Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stroller Etiquette (10 Tips for Operating a Stroller at Disneyland)

     I've said it time and time again... "People should be required to have a license to drive a stroller." ;)
   

     I am a Disneyland passholder, so I am often caught up in crowds of people with small children in strollers.  And I am one of those people.  I take all three of my kids (all under the age of 6) to Disneyland by myself.  I rock the double stroller and baby carrier.  I always get comments like, "Wow, you are brave!" and "All three by yourself?!"  Yup.  I love Disneyland and we have an amazing time together.  Even my husband can be spotted at Disneyland with all three of our kids.  Hahaha!

     And trust me, it is a lot better than having them cooped up in the house and letting them make a mess, where I need to constantly clean up after them.  Disneyland is a beautiful and fun place to let them run and play and get their energy out.  They sleep like angels at the end of the day too!
     HOWEVER, the stroller madness at Disneyland or any other crowded place can be frustrating.  I often see people that do not know how to properly drive a stroller and are unaware of stroller etiquette.  If everyone had an understanding of how to safely drive a stroller, we could prevent accidents, injuries, frustration, and unpleasant memories.  So I decided to go over the stroller basics as a friendly reminder to my fellow parents.  This is my logic: It is just like driving a car...

1) Do Not Fill Over Maximum Capacity
     California Vehicle Code 24002 states "It is unlawful to operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in an unsafe condition, or which is not safely loaded, and which presents an immediate safety hazard."  Similarly, a stroller should only be packed to a safe capacity.  Some strollers I've observed have giant heavy bags attached to the handle bars which swing back and forth amongst the crowds.  I myself have been plowed down by some of those strollers and wonder, "What just happened? And why is my arm throbbing with immense pain?"  Eeek!  Please be aware that there will be people and children walking near your stroller.  Try not to pack it like the family mule. ;)

2) Stay To The Right
     Yes, just like while driving, stay to the right.  The opposite flow of traffic should be kept on your left side.  Whenever I see someone heading in the opposite direction coming toward me, I begin to veer my stroller to the right.  It is a natural reaction.  If they cut in front of me to pass on my right, I am thrown for a loop, literally.  This usually causes anxiety, accidents, and chaos.  There are times when I assume the person is from a country where they drive on the opposite side of the road.  That would explain it! Haha.
     Sometimes Disneyland Cast Members will be out directing traffic during a parade or some other attraction and they are almost always directing the crowds to stay to their right.  But honestly, we are intelligent capable adults that can always follow that logic without being micromanaged 100% of the time.  Right? :)

3) Stay A Safe Distance From The Person In Front Of You (Eyes On The Road)
     Anyone ever been rammed right in the heels or ankles with a stroller?  Yeah, me too.  It hurts! And it only took me getting hit once to make me realize I would never want to do that to someone else.  Don't get me wrong; I have done it, and I felt so bad.  It is an innocent accident; no one actually sets out to run over other people...I hope.  And it is so easy to get distracted, especially at Disneyland.  We are constantly looking around us.  But while driving a stroller, it is important to maintain eyesight on your path.  I do my best to remain a safe distance from anyone in front of me.  Just like a car, it is wise to remain another stroller length from the person in front of you.

4) Follow The Flow Of Traffic
     My husband is an offender of this one.  He likes to play Speed Racer and weave in and out of the crowds.  I have tried to remind him that it isn't a good idea and probably unsafe.  When he sees an empty road in front of him, he smiles and takes off with the kids in the stroller as fast as he can go.  The kids love it and I can't object since there is no one anywhere near us.  But when stuck in a crowd, it is courteous to follow the flow.  Assess the speed of the people and strollers around you and adjust to remain at an average and safe speed.  Not too fast and not too slow.

5) Pull Over For A Rest Stop
     This is my biggest pet peeve!  When I am happily moving along down a path in a crowd of people and all of the sudden, without any warning...the group in front of me comes to a STOP in their tracks! They just stand there: adjusting kids, looking at a map, making decisions about where to go or eat, etc etc.  I'm there thinking, "Um, hello?  I just skidded to a halt about an inch behind your ankles and now I'm trapped behind you until you decide to continue along your way."  All the while the rest of the crowds are walking past us.  This happens at least once every time I go to Disneyland.  Why?? It just doesn't make sense to me.  Crowded place, people constantly moving, and you just stop in the middle of the road?  Do people do that while driving? No, I don't think so.  Just pull over to the side.  Do your thing and then pull back out into the crowds when you are ready to proceed on your way.  It's easy, I promise.

6) Yield To Pedestrians

     Very rarely am I the "pedestrian" (or person without a stroller) at Disneyland, but I need to speak on their behalf.  People driving strollers may not want to admit this, but the "pedestrians" are far less cumbersome then strollers.  They are compact, faster, and more agile.  When I see a "pedestrian" trying to get around me, I slow down and let them go where they need to go.  They can get in places where I can't go and they will be out of my way quicker than a stroller.  I see no reason to be aggressive and try to keep my place in a crowd when I know that the "pedestrian" will be hundreds of feet in front of me in seconds.  Let them continue on their way and avoid confrontations.


7) Utilize Designated Parking Spaces
     I can't speak for other theme parks, but I know that Disneyland has designated stroller parking for almost all of their attractions.  When you are ready to park your stroller, take a quick look around or ask a Cast Member about stroller parking.  They do a great job of accommodating the thousands of strollers sitting around Disneyland, without being a nuisance to the crowds walking through the park. If you park your stroller in an area that is not designated for parking, you may find your stroller to be gone.  No no, not stolen! Cast Members are trained to move strollers to the designated parking areas in order to maintain flow of traffic and keep the strollers from being hazards.  So it is wise to park your stroller yourself where it is supposed to be.

8) Strollers Going Straight Have The Right of Way
     Helpful reminder for when you are about to collide with another stroller.  If you are making a lane change or a change in direction, look around and make sure the crossing is clear.  Strollers who are proceeding in a straight path should have the right of way.  I'm not insinuating that there could be a lawsuit if you don't yield (crazier things have happened I guess, haha)... it is just a nice way to maintain order and peace amongst the crowds.
     And in addition...don't play Chicken! When you are about to experience a head on collision with another stroller, don't be like my husband and assess the size and weight of your stroller and figure the single stroller will yield to the big bad double stroller (LOL)...don't say to your kids, "Hey, think we can take them?"...don't try to be the aggressor and test out who will swerve first.  Sounds like fun, but really...not a good idea. ;)  

9) Apologize When You Incur A Fender Bender
     Accidents happen.  They happen every day and all day at Disneyland.  But when they do, people are generally very nice when they are acknowledged and receive an apology.  An awkward situation or confrontation can easily be avoided/ diffused with a friendly smile and apology.  I have said "I'm sorry" so many times, even when I felt the situation was not my fault.  I don't consider myself to have a doormat personality, but basically I am apologizing for the circumstances or for the miscommunication.  It is much easier to go about your day when someone has apologized, even if it needs to be you.

10) In General, Be Aware And Considerate Of Others Around You
     I want to leave a few of my thoughts on respect, consideration, and empathy.  Disneyland is always pretty crowded and it is easy to step on each others toes there...figuratively and literally.  When you are out there in the world of heavy strollers and giant diaper bags and screaming kids and cranky parents, remember that we are all in this together.  We are all human beings.  We are all children of God and brothers and sisters on this Earth.  
We need to be mindful of others and their individual circumstances.
- That rude employee that gave you attitude may be going through a divorce and child custody issues.
- That disrespectful teenager that cursed in front of your children may have been abused as a child.
- That grumpy lady that yelled at you for bumping into her may have recently lost her sister to cancer.    
     Anger and judgement is not the way to go.  Take a deep breath and carry on.        
     Disneyland is the "Happiest Place On Earth," but each of us are responsible for maintaining the happiness there.  We need to embark on our family adventures with a positive attitude and with respect for our fellow human beings.  We need to keep in mind that we are all hoping to create enjoyable experiences and happy memories.  Let's do this together!  I know we can. :)

"We believed in our idea - a family park where parents and children could have fun- together." 

     - Walt Disney