You’ve got kids. You’ve got kid stuff. And you’re taking it all to Walt Disney World for a magical fun-filled vacation. Sounds great, but how do you maneuver all those kids and all that stuff all over four gigantic theme parks, your hotel, and maybe an airport or two? With a stroller, of course. Here’s the complete stroller scoop to get you started on your planning.
Do I really need to use a stroller at Walt Disney World?
If you’ve got a child age six or under, chances are you’re going to want access to a stroller at some point during your Disney vacation. Your seven or eight year old might even find himself asking for some stroller time.
But my child hasn’t used a stroller at home in years, why would he need one at Disney World?
Many guests have worn pedometers during their Disney vacations. Factoring in theme parks, resorts, and entertainment areas, they typically find that they’ve walked somewhere between seven and twelve miles EVERY DAY of their Disney vacation. Just one lap around the World Showcase area of Epcot about a mile. Do that several days in a row and you’re going to end up tired. Now imagine walking that much with the tiny legs of a kindergartener, in 90 degree heat.
Another reason to consider using a stroller is the safety factor. Let’s face it, Walt Disney World can be a crowded place, particularly during high intensity times like park closing or during the fireworks. Even if you’re holding a child’s hand, it’s quite possible to lose him in the melee. To avoid separation, or having your child get accidentally stepped on by another guest, it may be easier to keep him in the confines of a stroller where you’re in charge of the direction and pace of movement.
Additionally, some children simply become overwhelmed by the constant stimulation at Disney World. A stroller can be a safe haven – a contained environment where a child can go to temporarily regroup and decompress.
Should I bring my own stroller or rent one at Disney World?
This is a personal decision, and I’ll talk you through some of the factors you may want to consider, but in general I recommend that guests bring their own strollers rather than rent from Walt Disney World.
The first factor is pricing. The Walt Disney World rental strollers currently (spring 2016) cost:
$15 for a single day, single stroller rental
$31 for a single day, double stroller rental
$13 per day for a length of stay (multi-day) single stroller rental
$27 per day for a length of stay (multi-day) double stroller rental
Do the math and you’ll find that renting a double stroller for a week will cost $189.00. Run a quick search on Amazon.com for “double umbrella stroller” and you’ll find dozens of models for sale for less than half that price. Even if you leave the stroller at Walt Disney World and never use it again, you’re still coming out ahead financially.
How does length-of-stay pricing work?
On the first day of your visit, stop by any of the stroller rental stands at the theme parks or Disney Springs. Let them know how long you’ll be visiting Walt Disney World, and they’ll charge you the discounted length-of-stay rate. You will also be given a receipt which shows that you’ve paid for your entire visit. Any time you need a stroller during the rest of your vacation, go up to one of the stroller rental stands and show them the receipt. They’ll give you a stroller at no additional charge.
If I use a Park Hopper ticket and move to a different theme park during the day, do I have to pay for a one-day Disney stroller rental again?
You only have to pay for Disney stroller rental at one theme park per day. If you park hop, just remove your family’s name placard from the stroller and take that, and your rental receipt, to your second park of the day. At the second park, show the receipt and they’ll hook you up with a new stroller.
Is this time consuming?
Usually not, but it depends. There are times (holiday mornings, for example) when the lines for stroller rentals can be quite long. You might find yourself waiting 15 minutes to pick up a stroller that you’ve already paid for. Even if it only takes a minute or two to get a stroller, that time over the course of several days and/or several park hops can add up.
Are the Disney rental strollers clean?
The strollers are given a basic clean daily, but they’re not really digging deep to find every possible element of ick. For example, if the family before you spilled a cup of ice cream in the stroller, the plastic seat area will certainly be cleaned. However, the fabric safety belt might have a bit of sticky left on it.
If you’re a super germaphobe, bring your own stroller.
What else should I know about the Disney rental strollers?
They are incredibly sturdy, but not very comfortable.
The Disney strollers are made of hard plastic. The seating area has no padding or cushioning of any kind. The Disney strollers do not recline, so if you you’re planning to have your child nap in the stroller, then he’ll have to do so bolt upright. It’s basically a kid-shaped wheelbarrow.
The double strollers have no physical divider between the spaces for each child. It’s a bench-style seat rather than a separated bucket-style seat of most non-commercial doubles. This means that two children sharing the stroller will inevitably be touching each other. Hot, sweaty, exhausted siblings touching each other – need I say more.
If you want to check out the exact specs of the Disney strollers, check out this PDF from the stroller vendor ScooterBug.com.
But I can use the rentals everywhere at Disney World, right?
Sorry, no. The Walt Disney World rental strollers can only be used at the theme parks and Disney Springs.
You cannot use the Disney rental strollers at the water parks or at any of the Disney resort hotels. And if you plan to have your only stroller be a Disney rental, this also means that you won’t have stroller access at the airport or any of the Disney World parking areas either.
Are their weight limits for the Disney strollers?
There are posted recommendations for the Disney strollers that the capacity of a single rental is 50 lbs. and the capacity of a double rental is 100 lbs. These are really guidelines rather than rules. I’ve never seen a child weighed at a rental station – there are no scales. As long as your child fits comfortably in the rental, you can assume that it’s OK.
Are the Disney rental strollers appropriate for small babies?
Not really. Again, the rental strollers have unpadded, bench-style seating. They’re meant for a child who can sit up on his own for an extended period of time.
Also, the Disney stroller restraint system is just a simple lap belt, not a three point or five point harness like you’d find on a personal stroller. You have to be sure that your child won’t slip out of the belt either inadvertently or intentionally. If you have a child under the age of about 10-12 months, or a child who’s in escapologist mode, then the Disney strollers are really not for you.
Hmmm, are there any other alternatives?
Of course you can bring your own stroller with you to the parks (I’ll get to that in more detail in a second), but if you want/need to rent in the Disney area, there are independent vendors in the area who can help you out.
Who are these vendors?
There are dozens of baby supply rental vendors in the Orlando area. However, Disney recently gave preferential status to three of these vendors:
Kingdom Strollers: (407) 271-5301
Magic Strollers: (866) 866-6177
Orlando Stroller Rentals: (800) 281-0884
The preferential status allows these vendors to pick up and drop off strollers at the Bell Services area or front desk of the Disney hotels, without the guest needing to be present. This is a BIG convenience factor for guests. You’re welcome to use other vendors, but you’ll need to be present to both receive and return items to them.
What is the quality of the outside rental strollers like?
Touring Plans did a comparison of the service and quality of outside stroller rentals. Feel free to check it out.
How does outside rental vendor pricing compare to the Disney pricing?
The outside vendors have a wider array of options available, so it’s a bit of an apples to oranges situation, but generally you’ll find that the outside vendor pricing is lower than the Disney stroller rental pricing. And as a big added bonus, you can use the outside vendor rentals anywhere – at your hotel, at other area theme parks, etc.
You mentioned that you recommend guests bring their own stroller. Why is that specifically?
- No incremental costs.
- Child familiarity with the stroller (comfort factor).
- Adult familiarity with the stroller (ease of folding, etc.)
- The storage areas of the stroller are small-ish and perhaps not what you’re used to. Also, the lack of significant storage space in the Disney rentals means you’ll be probably be carrying your diaper bag at least some of the time. Give your back a break.
- You absolutely need to have a stroller at your resort. Imagine carrying a sleeping child from a bus to your room after you’ve been walking for 10 hours in the Florida sun. It’s not pretty.
If I bring my own stroller, is there a size or style that works better than others?
This is a subjective topic. The right stroller for your Disney vacation will depend on the age/size of your children, the number of children you have, the number of adults in your party, your child’s nap habits, the outdoor temperature in Florida, what you’re used to, and any number of other factors.
Depending on your family’s situation, the right Disney stroller could be a single umbrella, a sit n’ stand, a convertible with car seat attachment, a double jogger, or just about anything in between.
The only publicized rule is that Disney does not permit strollers larger than 36″ x 52″ (92 x 132 cm) to enter the parks. That being said, in many hundreds of Disney parks visits, I have never seen a cast member measure a stroller entering the parks. Also, now that the old entrance turnstiles/gates have been replaced by the open post MyMagic+ entrance system, it’s even less obvious if you happen to have a larger stroller.
My child is old enough that we don’t actually own a stroller any more, but I think he might need one at Disney. Are rentals my only option?
You may find that it’s actually cheaper to buy a “disposable” stroller rather than rent from either Disney or one of the outside vendors. Make a quick trip to Target or Walmart and you’ll find a basic umbrella-style stroller for less than $25. This obviously won’t be a high-end model, but it may be just the thing you need to stave off the whining for two or three days. At the end of your trip, you can just leave it in you room or at the park, or you can bring it home to donate it. If you don’t want to deal with bringing the throwaway stroller to Orlando yourself, you could arrange for a mail order vendor like Amazon to ship it directly to your resort.
Is there anything one step up from that?
Many of the Disney hotel and theme park gift shops sell a moderate quality Kolcraft umbrella stroller for about $60. These strollers recline, have cup holders, and are more sturdy than a $20 Walmart stroller. Remember, a Disney single stroller 7-day length-of-stay stroller rental would cost $91. Again, if even if you discard this stroller at the end of your visit, you’ll still come out ahead financially.
Can I reserve a stroller in advance, or is it first come, first served? Are they likely to run out of rental strollers?
Disney rental strollers can neither be reserved nor paid for in advance of your visit. While Disney does have LOTS of strollers, on very rare occasion, they have temporarily run out of rentals. If you’d like to have guaranteed stroller access, then either bring your own or rent from an outside vendor.
If I rent a stroller, either through Disney or another vendor, how do I know which one is mine? Don’t they all look alike?
Many strollers do look alike. When renting from either Disney or an outside vendor, they will give you a large card imprinted with your family name which you will place in a transparent pocket on the stroller. This identifies it as yours. Additionally, many guests try to (temporarily) personalize their strollers so that they can easily recognize them in the sea of buggys. Typically this takes the form of a balloon, bandana, or ribbon tied to the stroller handle.
I prefer a wagon, can I bring that?
No. Disney does not allow you to bring wagons into the parks.
If I use my own stroller, can I bring it onto Disney transportation?
Yes. But HOW you bring it onto Disney transportation depends on your mode of travel. Take a look at our guide to Disney monorails, buses, and boats to see how you’ll need to handle your stroller on each form of transportation.
One thing in particular to note is that you’ll always need to fold your stroller when riding on a Disney bus.
Yikes, isn’t that a pain?
Sure, maybe a little. But you’d also have to fold your stroller if you were driving to the parks. It’s all just part of having small children.
You generally don’t have to fold your stroller when you’re taking the monorail or several types of Disney water transport. This played a factor in my Disney trips when my daughters were stroller age. We often chose to spend a bit more money and stay at a hotel on the monorail line simply because getting to and from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot was so much easier when we didn’t have to fold the strollers.
With any stroller you use at Walt Disney World, be sure that you do know how to fold it. You may find that your double jogging stroller works perfectly well when you’re tooling around the parks, but if you can’t break it down to get on your hotel bus, you’re going to have a problem.
However, in my experience, the guests at Disney are generally quite kind and helpful. If you’re struggling with getting a stroller, kids, and associated gear onto a bus yourself, another guest will often pitch in to give you a hand. Almost everyone has been in your shoes and will be happy to assist.
Are the rental strollers the same at each of the theme parks?
There used to be differences in the strollers at the four Disney theme parks. You may find an odd outlier now and then, but the rental strollers are now generally the same throughout Walt Disney World.
I’m staying at one of the Epcot area resorts. Can I rent a stroller at the International Gateway entrance to Epcot?
Yes. There is a rental area at the International Gateway.
Can I bring my stroller in the lines for rides?
Usually not. There are stroller parking lots scattered throughout the theme parks, you’ll need leave your stroller there and walk a few yards to each attraction.
The primary exception to this is for guests with mobility challenges. If your child can not walk, or has a related medical issue, you can stop by the park guest relations office and they will give you a “Stroller Used as Wheelchair” tag. This allows you bring your stroller into any line or waiting area in which a wheelchair or ECV would be permitted.
I have an expensive stroller. I’m worried about it getting stolen, can I bring a lock for it?
No. Stroller locks are not permitted at Walt Disney World.
There are a few urban legends about strollers being stolen at Walt Disney World, but I have never personally heard about this actually happening. While having your stroller stolen is highly unlikely, it is a near certainty that your stroller will be moved at some point during your stay. There are cast members assigned to keep order at each of the stroller parking lots in the theme parks. As guests enter and leave the area, the cast will straighten the rows and make sure that all spaces are filled in. If you don’t see your stroller exactly where you left it, just look nearby and you’re bound to see it. This is where some easy personalization, like a balloon tied to the stroller handle, can make spotting your wheels much easier.
And of course, you do want to be sensible about leaving valuables in your stroller when you’ve left it to go on rides. Don’t leave anything in your stroller that is valuable or irreplaceable. This means you should take your wallet and cameras with you on the attractions. That being said, most guests do end up leaving some items in their strollers when they’re on the rides. You’ll routinely see diaper bags, snacks, jackets, and other personal items left in strollers in the lots. I did this dozens of times myself and never had anything other than a cookie taken out of my stroller – and that was done by a crafty squirrel.
Are there any actual rides that I can bring my stroller on?
Generally not. The one exception I can think of is the Disney railroad in the Magic Kingdom. Personal strollers may be brought on board if they are completely folded.
What about restaurants? Can I bring my stroller inside while we dine?
Generally not, but exceptions can be made in some circumstances. Large double strollers can be a fire hazard and are usually not allowed into restaurants in the theme parks. The Disney rental strollers are virtually never allowed in table service restaurants in the parks.
However, if you have a small personal stroller and your child has fallen asleep in it during your meal reservation time, cast members will sometimes take pity on you and allow the stroller inside, particularly if you have a newborn or tiny infant who would be physically incapable of sitting in a high chair even if he were awake. If you’re in this situation, it never hurts to ask nicely. In my personal experience and observation, the quick service restaurants and the restaurants in the resorts tend to be somewhat more lenient on this topic, but that’s just what I’ve seen.
If you have a child sleeping in a stroller, look for quick service restaurants with outdoor seating as an easy option.
Can I bring my stroller into the gift shops at Walt Disney World?
Usually yes. You might encounter a few shops here and there that will ask you to leave your stroller outside, but for the most part you’re OK to shop with a stroller.
What can you tell me about the stroller rental situation at Disney Springs?
Only single strollers are available for rent at Disney Spring, no doubles.
There’s no need to leave a deposit when renting a stroller at the theme parks, but when you rent at Downtown Disney, you have to leave a $100 deposit, which is returned to you when you leave.
I have two young children, am I better off with a double stroller or two singles?
Truly this is a matter of personal preference. However, there are some things you may want to think about as you make your decision:
- How heavy will a double stroller be when loaded down with two kids and all their stuff? Can the adults in our party push this comfortably? In the heat?
- Are the adults in our party capable of folding a double stroller and lifting it onto a bus? Will one of them have to do this while also holding a child?
- Will the children be napping in the stroller? Are they able to do this when sitting right next to their sibling?
- Do the children have the same interests or will they want to go off in different directions to explore different areas of the parks?
- Will one child or adult have more stamina than the other and want to stay at the park longer?
Is it better to bring my front-to-back or side-to-side double stroller with me to Walt Disney World?
Yet again, it’s a personal preference thing. I’ve seen it work both ways. The only thing to be aware of is that side-to-side doubles can be more challenging to get through doorways and through narrow aisles of merchandise. If you think you’ll be doing a lot of shopping with your stroller, and you have the option, then a front-to-back double might make more sense. That being said, when my kids were preschoolers I used a side-to-side double MacLaren and had no issues with this at all.
I think we want to bring a double stroller, but I’m not totally sure. Any ideas?
During a few Disney trips, my family used stroller connector clips. The clips basically convert two single umbrella-style strollers into a temporary double stroller. Popular brands are Munchkin Stroller Links or Prince Lionheart Stroller Connectors.
The connectors allow the children to separate when two adults are available to push, but one parent can push them in a pinch. These are not perfect; they work best if the two strollers are identical and the children in the strollers weigh approximately the same, but they can be a lifesaver in some situations.
I have a young child and a slightly older child, any ideas for me?
If you have a baby or toddler, and a preschooler or kindergartener, your best bet may be a sit-and-stand-style stroller. This allows the older child to get a break from some of the walking, while saving face by avoiding the baby stigma of a standard stroller.
A solution that could work for you if you’re in this situation and you’re down to just a single stroller at home, is to borrow or purchase a “buggy board.” This is a platform on wheels which clips onto a standard stroller – effectively making it a sit-and-stand. If you’re running an Amazon search, “kiddie board,” “buggy board,” and “stroller board” will bring up options to consider. Bear in mind that if you’re using the Disney buses, you’ll have to unclip the buggy board before folding the stroller to take it on the bus, so be sure that you’re able to do this with facility.
Back in the day, when I had three kids under age five, I would occasionally clip a buggy board to the back of a double stroller, allowing me to push three kids at once. This would be a tough haul for a long Disney trip, but it could be a stopgap for a situation where a second adult is temporarily unavailable, such as Dad being in charge of three kids for several hours while Mom is at a conference at one of the hotels.
What about front packs or backpack style carriers, would those be a better option for transporting my baby?
There may be some time where you’ll want to employ a front or back carrier as an adjunct to a stroller, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be happy with this as your only method of baby transport, if for no other reason than your comfort when carrying a child non-stop in the heat.
Back carriers are particularly problematic because they tend to be large, you’ll have to take them off for every ride in the parks, and there’s not a convenient place to put the pack down when you’re on the attractions.
Front carriers can be helpful with keeping a baby contained while on the attractions. I often “wore” my children in a Baby Bjorn front carrier when we were on rides like Kilimanjaro Safari or Pirates of the Caribbean. I felt like they were more secure this way rather than having me simply hold them on my lap.
How do I know when my child is ready to stop using a stroller at Walt Disney World?
Obviously this will be a personal call, but some kids will really only be ready to totally give up stroller time at Disney when they get physically too large to sit in a stroller comfortably. However, I can tell you that it may be harder for Mom and Dad to give up the stroller than it is for the kids. I still miss the days when I could employ a stroller as a sherpa for in-park purchases, snacks, umbrellas, and so on. I have a dear friend who will occasionally rent a stroller, even though her children are teens, just to have a place to store her stuff in the parks. She could get a locker, but then she’d have to go all the way to the park entrance to grab her poncho when it starts to rain.
What happens to my stroller when it rains? Won’t everything get wet?
There are frequent flash thunderstorms in Orlando. During the rainy season, it does make sense to keep your stroller covered. If you have your own stroller, or are renting from an outside vendor, you can get a dedicated plastic cover for your model. If you’re renting from Disney, try using a poncho as temporary cover while you’re off on the rides.
You seem pretty anti Disney rental. Are there circumstances when you would recommend that I use a Disney rental stroller?
The Disney rental strollers can be a good fallback if you’re out in the parks late for one or two nights with an elementary age child. Picture a first or second grader who is well out of stroller use at home. He may be fine walking around the parks during the day. But if you’re planning to close down the Magic Kingdom on a night when it closes at 1:00 a.m., then your child simply may not be able to make it. In this case, renting a stroller for the evening could be a good sanity-saving measure. However, if you think you’ll need the stroller at multiple times during your vacation, then many of the other options will make more financial sense.
Anything else I should be thinking about?
It never hurts to throw a towel in your stroller while you’re at Walt Disney World. This can be used to clean up spills, serve as a blanket or sunshield, or pad the seat of a Disney rental.
So what have your experiences with strollers at Disney world? Do you rent or bring your own? How old were your kids when you stopped using strollers at the parks? Do you have a preferred stroller configuration when traveling with multiple children? Let us know in the comments below.