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.