Anatomy of a Perfectly Packed Theme Park Stroller
Written by: Jen McConnell
So…..you’re going to Walt Disney World (or Universal Orlando, Sea World, Six Flags, etc.) and taking the kiddos, right? Great! Part of traveling successfully with kids is knowing how to be prepared. If your children are stroller age, keep reading for important details and tips you need to pack the perfect park-ready stroller for your family. I promise, heeding this advice will save you from major meltdowns, whether you are visiting Fantasyland or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Before you start thinking of what to pack in your stroller, you’ll first need to decide which stroller you will be using. Should you bring your stroller from home? Rent a fancy model from a stroller vendor? Or, just rent a plain old park stroller for daily use at the theme parks? Each option has its benefits!
You are already uber familiar with the stroller you own, so you won’t run the risk of holding up the resort bus as you wrestle with an unfamiliar model while trying to fold it up for transport. (Yes, strollers must be folded before entering a transportation bus!) Bringing your personal stroller also saves rental fees and is convenient to have at the airport for shuttling easily distracted little ones to your gate.
Don’t have a stroller up for the task of a theme park expedition? Maybe renting from a stroller vendor is the right fit! At the larger theme park resorts, your rental can be delivered directly to your hotel….what could be easier than that?! Rental strollers are available in many different sizes, capacities, and configurations. Your travel agent (ME!) can provide you with options that are best suited for your family and can also make the reservation and delivery arrangements for you.
If your kids are preschool age and don’t always need to be stroller-bound, maybe the daily rental strollers at the theme parks are the perfect choice for you! These strollers are basic in design and appearance (see photo below), but also rugged enough to allow a quick rest for your first grader while they enjoy a Mickey premium ice cream bar or a churro. These rentals are available as single and double models and can be rented for a single day or the length of your stay. Rental strollers are picked up and dropped off near the park entrance and are cleaned thoroughly between each use.
Now that you have decided which stroller will accompany your family on your next theme park vacation, let’s talk about the basic items and a few luxuries you will definitely want to pack aboard for your day of thrills!
Sunscreen. In my opinion, this is the MOST important item to have in your stroller in the direct Florida sun! Through the years, I have seen many little ones with red cheeks, noses, and toes that could have been protected by a few swipes of Coppertone. Be sure to use an SPF 30 or higher. (In Florida, I normally opt for SPF 50!)
Sunhat/sunglasses. Just like the bright sun bothers your eyes, your little ones will also benefit from a hat or pair of sunglasses. Plus, there is almost nothing cuter than a toddler in a bucket hat or some (faux) Ray-Bans.
A change of clothes in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. During any given park day – there are bound to be slushies, ice creams, and the occasional bladder failure. A dry and clean set of clothes will come in handy and the Ziploc bag will be perfect for stowing the soiled clothes in!
Baby wipes, a lot of baby wipes. I promise you, you will use twenty of them each day.
Non-melting, on-the-go snacks. Pretzels, crackers, grapes, apple slices, whatever your little one fancies. You will be thankful you have them and extra thankful you didn’t pack fruit snacks, chocolate chip granola bars, or other items that will turn into mush after a few hours in the warm sun. The quick-service restaurant or gift shop at your resort will have many snack options that fit the bill!
Stroller fan. These little fans have sure come a long way in recent years! While battery-operated (by the way, bring extra batteries), these fans can really create a lot of cooling wind! As an added bonus, some models have a small water reservoir for a misting function.
Lightweight, oversized blanket. A blanket large enough for draping down from the stroller canopy provides excellent shade for your little one’s impromptu nap! This blanket will also come in handy if the night turns cooler or you want a quick picnic area for lunch on the grass near Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.
Stroller rain cover. Did you know quick afternoon rain showers are pretty common in Florida? While these rainfalls are typically fast and followed by beautiful sunshine, enough rain falls to soak everything in an unprepared family’s stroller. Be ready and have your rain cover packed! Then, once the rain has moved out, you can simply remove and fold up your rain cover and continue with your park day with a dry stroller and gear. Here is a universal and affordable stroller cover available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Stroller-Rain-Cover-Weatherproof
Light-up toy or glow sticks. Want to save yourself some easy money? Pack some inexpensive glow sticks (think Dollar Store) or a light-up wand or two. As night falls in the theme parks, you will be one of the few happy parents not shelling out $25 for a glowing spinny toy for each child!
Stroller safety straps. These are an ingenious invention. No more sippy cups, pacifiers, or toys being heaved out of the stroller by ornery toddlers. Simply strap the items to your stroller and the problem is solved. This silicone, stretchy multipack will give you all you need to secure your kiddos goodies: https://www.amazon.com/Stretchable-Silicone-Stroller-Straps
My final tip for creating the perfectly packed theme park stroller is…..create an eye-catching and unique stroller sign with your family’s last name. As you stumble out of It’s a Small World or Jungle Cruise you will be faced with a sea of strollers. A custom sign (laminated for weatherproofing) will make locating your stroller fast and easy!