Disney Theme Parks - to stroller or not to stroller?

I often get questions about strollers in the Disney Parks, so wanted to go through the options available for those of you visiting with kids.

The first question you'll need to ask yourself is do you need a stroller? A lot of people will inform me that their kids don't use a stroller at home, so they think they'll be fine without one. LJ doesn't use a stroller at home, hasn't really since he could walk. However, when we're in Disney he loves it! It's like he instinctively knows he needs to conserve his energy for the day ahead (and we usually take breaks in the afternoon). He also very rarely naps at home, but you guessed it… will fall asleep in the pram on any day we don't take a break (and some days we do if he goes swimming). Just this week he asked me if we could take the double stroller when we visit Disney World next and can I push it to the Winnie the Pooh ride (much to my dismay he isn't going to be a thrill ride junkie).We have a while until our next trip and he'll be inching towards 5 at that stage but I can definitely see us using the double stroller for at least the Disney portion of our trip.

Once you've decided that you need a stroller you have three options:

  • 1.Rent from Disney
  • 2.Rent from a third party
  • 3.Bring your own
Is there a better sight as a parent? Both children asleep at the same time!

Renting from Disney

This is a great option for anyone who thinks their child might need a stroller for just some of the trip.

Pros

  • Can collect a stroller at any time of the day (subject to availability) as needed by your child/ren
  • Don't have to worry about transporting it to and from the park
  • No risk, if someone takes yours you can collect another one

Cons

  • Not particularly comfortable
  • Do not recline
  • Not available for the walk to and from bus stops or hotels
  • Expensive (see cost below)

Pricing

  • Walt Disney World Single - $15 USD per day or $13 USD per day if pre-paying for multiple days
  • Walt Disney World Double - $31 USD per day or $27 USD per day if pre-paying for multiple days
  • Disneyland Single - $15 USD per day or $25 USD per day for 2 strollers (no doubles here)

Renting from a third party provider

This is a good option for those that know their child will need a stroller for their time at the Disney Parks but not at other times during their trip and/or they don't want to have to take it on their flights.

Pros

  • More affordable than renting from Disney
  • Strollers usually recline and can come with accessories such as a rain cover and/or parent caddy
  • Can be used for getting to and from bus stops (depending on where you're staying this can be a big plus at the end of a long day)
  • No time wasted at the beginning of the park day picking up and organizing the stroller
  • Could keep for use during cruise if visiting a local hotel after the cruise and not returning straight to the airport

Cons

  • Receive stroller sight unseen and usually left at the hotel before your arrival, so trusting that it will be in good condition
  • You're responsible for any losses – most companies offer some type of insurance which negates this point, however, you would still have time without a stroller waiting for a new delivery should the worst happen
  • Have to fold and carry it on to buses
  • Have to store it in your room (smaller rooms with maximum occupants might find this tricky)

Pricing

Walt Disney World

The two companies used for pricing below are Disney featured stroller providers and two we would happily use for stroller rental for our own children. We haven't received any compensation from them for including them here (in fact they have no idea we've done so).

  • kingdomstrollers.com – this company offers pricing based on set time periods. Single strollers start at $60 USD for 4-7 nights plus a one-off $15 USD for insurance. Double strollers start at $70 USD for 4-7 nights plus a one-off $20 USD for insurance.They also have full-size cribs (what we call cots), inflatable toddler mattresses and inflatable bed rails available for hire. Delivery and pick up is free of charge.
  • magicstrollers.com – this company offers pricing per night. Single strollers start at $33 USD for the first day and then an additional $7 USD (or less) per night after. Double strollers start at $45 USD for the first day and then an additional $8 (or less) per night after. Insurance is a flat rate of $25 USD for any stroller and any length of rental.

Disneyland

Unlike in Orlando, Disneyland doesn't have any featured or recommended offsite stroller rental providers. The company below receives great reviews online (that we've found any way) but we haven't personally used them and as with Walt Disney World, we're not being compensated in any way for featuring them here.

  • citystrollerrentals.com – Pricing here is set around certain blocks of days. Single strollers start at $55 USD for 4-7 days and double strollers start at $65 USD for 4-7 days. Insurance is an additional flat rate of $20 USD.

Bring your own stroller

This is a good option for those who are visiting multiple locations and will need their stroller for the entire trip or for those looking at saving some money by not having to rent.

Pros

  • You have the stroller with you at all times (if it's small enough you may also be able to gate check it and use it in the airport), including walking to and from the bus stops and hotels
  • Your children are familiar with the stroller, which can be beneficial during nap times
  • No cost involved (assuming you already own it), as the airlines will check a stroller free of charge if travelling with children

Cons

  • You have to get it to and from the airport, usually picking it up from the oversize baggage collection point
  • There is a risk of damage or theft (using a travel bag will reduce the chance of damage whilst travelling)
  • It takes up space in your hotel room and rental car
Here's LJ and ML trying out the City Mini Double stroller.

What do we do?

Up until this point we have always brought our own stroller BUT we don't take the everyday prams/strollers we use at home due to the risk of theft and damage.

When we were travelling with LJ on his own we picked up a second hand Chicco Liteway stroller from an eBay seller for around $60 and it was one of our best purchases. LJ's first Disney World trip was at 4.5 months, so I needed something that reclined and I also wanted to give him a chance to get used to taking naps in it before hand.

When ML joined the family we knew we'd be in need of a double stroller and we had considered renting one from an offsite company for our Disney World trip last May. However, I found a cheap Baby Jogger City Mini on eBay not far from home and it worked out to be the same price as renting would have been – bonus, we ended up being able to also use it for two additional trips before we even made it to Disney World (Hawaii and a last minute Disneyland trip). We did fork out for a new travel bag but it was worth the extra to make sure we arrived with four wheels still on the stroller. Why this model? We had seen them everywhere in the Disney parks, as they're the most popular model (along with the GT version) used by the stroller rental companies, and we knew folding them and getting on and off the bus with them was easy enough, whilst still being comfortable for the kiddos.

What will we do next trip? LJ will close to 5 by that point and ML will be not far off no longer needing a stroller, save for longer day trips. I'd like to say we'll take a risk and use our everyday stroller with the skateboard attached for our non-Disney adventures (since we won't be leaving it anywhere unattended) and then rent a double for our time in Walt Disney World. This will mean having a smaller stroller bag to deal with for flights. However, I suspect we'll more than likely end up lugging the double around, if LJ's not sitting in his seat, it's a great place to stash our shopping!

If you can get both kids to sleep at the same time it means you can enjoy some of the more adult experiences Disney has to offer. Case in point - a drink from around the World in Epcot.

Tips for using strollers in the theme parks

  • If you have a dining reservation and bubs is asleep in the stroller or too little for a high chair be sure to ask if you can bring the stroller in. We've always been allowed to do this but it is dependent on the cast member checking you in.
  • Put something on your stroller to make it easy to identify and find. The cast members will often move strollers around while you're on the attractions to make more room, so yours may not be exactly where you left it. Some people like to tie balloons to their strollers but we don't really like them hitting up in the face. We tie a colourful scarf to the handlebars and have an uncommon coloured stroller to help with finding it. Last trip we saw some people wrap battery powered LED light ropes around the handlebars and front wheels of their strollers to easily find it at night (and save people walking into the front of the stroller) – this was an awesome idea we'll probably steal for the next trip.
  • Don't leave valuables in your stroller. Yes, it's Disney and a very magical place but thieves are still around and the last thing you want is to lose your camera full of memories.We only leave things in the stroller that we can live without, so water bottles, jumpers (if not special) etc.
  • If you're leaving snacks in your stroller make sure they are in a zipped bag or something similarly difficult to open, especially in Walt Disney World.Do a Google search for Disney World stroller squirrel and you'll see why we recommend this!
  • Try to leave your stroller in one of the designated areas to decrease the chance of it being moved far. If you can't see signage for stroller parking just ask a nearby cast member. They'll appreciate directing you to the correct location instead of having to move your stroller later.
  • If you have a rain cover for your stroller be sure to bring it with you. Storms in Orlando especially are very common and there's nothing worse than hopping off an attraction to find a soaked stroller. If there are clouds about we always pop the cover on while we're gone just in case.
  • Double or single? If you have similarly aged kids and may at times separate, then two single strollers that can be attached and detached from one another may be a good option for you.
  • If you are renting an offsite stroller or using your own and have to fold it down to use transportation, try not to rely too heavily on the basket for storage of items (unless of course you can fold it with a full basket) or you'll find yourself very weighed down trying to get on and off the bus.
  • If you're going to be visiting a few attractions in the one area, park your stroller somewhere central (or close to where you'll exit the area), so you don't have to keep moving it after each attraction. In Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom for example, we'll park our stroller near the carousel and then ride the attractions around it. This works great if you're heading to Peter Pan first thing – everyone who takes their stroller there will have to walk past it to the stroller parking near the Rapunzel restrooms before doubling back.
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