How many times have you left a stroller unattended while you went on a ride or into a show at Disneyland?
How many times was the stroller – and everything you left in it – waiting for you when you got back?
Maybe a park employee moved the stroller while you were away, but I’d wager that few theme park fans have found their stuff missing entirely after a ride. And in the unusual situations when that does happen, it’s often a case of mistaken stroller identity, when a family pushes away a stroller they thought was theirs.
That’s why so many Disney fans have been freaking out over a recent story from Walt Disney World about the theft of an $1,800 stroller and its contents from a family at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. A Florida woman was charged after the person who later bought the stolen stroller online identified the seller to police. But the big reason the suspect was caught was that Disney’s ubiquitous surveillance cameras caught her in the act, and the images went viral online.
Let’s forget for a moment the issue of just how much Big Brother Mickey is watching in the parks to consider why so many people are bringing heavily loaded and expensive strollers into the parks in the first place.
Look, I get it. My kids were toddlers once, too. I remember schlepping our diaper bag into Disneyland back in the day, complete with multiple diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, a couple of blankies, a baggie of Cheerios, juice boxes, and a sippy cup or two.
But with so little available space on pathways at Disneyland on even moderately crowded days anymore, I appreciate when other fans around me in the park decide to travel lightly and leave the bulky bags and strollers at home. And you can’t break, lose or have stolen stuff you don’t bring to the park.
Here’s the question: Do you want the convenience of having everything you might need close at hand in backpack or bag, or the convenience of getting around the park without being loaded down like a Sherpa ascending Everest?
It’s easier to bring a bulky backpack to Disney than to many other theme parks, which often require stowing packs in lockers while you ride. But I can tell you from personal experience that hauling those bags and an SUV-sized stroller around the park changes your experience versus going around the park with a slimmer pack and a child who’s happy in a fold-up or a Disney rental stroller. With less stuff to haul, your focus moves from the burden of your load to the park around you that you paid to enjoy.
Some people need to carry special medical supplies and equipment when they visit the park. But if that’s not the case for your family, maybe consider breaking the pack-rat habit? Knowledge and experience can free you to leave some of that load at home.
Don’t want to carry around the stuff you buy in the park? You don’t need a big stroller to use as a shopping cart. Disneyland and most theme parks have free bag check services for in-park purchases. They’ll store your stuff until you are ready to leave for the day.
All major theme parks have baby care centers. Get to know what they offer, so you will know what you can get from them should you opt to travel more lightly, yet get caught in a pinch – same for first aid centers. My family has gotten plastic bandages, over-the-counter painkillers and even feminine supplies from various parks, often at no charge, over the years. Theme parks don’t have to be wilderness back country, where you need to pack in everything you might possibly need.
And just as soon as the kids are old enough to walk instead of ride their way around the park, let them. Don’t worry about making time or whether they’ll get crushed in the crowd. They won’t. Just stick with them and let them lead for a change. They’ll remember more of their trip that way, and you might just discover something new by seeing the park at a child’s pace.
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