This is a question that comes up a lot for families embarking on their first ever Disney vacation with young children. If you’re a babywearing or family of preschoolers you’re probably questioning bringing a stroller at all. Even if you think you need one, what are the logistics of bringing a stroller into the Disney parks?
Should I bring my stroller to Disneyland or walt disney world?
Note: There are new stroller rules as of May 1st, 2019. Read them here. The answer to this question is going to depend on how old your kids are, how capable they are, and what kind of vacation you’re planning to take.
If you’re flying, strollers are handy to have in the airport in order to keep your kids safe and carry your stuff. They typically can be gate checked so they accompany you right to boarding. For those who like to travel light, though, a baby in a carrier and a backpack is much easier than pushing the stroller through the airport. It’s all about preference and age of the kids here.
Another thing to consider is if you have a long waiting period between connections or distance to travel inside the airport. A stroller with toddlers or preschoolers can be a lifesaver when rushing to the other side of the airport. It also is a handy place for naps.
Lastly, on our recent Disneyland trip with twins who just turned 4 our double stroller was a great way to contain rambunctious twins through customs.
A Disney vacation involves a lot of walking. Even the smaller parks are still quite large and you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet, not to mention travelling to and from each park. Babywearing is fine but can be tiring for some people to do all day. Plus most of the time you’ll be visiting in warm weather and that means extra discomfort.
Expecting a toddler to walk everywhere multiple days in the park is simply unrealistic. Not only is it too much physically for them, it’s also very crowded so they will need to stick by you. Strollers can help keep kids safe. Even if they just take turns riding, children under the age of 5 are probably going to need some kind of transportation or a LOT of breaks for your older preschoolers.
The parks themselves are pretty stroller friendly and there aren’t many places that you won’t be able to fit into. In fact, they’re expected. There are, however, certain places you’re not allowed to bring a stroller into.
Update for 2019: With Galaxy’s Edge opening, especially at Disneyland, it’s probably going to be more crowded in certain areas. Disneyland has a tendency to bottleneck and this is exacerbated by strollers. Stick to the right hand side when travelling through crowds.
Around the Disney parks there are stroller parking areas. These are located near attractions that you cannot bring your stroller into and outside of restaurants. Stroller parking is unsupervised but cast members do regularly reshuffle the parking to accommodate more people. The stroller parking is very convenient but sometimes you will have a bit of a hike to and from, which can be irritating. We also used our stroller as a meeting point for our 9 year year old on our most recent Disneyland vacation for any times he rode rides alone.
Most places will let you bring in a stroller but it’s cumbersome. Most of the time you end up having one person stay outside with the stroller (and kids) and the other one enter for souvenir shopping. If not, then you’ll probably be ditching the stroller outside the door (like we did) while you shop together. There are some exceptions with the larger stores but any parent who has shopped with a stroller in a boutique knows how that usually works out.
One advantage to having the stroller though is if you’re not staying in a Disney resort (that allows your purchases to be forwarded to your room) you have a place to carry your stuff.
When visiting a Disney Park you’re probably going to be going home with a lot of cool stuff, but you also bring a bunch into the park each day. To save on money you’re probably going to want a pack a cooler filled with lunch and snacks, some water bottles (although you can ask for free water in the parks it’s a pain to wait in line), and other practical things like sweaters or hats.
Without a stroller you end up carrying all this in your backpack which means trying to find a place for it when you go on rides and possibly sore shoulders. We left everything in our stroller basket and nothing was ever out of place when we retrieved it at the stroller parking after each ride. Plus no carrying heavy water bottles or food.
Naps and Rest
If you have kids that are still napping age and will sleep in the stroller it can save you from having to head back to the hotel for a sleep. With kids of multiple ages this means that they can catch some toddler-unfriendly rides while the little one(s) nap or parents of one or two nappers can enjoy a meal or show with their sleeping children.
Older kids who don’t nap may still need longer rest periods. Again, if you’re willing to take a lot of breaks this isn’t a problem but families of multiple kids may end up with one child who needs to rest while the others are still ready to go. It’s hard to get multiple people on the same energy schedule. Our son, who was 5 at the time, ended up feeling unwell on our trip and took advantage of the stroller a few times
You know yourself and your kids
Some kids are easy to wear or have great stamina and behaviour for walking. If your toddler refuses to nap in the stroller for the entire day and only naps in the hotel room taking the stroller is now an extra burden. Other kids have lower energy and are very content to ride in the stroller so it might be a necessity for those families. Think about the last time you visited a local theme park, zoo, or other all-day, large scale event and how your children handled that.
Don’t forget to also include the logistics: how much gear you need to bring or what you’ll just buy in park, who you’ll be with and if you’ll split up, and what the weather is going to be like when you visit.