Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Going Stroller Free (for the first time) in Walt Disney World

This article was originally written for my WDW Daily News column Making Magical Memories.  It was published in newsletter #219 on February 21, 2012.

Our last trip to Walt Disney World was a milestone for us.  For the first time, we were traveling with three potty trained kids.  We enjoyed a week with no diapers and no diaper bag.  We also made a big decision about strollers.  We decided this trip we would also be stroller free.  There were many factors that came into play before we made our final decision.

1. Would we really have a child who would “need” to be in a stroller to walk around the parks?  The only person who would “need” a stroller would be Emily.  She was just shy of turning four.  But, she always disliked being a stroller.  As soon as this child could walk, there was no turning back!  We learned that lesson during our 2010 trip, in which I pushed an empty stroller all around Walt Disney World because Emily, then just barely two, refused to sit in it.  I spent the week arguing with Hayley and Joey about how they were too big to be in the stroller.  It simply became a means to push our backpack around.

2. If we weren’t going to bring a stroller, how would we make sure the kids were ready for the trip?  Leading up to the trip, we made sure that we walked everyday around the neighborhood.  This did a couple of things.  It built up the kids’ endurance for walking.  Also, we were sure their sneakers were broken in before the trip.  Since this was an October trip, we had been taking the kids on walks almost daily for about 7 months. They had walked a lot.  Had this trip been in say April, we may not have had such success since walking around here in the winter is not always a safe option because of the snow and ice. 

3. How would we make sure they didn’t fizzle out or have sore legs mid trip (or midday)?  No matter how we were all feeling midday, we went back to our resort.  My kids do not nap, but taking the time to go back to the Polynesian, remove our shoes for a bit, get off our feet, go for a swim and just have time to regroup, was just what we needed to make sure we didn’t overdo and end up pushing the kids until they had sore feet or muscles.  

If you are at that turning point with your family about whether you need a stroller or not, remember that you know your child better than anyone.  These are the strategies we used to go stroller free and I am relieved to say, they worked.  There was only one moment that we thought maybe we should have gotten a stroller, but that was at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party and it was about an hour and a half past the kids’ regular bedtime.  Otherwise, for our normal park touring, we had planned and prepared our kids enough to make sure going stroller free worked for us.

If you are looking for more information about strollers in Walt Disney World, head over to my post To Bring Your Own or Rent a Stroller for details on what worked best for us when our children needed to be in strollers.

9 comments:

JenniferLissak said...

That day seems SO far away for us! We'll be renting a double in January - DS2 will occasionally go for a ride, but he's preferred to walk for as long as he's been able to - like Emily!  I love our midday breaks - I take naps even when the boy doesn't!

Beth D. said...

It felt odd not having the stroller, but it made getting through the parks/crowds, restaurants, buses, etc. so much easier.  Of course, it was a little sad because it means my kids are growing up . . . . much too fast! :-)

Izza said...

 I did understand your feelings! My husband and I used to visit Disney bringing a stroller along with us and it really sucks! But now it won't be a problem anymore since there is  Disney World stroller rentals to the rescue.

Megan said...

A little planning would really make it work. Will try it with my kids on our next trip. Thanks for posting.

Laura said...

One way of teaching kids to be more active. Great idea.

Drew said...

I think i will start training my kids to be stroller-free on our next trip.

Beth D. said...

It was really great for us.  Just getting on and off the buses and not having to search stroller parking areas was a plus! :-)

Beth D. said...

Thanks!  It is one of those milestones that is a little sad because it means my kids are growing up, but on the other hand, it was great to see them handle all the walking so well.  They definitely get their exercise! :-)

Beth D. said...

Having the entire summer to get the kids ready for walking was great.  Winter vacations are a little tougher to be ready, but luckily, fall is our favorite time to visit! :-)