My daughter will be 7 when we visit in April. She hasn't used a stroller in years. I have seen plenty of discussion on various sites about how useful it is to have a stroller, particularly when you are traveling with a younger kid and an older kid and you get a double stroller. But what about when you come with one kid, and she is "big kid" age to boot? She's on the smaller side (about 45 lbs and 45 inches) but it's so weird to imagine her in a stroller. Anyone here have a child her age/size make it through the parks without one? We are planning to go to parks for rope drop, go back to our hotel around lunchtime, and then go back to the park in late afternoon. TIA for your opinions and advice.
I would not bring a stroller but I would plan on breaks and down time. Not naps, but time relaxing eating an ice cream, for example. Your DD is going to be exhausted so plan some breaks. And some slower rides in there too!
You can always rent one in park, if needed. We rented one for an MK late evening for our small 7 year old - I don't remember the exact cost ($15-25) but it seemed well worth it to keep everyone happy (including older kiddos). There are multiple places to rent at MK - we rented from the princess store at the back side of Cinderella's palace. If the kid can make it without the stroller, great, but if not, options are available.
We brought an umbrella stroller for my boys at that age, but they were in and out of it, wanting to walk most of the time. It was a place to put our water and packages otherwise. But it also gave me peace of mind when we were on the move. I knew where my boys were at rope drop or in big crowds. They weren't getting separated from us in a crowd.
But in our case, we always go at RD and then stay until dinner. So we slog it out for the whole day, stopping only for lunch and bathroom breaks. If you're taking breaks in the day, you may not have to worry about an exhausted child in the same way.
My DS7 made it completely fine without ever asking for the stroller. We toured the way you plan, RD, hotel break from noon-3 or 4, then parks til 9ish. He is small, just 48 in and less than 50 lbs. He is a huge hiking/walking wimp, so we fully expected whining or needing the stroller. We had two for his younger brothers and wraps for them if need be so he (and older sis) could sit. They never needed them!
I wouldnt take a stroller just plan some meals and breaks! I have 6 children and the youngest is 2 but my 8 yr old does fine without a stroller (she was 7 on her last trip in march). A stroller is such a hassle the parks are so much easier to navigate without one!
I wouldn't take the stroller either. Although the kiddies get tired more quickly - perhaps that becomes the queue to take a break. It is just ONE more thing to lug around, park, take care of etc.
Also depends on your daughter. Does she get tired easily? When she is tired, does she become a whiny mess (like mine does)? Will she not be able to keep up with you for the entire day (walking as fast as you want/need to to keep up with the TP)?
If you answered "Yes" to any of these, you may want to consider the stroller.
When We went a year ago with our daughter who was 6 at the time, we felt it was great having that stroller! The parks are BIG and those little legs had trouble keeping up, and got tired quick. She didn't spend the entire time in the stroller, but anytime she started to complain about the walk, into the stroller she went! We felt it saved us a lot of aggravation.
I recommend renting a stroller vs bringing one because then you don't have to lug it around when transporting from hotel to park or park to park.
Keep in mind, you're renting for the day, not per stroller. So if you get a stroller at MK in the morning, if you got to your hotel and come back, you simply show your receipt from the morning and get a new stroller. Or if you go to two parks in one day, just show the receipt from the other park.
Last tip, pay for the number of days you need in advance, on your first day. You'll save a few bucks, and getting the stroller on subsequent days is much quicker!
Good luck and have fun!
We have two 7 year olds who haven't used a stroller in years except for our trip to Disney last year. When I asked if they wanted one for this coming summer's trip to Disney they said they definitely did. My husband and I think it made a huge difference in our trip. We never made them sit in it. They could get out and walk anytime. But it allowed them to rest their legs in between rides and sit back and enjoy the sights of the park as we were walking from place to place instead of focusing on making their way through the crowd. It gave us a great place to keep all our stuff. We didn't think it was a pain at all to have it but rather a great help. It saved their legs and their energy for long days (even with mid-day breaks) and we never had problems finding parking spots. It was well worth the cost of rental for us. But I wouldn't rent the hard plastic ones in the park. We rented from Kingdom Strollers.
Edited to add that both our sons are very active and we took long walks to prepare for the trip. I echo others' suggestion to do that whether you use a stroller or not.
I just got back a few weeks ago with two 6 year olds. I would totally take a stroller. I felt odd about it at first too, but there will be bigger kids than yours in a stroller, so don't worry about it. Also, you won't see those people again, and it'll make your trip flow much more smoothly.
I am debating the same issue with my DS7. Last year we went with my nephew who was 7 and he was the only child in the group who did not have a stroller and he was constantly asking if he could have a turn in one to get a break. I am thinking that I will bring an umbrella stroller for him even though my sister insists that 7 is too old.
But is she the one that has to deal with him when he gets tired? Nope. You are! So do what's best for him and you! It's not about being "too old" it's about can a 7yo keep up with adults for 12 hours? Most can't. They need the rest, and everyone benefits from that rest. Hell, I'm 45. If they made strollers big enough for me, I'd get one!
We didn't use a stroller with our 5 1/2 year old. She's small and a high energy kid in way better shape than we are. On our longer days we took breaks and the other days we had shortened days. I did have enough set aside for daily stroller rentals in the parks in case we were wrong and she did need the stroller.
We took our two 8 years and a 4 year and did not use a stroller for any of them. We took long walks before the trip to practice. Breaks, shows and meals gave everyone a rest. I think my DH carried my 4 year old once on his back and that was after Fantasmic in the crowd out of the park. I wouldn't have wanted a stroller in that crowd anyway. It was great not having to worry about one. I know some people advise others to get a stroller, but I really think that not every kid needs it. A little planning and pretrip preparation can go a long way.
If I just had my 7 year old I would avoid getting a stroller if we took afternoon breaks. I might rent one at Epcot. I really can't see needing one at HS for most kids who are active. Unfortunately, a lot of kids are not.
We recently did a 5 day with our 7yr old son. I couldn't imagine him in a stroller. We did rope drop, lunch + swim break, then VERY relaxed night tour with fireworks each day. You know what your DD can handle. Don't overdo it. Little feet and little legs get tired, and little tummies get hungry quick. Pack non-sugary snacks (how many sugar crashes will you witness? Don't allow your kid to be one of them.) Remember the foot glide, and two pairs of gym shoes to avoid blisters. Avoid extra steps where you can. Let her know to ask for a break right away if she wants one. Try to schedule fun stops that include a snack and a break (I scheduled walking snacks, like:)
Beef jerky on the way to Test Track. Dole Whip after Alladdin, then walk to Jungle Cruise, etc.
I let the kid know to speak up whenever he wanted a break, and for the most part, only on day 1 did he need to speak up for the first break. I actually planned our lunch break at the time he spoke up, and it would have been a 5 minute walk, but to show him I really would keep my promise of stopping whenever he wanted, we stopped right there and got lunch. After I "learned" what pace after that - he didn't have to speak up for a break for the rest of the trip. You're not gonna get to do EVERYTHING, make sure to enjoy the time you can spend. You're gonna see some tired, miserable, ppl. Don't be one of them.
If you don't think she needs a stroller, or more importantly wouldn't even want to ride in one - it might not be worth your hassle. Sling or backpack with water bottles, a phone charger, ponchos, and snacks (and of course, credit cards.) I wouldn't bring the stroller - sounds like you don't think she'll "need" one.
I won't lie - by the end of day 4, our feet were TIRED, and day 5, it seemed like standing in line started hurting our feet immediately, but he had a great time, and enthusiastically said he wanted to go back for another vacation when we left the hotel. Just don't overdo it. Make sure the kids have fun. Take breaks.
Edited to add: Alewis678 - great point. We started walking MUCH more about 6 months before our trip, and actually started going for a quick nightly jog, too. Great point!
I've always used a stroller with my daughter (she'll be 8 for this year's trip, and I may still get one). Although she doesn't use it all the time, the stroller has proven a life saver for those quick paced, long hauls across the park to make it to a fastpass reservation, or simply to carry everything as the day wears on. She's way too big for it, and it's not the most comfortable (we rent one at the park), but during those times when she's tired or hungry, it has allowed all of us to keep our sanity! It's really a super individual decision... all kids are different... but I couldn't imagine doing Disney without one. I suppose I should add that we tour all day from rope-drop to close, with no mid-day breaks at the resort.
And yes, it totally depends on the park.... we use one at MK and Epcot, but never at HS. We haven't used one at AK for the past couple of years, either.
We tend to be lean and agile. But this comes down to preference - I would prefer bringing as compared to renting but it is up to you. We don't take much into the park (what do you really need - especially as your kids get older). We try to make it fun to "dash" here and there and take plenty of breaks. When the kids are ready for a stroller - we know it is time to break for a bit
I would not do a stroller. It is so inconvenient having to park it and then backtrack to find it llater. IMO a 7yr old should be able to do a day without being pushed around. It is also tiring for the person pushing and having to navigate thru a busy park with a 50 pound kid. Kids get to rest in line and at lunch. We stopped our grandchild at 5 and we cant believe how much better our days are.