During our last trip to Disney in 2015, I debated long and hard whether or not to rent a stroller for my youngest child who was 6 ½ at the time. I should add that she is very tall for her age and could pass for a much older child (at least 8). Even my husband’s first reaction when I brought it up was “No, she’s old enough to walk and way too big for a stroller.” I had to remind him that when we went in 2013, our girls were 6 (almost 7) and 4 ½ and we didn’t think twice about renting a double stroller for both of them. I guess it was ok back then because we had to have one for the 4 year old so the 6 year old might as well benefit too.
As the trip got closer, I decided that I would definitely rent a single stroller for Magic Kingdom and Epcot as those would be our longer days with the most walking. I thought we could just play it by ear and see how she did at Sea World and Universal Studios. We went to Sea World on our first day and I did not get a stroller. She did great walking most of the day but keep in mind there is also a lot of sitting at shows and we left the park by late afternoon. Even so, she was cranky and tired by the time we left and I ended up giving her a piggy back ride all the way through the parking lot…a very big parking lot.
I decided that two days in a row would be too much walking so I rented a single stroller the next day at Universal Studios. I quickly learned that she was a bit big for a single stroller and there was absolutely no room to also put our backpack and soft cooler in with her. It still served the purpose of allowing her to get off her feet for a while and saving us from an exhausted melt down at the end of the day.
I rented a double stroller from then on. It worked great! The double strollers are very over-sized and fit her much better while also allowing room to store our bags in with her. Also, our soon-to-be 9 year old at the time was able to squeeze in there with her on our departure from Magic Kingdom at 10:30 p.m. when she was past her exhaustion point. Oddly enough, by the end of the vacation my husband and I were vying for who got to push the stroller around. Being able to put some body weight into the stroller while pushing was actually much more comfortable than just walking. Who knew?!
Here are my take-aways on the stroller debate:
- There is no magic age when a child becomes too old for a stroller at Disney World. There seems to be a lot of consensus out there that age 6 and under is stroller age appropriate. Every kid is different and that is the parent’s ultimate decision.
- If you are debating using a stroller, I would err on the side of the stroller. You paid good money for your vacation so you might as well enjoy it by keeping your kids as fresh as possible.
- Don’t worry about what others will think of your “big” kid in a stroller. I worried about that before the trip but I never thought about it once during the trip. You know what your child can handle better than anyone else.
- Strollers are great for the adults as well! We usually had a backpack and a small soft-bag cooler along that we could store in the stroller. They fit in the double stroller even while towing one kid and you can also leave them in the stroller while on rides (take any valuables with you). The stroller saved our shoulders and allowed us to bring more into the parks with us. I would recommend a double stroller for this reason.
- Tie a ribbon, scarf, or other colorful object around the stroller so you can easily find it when you come off of a ride. Note that the workers will often rearrange the strollers so it may not be where you left it.
- Don’t have any grand expectations of the stroller rentals. While they are large in size, there is no storage for your bags except inside the stroller with your child taking up their leg room or seat room. Also, there is no cushion inside the stroller so consider bringing a towel to put down to ease any sore bottoms.
- If you have smaller children that definitely require a stroller, consider renting a stroller from outside the parks. You can rent a nicer, more comfortable stroller for your entire trip from various vendors in the area. They are reasonably priced and you will save money without the daily rentals. You will be able to use it in the parking lots and save time while at the park without standing in line to rent the stroller.
If you are debating on the stroller enough to read this article, just get it. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the day.