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One of the biggest questions for families planning a Disney World trip with small kids is do you need a stroller during your trip. You absolutely can ditch the stroller, even with kids as young as 5. But how, exactly, do you get your kids to walk 8-10 miles per day while exploring the parks without a complete meltdown? Keep reading to find out the secret to going to Disney World without a stroller.
How can I be so confident that you can survive Disney World without a stroller? This is because I’ve done it multiple times. The last time I used a stroller with my son at Disney World was when he was 4. We have taken him several times since without one. I also took my nephew at the age of 7 and never even considered putting him in a stroller. Both did great during those trips.
The Reasons to Ditch the Stroller
Before we dive into how to go to Disney World without a stroller (and without killing your child), let’s look closer at why it’s beneficial to go without the stroller.
Some parents favor having a stroller, even for kids who are 8-10 years old, because they believe their kids can’t walk 8-10 miles per day and they feel they will have fewer meltdowns if their children have a place to rest. These parents also love having a stroller because it gives them a place to keep all their stuff while in the parks.
But there are lots of benefits of going to Disney World stroller-free.
First of all, kids are much more resilient than parents give them credit for. While they will get tired (like we all do), they are capable of doing a lot more physically than parents think.
Secondly, going without a stroller gives your kids the opportunity to experience more of the parks. They can explore more, see more details, and interact easier with the things they encounter.
Next, being at Disney World without a stroller can improve your relationship with your kids. It allows them the chance to show you just how big they are. It encourages them to be more independent. And it gives them the opportunity to communicate with you more while walking around.
If your child is out of the stroller, you can use your time in the parks to teach them some life lessons, such as how to navigate crowds, how to efficiently get from place to place, and how to use a public transportation system.
And the parks are so much easier to navigate without a stroller. You will save time by not having to worry about parking and looking for your stroller multiple times per day.
How to go to Disney World Without a Stroller
To experience Disney World without a stroller and still have a great time, you need to do three things: (1) adopt reasonable expectations, (2) have a plan, and (3) train your kids.
Step #1: Adopt Reasonable Expectations
The key to any successful Disney World trip is to go into it with reasonable expectations. This is especially true if you are going with kids. Think realistically about how far your kids can walk, taking into account their ages, personalities, and energy levels.
Also think about how late they can stay up and whether they are morning people.
Step #2: Have a Plan
If your expectations are reasonable, you know that your kids can’t go nonstop for 8-10 hours. So, you need to have a plan for touring the parks with time built in for rest.
I recommend taking a midday break at the hotel for naps. But, you could also sleep in and get a late start on the day or head back to the hotel early and keep your kids on their regular bedtime schedule.
You should also have a plan for when your kids get tired and whiney. What will you do to prevent those meltdowns from happening?
There are several options when your kids hit the wall and need a break. You could stop for a snack, head to an air-conditioned show, or just take them back to the hotel at that point. For more ideas, see how to prevent Disney meltdowns.
Step #3: Train Your Kids
On average, you can expect to walk 8-10 miles per day while at Disney World. That’s a lot for anyone! So, to prepare your kids, start a training program. Just like runners train for a marathon, your family can prepare for all the walking at Disney World by training.
Start 3-4 months before your trip. Take a walk with your kids several days a week. Begin by going around the block. Each day, increase the distance a little bit. Once your kids get to the point they can walk for more than a mile without stopping, they will be ready to take on Disney World.
Here’s some more training tips to make your trip better:
- Walk on consecutive days to prepare your children for walking every day of your trip.
- Have them wear the shoes they will wear in the parks during your training sessions. This will help break in their shoes and prevent blisters on your trip.
- Use your training walks to talk about your trip to get everyone excited about it. This is also a good way to find out your kids’ expectations about the trip. Use these expectations to plan a surprise for them which will help you have an amazing vacation.
- Give your kids a Disney water bottle. Have them take it on your walks. This will get them in the habit of drinking lots of water. It will also give you the chance to teach them about the importance of staying hydrated.
Once your kids are over the age of 4, it is possible to go to Disney World without a stroller and without epic meltdowns. You just need to have reasonable expectations and a plan. Then you need to train your kids to prepare them for the walking they will do on the trip.
For help planning your trip, see our step-by-step guide to planning your trip, the best resources for planning a Disney trip, and quick tips for planning a trip to Disney World. To book your trip, go to Disney World’s website.