Stroller walking meadow autumn crocus

Strolling with my Homies

I was not raised with a love of outdoor activity and the only time I’ll run is if I’m being chased. I certainly wasn’t planning on running through any of the four Disney World parks on our visit, but I’ve also seen the security lines in the Orlando airport, so I wasn’t ruling out having to run through the terminal to make our flight home. It’s bad enough traveling alone as an adult, but once you get a tired kid in tow, all bets are off. I also wasn’t sure just how tired the aforementioned child would be by the end of a 5-day Disney experience. That got me wondering if we were all going to make it through this trip at all.

stroller rental parking Disney World Disneyland planningWe’re doing so much in one week, I’m starting to get a little nervous about Miss O’s stamina. With FastPass reservations firmly in hand and our Park Plan mapped out, I knew we were in for some pretty full days. We also hoped to see Pandora glow at night and at least one Fireworks show. That’s a lot for 6-year-old legs. Hell, that’s a lot for grown up legs!

My sister-in-law, Auntie L, asked me if we were going to take a stroller for Miss O. Having just donated ours, and having no intention of purchasing another, I instantly responded with “hells no.” The more we planned and the closer we got to our trip, the more I wondered if I should reconsider.

Miss O is an amazing child and she is blessed with an outdoorsy father. They go to the playground and geocaching on most weekends when there’s nice weather. These moments were paramount to my ability to get any grad school work done. Miss O has been given a much better foundation than I was and she can go on these treasure hunts all day. This child has walked MILES with her Daddy, hiking and climbing in the woods like I should have done. She’s absolutely in better shape than I am, though our morning walks to school were vital to me getting out of my gym slump. She’s got four more weeks of camp, swimming, running around and doing yoga, so her capability won’t wane. I do see how tired she is when she comes home, though and that’s enough to make me wonder if a stroller might be a good idea after all.

child pillow fort sad hiding

I feel you, kid. Some days, you just need to hide in the pillows.

Walking through any one of the Disney parks for a full day in the heat can do a number on anyone. Add to that the general over-stimulation of seeing your favorite characters come to life with rides, shows and all the treats you can dream up. That’s a lot to process. It definitely adds up to a good night’s sleep, but it can also result in a mid-afternoon or early evening tantrum and I’m really not in to that. I started to look into my options so I could make an informed decision.

We had friends who used to buy a cheap umbrella stroller and take it with them on their trips. The theory was that if anything happened to it, they didn’t care too much because it wasn’t necessary and they hadn’t spent too much. At the end of the trip, they’d donate it, giving it to a family who needed it. That was before Amazon and other online retailers made it so easy to buy a stroller a few days before your trip and have it shipped to your destination. For a modest fee the hotels will accept that package and you pick it up or have it delivered to your room when you check in. That’s certainly an option, but I wasn’t sure I wanted the hassle of traveling home with a stroller just to donate it when I got home. I certainly wasn’t going to saddle the staff at our hotel with sorting it out upon our departure either. They have plenty of things to do already.

Auntie L asked if we wanted to go in on a rental for a double stroller or two single strollers. I hadn’t even thought about that, but I’ve never had to navigate with what I consider to be a mini-tank, so I wasn’t too excited about attempting my first time on a crowded day at Animal Kingdom. Also, where does one even get a double stroller for that?

stroller parking Disney World Disneyland

This is just at one ride. I’m already sweating just thinking about it. Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik

Between Google, Pinterest and the Disney Moms page, my answers came quickly. Our first option is, of course, to rent one in the park. The park strollers are hard plastic with an awning and a small basket. Very utilitarian and great for a no frills, easy to clean set of park wheels. There are a ton of cute ideas for personalizing them on Pinterest and Etsy if that’s your thing. You can reserve your stroller, a single or a double, in advance or try to reserve one when you arrive in the park. This option seemed to be the most flexible and very last-minute-decision friendly. I’m a planner though and I like to know what I’m doing when I get somewhere. The idea of spending time in a line that’s not for an attraction or food seemed like a waste of time to me though.

Walt Disney World single double Stroller rental

Photo credit: Military Disney Tips Blog. Great stuff over there. Check them out.

I started looking at other rental options. There are several companies that will rent a stroller, along with some accessories like covers, cup holders, etc., and have it delivered to your hotel when you arrive. This appealed to my sense of efficiency, so I pressed on.

Miss O is my sunflower, she’s tall, thin and mostly legs. She’s also 52 pounds, so I needed a model that would accommodate her lanky frame. It didn’t make sense to me to get an uncomfortable ride if the point is to keep her comfortable and not complaining. I also didn’t want to spend all day asking her to pick up her feet so they wouldn’t tuck under the stroller as we pushed forward. Yeah, we’ve been there.

Hubs and I are also tall, so this exercise reminded me of stroller shopping when I was pregnant. Most of the strollers in the stores at that time were made for the average woman, which was 5’4” and not where near as tall as I needed it to be. We bought a Zippy Inglesina because, not only did it truly fold fast with one hand, it fit my 5”10” frame beautifully without me constantly kicking the basket as I walked.

Zippy Inglesina stroller

It’s expensive, but honestly it was amazing and lasted us from birth to around 4 when she started wanting to walk everywhere. Photo Credit: Inglesina

The thought of walking hunched over all day, pushing my big kid around in the heat, really wasn’t doing it for me. I found a couple of companies that offered strollers for taller people and was so relieved! They also work with Disney regularly so they know their way around the hotels and are pretty well reviewed. They have infant strollers, single strollers, double strollers and strollers with bid kid stand up platforms to rent.

Miss O hasn’t been in a stroller in years and, quite frankly, I think she’d be insulted if we offered one to her. She’s very in to being capable and being set firmly in her big girl years isn’t helping. I had confidence that my park plans included breaks and a nice mix of rides and shows through the day, allowing us to walk a bit, then sit a bit in the AC or shade. Scheduling sit down meal reservations over lunch would help too, providing mandatory time to sit and rest our legs.

Hubs and I agreed that we’d see how she did on her first day and go from there. We could certainly still try to rent a stroller from one of the companies I found and hope they had a tall-people model available. Renting at the park is always an option, too, and since we were planning on early morning starts, we had a pretty good chance of getting one when we arrived at guest services.

Have you rented a stroller for your Disney trip? Was it a life-saver or just one more thing to keep track of?

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