Let me start this controversial post off with a few disclaimers:
- If your child is under the age of 3-bring a stroller from home.
- If your child of any age has a documented medical issue, seen or unseen, this post is not about you or them.
- I encourage friendly dialog but not nasty comments. I reserve the right to delete hurtful comments or close comments on this post if necessary.
This post is a log time coming. If you have ever toured the parks with me you are probably aware of my disdain for the over abundance of strollers at Disney World. Yes, I am a mom and yes I have toured the parks with children in strollers. The opinions and information I am sharing here is how we handled strollers when our boys were young-and how I wish more parents would consider their stroller use at Walt Disney World.
Reasons why strollers are impractical at Walt Disney World
- You spend more time parking strollers than the children do riding in them. Stroller parking isn’t outside each ride or attraction like it was in the old days. Now it is often in a large area by land or section of the park. You still have to walk from attraction to attraction without the stroller.
- Parents pushing strollers are often too distracted by their surroundings to talk with their child or pay attention to the guest in front of them whose ankle they just rolled up on. Ouch!
- Kids in strollers are too close to the ground to enjoy all of the beautiful sights and sounds around them. All they can see are legs.
- Strollers end up full of stuff and not kids! Often 2/3 of the strollers at Disney World are filled with stuff people are lugging around the park and not the kids they were intended for.
My blanket rule for strollers at Disney is-once I have to pay for your admission you are old enough to walk. Yup, there, I said it. A 3 year old can walk through Disney. I know my rule seems strict to some of you so, let’s raise the age to 5. All healthy children over the age of 5 can walk their Disney vacation. I hear your gasps of indignation and your questions. Let me share my unscientific observations over the last 20 years of Disney vacations:
- Kids who walk expend energy and are less fidgety while standing in line.
- Kids who walk sleep better when they return to the hotel because they have exercised during the day.
- Kids who walk eat better at meal times because they are burning calories throughout the day.
How to go Stroller-less at Walt Disney World
Train Your Child:
Prolonged Walking-No child or adult is ready for all of the walking required of a Disney vacation. Before your Disney vacation planning begins, start training your child and yourself for extended walks. You can walk in your neighborhood or mall. Start small, work up to a half-day outing and finally a full day at a zoo or aquarium.
Hold Hands-From the first time your child walks with you in public teach them to hold hands with an adult. If they learn this from the beginning it isn’t difficult to do in the parks. The 8yo we often travel with still holds hands with one of the adults as we walk through the parks. Safety is important. Using a child leash is ok-but not if the parks are very crowded. I have seen more than one guest get tripped because they weren’t paying attention and walked between a child on a leash and the parent on the other end.
Breaks are Good not Punishment-Take breaks when needed. Sit on a bench, have a snack, people watch or enjoy the scenery.
What to Carry-Only pack essentials in your backpack diaper bag. You don’t need to lug every toy the child owns.
Stay on Schedule-Don’t skip nap schedules on vacation. Go back to the resort and enjoy nap time. The atttractions will all be there when you return and everyone will be happier because they got some rest.
Carry Your Child-Occasionally carry your child between attractions. The bond shared between a parent and child when they are being carried is an amazing thing.
When Aaron was 2 years old we visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore. We had his umbrella stroller with us. When we entered the aquarium they checked our stroller and loaned us a back child carrier, it was genius! They still do this today, almost 20 years later. They do it for a few reasons-the higher vantage point allows the child to see more of the exhibits, it is safer than allowing strollers on escalators and moving sidewalks. For years I have wished that Disney would encourage this same practice. I dream of a visit to Walt Disney World that isn’t cluttered by parked strollers and where I don’t get rammed by multiple strollers during my trip. Yes, it may sound selfish, but it is my vacation too and just once I’d like to return home without cuts on the backs of my ankles.
There is a lot more I could say on this subject but this post is already rather long. Let’s continue this discussion in the comments! Be nice 🙂