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One of the most common questions asked by parents planning a trip to Disney World is: Does my older child need a stroller at Disney World? You will see it asked multiple times each week in Facebook groups, travel blogs, and Disney fan forums. When parents who have never been to Disney before hear that you walk, on average, 8-10 miles per day there, they immediately think: “My 6 year old can’t walk that much!” Personally, I have taken multiple trips to Disney World with my son, nephew, and niece, when they were all between the ages of 6-10. Never once did I use a stroller with any of them. So, no: kids over the age of 4 do not need a stroller at Disney World. Keep reading to find out why and what you should do instead.
DISCLAIMER: This post is talking about healthy kids. If your child has special needs or medical issues, THIS IS NOT DIRECTED AT YOU! No one knows what your child needs better than you do, so trust your gut.
I know what I’m about to say will anger some of you, but it’s important to address this openly and honestly because I feel some of you are scared or guilted into getting a stroller “just in case” when it is really not necessary.
Reason #1: Kids will get tired.
Of course, your child is going to get tired while at Disney World! Everyone does! Disney World is exhausting. But, it’s not the only place in the world your child gets tired. If you wouldn’t push your 8-year-old around in a stroller at the mall just because they’re tired, then you shouldn’t do it at Disney World!
While it’s true that you will walk a lot each day at Disney World, you won’t be doing it all at one time. The walking is broken up by breaks, meals, rides, and shows. Lots of kids go to Disney World and do all this walking every day without any issues. It is not impossible for kids to walk several miles in a day.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #1
Train your kids for lots of walking in the weeks and months leading up to your trip. For details on how to do this, see how to go to Disney World without a stroller and how to prepare your kids for Disney.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #2
Take plenty of breaks. Schedule breaks into your plans. And when your kids get tired, take a break, whether it’s scheduled or not. Stop for a snack, spend some time on a bench, or go back to your hotel for a nap. In my family, daily naps at Disney World are mandatory for everyone. And my son, who NEVER naps, is happy to take one every day of our trip.
Reason #2: They will want to ride in the stroller.
Once again, just because this is true doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate reason to get a stroller at Disney World. Your kid is going to want every stuffed animal, light up toy, and snack they see too, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to say yes every time. They will also want to cut the lines for all the rides, but you’re not going to let that happen either. This is about setting expectations and insisting your child act their age. In my experience, kids willingly rise to the expectations set by their parents.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #3
Tell your child that if they are old enough to go to Disney World, they are old enough to walk. If they balk at this, take them back to the hotel. I promise, if you make them leave the park once, they will not do this again.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #4
Don’t give your kids an option. Many parents argue that they rented a stroller at Disney World just in case and their kids rode in it the whole time. The truth is that if you give people, adults and kids, a choice, most people will choose to ride instead of walk. But, if you don’t give them that option, they will be just fine walking. So, if you don’t get the stroller, your child will not want to ride in it.
Reason #3: If my younger child has a stroller, my older child will want one too.
This reason goes hand in hand with the two reasons above. But the truth of the matter is that some basic aspects of life are as true on vacation as they are at home. And one of those truths is that your older child doesn’t get to revert to being a baby just because they have a younger sibling. You wouldn’t let your 6-year-old wear a diaper and drink from a bottle just because your 1-year-old does. This is no different!
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #5
Hype up being a big kid. Kids love being “big.” So tell your child that big kids don’t use strollers. Explain that only big kids get to ride the best rides. This will help to motivate them to want to shun the stroller.
Reason #4: We need the stroller to carry our stuff in the parks.
If you need a stroller in the parks to haul around your stuff, you’re bringing too much stuff! It is an unnecessary expense and hassle to have a stroller just to carry your stuff. A stroller may be convenient to hold all your things, but it can waste a lot of your park time every time you have to park it or find it in a stroller parking lot. Save yourself the time and effort by not using the stroller as a cart for your things.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #6
If you bring lunch or snacks to the parks or have a lot of stuff that you need, rent a locker. This way you will have your stuff in the parks, but don’t have to lug it around with you all day.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #7
Rethink what you really need in the parks. Only bring the absolute necessities. Anything that you need unexpectedly can be bought in the parks.
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #8
Avoid carrying souvenirs around the parks by buying them at the end of the day or have them shipped to your hotel if you are staying on property or to the front of the park if staying offsite.
Reason #5: My kid will wander off and get lost without a stroller.
I will concede that some toddlers are runners and may need to be in a stroller for this reason. However, by the time your child is 5 or 6 years old, they should be past this running stage. If your older child tends to wander off because they aren’t paying attention, then you as the parent need to pay more attention to them! There are lots of solutions for wanderers but putting them in a stroller is not one of them!
Stroller(less) Alternative Solution #9
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with you. Practice as you go about your normal daily activities. Have them walk next to you and either hold your hand or your shirt while walking. Keep them engaged by having them help you find where you’re going. Check out our other tips to keep your kids safe at Disney World for more ideas.
Many people waste lots of time and money on strollers at Disney World for their kids who are 6, 7, 8, 9, or even 10 years old because they think they need them. The truth is that any healthy kid over the age of 4 does not need a stroller at Disney World. Set clear expectations, treat your child the way you would home, take breaks, and pack less stuff. With these solutions, I have no doubts that your child will do great without a stroller at Disney World. Save the money and buy them an extra snack or souvenir instead! For more tips on taking kids to Disney World, see life lessons Disney can teach your kids, how to prevent Disney meltdowns, tips for teaching your kids at Disney World, and how to help your kids wait in line. To book your trip, go to Disney’s website.
P.S. Are you planning a trip to Disney World and not sure what you need to do or when? Do you feel completely overwhelmed by it all? My Disney World Trip Planning Checklist can help! It will guide you through every step of the planning process! And it’s FREE! Grab yours in the box below!