Rental Strolling Through the Parks, Or Notby Adrienne Krock, staff writer
Families with young children often use strollers at the Disney theme parks. Some bring their strollers from home, others rent strollers on-site from Disney, and while some rent strollers from an off-site company. This week, we asked the Parenting Panel. Do you rent or bring your own strollers on your Disney theme park vacations?
MousePlanet columnist Chris Barry, his wife, Diane, Samantha (15), and twins Casey and Alex (12), live on Long Island and are all major Disney and Walt Disney World fans. Chris writes:
There are many sides to all of the discussions we have here on the Parenting Panel. I’m pretty open to all of the different opinions. However, there are a few things that I’ve grown pretty adamant about when it comes to visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. One of them is the absolute need for a stroller for young children. I’ll take it one step further, and specifically and strongly recommend a Disney rental stroller. Now, because our kids went to Disney for the first time when they were 4 years old, I can’t speak to visiting the parks with an infant or small toddler, which might be a whole different discussion. My experience with the Disney strollers takes place between the ages of 4 and 7.
I like to tell the story of my visit with Lou, my oldest and dearest friend. It was his first visit to Walt Disney World with kids. We had been there several times already with our brood. My twin boys were probably 6, which put his “Irish twin” boys about a year or so younger. Obviously, all of our sons were well out of their strollers at home. We got to the Magic Kingdom that first morning and, after crossing through the turnstiles, we made straight for the stroller rental. He scoffed. “No way…my guys aren’t in a stroller anymore. They can walk!” Needless to say, by the time we walked straight back to Fantasyland, he made an about-face, high-tailed it back to the train station, and rented a double stroller for the week. It became painfully obvious to him that Disney was not home, and the stroller was indeed a necessity.
In their younger years, Chris’s sons Casey and Alex conveniently relaxed (and even napped) in the Disney rental strollers during their park visits, while their parents never needed to deal with the strollers on Walt Disney World transportation or in their hotel rooms. Photo by Chris Barry.
We always went with a Disney rental. We had no interest in dealing with our own cumbersome stroller on buses, Monorails and boats. At those times, they had no issues walking on their own. Because of the strollers, they didn’t walk that much through the parks, so their energy was conserved. They were rested enough to walk from the gate to the bus and from the bus to the hotel room or vice versa. It was never an issue with us. Yes, we absolutely did carry our kids from the bus back to the room many times, especially at night after a long day. But, it was never so much a burden that I wished I had a stroller with me at all times. To be honest, I kind of miss that now that they’re older.
To be perfectly honest, the last trip my daughter was in a Disney double stroller, she was 7. That sounds crazy, a 7-year-old in a stroller, but let’s consider a few things. First, the Disney strollers are pretty large. They can easily accommodate an older child. Second, Orlando can be downright swelteringly hot. And third, the average guest walks about 10-12 miles a day on a Walt Disney World visit. Combine those three elements together and you can see just how important a stroller is. Take my word for it when I say this: the big, comfy, shaded Disney strollers saved our vacations on many occasions. They were well worth the added expense. They carried shopping bags and snacks and little portable fans to keep the kids cool. They became little rolling sanctuaries for our little ones, and we were just fine with that. The kids certainly cherished them, but, truth be told, nowhere near as much as the parents did.
Disneyland offers Baby Jogger Q-Series Strollers for rent at their theme parks. Of note, the rental models lack several features of the standard models. Briefly, the strollers do not fold, they do not recline, they have no canopy nor parent console and they lack storage features available on consumer models. Disneyland only rents single strollers, but Walt Disney World offers single and double double strollers. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
Sheena, also known as Mermaid, teaches first grade in Arizona where she lives with her husband and two children, Matthew (4) and Katie (3). She visits the Disneyland Resort as often as she can and has passed on her love of the parks to her little Mouseketeers. Sheena writes:
Like many families, we have owned our fair share of strollers. Our daily stroller is the Baby Jogger City Mini. It has a large sun shade that pulls all the way down and it folds with one hand. It is easy to push and stores flat. Basically, it rocks. Our double… doesn't. In effort to save money, we decided to not get the Baby Jogger City Mini double. That was a mistake. So, when it was time to go to the Disneyland resort with two stroller-aged kids, we were puzzled. Do we bring our double that is so hard to fold it has only been in our car three times? No way. Do we rent two singles from the parks? That seemed expensive and cumbersome to have to deal with two strollers. I turned to my friend Google and found City Stroller Rentals. And even better, they rent the Baby Jogger City Mini Double stroller! The price was right and they deliver to many local hotels, including but not limited to the Disney properties. We were sold.
I have rented from them on two occasions now and both times I have been very pleased with the process. The strollers were at Bell Services when we arrived at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. There was a name placard on the stroller to make identification easy in the parks. One time we were given red and one time green, so it seems like they have a variety of colors. The strollers were clean and functioned perfectly, and a parent console (drink holder) was included for no charge. When we were done, we left the stroller with bell services. It was a very easy process and well worth the money.
Sheena rents strollers off-site when her family visits Disneyland. Unlike the on-site Disney rentals, this rented double stroller arrives with full features including a parent console, the ability to recline and fold, and the freedom to take the stroller beyond the theme park boundaries. Photo by Sheena Byerley.
Our stroller days are almost behind us, but I would recommend renting off site to anyone who can't or doesn't want to bring their own strollers. Disney strollers cannot be taken outside of the two parks and the esplanade, so even if I needed a single, I would still rent from an offsite company to keep the stroller with us to and from the hotel. Disneyland does not rent double strollers, so renting offsite was our only option and it turned out to be a great choice.
Chris Salata, also known as GusMan, is a Disney-inspired author and photographer, and loves to help people get the most out of their Disney vacation. Chris writes:
If you have little ones, a stroller is pretty much a necessity for a Disney vacation. With the possibility of walking somewhere in the range of six to 10 miles a day for possibly several days, it is easy to see why you will need a bit of help for the kids. I did find out through direct experience that while you know you will need a stroller, you don't always know all your options. As I share my experiences, I would like to break this up into bringing your own stroller as well as renting strollers.
Since my son was born, we brought our stroller from home and it really wasn't an issue. It was a medium-sized unit that I could fold up rather easily. My son was very comfortable riding in it and it seemed to be the obvious choice. To our benefit, we were able to carry a few extra things in the bottom, and that made it very convenient. However, we soon found out that our favorite stroller did not have the stamina to go a dozen miles a day for 10 days without a few issues. For example, after about day three, it developed a very loud squeal that caused people to look at us when we strolled by. While I could say it was somewhat embarrassing, it also acted something as an early warning system as if I wanted to say “here we are…please make a path” without being so bold to say it out loud. It also was not the easiest to get on and off the bus, though I saw many other strollers have bigger issues than ours. The conclusion here was two-fold: How fast you can fold up the stroller once a bus comes and how compact the stroller might be in the folded state.
We did manage to downsize our next stroller, but it did not come close to making it through a whole trip. Lighter and cheaper does not always go well in a Disney park. However, once we got home, we found a stroller that was a bit smaller than our first and folded up in a way where I was able to sling it over my shoulder. It was an epic stroller, and gone were the days of worrying about if we could get on and off a bus easily. It somewhat made the case for really testing out strollers before you buy them and keeping in mind where they will be used. At the same time, if it survives a Disney trip—you have a winner!
As my son got older, we were not sure if he needed a stroller. Of course the mistake we made was that we thought he would be OK without one and went ahead and gave his stroller away to a family that needed one. Keeping my son in mind, we decided to rent one from a third party. We asked a lot of questions regarding size, how well it folded up, and what the wheel size was, in order to make sure that it would do well on the streets of Disney (smaller wheels are not always better). We also asked about insurance, how often the rentals were cleaned and satisfaction policies. As it turns out, we rented a stroller that was perfect for our son, for all but the first and last days of our trip. He was comfortable and yet the stroller size was still bus-friendly. It came to us clean and fresh and was a lot cheaper than the ones you can get at the parks. In this case, I know it is somewhat daunting to rent something you cant really see or touch first, but that is where references and asking a lot of questions comes into play. The more questions we asked, the more comfortable we felt with the company. It ended up being a great experience for what would be my son's last trip with a stroller.
Elizabeth, who posts on our MousePad message board as eabaldwin, has been a Disneyland Annual Passholder since 2010. She and her husband have three little ones: two daughters and a son. Elizabeth writes:
I think that having a stroller with young children at a Disney park is very helpful. With so much to do and see and so far to walk, it is great to have somewhere for them to sit and relax. Whether to rent or bring your own really depends on the needs of the family.
When we were Disneyland Annual Passholders, we brought our own. It was just easy enough for us to throw one of ours in the trunk, since it was a short drive for us. We usually used our single BOB, or our Chariot, which is a double. I was very happy to rent a stroller once at Disneyland when I had forgotten the front wheels for our Chariot, which made it unusable.Of course, I didn’t realize it until I was in the parking structure. Since it was quite last minute, I rented right there at Disneyland. While I appreciated the ability to rent one at the park, I think that one downside to renting there is that you don’t have a stroller beyond the security checkpoint, making it harder to explore Downtown Disney or get back to your hotel. Another negative for us is that these rental strollers do not recline, making it more difficult for our kids to nap.
During our visit to Walt Disney World, when our girls were 14 months and 3 years old, we rented a stroller from an off-site company. We chose to rent from an off-site company for several reasons. They delivered and picked up the stroller at our hotel, so we didn’t need to worry about picking it up or dropping it off. Another benefit was that we had the stroller to use outside the parks. This was convenient when walking from our hotel room to the bus, or walking around Downtown Disney. The stroller that we rented reclined very far back, which made it very easy for our girls to take a nap while we were walking around the parks. We were able to see and do more than if we had to go back to the hotel room for them to take a nap. Even though it was a brand that is different than any of the ones that we own, it was easy to fold and unfold and very easy to push. We rented a stroller so that we didn’t have to worry about checking ours on our flights to and from Orlando. The downside to renting a stroller is the added cost.
Our strollers don't just help transport our kids from one attraction to the next, they are helpful in other ways. Our children nap in the stroller, so it is important that we have a comfortable spot for them to fall asleep. We encourage them stay in it when we are trying to get from one attraction to another quickly. It also serves as a safe spot in big crowds. When it is particularly crowded or congested, it is helpful to have some place for them to be where they are out of the way. A stroller also carries a lot of our gear, including diapers/wipes, sweatshirts, snacks, water, etc. We couldn’t visit the parks without one.
It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!
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