I decided that I’d break up the posts about our family trip with a tips post so that you all don’t get bored for the last two weeks of this series when tips are all I’m doing. Today, I’m going to talk about our gear for Disney…stroller, on hand every day at the park, etc. This will just cover our in the park stuff, not travel gear or general packing tips.
Since we drove we took our own Baby Jogger City Mini Double. It was a great stroller to take due to it’s skinny width and our familiarity with it. We never had an issue getting it through a door, although I do remember a few doors in Animal Kingdom on our way out of the Safari that were just wide enough to get through. But, that being said, we made it through those without a problem and never had to struggle with it. It’s very easy to maneuver and I felt more comfortable having the kids in our own stroller than renting one. But that’s really only because it was easy for us to take one.
If you’re flying or have limited space in your car to bring your own stroller, I would definitely recommend renting one. There are a couple different options available for renting. Since we didn’t rent, I don’t have a personal recommendation for one over the other but I can give you the information that I was given and tell you what I saw.
Option 1. Renting in the park.
Renting Disney’s own strollers is recommended for those who will only need them occasionally. The strollers available for rent on Disney property are the hard plastic type and aren’t generally conducive for napping or resting toddlers. In addition, pricing for Disney’s strollers can accumulate much faster than an off-site service the provides you a stroller for your entire trip.
To rent a Disney stroller you must go to the stroller rental area at the front of each park. Strollers are not allowed out of the park when you leave it. If you hop to a different park during the same day, I’ve heard that you can show your receipt and they will give you another stroller without having to pay again. The limit of not being able to take the stroller from the park can be a perk (you don’t have to fold it up and handle it on buses or transportation) but can also be detrimental because you sometimes have to wait for buses for 15-30 minutes which can be a long time without a sitting area other than the ground for little one’s.
Option 2. Renting from a local rental agency (like Orlando Stroller Rentals).
Businesses like OSR can provide with you a stroller similar to what you use at home. Most of their strollers are the Baby Jogger brand just like what we have at home and used in the park. They will drop off the stroller to your hotel (or to wherever you’re staying including a rental home as long as it’s within a 15 min radius of their store) or you can pick up the stroller at their store. You can also drop your stroller off at your hotel when you leave to go home.
A benefit of renting a stroller like this is that you have one stroller for your entire trip. You pick it up when you arrive and don’t turn it back in until you leave. This means you can keep your essentials in the stroller during your whole week and don’t have to unload it every time you leave a park. But, as a downside, you will be transporting it with you on buses/transportation and will have to keep it in your room with you at night.
OSR does offer some add on’s like rain covers and a glider board and all strollers come with a Baby Jogger parent console which has cup holders. Also, OSR was started by a Mom just like us and so cleaning strollers is a top priority. They use a non-toxic all natural cleaner on all strollers between each use.
We had our own stroller and so had to carry it with us everywhere we went. That meant that we folded it up to get on the bus every time we rode it which was a little cumbersome. And it left me holding James and holding Charlotte’s hand to get on/off the bus as Jason took care of the stroller. It’s something to think about.
It also seemed like every other person in the park had a Baby Jogger City Mini Double stroller and a lot of them were red like ours. You need to be prepared with something to put on your stroller so that you can recognize it quickly. The stroller parking areas are CROWDED and it’s a sea of strollers. We used these luggage tags in bright colors and attached them to both sides of our stroller handlebar and the center post to make it easier to spot. I also read that an idea is to attach glow bracelets or necklaces to the handlebar at night to make them easier to identify.
Speaking of stroller parking, it was a little unsettling to me the first day when we got to Hollywood Studios and just saw a huge area of strollers hanging out in the middle of the Animation courtyard. I was nervous about leaving our expensive stroller just out in the open with no real control over someone walking up to it and taking off with it. I’ll talk about our park parking in a second, but I always took the backpack with our valuables (phones, wallets, etc) and would leave everything else in the stroller. We never had any problems with anything being taken and found that most everyone at Disney was there to enjoy it just like we were.
In addition, you might feel like your kids are too old for a stroller. I would recommend you erring on the side of having it and not needing it rather than getting in the park without one and realizing that you wish you had one. Charlotte rarely rides in the stroller anymore (she’s 4.5) but she rode in the one at Disney a lot. It’s a LOT of walking even for grown ups so for little legs to try and keep up with grown-ups who are walking fast it can get tiring quickly. Plus, it’s nice to have a place to store/hang your stuff so you’re not carrying everything around all the time.
IN THE PARK PACKING
I’m sure everyone’s needs in the park are going to be different but I wanted to share what we did and what worked for us.
-Always in the Stroller (lower portion)
Complete change of clothes for each child in a plastic bag (dirty/wet clothes can go in the plastic bag if you have to change)
One liter bottle of water (you can bring your own in as long as it’s not a glass bottle)
Park maps/Character times
-Always on the stroller (front with kids)
Diapers, wipes, changing pad
Snacks (Peanut Butter crackers, Buddy Fruit, etc)
-Second backpack, attached to stroller when moving, taken in to rides when stroller parked, also had a luggage tag
Autograph books and pens
Camera (Nikon J1 during the day, Canon EOS Rebel at night)
I saw prior to going suggestions of getting throw away poncho’s for everyone in the family for every day but with next to no chance of rain for our trip we didn’t bother with that or with taking an umbrella. We also didn’t take anything to entertain the kids while waiting because we didn’t plan to be waiting for very long. It ended up fine but know that even with fast passes they just get you to the front of the line for a show and you often have to wait there for the show to start.
So that’s what we ended up packing daily to go in to the park and my two (or ten) cents about strollers. Did I leave anything out? If you have things to add please leave them in the comments!