Once you’ve decided to bring a stroller to Disney, the next three things you’ll think about are:
- How am I going to keep someone from stealing it?
- What if I lose it?
- Even if I know where it’s parked, how am I going to find this generic stroller in a sea of other strollers?
Theft and Disney World
Everyone wants to believe that theft never takes place in the Happiest Place On Earth. Unfortunately, it does. When thinking of ways to keep your stroller safe, you have to find your personal balance between ease of use and security measures.
Some people go the route of buying a stroller lock. I actually did purchase one of these for our trip and decided not to use it.
Time and effort. I didn’t want to have to deal with threading it through the wheels while leaving it able to roll. Note: you must leave the stroller so that CMs (Disney employee Cast Members) are able to move it as needed. That means, making sure they can at least lift it up and roll it using some of the wheels.
Instead, I opted for the two-pronged approach:
- Leave nothing in the stroller I cared about
- Make the stroller look different from other strollers so it cuts down on the “I thought this was my stroller” argument.
We did leave items in the stroller. But they were things like The Boy’s swim suit, diapers, wipes, thermos bottles of water, snacks and frozen bottles of water. The diapers and wipes were in plastic grocery bags and the snacks and frozen water bottles were in a close-to-worn-out insulated lunch sack that had The Boy’s picture from daycare (one of those free gifts they give you to make sure you buy a package from picture day – it worked). I purposefully put these items in cheap bags because that also cuts down on the theft factor. Many people will think nothing of leaving a nice diaper bag in the stroller. Don’t do this!
For the second point, making the stroller look different not only cuts down on someone taking it thinking it was theirs, it also makes it easier for you to find later.
How to not lose your stroller
Many people will have that sinking feeling that their stroller has been stolen only to find that a CM has moved it – or that they forgot where they parked it. Here are some tips for keeping up with your stroller.
Park in a real stroller approved area. If it gets crowded, CMs are required to move strollers so that people can walk. If you put your stroller in a stroller approved area, chances of it being moved more than a few feet are slim.
Park your stroller as tightly in with other strollers as you can. Those people who try to park their strollers crooked and leave lots of room between their strollers and other strollers quickly discover that CMs will shove strollers in like sardines when it’s busy. If you park your stroller tightly to start off, CMs are less likely to shove it into a spot that physics would argue it really couldn’t fit in.
Park your stroller in a large, centrally located spot and LEAVE IT THERE. The people I saw who kept wondering where their stroller was were the people who would retrieve their stroller and move it after every ride. Find a large stroller parking area and leave your stroller there while you visit different areas of the Land. When you’re done in Tomorrowland, grab the stroller and take it with you to Fantasyland. Don’t try to move your stroller to be in front of every ride you’re doing. You’ll forget where you put it, not to mention waste a lot of time.
Setting your stroller apart
There are a ton of helpful tips out there for how to set your stroller apart. Here are some of them and my thoughts.
This is by far the most popular and one of the things I chose. You can pick any kind of ribbon you want. I will suggest staying away from the Minnie polka dot pattern. That was a popular one. For us, I chose green and brown ribbons, tied on the side and hanging down slightly in the back. I didn’t wrap the entire handle because I wanted a good grip on the stroller. They were fairly understated so didn’t pop out at first, but no one else picked that. I saw lots of reds, pinks, and princess ribbons. So in contrast, non-Disney colors seemed to stand out against that bright background.
Ribbons are easy and cheap to tie or wrap around the handle of your stroller. They also don’t have to be removed when you fold it up for carrying. Highly recommend.
Many people will purchase a balloon to tie to the handle. I did not want to do this. They are expensive, they’re not allowed in Animal Kingdom and it’s a common way to set your stroller apart. Meaning – it doesn’t. Plus, they can pop and are pretty expensive.
This is an alternate to the balloon idea. I brought a pinwheel with but decided not to use it. I realized I’d have to remove it when folding the stroller. I did though, buy it from Walmart for about $1 so it’s a lot less expensive option than the balloon and would be allowed in Animal Kingdom. If you’re looking for something that will make your stroller really stand out from afar that doesn’t cost a fortune or take up a ton of space, this might be an option to think about.
Check out all the online templates for creating your own Disney themed nameplate. These are great since it shows your name on your stroller. Usually it’s set up with a cute Disney background with “The Smith Family.” But it’s an easy way to set it aside. I do suggest laminating this and making sure it’s either in an easy to see pocket or securely strapped and taped to the stroller. Taping another one to the bottom of the stroller in an out of sight spot might also be a good idea in case you’re worried about theft.
Glow sticks and glow necklaces
This was something we did when we were at the park for MNSSHP (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party). I bought several glow necklaces from a dollar store and wrapped them around the handle of the stroller at the beginning of the evening. This made it amazingly easy to find in the dark. Highly recommend this if you’re going to be there at night. As a side note, I also bought glow wands and sticks at the dollar store and gave these to The Boy that evening instead of buying them. He was just as happy with the dollar store ones as with the expensive Disney ones. I noticed other families doing the same thing.
Other decorations and final advice
Some folks go all out. They’ll hang stuffed animals, streamers, you name it. Ribbons and nameplates worked great for us because I didn’t have to worry about them as we were trying to fold the stroller. They were not expensive items hanging off the stroller to tempt a thief. I suggest finding your balance between setting your stroller apart and making it difficult to fold up and travel with.
Now that your stroller is fairly safe, in my next post, I’ll talk about how to not lose your kid at Disney.