**Disney Parks have updated their stroller policies. To learn more about this policy, click here!**
You trip to Disney World is days away. You've got all your reservations line up, Fastpass+ strategies in place and starting to pack. Then you come across the most dreading item that you have to figure out how you're going to take with you. The stroller. It is both a blessing and a curse. Is it safe to take my expensive stroller? How easy it to fold up? Will I have to pay extra with my airline? These are all valid questions one must ask. But here are a few more tips to consider before making your final stroller decisions.
1.) Leave the Expensive Stroller at Home
I know that you're probably thinking, there's no way someone will steal a stroller at the most magical place on earth. I've personally never had it happen to me, or anyone I know. Cast Members are stationed at stroller parking locations to monitor strollers. But as with everything in life, Disney is not responsible for any theft or damage that happens to your stroller. So I highly recommend you take a robust, perhaps even second-rate stroller. My family was given an additional hand-me-down stroller when my niece was born. We later dedicated this stroller for Disney trips only. It's durable and has taken a beating over the last couple of years. But it is strong and folds up easily in the car. So I suggest leaving that high-end stroller at home.
2.) Taking Your Own vs Renting
The other consideration to make early on is comparing the process of taking your stroller versus renting one. I live in Florida, so I naturally drive to Orlando and the parks and taking a stroller in my SUV is the simplest and most economical choice. However, I know that those traveling from the midwest, west coast or even overseas have a more difficult journey to make. Step one is to check if your airline allows you to take a stroller for free. (American Airlines surprisingly has a pretty fair policy!) But it's also worth thinking about how many extra bags you'll have and how easy or difficult it will be to lug all those times to the airport. This is where considering a stroller rental is handy.
3.) Disney Stroller Rental vs Third Party Companies
Disney's current stroller rental is priced at $15 a day for a single stroller and $31 a day for a double stroller. If you go for a multi-day rental those prices go down to $13 and $27 respectively. If for some reason you only do a one-day rental, it will be valid at all four parks. So if you start in Animal Kingdom but plan to hop over to Magic Kingdom later in the day, keep your receipt. When you leave your first park, you'll have to return your stroller, travel to your next park and pick up another stroller at your second park. There is no additional charge if you're park hopping. However, I do find Disney's strollers to be uncomfortable. This is when third-party companies come in. Many stroller rental companies have competitive pricing, especially when you're doing a long multi-day rental, have several types of strollers to choose from and deliver them directly to your hotel. Talk about convenience. My personal recommendation is Magic Strollers.
4.) Strollers and Transportation
Having your stroller with you to travel to and from your hotel can make life easier. If you're staying at Beach Club, it's an easy walk to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot. But sometimes you will have a stroller while using Disney's transportation services. I talk about this more in my Top 10 Tips for Traveling Disney World with Babies video. But I will say that it is vital that you think about what parks you're going to when choosing your hotel. Especially if you will have a stroller with you at all times. I say this because in some cases you may have to fold up a stroller. Case in point all the Disney World buses require you to do this. I've seen some supermoms fold up a double stroller in the blink of an eye, without break a sweat. Other times, I've seen some dads desperately struggle while a crowd behind is not-so-patiently waiting to get on the bus. So again when you plan your itinerary, explore your hotel's specific transportation options so you give yourself time to prepare as needed or consider driving the park yourself if you have a car and folding it into your trunk is easier.
5.) Stroller Parking
Once you're inside the parks enjoying family time on vacation, you must know how stroller parking works. At all four parks, you'll have to park your stroller before going on attractions and even before entering a theatre to watch a show. At places like Magic Kingdom, there is stroller parking almost at every corner. In this case, it's best to park the stroller at one central location so that you can experience a few attractions in a row before moving on to your next adventure. At Epcot, things get interesting. At some pavilions you are required to park your stroller before entering. This is true at The Seas with Nemo, The Land and Imagination. Even if you're not riding Nemo and just want to see the tanks, you will have to park the stroller outside. The same applies at two countries in World Showcase, Norway and Mexico. Luckily, Animal Kingdom has a pretty neat system that has yet to roll out to other parks. At this park, the first time you park your stroller you will be assigned a specific color and/or number. The stroller parking is divided into sections so whatever color you're assigned first, you'll continue using it throughout the day at other locations. This allows you to find your stroller a little more easily. Kilimanjaro Safaris in particular has a great system. You can enter the queue with the stroller, then midday through the line, a Cast Member will simply take it from you and park it in your assigned area. Once you exit the attraction, you'll walk right into the stroller parking area and pick it up again. It's a breeze.
6.) Mark Your Stroller
While I wish all stroller parking locations where this sophisticated, others are not. I specifically remember parking a stroller once before seeing Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios and having a small nightmare after the show. This location is massive, and has several lanes. It took us forever to find the stroller and with a tired and cranky toddler this can become a challenge. So I suggest your mark your stroller with something obvious and easy to spot out in the crowd. Some people tie bright, colorful ribbons around the stroller making it easier to spot. We indulge my niece in buying her a Mickey balloon at the start of the trip and tie it to the stroller. Very easy to spot when a sea of strollers is overwhelming to the eyes. (And here's bonus tip. Those balloons have steroid-esque helium. They last forever and if one pops, Disney will replace them at no additional cost.)