Stroller Scandal at Walt Disney World

Is Disney deliberately gouging customers on stroller rentals? MiceAge Columnist Kevin Yee thinks so. The recent price jump from $10 a day to $18 for a single stroller and $15 to $31 for a double appears to be nothing more than an accountant’s attempt to wring every last dollar out of the traveler’s pocket book.

Disney must want to get out of the business of renting strollers. The price of Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) is now also sky-high ($65/day, of which $20 is a refundable deposit), and it’s possible they want to cut those numbers in the park. But raising prices on strollers can’t be a cover for encouraging fewer ECVs, can it?

There’s a quite simple answer. If Disney gets out of the business of renting strollers, a result that has largely already occurred in fact, since the April 6th change in price, then they don’t need the hordes of workers to dispense, collect, and clean the strollers. They can cut labor! They can cut costs!

Over on his day blog, Kevin is posting some emails he’s received on the subject. The first shows a likely reaction from parents who feel renting a stroller should be less than renting a car (it’s $3 less a day to rent an economy class car at Budget Rent A Car. Really.). The second points the finger at Disney’s Magical Express (DME) for creating a captive audience which Disney now feels free to exploit.

I don’t place too much faith in the DME reasoning, since those staying off property, driving in, or renting cars don’t use DME. Also, Disney has used DME to justify actually lowering admission prices for those staying at the resorts longer (at ten day ticket is around $34 per day compared to one day at $75) knowing they’ll spend more on food and, I guess, stroller rentals, when they do. Maybe there is something there.

I’d be curious to know if Kevin’s accounting numbers trick is the real reason behind the change. Whatever the reason is, Kevin’s conclusion that it’s creating massive bad-will is correct. Everyday this goes on Disney risks losing more and more future revenue from parents who won’t come back after being gouged on the price of a stroller rental.

Update: Apparently the stroller business is run by an outside company. They even set the prices. That still doesn’t excuse Disney from setting some sort of price hike limits in that contract so that the price of a stroller rental for a day never approaches that of a car rental. The average guest doesn’t know that it’s an outside company setting the price, heck I didn’t know, they just see a form of extortion from a captive audience. Disney’s name and reputation is what’s at risk here and they need to act.

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26 Responses to Stroller Scandal at Walt Disney World

  1. Tim Lenz says:

    i know that this makes it tougher for families to visit disney on a budget, but i also can’t help but think that these price inreases will actually increase my personal enjoyment of the parks, as i’ll have to fight against fewer people pushing around those huge bulky strollers. i can’t count the number of times i’ve had those things run into my ankles, or been pushed out of the way by a family with one of those massive double strollers. small collapsible strollers are much more practical for the parks anyways.

    and maybe these price increases will also make guests think twice about using strollers that their older children don’t actually need, or deter against the abuse of ECVs by guests that truly don’t need them.

    and before i bring down a hailstorm of angry responses, i am well aware that it is not always apparent when a guest has a disability justifying their use of an ECV (ie. people that can walk short distances, but are incapable of the kind of mobility needed to navigate the whole property, etc.). but i also know that there are indeed people that abuse this service, using these vehicles though they truly have no need for them whatsoever–either from sheer laziness, or hoping to garner some special attention and take advantage of the perceived shorter wait times for disabled guests.

    • DZ says:

      Well for $31.00 I can buy a stroller that will last my entire vacation,and more! Just one more thing Disney has outsourced. Look at the track record of outsourced and subcontracted garbage Disney has hired. My opinion is Disney is going to choke the crap out of a company who thinks they are going to make money. Disney knows what there doing. Something like, this is a way for another blue ID to get rich and run (you kow who you are) and to bury with hatred a service in which guests will now dispise and no longer use. A good excuse is “we do not supply the strollers, they are supplied by an outside company” no longer places the blame on Disney. If renting strollers goes away I can guarantee that they will have shop in it’s place selling them! OK now I am giving them ideas for a blue ID 3% raise!

  2. Amanda says:

    As a 22-year-old T-12 paraplegic, I totally agree with Tim’s comment. I’ve been in a wheelchair for 9 years, and experienced the park many times before and many times after my accident. (I’m a cast member now.)

    Despite Disney’s reasoning, I think I’ll enjoy the parks more as well. I know of many people (who admit to me like I’ll think they’re smart) who only get the ECV out of laziness and/or to get “shorter” lines or “better” seats at shows. (Those are getting increasingly rare. Some seats are considerably worse!) That is extremely annoying to me because Disney now offers disabled guests fewer benefits than it did in the past, in some part due to these “fakers.” I was glad when Disney started making all lines wheelchair accessible, because now people get up out of those bulky chairs and stand in line. That makes it easy for me to manuver my manual chair. And I wish I could show the world how many times I’ve been crashed into by those ECVs in narrow hallways and elevators. These “fakers” don’t have the skill of people who use power chairs all the time. I’ve had bruised feet and dented wheels because of irresponsible ECVers. I hope the price increase helps to eliminate that. I do feel bad for those that really need the assistance, but I will secretly be relieved.

    • Kurt Nelson says:

      I can always tell who truely needs the ECV/Wheelchair from those who don’t by what kind of treatment they expect. If they are upset when they are told they don’t get to go to the front of the line, then they are a faker.
      On another note, what attraction do you work?

    • Melissa says:

      I was impacted by one of those people that had the ecv’s that just rented it because they wanted to get around faster. I was inside a store off of the blvd in mgm, before the end of 2007 when it was still mgm, this person came driving up, looking completely too the side, not looking to the front of his vehicle and ran completely over my foot, left side to right side. I saw things go white and almost went down. My husband caught me and the guy took off without stopping so he would not have to deal with anything to do with me. The cast member in the store called a manager of some sort and walked me across the street to first aid and she iced it. It was already looking purple and nasty. She didn’t want me to leave but the park was going to close in less than an hour and I just want to get back to the room. He tried to get me a wheelchair or ecv for free of charge but I didn’t want to take it. I felt bad for him because he thought for sure I guess that I was going to blame him or the park or something when it was not his fault. It was that idiots fault. We went before a surgery I had scheduled by December 28th, Had endometriosis problems that made it hurt for me to walk and was on mild meds to help with pain, did not want hard drugs for parks because I wanted the family trip we had been planning for 2 years before this came up. I could have rented one of those things because it hurt me to walk the park, pretty bad. But it was easier for me to walk the park than mess with those things. Besides my injury, we saw a lady make someone honestly in a wheelchair move from her spot on the hotel buss so she could get on with her ecv and once she got on, she got up, moved around and then settled back down. Everyone in line for the bus was having a fit, whether she needed or not, she made someone in a wheelchair move that could not get out of the wheelchair at all, move from her spot to get her scooter on when she could walk at least short distances. That set everyone off.I know that is not everyone, my mother is handicapped, can not walk more than 20 to 30 feet due to degenerative spine, disc problems, bone spurs in spine, and a whole other list of things,and when we take her to Disney one day, she will need on of those rentals, so I am not completely unsympathetic. But not everyone that gets one needs one. The use is being abused. And my foot paid the price in December.

  3. Ken Pellman says:

    I’m surprised how much Disney has outsourced at WDW. Then again, it must be very hard to staff the place.

  4. Ken Pellman says:

    And I agree about people using strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs when they don’t really need them. Same goes (went?) for Special Assistance Passes. It screws things up for the people who do need those things.

  5. Ceronomus says:

    I can’t stand the ECV’s. Most times I see them being used it is a group of drunken frat boys trying to drink their way around Epcot or someone who believes that it gives them the right to ram you out of their way. An electric wheelchair, often just as mobile, if not MORE so, takes up less space and doesn’t add as much to the general congestion.

    Having just spent a day pushing a wheelchair through Disneyland, including Tom Sawyer’s Island, I don’t feel a lot of sympathy when I see people who are OBVIOUSLY too lazy to try other means.

    As for the price hike? Maybe the contract with the company providing the rentals isn’t being renewed? If that were the case they might try to wring every last dollar out of the deal as possible. But yes, those strollers are HUGE! Heck, I could fit into one. There is no need for strollers that big, they only add to the general park congestion.

  6. Cameron says:

    My wife and I just returned from our first trip with our child. This means our first trip needing to rent a stroller. I wasn’t aware of the price hike, so I guess that is why I really didn’t question the price of the strollers. I just remember being happy that there is a discount for buying more than one day at a time. (I think we got 4 days for $50something)

    Anyway, I still see a benefit in using the Disney strollers. The biggest benefit being that you don’t have to transport your own stroller on the bus between the hotel and the parks. Also, renting a stroller in one park counts for any other parks. Rent at Magic Kingdom, leave the stroller there, hop over the EPCOT and pick one up the same day for no extra cost.

    • Fed up with massive strollers says:

      I am fed up with those massive strollers the inconsiderates insist on bringing on the buses. The worst one I saw this last trip was a Schwinn C2 (???). Stick little Jessica in an umbrella stroller so you don’t need 2 1/2 spaces on the bus when it’s jammed full. And one other thing – leave it in the stroller parking area or did I miss the sign that says “Be inconsiderate and park your stroller here”? Urgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Pingback: The Liner Family » Disney - Stroller Rental

  8. Disneyfan says:

    My theory is that Disney will come out with stroller packages for those who stay onsite.

    Look for all sorts of fees to be added, and then for those fees to be included in packages. It will make staying onsite more attractive – which is Disney’s goal.

  9. AmyK says:

    Hopefully a higher stroller rental fee will discourage parents from getting them for kids who are way to big to be in strollers. I swear I’ve seen some 4th and 5th graders being wheeled around in those things.

  10. Alex says:

    It is pretty simple. If you cannot afford the stroller, don’t rent the stroller. Every family has a stroller (or two or three). However, the family usually doesn’t bring the stroller, because it is simply more convenient to rent one at the park. See, Cameron’s post above. That was our MO for our past few trips. Now the convenience of just renting a stroller at the park has decreased due to the increase of the rental price. We will bring our own stroller and save the money and the time waiting in line. It really shouldn’t be such a big deal.

    I’ll never understand how people can say that an extra $50 will prevent them from visiting WDW. When you consider the entire cost of a trip, an extra $50 should be a fraction. If that is the case, they need to reconsider if this is the place for them to vacation. There is a ceiling for prices.

  11. Nancy Nally says:

    We are Florida locals who usually visit a park for a day and rent a stroller for our almost 5 year old daughter who has autism. She is very tall and has long since outgrown the Graco stroller we had for her when she was a baby. The Disney strollers accommodate a larger child and allow us to have a better time because she doesn’t get as tired as fast walking the long distances in the parks and get cranky and have a meltdown. Also, she can be difficult to keep track of in crowds because of her autism making her want to wander off, but she rides happily in the stroller most of the time.

    The new ECV fees may keep my mother and her boyfriend from visiting the parks in the future. Mom has severe osteo arthritis and her boyfriend has congestive heart failure among other things. Neither of them uses a wheelchair usually but the Disney parks are grueling to walk and they would not be able to manage it without assistance. They had planned to try to visit the Disney parks in the near future with their granddaughter by taking turns in an ECV to limit the amount of walking they had to do but the price may scare them off now.

  12. Jeff says:

    The comments about the park being easier to navigate because of the stroller hikes is one of the most selfish comments I’ve ever hears. When Walt Disney created these parks, he created them for everyone, including the “people of girth” that need mobility assistance (which there are a lot of these days in the USA) and the millions of young children, who actually I’d say the parks cater to (although we are all children at heart.) The young parents with small children are typically theones who can least afford to visit these expensive parks. And now they are getting gouged on stroller rentals? If Walt were alive, he’d have nothing of it.

  13. Matt says:

    Since the strollers are run by an outsourced company (which I didn’t know either), isn’t Kevin’s primary theory pretty much shot down?

    If the goal is to encourage more people to buy the strollers from Disney, why would the outsourced company purposely drive business away from themselves? Do they get a cut of the stroller sales from Disney?

    I imagine Disney raised the rent on the third party and then to offset it the third party raised the rental costs of the strollers. No nefarious plot, just capitalism (which can be debated on its own merits).

  14. Becky says:

    As a first time mom, who will visit the park this fall with my little one, I don’t see this being an issue at all. For one, it’s not that hard to bring your own stroller, it’s acutally going to be one of the best things we will do. That way, we have one for the airport and for the hotels as well. The price hike, though not expected, wouldn’t deter us anyway, even if we were to rent. It’s such a small portion of the trip and if $50 +/- dollars is going to affect the trip that much, then maybe you aren’t meant to go yet?
    As for the ECV’s, I feel that those people who need them, it’s fine. They will be willing to pay higher prices. As for the people who abuse them, let them pay more. It’s for their own “amusement” anyway and maybe they will realize that they don’t need them. I know that my mom is coming for the first time in many years and she now has Parkinson’s. She can walk, but not for long distances. We are going to get her a wheel chair before we leave for the trip and bring it with us. That way, we are assured one at every place we could possibly need one for her. THe price is not the issue for us, it’s the convience of having one of our own. If you own a wheel chair or stroller, it more convient to bring it. It may seem like a hassle at times, but in the long run, you will be happier!

  15. Juli says:

    I took my two sons to Disney this past January and used DME. I also brought my own stroller. I don’t understand the fuss over the price hike when those strollers are uncomfortable, bulky and difficult to maneuver. An umbrella stroller is lightweight, easily folded and easily “driven.” You can buy one for less than $20 and trash it when your vacation is over and it’s still less than a rental.

    I had no problem using my double stroller (a sit-and-stand) in the parks, on the buses or in the airport. I was grateful to have brought my stroller with me because I then had a way to get my tired children back to the hotel room from the bus stop. Disney stroller rentals are only good INSIDE the park- you can’t remove them.

    If the price hike is a reason that fewer people go to Disney, I say HOORAY! Shorter lines for me and my family!

    • Amanda says:

      How did you get your sit-and-stand to Disney? The restrictions on baggage with airlines seem to make in impossible.

  16. Ana says:

    It is cheaper to go to toysRus and buy a $12 stroller and them discart it!

  17. Chelle says:

    OK – After reading all of the above comments I can see both sides of the coin. However….here are my reasons for needing the WDW strollers (although horrified at the new rental prices): I have four children of which the younger two are ages 8 and 6. My 8 yr. old daughter has had growing pains in her feet for 3 yrs. (diagnosed by our pediatrician) and cannot go more than an hour (walking) without being in pain. I usually end up giving her Tylenol for the pain. Additionally, although she is 8 yrs. old – she still takes an afternoon nap. That being said, my soon to be 6 yr. old most certainly would NOT be able to keep up the pace at WDW with three other siblings and two adults. So the obvious answer would be to rent a WDW double stroller. I realize they are bulky, however, there are not any strollers that I know of on the market that accomodate the weight/height requirements of an 8 and 6 yr. old (my kids are ave. in size). I would think it would most annoy other guests in regards to parents trying to squeeze strollers onto the buses. That in itself seems like a nightmare to me. We are going in the fall for nine days, and I personally don’t want to fold and unfold a double stroller (or two singles) everytime we go on a ferry/monorail/or bus. Everyone has different circumstances and needs, and I think it’s important to remember that although WDW is a fantasyland, there are always going to be people who take advantage of situations, be ill mannered, etc. That is simply the reality of it, unfortunately. One day after my children have grown, I will be in the shoes of the adults w/o children and I will try to remember their sacrifices of pushing around large strollers, and not being able to rush up to the ride lines. All in all I can’t imagine a giant theme park that was built with children in mind, to not have strollers… perhaps those that are bothered would be more content at the more adult oriented parks like Epcot? I mean no offense to those who don’t like the strollers – I do understand what a pain they are – but believe me, it’s more of a pain to the parent having to push it around all day. The price increase is so over the top it’s ridiculous, but unfortunately, we are going to be victims to it. We will be at the parks for a total of 7 1/2 days which will put us back over $200 just for a double stroller!! It’s insulting knowing that Disneyland’s stroller prices in CA. are half those of WDW. I also read on one of the Disney sites that the rentals at DL are free if you stay a certain amt. of days, or if you stay at one of their resorts. I can’t remember which it was. Go figure…..:O/

  18. Janet says:

    You are correct about the stroller rental in
    Disneyland. Also is you are a Visa Disney card
    holder the strollers are free.
    We are going this fall with the family and have
    3 children under 5. The two youngest are
    l7 and l9 months old. We are not renting the
    HIGH ridiculous price of the strollers. Yes it
    would be more convenient but we are staying 7 days
    and that with 9 of us would really add up. So we
    are bringing our umbrella double stroller for
    the young ones and carry it on the bus. I would
    hope you keep your opinions to yourself when we
    get on the bus with our stroller. This is our
    treat for our children and grandchildren so yes
    it would be expensive when I could feed them instead of throwing money away for a ridiculous
    priced stroller rental. We always rented for our
    children when they were growing up but on a fixed
    budget we can’t afford those rental fees now.
    With the cost of gas and airline fees, I guess
    Disney let the company double the price of stroller
    fees. I sure am glad we read up on this before
    we got down there and would of had to try and
    refigure our budget.

  19. Nat says:

    I visit the Disneyland park in California about once a month. They also significantly increased the stroller prices. Normally I don’t have children with me when I go, but on the next trip I will. I was totally unsure what to do about the stroller situation. The children I will be bringing are 4 and 6. I know some people get all upset when older children are in strollers, but I think that 2 tired children are going to want somewhere to rest after a long day at Disney whether they are 2 or 7, and I personally don’t want to carry 60 pound kids to the far away up the escolator parking structure. So I decided in this case a stroller would be best. But I wasn’t sure what stroller to bring. Had the Disneyland strollers been cheaper or bigger I would have rented one, but the Disneyland strollers are NOTHING like WDW’s. They are ment for toddlers. But I wasn’t sure bringing the stroller I had was a good idea either due to it’s size. I really wish that these strollers were just like the Disney World strollers. They don’t even have doubles here. I think I am just going to have to bring the big stroller from home. The kids are almost too big for it, but could probably use it for just this trip if I remove the tray table for leg room. I still wish I could just rent one there. I love Disneyland but they need to get some new strollers.

  20. JayLatham says:

    What a mess. I have four children 1,3,6,8. The two smaller ones can fit in our double umbrella stroller, but my two girls cannot. We have always used Disney strollers in the past but this year will skip it….what a rip-off. I am not going to pay an extra $189 to rent a stroller. I think that with the money that Disney makes on everything else, strollers should be free…that would make spending $50.00 for a crappy lunch full of nasty fried food feel slightly better. We love Disneyworld, but really feel that they are sticking it to the consumer with all of the price hikes around the park….very sad.

  21. Melanie says:

    This is truly ridiculous. Firstly as a parent of 3 children under 5 a stroller in the park is essential! I have always rented a WDW stroller simply for ease as well as not being one of those people that takes up a seat on the tram for their stroller. It drives me crazy to see people with their strollers sitting next to them taking up seats while there are people waiting in line waiting to get there children settled for the night. That being said, it seems that the best solution for WDW would be to add a trailor type car at the end of their trams for strollers and wheelchairs. I know that would not help the people with ECV’s and maybe guests that really require that service should be able to show a handicapped sticker from their car or some sort of proof in order to get them at a reasonable rate. The handicapped have enough to deal with without being gouged in their pockets for a service that they require! My husband and I will now be amongst the people that drove us crazy on the tram because of the price increase. We are looking for a stroller that folds as small as possible but I suppose in this situation the best to hope for is the people that are removed from the need for a stroller try to show some understanding for those that require it. Disney World is supposed to be the happiest place on earth! Maybe those people that seem to be walking around ‘inconvenienced’ by the needs of the handicapped or families with young children should stop for a moment and just appreciate that you aren’t the person dealing with ECV or stroller navigation through a crowded park.

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