If you’re a parent and planning to take a trip to Disney World you’ll want to do some prep work beforehand. It may not seem like a major decision, but you’ll want to figure out what your plans will be regarding strollers. Should you bring your own? Should you rent a stroller from the parks? There are pros and cons with each choice. Take a closer look at both of these options and decide which choice would be best for your family’s Disney vacation.
Bringing Your Own Stroller
1. Your stroller is probably much more comfortable to ride in than the strollers you rent at the Disney parks.
2. Your child’s comfort level will go up even more since they are also used to the stroller they use when at home.
3. You know EVERYTHING about your stroller before you even get into the parks. You know how to fold it, how much it weighs, how the stroller maneuvers, how to pack it, the dimensions, and what it can hold.
4. Your stroller probably has those ever convenient cup holders and extra storage compartments beneath the seat (not available on the rentals). Your stroller might also have seat back adjustment for nap times.
5. Your stroller is easily identifiable in comparison to the rental versions.
6. You can bring your strollers with you as you walk to and from parking lots, buses, and hotel rooms. Some people forget that a lot of walking and exploring occurs outside of the parks.
7. It’s free!
1. You will need to fold up your stroller to get on and off of buses and other forms of Disney transportation most times. Big, bulky strollers can be a bit of a nuisance at times like these.
2. Only collapsible strollers are allowed on monorails, parking-lot trams and buses. Again, those bulkier strollers can be difficult to maneuver at times like these.
3. If you’re flying, you’ll need to go through certain procedures to check your stroller for the flight, requiring extra time and effort.
You might consider bringing your own stroller if:
1. You plan to carry a lot of stuff with you at the parks. This includes items like extra clothes, cameras, video recorders, snacks, drinks, diapers, bags/purses, and souvenirs.
2. You own a stroller that is lightweight and can fold compactly and quickly.
3. You’re staying for an extended period of time where those rental fees could really add up fast. You’d be better off buying a cheaper umbrella stroller with features you know and like than to rent a less comfortable stroller from the park.
4. You’re traveling with a young child (under the age of two definitely).
5. You plan to spend a lot of time away from the major Disney parks.
6. You plan to spend time at the water parks where stroller rentals aren’t available.
Renting a Stroller
Before I go into the pros and cons, let me tell you about the process of renting a stroller. To rent a park stroller you must go near the front of the park to purchase your rental. You can rent a stroller for the day or you can rent a stroller for your visit. You’re given an ID tag to slip into a plastic sleeve found on the rental stroller. This tag identifies the stroller as yours. You use that tag if you plan to park hop. You only pay for the stroller rental once.
1. The rental strollers are very functional and easy to maneuver around the parks.
2. The process of renting a stroller is easy and fast.
3. You can leave your stroller anywhere in the park when you’re ready to leave.
4. You don’t have to worry about maneuvering your stroller onto buses and other forms of Disney transportation.
5. The strollers are large enough to hold older children much more comfortably than those traditional strollers brought from home.
1. Rental strollers can’t leave the park gates. This means you’ll need to carry all of the stuff you bring into and accumulate inside of the park to and from bus stops, the parking lot and your room. After a long, tiring day at the parks that walk without a stroller seems to take forever as you juggle your things and a sleepy child.
2. The rental strollers are made out of hard, molded plastic and can be uncomfortable, especially for small children.
3. The strollers are too big for babies and small toddlers. You should bring pillows, blankets and other cushions to make the stroller a more comfortable fit for smaller children.
4. You can’t adjust the seat back.
5. No cup holders or storage bins at the bottom (there is a small mesh bag but it won’t hold very much).
6. It can be easy to lose your stroller in stroller parking areas. Those rentals all look alike! Make sure you can easily identify your stroller in some way if you plan to rent.
7. The price can add up really fast! A single stroller currently costs $15 per day and a double stroller costs $31 per day. You get a slight discount ($13 per day for a single and $27 for a double) if you pay for your entire stay.
8. Stroller rentals aren’t available at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
9. Rental strollers are more likely to be taken by mistake or even taken by “lazy” people that don’t want to spend time replacing their own rental stroller than has gone missing or been moved by a Disney cast member. If this occurs, replacement rentals are available. This can be quite an aggravation however and, to many, a waste of time.
You might consider renting a stroller if:
1. You travel very light.
2. Your child won’t use the stroller very much.
3. You’re traveling with older children (over the age of 2 or 3) that don’t normally need a stroller but will need a place to rest as they tour the parks.
Regardless of whether you bring or rent a stroller while at the Disney parks, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you always want to make sure that you can identify your stroller at the parks. Even if you bring your own stroller, someone else could have that very same style or model. You don’t want your stroller and their stroller to get mixed up. Tie something personal but expendable to the stroller’s handle and make sure that your name is posted somewhere.
Also, Disney cast members will move parked strollers often times to make room for others and to keep things looking neat. If you’re stroller isn’t where you left it, don’t assume it’s been stolen. If you’re stroller isn’t in the near vicinity ask a Disney crew member and they will be able to help you.
It seems to me that the better option is to bring your own stroller. The pros of bringing your own stroller outweigh the cons whereas the cons of renting a stroller outweigh the pros. Of course every family is different, so perhaps a rental is the better option for some. Regardless, you can bet that on my next trip to Disney I’ll be bringing my stroller along.
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009 by Bob Sehlinger with Len Testa