laden man and his beautiful blonde companion decided to squeeze into our row with us. They appeared to be trifle irritated at all the space we were occupying on the tram. Finally the man said to us, "Can't you just rent a Dumbo stroller in there or something?"

It's been awhile since that encounter on the tram, Matthew's older now and has quite a bit of control over his gross motor skills but I still bring our own stroller to Disneyland, which those of you who read my rental stroller column already know. So today I have some tips I've gathered for bringing your own stroller to a Disney Park.

What to Bring

Don't bring a wagon. Disneyland policy is to not allow guests to bring wagons to the park. You will be told either on the Parking Lot Tram or at the front gate. After you take your wagon back to your hotel or car, then you'll be stuck renting a stroller at Disneyland and you know what I think of those.

Personally, I don't think that Jogging Strollers are a good idea. I know some people love them, but as Reader Diane reported to Adrienne's eMailbox last week, they are bulky and can be difficult to handle, especially in tight and crowded areas of Disneyland.

There are pros and cons to umbrella strollers. For older kids who can get in and out of the stroller themselves, they can be wonderful. They fold up very easily for trips on trams, monorails, buses, and / or trains. For toddlers and babies they can be less desirable. They are not as comfortable for napping since they do not recline. Personally, I carry lots of stuff in my stroller such as my diaper bag, sippy cups, and jackets. Most umbrella strollers I have seen are not sturdy enough for this task.

I own two strollers that I adore, but only one ever comes to Disneyland. It has a reclining seat which is great when Matthew needs a nap or even for quick (or emergency) diaper changes. It has a shade for when it is sunny or to hang a blanket over when Matthew is asleep. I can carry our jackets, a diaper bag, a bag of snacks, and souvenirs we collect during the day such as popcorn buckets, sipper bottles or things our friends ask us to carry for them. I also have a cup holder on the handle and when I forget it at home or in the car, I miss it terribly! The stroller folds up when I need it to and it is light and very easy to steer.

Double Strollers

Because I have no experience of my own with double strollers, I'll let you know what my friends and readers have said:

Exceptional Mom Mary prefers a side- by- side double stroller. This way her twins can both see out in front of them. Her own stroller is also sturdy enough that her children can stand in their seats for better views of shows, fireworks, parades, etc.

Reader Shelley wrote to me about a trip to Disneyland a few years ago with friends. They had 9 children between them and used four double strollers for four days! Shelley wrote:

I have actually had both the side by side and tandem. When my children were small (less than 2 years) the tandem was great. As they got older and their legs were longer, we had to buy the side by side. The side by side is great for the kids but a real road hog. The tandem is much easier to maneuver in Disneyland traffic. But there is a real necessity for both kinds.

And finally, Reader Lori has a third opinion. Lori and her husband prefer to use two separate strollers for their 4 year old twins (although these days she prefers renting over bringing her own.) Not only does she find a double stroller to be too bulky but she added:

A double stroller can be more difficult to maneuver in crowds (it can be like human pylons-I'm constantly trying to get around people with a double stroller that's either too long or too wide and shopping the stores at Disneyland with a double stroller is just a royal pain.) Also with a double stroller, it comes down to one parent pushing 65+ pounds of kids and stroller (which can be tiring.) In our case splitting them up is our way of "sharing the weight."

Stroller Security

I have read many emails expressing concern about having strollers stolen at Disneyland (and even received an urban legend email or two!) I'm a bit hesitant to type this out, lest I jinx myself, but since taking our stroller to Disneyland it has never been stolen and I can tell you, I "drive" an expensive stroller. 

I do know that some people take bicycle locks with them and lock their strollers up, so that is an option to consider if you're concerned about this. One thing to keep in mind is that some attractions, such as Alice in Wonderland and Small World are along parade routes, so if you're going to lock your stroller, try to find out where the route is and park your stroller so that it will not be in the way.

Just because you can not find your stroller where you left it does not mean it's been stolen. At times, while we're in attractions or shows, the cast members (CMs) may have to move strollers around. Sometimes this is done to make room for an oncoming parade, other times they are efficiently organizing the stroller parking area to make room for more strollers. You need to keep in mind that you may not find your stroller in the same place where you left it.

Tram tips

Tram drivers will advise parents to fold strollers before boarding the tram. If it is crowded, please be courteous to other guests and fold your stroller. The first two rows of the tram cars face each other and so it's easier to fit strollers there if you can. I have been known to wait for the next tram to get a front row seat. If the tram isn't crowded, we often leave our stroller unfolded and it fits into the front row.

While waiting for the tram, parking lot CMs have sometimes offered the very first car of the tram to families with strollers. This car has extra floor room for wheelchairs which nicely accommodates unfolded strollers, however, this car is located directly behind the tram engines. These engines are not only very loud but expel diesel fumes. For these reasons, I prefer to sit in the cars towards the back of the tram.

One More Thing...

Finally, a note about stroller courtesy. It's hard to avoid all collisions with pedestrians, especially when they cut off our strollers! But try to stay aware when you're driving through Disney crowds. I try to remember to say "Excuse me," "Thank you," and "I'm sorry" when it's appropriate. It's not only polite, but I'm setting a good example for my son. I know when I've been the "victim" of a stroller accident, a polite comment from the other driver, when delivered sincerely, can go a long way to make me feel better about the situation.


Wanted: Your own stroller tips! And of course, your questions and feedback! They will help me plan future columns! Write me at: AdrienneK@mouseplanet.com

 

Adrienne gathered experience taking kids to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job, being Matthew's Mom.

Adrienne and Matthew visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy, too.

Besides Matthew, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain The Happiest Potties on Earth website.

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