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The Stroller Mafia

Where do you draw the line on consideration to others?

From Bryan Fear
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM
There's a scenario I've observed happening at many theme parks. The root of it is the use ( or misuse ) of strollers and what kind of inconsideration happens as a result.

PAST HISTORY
At a recent trip to a favorite theme park I noticed more and more strollers appearing. Maybe it was just my imagination or poor memory so I do what I typically do in this case, I consult some books based on that park to get some facts. Sifting through pictures that chronicle the last 50 years of this park show any reader a variety of interesting changes over the decades, like how the doors of shops on its main street have gotten wider to match the expansion of the customers’ size. It's hard to refute this photographic cross section of history and sometimes this proves my perception right as often as it proves it wrong. In regards to strollers, I saw a lot less strollers from the 50's until about 10 years ago. It was easy to spot kids age 3-5 walking with their parents through the park. Today one can go to this same park and observe an army of strollers that could each put the Lincoln Navigator to shame. Often times I see these strollers carrying a child 3+, sometimes 5 or 6. ( And yes, I've actually asked parents how old their child was. ) Other times I see these strollers being used as package conveyances and nothing more. Are these being used responsibly or have people put their "wants" ahead of needs and common sense at the expense of other customers?

PROS
Express any concern over this out loud and you'll be reminded this is a park for children. Indeed it is, many theme parks are for children and their families and strollers are just a necessity for many. Strollers have been seen in 1, 2 and 3 child configurations for those fortunate enough to have triplets. As a customer they have a right to enjoy the park as much as anyone else and to be allowed to use a stroller when needed.

CONS
How far is "too far"? When the child is 5 but still riding in the stroller can one still use the argument "this is a park for children" to mask basic laziness and self-indulgence? The armada of strollers parked in front of some rides have been seen to cut into the common area walkway to the point that it affects clear, safe traffic passage. Do we blame the park for not building more sidewalk to permit this or do we question the judgment of the customer who uses the stroller as their own personal UPS truck? If this trip really is "for the children" then how much of this trip will your 1-2 year old remember later in life? Is this trip really for them or is it for yourself; the child being a convenient shield in your verbal defense?

YOUR THOUGHTS
How far is “too far”? Have you had a stroller and felt you were treated unfairly by those not in your position? Has a stroller family behaved selfishly enough to impede your enjoyment of the park?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From chris lincoln
Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:56 AM
It's funny you brought this up. We are going this summer to universal and with 4 kids two of which are under 5 we needed a double stroller. My wife went out and bought one large enough for 5 kids! I'm dreading the hassel.

What drives me crazy are the people who bring wheel chairs and dont need them just so they dont have to wait in line. I once saw a man get pushed over to the food stand buy a giant turkey leg then hop up and dance with it. I talked with him and he said its a secret his whole family uses to avoid lines. I think thats way worse then strollers.

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 13, 2011 at 1:01 PM
Love this topic.

I have noticed this recently too... and I have just put it aside as my getting older and just realizing it.

I feel as though it is not the theme parks fault for not allowing enough sidewalk room for the strollers. The more they have gone out of their way to accommodate people with strollers the more people use them. I remember being 3 or 4 walking around the theme park just fine. If I got tired my parents either packed me up and set me back to the hotel room for a nap or found a shady spot somewhere quiet and let me nap there. To them that was more convenient than lugging around the stroller all day. Sure when I was 3mths, and 2 they took the stroller, (I was the youngest of six, so the older kids could enjoy the park- not me) but after that I was on my own. If they were in the same situation today I can guarantee you that they would have had a stroller until I told them I didn't want to be in it anymore... Maybe even past that point (6 kids do have a lot of STUFF to crazy around).

Now with my brothers and sisters having kids I have noticed this subject coming up a lot, meaning taking the kids to the theme park when they are <3years old. I can honestly tell you, yes my brothers were using their kids as an excuse to go to the theme park. And yes, they took strollers. Lots of them.

I am going to go with the statement that yes parents are abusing their stroller privileges. They are now made convenient to push around all day whether it be for the kids sake or for "They might get tired and need somewhere to nap" a.k.a. "I need somewhere to put all their stuff.'"

From Andrew Mooney
Posted April 13, 2011 at 1:31 PM
This is a very interesting topic. Not long ago I was in this age category. The first time I visited Disney World was when I was 4 so not too far away from your target. Being Scottish, I had no idea what REAL humidity and heat was until I arrived in Orlando. My feet would tire very quickly and probably annoy my parents with my moans about the heat. Therefore a stroller was used to create ease and hassle-less journeys around the theme parks. So in a sense i stand up for children that do have a stroller.

However, as I grew older and on my second visit a few years later, the parks had to be traversed on foot. This is where nowadays I see many children being driven around by the four wheeled monstrosities. In a sense they do allow parents to visit the park and have a good time without the groans of their children but as you mention this can lead to a life of laziness.

A few years back, my family went for dinner at the Garden Grill in EPCOT. My youngest sibling was very young so we naturally had a stroller. The parking area was like a normal car park with guests almost parking in allocated space (Today this area is very hectic and could potentially cause injury if the building were to be evacuated in the case of a fire). With him being so young we had the products that one would need to cater to for "accidents" etc. These items were placed in a bag along with some sweets and hidden in a compartment within the stroller. We didn't really care about them terribly therefore leaving them was justified. Someone must have watched us take these items of property and as we merrily went to our dining reservation stole the bag. Disney weren't that helpful and never tried to find the thief, but we had the last laugh as I'm sure the thief wouldn't be pleased to find nappies. So just as a warning make sure that anything you need is with you at all times.

From Nick Markham
Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:12 PM
My question to you is why do you care how the strollers are used? Does it matter?

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:48 PM
Nick, this is a discussion board. We come here to discuss whatever is one our minds that pertains to theme parks. If you hold that attitude you could ask why do I care what rides people like to ride at night? Or why do I care how people use their money? Or even why do I care how WWOHP is set up? Why does it matter to you why he cares about it? HMM?

From Caroline Davis
Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:06 PM
I can see why people care about the issue, you can't just dismiss it. They do clutter up theme parks and a LOT of parents use them almost as weapons to force people out of the way.

There is a consideration that some of the older children in strollers may not be as healthy as they appear. I wouldn't use a blanket rule that they, or their parents are lazy.

The thing that gets me is how big some of the damn things are for tiny children! They seem very difficult to travel with and the size unmerited. Just to annoy everyone else, taking up as much space as possible because they can.

From KJ Simpson
Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:22 PM
I've read along as people have come to (virtual) blows over this hotly debated topic over on a very popular Dis-centric message board. I think the only topic more controvesial than "How old is too old for a stroller?" would be "Do you *really* need that ECV to get around?"... ;)

From Hermione Potter
Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM
If you think 5 is too old for a stroller (and I mostly agree barring special needs kids) then you wouldn't believe what I've seen in the Orlando parks in the last few years. I've seen TEENAGERS being pushed around in double strollers. And no, they weren't special needs - they just didn't want to walk and their parents went and rented those park strollers for them.
I guess if they want to blow $30 on something they don't need that is their right but I find it beyond ridiculous.

From Bryan Fear
Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:07 PM
It sounds like we have a whole new topic about wheelchair abuses.

@ Nick - Yes it matters. If people do things that impose on the common good then it's a problem. What is the common good? That tends to be determined by the opinion of the majority. From what I've seen the majority doesn't approve of self-centered actions that cause needless congestion without regard for common courtesy. If I hit a nerve with you then feel free to contribute; if not then I should turn your question on you and ask why it shouldn't matter?

@ Hermoine - Ha, I've seen this too. A part of me wants to think "Now, now, I'm sure there was a child with it a while ago and the teens are just screwing around while the parents and infant are dining somewhere" but then again, I don't see those adults anywhere either. ....just teens screwing around, causing a pedestrian traffic hazard and no one asking them to knock it off and behave. There was a time behaviour like that got one (rightfully) ejected from a park.

Love the responses. You guys have some good thoughts.

From Dan Babbitt
Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM
From my obsevation from working and visiting the parks I find parties with strollers and without strollers.

With:
Parties with strollers can easily control and direct where the children go without them worrying about where there children are because they should be in the stoller.

The party can last longer at the park because the kids only have to worry about standing and waiting in line and not having to walk from attraction to attraction but getting a ride to them.

Strollers are also a mode of storage for all there paraphenalia (sp?) that the party brings and buys at the theme park. I believe that everyone with the stroller should take anything of value off the stroller with them, its not the parks responsibility to watch your belongings!

Without:

Parties are highly manuverable. That can get from one place to another, dont have to find a parking spot for the stroller, and then not having to fold and unfold to go on busses, etc.

Kids get tired quicker, usually have a break-down and tantrum, but because of not having a stroller 1 parent might goes back to the resort and then come back later with the kid after the nap.

Dont have to pay for the stoller so they might have more money to buy merchandise or food!


With entrances being wider and bigger then earlier years is that buildings and attractions have larger capacities then ever before and so by law need to have larger entrances for emergiency reasons. So if they need to evacuate with larger doors then multiple people can get out at the same time then just one at a time!

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted April 14, 2011 at 12:04 AM
I noticed on my last trip the high volume of strollers in their 'stroller parks'. It wasnt something I had picked up on before so in my own opinion usage has gone up. (but then I guess that would be in line with park attendances)

I do think 5 is probably too old for a stroller though. My family used when when my sister was 4 and 5 when we first visited the parks from England.
On the positive side its incredibly convenient to rent them in the parks and not have to take your own. And they could easily be left without worrying about theft (back then anyway)
However we decided lining up for one, parking it at attractions, collecting it, taking it back etc was eating into our park day and so they became a thing of the past.

I'm obviously not opposed to families with small children needing them and they are a necessity for them, but.... Don't push them and be looking at a map/behind you etc - watch where you're going and dont run over my feet with it! Thats all i ask :-)

From Rob P
Posted April 14, 2011 at 1:44 AM
Okay. Kids get tired. That's a given. But it doesn't surprise me that we have obesity issues around the world when I see children being wheeled around. It's lazy and , largely, unnecessary.
As Bryan said : photo evidence proves that back in the 50's ( and 60's too ) there were more children walking and far fewer being driven around in buggies. Social changes have resulted in kids today becoming less able to walk around for long periods as we did when we were young.
I suggest playing " Wall-E" to the kids and parents to get the message across. Let them see what could happen to future generations if we continue with this pampering.
Make 'em walk more. Reduce the number of buggies in the Parks and create healthier kids into the bargain.

From James Koehl
Posted April 14, 2011 at 2:01 AM
Before anyone jumps me about this, I'm only half serious. How about charging a fee, say $25/day, for bringing in your own stroller, $40/day for a twin and full admission for one of the mega fold-out camper styles? They take up as much space as a person, they require CM's to rearrange them in the parking areas, they block walkways and often cause bodily harm to others. We have to pay for handicapped parking stickers to hang in our car, and we have to pay for lockers to store stuff that we can't carry on to attractions or don't want to carry around all day, so why not charge them for the inconvenience their oversized carry-in vehicles cause the rest of us? Charge them to bring them in and I bet the number of strollers would drop by 10%.

From Bryan Fear
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:14 AM
Thanks Rob, I was thinking that Wall-E thing as well but was holding off in case we started a topic on wheelchairs and scooters. Good observation.

James, I swear I won't jump you and if anyone does, I'd be happy to come to your defense. There are several businesses that charge for something ( service or object ) only as a means to assure control over it, not because it's truly expensive enough to warrant it. Many fast-food restaurants I've seen in transient-ridden neighborhoods have bathrooms with tokens and ( whether charged a fee or given for free ) it's still a method of metering the use and misuse of their restrooms. ( In short, it prevents bums from camping out in the bathroom while paying customers need to go as well. )

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:30 AM
I laughed at WALL-E. Great idea Rob!

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:45 AM
Btw, I once suggested a parking garage outside epcot the strollers were so bad...

See what you would do is get a big storage unit and work it like a reverse vending machine. (The cool ones that grab your coke so it doesnt explode when you open it).... You insert your dollar the loading dock opens, you load the stroller, and it takes it up to a "parking spot". Then it spits out a ticket with a barcode of sorts and when you're ready you can come back and get it. I mean come oooon! Theft would go down by a lot. AND since it's the future world it would be showing the "new" technologies of today ... I amuse myself way too much....

From Scott B
Posted April 20, 2011 at 7:33 AM
I think some people are perhaps taking this a tiny bit too far. I don't see children in a stroller as a sign of impending doom and a slap in a face for exercising. I see it as a way to know where the heck they are in a crowded theme park.

I do agree that some kids are being carted around at an older and pretty embarassing age. But I try to think, "It is their vacation, that is how they want to spend their time."

Personally, we own a two seater stroller. One in the front for the 16 month old, and a bench in back for our 3 year old. Our three year old is really active and we try to spend as much time outdoors as we can (she is a HUGE fan of nature walks!) But when vacatioing, there are times when she may get overwhelmed by the heat or the distance of the walk, so we are more than happy to let her plop her bum on the bench on the back of the stroller and enjoy some water from her souveneir cup while we push her around. Obviously our 16 month old doesn't have much of a choice.

I can see how strollers can get in the way. But honestly, this is more often from inconsiderate and clueless people pushing the strollers around. And I think we can all agree that inconsiderate / clueless people can get in the way and be obnoxious even without a stroller.

On a side note, I think the huge amound of strollers seen is because they are built with so many great little compartments now. It is easy to rely on them as sort of a "home base" and have become kind of a crutch for modern parents to rely on. We put our bottled waters in the stroller's cup holders, gifts purchased in the bin at the bottome of the stroller, snacks for the kids in the fold out pouch in the stroller and wet wipes and anti-bacterial spray in the 'secret' handle compartment. What a great way to transform your family to a wandering clan of nomads!

From Carrie Hood
Posted April 20, 2011 at 8:05 AM
I think the other problem no one has thought of is the fact strollers now are HUGE! They aren't the simple, umbrella strollers of most of our youth. They're no longer smaller, light and easy to use. They are small tanks with every feature you'd expect to see on a car and weight upwards of 15+ pounds. When my God-daughter was little her mother had a "tank stroller" as I call them, a 15 pounds monster I couldn't unfold with an instruction manual.When I had baby duty, I took the baby her everyplace with me so naturally we headed to the parks every other week. We would go for about 3 hours, watch the parade and have some lunch before heading out again.
Being against the evil 'Tank Stroller' I bought my own small Umbrella Stroller for her. Less then two pounds and came with a sun shade. I always took a tiny diaper bag (Diapers, travel wipes, jar of food, bottle, snack, sunscreen) weighting in at less then a pound so I would hang it off the back. This worked great for non-full days in the parks, I think the biggest issue is parents bring a million and one things with them for a long day in the park. My friend who had my god-daughter was a bear to travel anyplace with. She would bring the tank and diaper bag with enough stuff in it to make the Swiss Army proud.. and this was only for the mall! She would go insane if we went to a park with each other or just friends, packing TWO diaper bags for one tiny child!

The park that REALLY bugs me is the parents who really believe that their stroller is a battering ram on wheels. They will ram you in the legs hoping you'll either move or fall over so they can get to that one ride before anyone else. Last time this happened I actually did fall and was injured (2007,scraped hands which did bleed, twisted ankle from trying to step out of it and bused leg from the ramming point). The parent simply glared at me and told me to "Get up, your fine". That is the problem with strollers in my opinion.

The Wheel chair thing is well known and most parks don't have special lines for them anymore. Disney has most lines big enough that wheel chairs have to wait like everyone else, so they've lost that advantage. I can say I honestly found myself having to use a Wheel Chair my last trip to Disney. I borked up something in my foot and simply couldn't bear to walk more then about 50 foot at max before the pain was unbearable (I tired, I couldn't make it from the parking lot it Epcot to the gate, my poor dear husband had to carry me. We suspect I did break something in the end as it took over a month to get back to normal). Although in my case you really could see something was wrong, my left foot was swollen twice it's normal size and wrapped tightly in ace bandages. It was a new experience, I found that when your visibly injured that the employees are much more willing to help you out versus the lazy/fakers group.

Just my own observations.

From Jack Curley
Posted April 20, 2011 at 6:25 PM
Here's an idea somewhat along the lines of what some others have suggested:

Instead of charging for strollers, have size limitations. If your stroller can't fit in the model stroller parking spot outside of the park's gates, then you get charged.

For those of you who blame the clueless adults pushing the strollers around, parks could have cast members patrolling crowded areas, issuing warnings and/or tickets. After three violations, you get sent to stroller driving school.

From Rox P.
Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:13 PM
Seriously - you guys are a riot! I mean, researching photos to prove that doors have gotten wider. And,I bet it's a hoot when you ask those parents with kids in strollers what the kids ages are! (You really do this?) Reminds me of the trip I took with my maiden aunt, Dorthea Nosiparker. (Really! I couldn't make this up!) On the plane she demanded that the obese woman next to her move because she felt cramped. Then at EPCOT, she told the nursing mother that at thirteen months, the child should have already be weaned. My aunt doesn't need a stroller to catch you in the ankle- if you can't "bloody walk as fast as everyone else", she'll clip you with her walking cane. You guys are my aunt's soul mates. Congratulations!

From Rob P
Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:56 AM
Dorthea Nosiparker ?????

Yeah , right .

From Rox P.
Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:04 AM
Why surely! Like most people,I come from an unusual family! There's even been whispers that I may have inherited a tad of the "old magic" from another dear maiden aunt, Dotty Hornswoggle. I can accurately predict the years that the original poster claims that the doors at his favorite theme park were widened. Some may have mis-read his comment of the "widening" of the population, as some snarky comment about obese people, but even my dear Aunt Nosiparker isn't that obtuse.

From Charles Reichley
Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:41 PM
For older kids, you can rent a wheelchair instead. They are also great if you get tired walking around all day, and can't find a bench in the shade. And everybody makes room for wheelchairs -- nobody calls anybody a wheelchair nazi.

:-)

From Carrie Hood
Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:49 AM
Can we enact this "Driving School" program in grocery stores?

My god, no wonder car accidents are on the rise! Have you see the way they drive in a grocery store? Seriously, get out of the way one time and just watch them! The Stroller/Tank Mafia is kind compared to those grocery aisles!

From Todd Houts
Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:10 AM
I too have experienced this explosion but my issues aren't with them parked (although that can really be a problem when parents decided THEIR stroller doesn't need to be put in the designated area) but more so when they're taking up the walkway to the point of impending people from moving at any pace but theirs including oncoming traffic. You get enough of them in front of you taking their time - and if you're a fast walker - too bad. And I found I better not work my way around them. I had one parent yell at me for sidestepping around them. Mind you I didn't touch their stroller, I didn't change their direction or speed but she was infuriated (really!) that I had to nerve to get around them because, as she put it, "you could have fallen on my child". After reading this I should have replied "your SUV of a stroller would have protected your little tyke."

From Albino Pygmy
Posted April 27, 2011 at 7:45 PM
I was going to say something, but I think it'll be easier to just copy a link to my nearly dead blog with an older post of mine that is relevant to today's topic of massive stroller hoards. Enjoy.

http://albinopygmy.blogspot.com/2010/04/war-rant-massive-stroller-army.html

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