|The Stroller Brigade. Boys riding ages 6, 3, and 1|
While an average 5-8 year old may not need a stroller to take a walk to the park, or a shopping day at the mall, more than one day at Disney will exhaust even the toughest of kids. On average, a person walking around a Disney Park will walk upwards of 5+ miles a day. A DAY! If you are really going for a "We're gonna go on every ride and get our money's worth" type of a trip (I really must discourage you from this type of plan), you can make that upwards of 10+ miles. Add to that standing in line, the heat, and overall over-stimulation of Disney and you have a tired (read cranky) kid who will have no qualms about complaining to you that:
1. My feet hurt.
2. I'm tired of walking.
3. I want to ride in (insert younger sibling's name here)'s stroller
4. Will you carry me?
5. Can I ride on your shoulders?
So, at this point, lots of parents are thinking, "I really don't want to drag a stroller to Disney for my 7 year old". Let me tell you this, dragging a stroller is a lot easier than dragging a 50lb 7 year old around all day.
Strollers do come with benefits after all.
1. Many kids are able to take a cat nap in a stroller, or at least fall asleep in them on the way out of the parks at night.
2. Strollers can provide an easy place to store non-valuable items you don't want to haul onto Space Mountain, like rain-ponchos, water bottles, etc...
3.Your child will have a good little seat to sit in to watch the parades and fireworks, and parades.
4.You will have the stroller to help you move faster and safer with the kiddos when crowds are thick, or you are racing through an airport to make your connection.
5.You won't have to listen to the complaints listed above.
|A tired princess after a long Disney Day in a Disney Double Rental|
If you do heed my advice and decide to have a stroller, there are several ways to go about it.
Bring a stroller from home
This works well if you have a lightweight, easy to fold, collapsible stroller already, or if you have a friend willing to loan you theirs for the week. Even if you don't have one already, it may be more cost effective to purchase one prior to your trip. Even a $20 umbrella stroller from Babies-R-Us or Walmart will do the trick. If you have one older and one younger child, you can consider a "Sit-N-Stand" type, just be aware that some older models can be fairly heavy, or difficult for a little one to climb into the front. Florida law states that all strollers must be folded up on the buses, and Disney absolutely enforces this on its buses, so be sure that you can fold it easily and that it is not too heavy. Bringing a stroller from home is often the least expensive option, and it allows you to use that stroller at the airports and getting to your resort.
Buy one when you get there
If you have a car, you can always take an excursion to Walmart, Costco, or Target in Orlando, and pick up a stroller there. If you are without a vehicle, you can purchase a Kolcraft stroller at many of the Disney gift shops and at the entrances to the parks. We did end up purchasing one of these on our last trip (long story), and although it was $50, it was a pretty good umbrella stroller. They are all the same, black and red (Mickey colors!), and come with a reclining seat, umbrella awning, storage bag, and cup holder. They seem pretty sturdy for the money, and we rather liked ours. They same one on Amazon retails for $48, so Disney didn't totally mark up the price. They are usually for sale right near the entrances to the parks, we bought ours at the "Newsstand" right past the turnstiles at Magic Kingdom.
You can, and many people do, rent strollers from Disney. These strollers are hard plastic, have an awning, and come in single and double sizes. The benefit is you don't have to bring one from home, and you can pick one up at each park as you enter. For those that don't want to deal with one in the airports, or who don't want to have to store one in their hotel room, this is a good solution. The down side is that they are really better for toddlers and school age children, and not well suited to babies. They do not recline and can be a little uncomfortable. They also look like about a million other Disney strollers, so finding yours in a crowd can be tough. And people have been known to just take your Disney stroller, when they can't find their own. If you are renting one from Disney, or you get there and realize you should have brought one and are now at the mercy of renting one from Disney (I swear this is the majority of the rentals), try to tie something bright and different to your stroller to make it easy to find in a crowd. A bright hair ribbon, or glow necklace at night. Others are less likely to take your stroller if it has something personal left on it, like a diaper bag or sweater. This option can be expensive though. A single is $15 a day, and a double $31. If you pre-pay for your length of stay, the price drops a little to $13 for a single and $27 for a double.
Rent a stroller from an outside company
There are several companies in the Orlando area that offer stroller rentals. I would recommend Magic Strollers, from the family that started Owner's Locker. You can rent both single and double strollers, and they will deliver them to your resort on your arrival day, and pick them up when you leave. You don't even need to be there, as they will leave and pick up your stroller with Disney's Bell Services at your resort! A single stroller, which is much nicer than Disney's if you ask me, is $15 for the first day, then $8 for each additional day. A double is $25 for the first day, then $9 for each additional day. By renting, you get the convenience of the stroller at your resort. If you have a bit of a walk from your bus stop to your room, this can be very nice getting a sleepy child off the bus late at night, in that you can just pop them in the stroller and wheel them right up to their bed!
Whichever method of getting a stroller to Disney is best for your family is up to you. If you still have any doubts about taking a stroller for an older child I simply cannot emphasize enough how much better it will make the vacation. YES, your 6 year old NEEDS a STROLLER. They do. They really, really do. If you came here looking for tips and tricks for a better Disney vacation, this is one of them. I had friends who went recently who decided to bring one umbrella stroller for the 6 and 7 year old to share, who ended up running to Walmart half-way though the trip to buy a second stroller. On our most recent trip, our newly minted 9 year old rode in the stroller on several occasions.
Bring the stroller.....
|Strollers make perfect stadium style parade seating!One of our strollers is missing from this photo, 4 adults = 4 strollers!|