To Roll, or not to Roll?

…by stroller, I mean 🙂

The last I discussed using a stroller at Walt Disney World was in a recap of Abby’s first Walt Disney World visit at four months of age (that post here). At that time, my verdict proved to match my suspicion – I didn’t feel like it was necessary for our needs for one child, and was more of a nuisance than a help. Sure, it was nice to carry stuff (bags, snacks, and the like), but overall, I rated the usefulness of a stroller (for a young infant) as not worth it.

Our fabulous Thule Urban Glide 2.

Fast forward two years (almost to the exact dates!) and we just returned from Ellie’s first Walt Disney World trip, at two months of age. We’ve since upgraded our ride to a double stroller, the Thule Urban Glide 2. It’s been a fantastic stroller thus far for our neighborhood walks (even our walks over to the strip mall about a 1/2 mile from our house, when going the long way), and so, faced with the decision of how I’d transport the girls for this trip, decided to give the stroller life another try.

Why did I decide this was a good idea? Just a few reasons:

  1. Ellie doesn’t have the head/neck control quite yet to be placed in the stroller without the infant seat (though I feel like she’ll be ready sooner, rather than later), so that meant we’d be carting along the infant carseat as well). Although it’s bulky, and makes steering the stroller a little more challenging, I knew she’d be comfortable, especially for the days we planned on visiting Epcot and the evening event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (after hours, so she’d be sleeping apx. 90% of the time).
  2. Abby is now a toddler, with VERY strong opinions. She often will DEMAND rather than ask for things, including being carried (which she didn’t do, even a year ago). And though she’s petite (~27 pounds), it’s not an easy feat to carry her, plus the baby (in a carrier), plus a ~10 pound diaper bag.
  3. Honestly, I love this stroller so much, I knew it would perform well (in terms of maneuverability, and comfort for Abby, in case she felt tired/wanted to nap in the stroller).

Yes, good reasons, but I also had a laundry list of reasons I almost didn’t bring the stroller! Namely:

  1. I knew Epcot would be crowded with the Flower and Garden Festival, and I was not super excited about the idea of weaving through distracted/inebriated guests who would likely place the blame on me if they were “hit” by our stroller.
  2. Abby is now a toddler, with VERY strong opinions. No, that’s not a typo/egregious use of copy+paste. Haha! I was concerned I would be bringing a stroller that wouldn’t get used, in case she demanded to walk rather than ride.
  3. Honestly, I love this stroller so much – again, not a typo, hah! We got a great deal on it, but it’s still a $500+ stroller, and I am not so ignorant to believe that it could be stolen when left in a stroller parking area. HOWEVER, it has a bit of a tricky foot break that, unless you’re familiar with it, could make it hard to roll off with…plus, I outfitted the stroller with a large, obnoxious sign with our name on it.

So, I made a game plan: we’d try out the stroller half of the time, and go stroller-less the other half, and then compare notes. Below are some of my field notes and ratings:

Epcot100% worth it!

If there’s anything I remember from VIP Tour Guide Training in my Cast Member days, it’s that Epcot is 300 acres. Even though Abby loves to walk, I KNEW that would be a no-go, even with just a half day visit. The other advantage I had that day was that we drove there (rather than bussed) so it was “easy” to set up the stroller, and walk right into the park (side note: if/when you visit during a busy arrival time in the parking lot, it can be a little intimidating to get your stroller out, infant seat set up, and both children in before a second line of cars is parked behind you. Also, I was almost boxed in on both sides, and had to really squeeze through to get the carseat out, and the stroller to the front of the cars, and I don’t think I am that slow). ANYWAY.

Epcot, even when crowded, is a lot more accommodating (in park) for strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs with wider walkways and easily identifiable stroller parking, so bringing the stroller really was as pleasant an experience as I could have hoped.

BONUS! I snuck Abby’s Belle dress into the underseat compartment, and surprised her before Princess dinner! I could not have done that without the stroller.

Magic Kingdom – 75% against

On the morning of, I decided against bringing the stroller for two reasons:

(a) I have slight anxiety about being hit by strollers, moving strollers, and the like in Magic Kingdom – not only from my past experience in bringing one in, but from my Cast Member days – both in stroller rental, and from an attractions perspective. The park is just FULL of them (I mean, I get it, it’s Magic Kingdom) but honestly, it’s overwhelming. I had an okay experience a few months ago bringing Abby’s single stroller for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – I mean, I themed it and everything – but with the double, I’d be contending with the curbs of Main Street, the narrow walkway between Peter Pan/it’s a small world in Fantasyland, and the paths around the Castle – in other words, it just stressed me out.

(b) Abby asked to ride the bus. Yes, my child is obsessed with all forms of transportation, and the busses get just as top billing as the monorails or ferry boats in her world. Although the Thule folds up super easily and is surprisingly lightweight for it’s size, there’s no way I could physically do that, get both girls on the bus, AND carry the infant carseat at the same time. I suppose if we were staying at a Monorail Resort, this wouldn’t be an issue (especially if we were at Bay Lake Tower or the Contemporary).

So, I decided to brave it. And admittedly, there were a few moments that perhaps could have been more efficient, logistically, if I maybe threw our cheapy umbrella stroller into the trunk so we could use that instead, but with a 4 hours plan of being in the park, it was doable without the stroller.

Bottom line: if you want a stroller here, bring the smallest one you can bring that makes sense for your situation. Maybe something like a the Yoyo or Pockit stroller (not affiliate links) if you want something for your larger infant/toddler.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 100% recommend

My rating is a little biased/off since we were visiting for a special after-hours event (AKA not regular day crowds) but with the sheer size of the park, coupled with the darkness/low light, having the stroller was great! I loved being able to move freely along the pathways, and I think riding through new places was an added thrill for Abby, especially in the Pandora area.

I never felt boxed in, or in the way, and was always able to find somewhere to park the stroller. Definitely recommend.

Disney Springs – 50 / 50

Disney Springs day came with another request from Abby for a bus ride. I had planned on just driving (and therefore, using the stroller) but she wanted “bus and boat.”

Since it was our last day / no parks, I honored her request, thinking the transportation would take center stage as an attraction – however, with that, I’d face the same issue with folding the stroller/lugging the carseat, so stroller-less it was!

I must also add, at this point, that I am a fast walker. Like, to the point it’s almost painful to walk slow (but I’ve been working on this with Abby, of course). So, I reminded her that (a) we could walk her speed (b) carrying her was not an option, since I had the baby (in a carrier), the diaper bag, and it was the warmest day (reaching mid 80’s by lunchtime).

Along with the decision to go stroller-less, we also decided to close in on our touring radius. Ideally, we would have seen all of Disney Springs, from the Marketplace to the West Side, but with Abby’s little legs, I modified our excursion to Town Center and The Landing only (basically, the area between the bus drop off and the boat dock).

Crowds were low, so it was stress-free to let Abby walk along, and with a much smaller area to explore, we didn’t have any situations where she couldn’t handle the distance – plus, she really did love the bus and boat rides. Unfortunately, I would have liked to do a little more at Disney Springs (we grabbed my free cupcake at Sprinkles, then opted to go back to Old Key West to eat, rather than venture beyond our target area for food) but it still worked out.

Summary/ tl;dr

Overall, I’d say it was worth bringing the stroller along, and I am glad I tried it out, despite my cringing at the thought of recommending it – it’s kind of like my version of people feeling defeated by buying a minivan. Hah!

But really? The worst part about having a stroller truly is the need to be 300% focused on those around you. I mean, those people that just stop in a walkway, checking the theme park map, or their phone – totally oblivious of their surroundings? Yeah, they’re definitely going to blame you if you hit them. Hah! I had a few people walk INTO us and then give us a dirty look – even with me often calling out, “watch out!” or “excuse me!” Truth be told, there are also realllllllllllly oblivious / ignorant stroller “drivers” out there too, but there’s one in ever crowd, right?

So yes, I rambled for 1500+ words on my stroller experience at Walt Disney World, but really, I am happy I did, if this helps ANYONE with their decision.

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