Theme park cast member stories: The Walt Disney World stroller police
Published: April 19, 2010 at 9:33 AM
Ever leave a stroller outside a Walt Disney World attraction, only to find it in a different place when you returned?
You might have been a target of the Disney Stroller Police.
Yeah, I served on the force. People curse our work, but trust me, you don't want to try walking through a theme park without Stroller Police there to clear the way.
When you work at a theme park attraction, one of your responsibilities is to keep the area around the entrance clean and orderly. So when folks pull their kids from their strollers before coming inside, we follow behind to move those strollers into neat lines.
Once we get the stroller parking zone established in the morning, most folks follow along, parking their strollers at the end of the rows, or filling a space left empty by a previous visitor.
But some folks never do get the hint. They just leave the stroller wherever the kid got out, with no concern that it be blocking a pathway, an exit door, or even someone else's stroller. So we stroller cops would have to grab that stroller and push it into place.
Funny thing, though, is that most of those folks never complained. I always suspected that they had no idea where they'd left the stroller, nor did they care. They just came to assume that they'd find it somewhere in the line-up of the strollers in front of the attraction when they exited. To them, the stroller police were more like the stroller valets.
Let's talk about the real stroller felons, though:
The pack rats
These folks pack for a day at Disney World like they were hauling their kid across the Arctic tundra. The over-worn wheels of their top-heavy strollers barely roll as you try to wrestle the mess into place. I can understand why you might need to bring half the contents of your child's bedroom with you to occupy the kid if you were spending the afternoon waiting in line at the DMV. But this is Disney World, people. We've got plenty of stuff here to keep your children entertained.
Disney World is not a wilderness campsite. You don't need to pack out everything you brought in. So, really, it's okay to dump your soiled diapers in the bathroom someplace. You don't need to haul them around the park with you all day. Okay?
I couldn't afford a Ferrari, so I bought this stroller instead
Dad - and it is always Dad - charges toward the nearest cast member, pointing at his Deluxe, Top-of-the-Line Stroller Machine: "Hey, this is a very expensive stroller," he always says. "I know that you guys are supposed to move the strollers around, but we parked it in an okay place, and really don't want anyone touching it, okay?" Then he storms off, running after the rest of the family, who have hurried into the attraction queue early to enjoy a moment or two away from the presence of Daddy-with-issues. Of course, half the time Mr. Wonderful hasn't parked the stroller in "an okay place." But even if he did, for his performance, I guarantee that we will decide that next to his precious Ferrari substitute is the perfect place to relocate... Stinky McStroller (see above).
And the worst of the stroller felons?
Incredibly, some people are so afraid of their strollers being stolen, or even relocated, that they lock them to stanchions, lampposts or fences. Do this far enough away from the attraction, and maybe we won't notice. But when the Stroller Police see a locked stroller blocking an exit door or pathway next to an attraction, we call out the Stroller SWAT Team.
I only saw the Stroller SWAT Team in action once. Someone had locked a pack-rat stroller (ooh, a multiple offender!) to a lamppost outside Frontier Mercantile, blocking the breezeway to Adventureland that runs next to the Country Bear queue. The Bear Band host called the lead for advice. She delivered her response with a steely eye: "Call Security. Tell them to bring bolt cutters."
And they did. One snip, and the Stroller Police were free to relocate the offender... right next to a Stinky McStroller on the other side of the queue.
A few of us lingered to see who would claim it. A mom carrying a baby and dad lugging a toddler stopped short in front it, exchanged shocked glances to find their stroller not where they'd left it, and wheeled around to find a cast member to chew out. They saw us; Mom's eyes narrowed.... Then they noticed the 6'-2" security guard standing next to us, who stared right back at them, with a wry hint of smile on his face.
Mom and Dad immediately cast their eyes down into the stroller, where they laid the baby. Then they pushed away, turning their heads and keeping their eyes away from us.
Yeah, we're the Stroller Police. Don't mess with us.
For more of Robert's stories about working in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, visit themeparkinsider.com/stories.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM
As a former stroller pig, where would you say the best place is in Disney to get coffee and doughnuts?
Published: April 19, 2010 at 10:23 AM
I never understood why people park their strollers where they do. It is clearly marked by the large quantity of strollers in certain areas that this is where you should place this item. When we took our sons last year, we had two umbrella strollers. When we neared an attraction, if there wasn't a place close by for strollers, we didn't just decide to park it out front. We found a cast member and asked where it should go so that we wouldn't be wondering around confused about our lost strollers. And as always, the cast members were pleasant and helpful. Some were even thankful that we asked where to put them, so that they didn't have to do it and possibly face the wrath. I have heard and seen parents losing their tempers over their misplaced stroller. It is all so unnecessary.
My biggest pet peeve about parents with strollers are those who are in a hurry and do their best to run you over. It's crowded, it's hot, and you wish to continue to make my legs bleed because I am unable to move out of the way or speed up becasue of the hundered others in front of me. I have had to visit first aid more times due to unfriendly stroller drivers than for any other reason.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM
Last summer one of the most unmagical moments I've ever had at Disney....delt with the infamous stroller police. We were in AK going to see Finding Nemo.... the stroller police not only moved the stroller but sent a child unattened off to stroller land because he had to move strollers. I needless to say was very unhappy and he had to be the most unhappy Disney Cast Member I've ever encountered > hopefully your attitude was better!
Published: April 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM
i used to be "stroller police" as well! I hated when the guests would come up to me and say "all day my stroller has been moved from the spot i left it in so dont touch it, im fed up!" I would then ask them to put it in the stroller parking area and there would be no problem. One guest was not happy about this so she locked her stroller to the pole at the ride entrance...too bad she forgot to close the lock properly 0:)
the worse was when the guests would have the stroller moved 2 feet (just so we can get them all in a clean line) and they would panic yelling for security to come for a stolen stroller!
in reply to the other comment (even though its prolly just a joke), the best coffee is in downtown disney (ghiradelli- i prefer the iced caramel latte) doughnuts, i havent looked for them, but hollywood studios has a really nice bakery called starring rolls cafe!
Published: April 19, 2010 at 10:52 AM
Excellent story as always. This reminds me of a stroller story that happened to me recently at the Kingdom
When I went to the Magic Kingdom in September, we brought our daughter there for the first time. She was 26 months old at that point (she is completey different now as she approaches the age of three, coupled with the fact that she now has a four month old sister). Anyway, we went to Philharmagic show and parked her stroller in the large stroller parking lot that is off to the side of the 3D attraction. Then we walked into the show (which as we all know, is a pretty awesome spectacle and it was made all the more incredible watching my daughter's face as she experienced it for the first time).
After the show, we walked back with the post-Philharmagic goofy smiles on our faces to collect our stroller, only to realize that it had been moved. Apparently there is a stroller attendant who consolidates the stroller spaces. As strollers leave, she moves the strollers over to make room for more of them. This is something that makes perfect sense and is well appreciated in such a heavily attended park.
I scanned the sea of strollers to locate the one that had been moving my daughter around all day long. The issue was that the stroller we had is a very popular stroller in an equally popular color. A fact that was made more apparent when we saw five of the same ones in the stroller lot (yes...five of them....thank you Babies R Us). I had to go through the pockets of each one, violating so many rules of privacy just to find ours. Of course ours was the last one I went through.
So we were leaving the area to move along when I noticed money in the pocket of the stroller's back. I asked my wife, "Hey did you put this in here?" She looked at me like I was crazy for suggesting she would leave money unattended. That is when I realized, oh wait, so this stroller isn't ours either. I then also realized, oh wait, this bottle of water I left in the stroller and have been drinking wasn't mine as well, because, as I just remembered, I hadn't bought a bottle of water yet that day!!
So I ran back to the stroller parking, all the while fearing some disease that had infected me from drinking a stranger's bottle. Thoughts of H1N1 were circling my brain and I quickly imagined spending the remainder of the vacation curled up in a fetal position and cursing the name "Desani"!
"Look for the green polka dots!" my wife yelled as I walked back to the stroller lot. "Oops" I thought. "The polka dots!" Sure enough, there it was. Waiting for me to reclaim it.
I quietly parked the stranger's stroller and causually walked away with the correct one. After that I ran straight to the bathroom and gargled with the hottest water I could stand. I was okay and remain completely H1N1 free to this day.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 11:08 AM
I couldn't decide if this was a violation or not, but since as a stroller cop I didn't care one way or another, I didn't add it to the piece.
I encountered several guests who would rent the Disney stroller, not mark it, take their stuff with them whenever they went into a ride... then just claim the first unmarked Disney stroller they found when they came out.
And if there weren't any, they'd just present their claim ticket at the nearest big merchandise location and get a replacement.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM
I'm not understanding Leonard's comment. Are you saying you left a child unattended in a stroller and then got mad cause the stroller police moved it?
Published: April 19, 2010 at 11:50 AM
Hee hee... reminds me of my own stroller experience...
Someone had "abandoned" a stroller next to the ride I was operating (during my theme park working days). Unfortunately, child demons had not bestowed my ride with their presence so I was just bored and watching a nearby squirrel...
... who jumped into the stroller!
I saw a bushy tail swishing around inside. A minute later, the squirrel slides out dragging a chocolate chip cookie the size of my head. Mr. Squirrel digs into the cookie just as the stroller's owners return. Mr. Dad does the whole, "That cookie was three dollars!" while the squirrel hisses and Mrs. Mom is in total adoration and begins taking pictures. I go back to pretending I'm working.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 2:34 PM
The changing of the unmarked strollers is done often now if the family wants to take the train. I think its more acceptable now!
Published: April 19, 2010 at 5:20 PM
Hey as always I love your tails. I know someone that had Ipods in a stroller basket and they were stolen. This happend in Hershey park were their realy is no stroller parking. so I could see why people are so quick to call in a stolen stroller.
The one good thing about Hershey is the parent swap. You can bring the stroller to the exit of the ride and tell the operator you are doing the swap. This is good so you do not wait in line double the times and you always know were your stroller is because one parent is always with it.
i have seen problems like this though. Go to a street fair for example people do run you over with them and they are all over the place outside the rides and So on.
PS People would not last a minute in the NY aquairium they have stroller police all over the outside parts of the place.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 5:58 PM
My own hated stroller classification is the Urban Assault Stroller. The same type of people who buy an Expedition just because they had 1 (one) kid and "need the room" also buy the biggest, baddest stroller they can find, load it up with all the junk the kid "needs", and then use this 500 pound sled to ram their way through the crowd.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 6:29 PM
Publish a list of stroller does-and-don'ts at the entrance to the park, the entrance of each ride, and the entrance of each retailer. Across the bottom of the list put one line, in big, heavy, plain easily readable font: STROLLERS FOUND IN VIOLATION WILL BE IMPOUNDED. Impounds may be reclaimed, upon payment of a fine, beginning ONE HOUR before the close of that business day.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 7:07 PM
I just don't get the "expensive stroller" thing unless you're a status seeking jerk who just has more money than common sense. I know, I know. Your child is the most gifted, intelligent, important being on the planet. Still, you're not going to need that stroller to last 10 years (hopefully). You'll be lucky to use it 10 times.
Published: April 19, 2010 at 7:22 PM
We used to do the stroller switcharoo at Fantasmic too Robert. Since the theatre holds so many people, we made all of the guests take their personal belongings with them when they parked their Disney strollers and then at the end of the show, they just grabbed the first stroller they found. Otherwise they'd literally be there all night trying to find their own stroller and we'd have lots of claims of missing belongings as people grabbed the wrong one. We always had a few leftovers at the end of the night too since some people decided it was much easier to just carry the kids out. We could usually hand off most of those to parents who had gone strollerless all day but now had exhausted children to haul all the way to the front gate. It saved us from having to lug the strollers down to Oscar's too.
You also missed a stroller type: The rent-a-heap. There were always at least a couple of strollers that pretty much disintegrated when you tried to move them. I had to go back and find a missing wheel or handlebar cover on more than one occasion when moving strollers.
Another fun job of the stroller police was moving strollers for the DHS parade. In front of Star Tours, the stroller parking lot goes across the whole area from the speeder bike to the restrooms. But during the parade, the lot has to shrink to half that area to accommodate the large crowds. We actually had an interchangeable sign that flipped over to show "stroller parking here" or "stroller parking <--" depending on the time of day. We had to move the strollers while people were still coming up to visit the attraction. People would actually look at the sign, watch us moving strollers, and STILL put theirs in the area we were clearing. Others would tell us not to move their stroller, and we'd have to tell them that unless they moved it themselves, they'd come out of the attraction to find their stroller on the wrong side of the parade route and unreachable. I was always surprised (why?) at the number of people who would shrug and go into the attraction mumbling "she'd better NOT move my stroller!" She always did!
Published: April 19, 2010 at 7:58 PM
The expensive stroller cracks me up. To spend as much as some do on strollers is madness...this coming from someone with three little girls nonetheless. A couple hundred bucks for a nice comfortable all-weather stroller, sure. A thousand? ridiculous.
I wonder if any of the stroller fuzz have ever been tempted to pull a Dwight Schrute and "stress test" a $1500 dollar stroller.
Published: April 20, 2010 at 9:40 AM
Sorry let me clarify what I was saying....you know at nemo it has the extra long line that actual goes up the hill to the entrance doors. We were in the line....we had parked the stroller at the top walked down the hill and made our way back up to the top together. The kids saw the stroller we had parked and wanted to get water...so they stepped out of the line to the stroller while I was sanding there. The stroller cop came moving the strollers and as I went to let the kids back under the rope to rejoin me he took it upon himself to stop the kids.... I then wanted to get out of the line but he wouldn't let me do that either....he instructed the kids to go down the hill and then back up while he was argueing with me over why I couldn't leave the line by stepping under. It all ended fine...but I was really mad and discussed it with a lead inside nemo. The Stroller cop looked really tired it was July and he looked like he had a horible day. I told the lead that they really needed to give the guy a break because he wasn't having the most magical day.
Published: April 20, 2010 at 10:33 AM
Being at Disney, and being a parent with your kid at Disney, doesn't insulate you from being a moron.
Published: April 23, 2010 at 7:41 AM
Definitely love the Stinky McStroller part! I'm expecting another Cast Member story series come late June or July - turismos (the Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups)!
Published: April 23, 2010 at 9:12 AM
I enjoyed reading this story, since it is very true. I work possibly the busiest stroller parking area in the park I work at. There is one stroller I consider "un-movable." That's the top-heavy stroller that's in a VERY precise position, leaning on a fence or tree in the only way possible that it will not fall over backwards. I don't bother moving those, and consider my only stroller police weakness.
Also, a wheel fell off on a stroller when I was moving it. I barely moved it, so I figured it wasn't my fault. I just slid it back on and walked away.
Published: April 24, 2010 at 3:44 AM
The parks are crowded enough with pedestrian traffic -- the srollers are annoying as all heck. I curse those strollers every time I am in a theme park. But now I do it silently. Once I muttered something unkind about a stroller slowing down traffic in the MK but it was actually a wheelchair, so shame on me. (BTW, are there wheelchair police????)
Published: April 24, 2010 at 5:33 AM
I really love the parents that use their expensive stroller (kid inside) as a battering ram to get through crowds. It is the most rude thing I have ever seen in my life at a park and it happens EVERY time I go to a park.
I have had my achilles tendons rammed on numerous occasions and when I get rammed very hard I turn to the parent and let them know they had their free shot on my heels and they only get one.
Between the strollers and the electric carts driven by people who's only handicap is as a result from NOT walking (you follow me, right?) it can make for a frustrating day at the park for me. I cannot imagine what the typical cast member goes through.
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