Disney Bans Stroller Wagons Outraging Parents of Kids With Disabilities and Medical Needs
Disney may be advertised as “the happiest place on Earth,” but some parents of kids with disabilities don’t think so after the company’s latest announcement: Effective May 1, stroller wagons will no longer be allowed in Disney parks. The decision may affect families of kids with disabilities and medical needs who rely on stroller wagons as adaptive equipment. In response, parents have started a petition to ask Disney to reverse its stroller wagon ban and expressed their outrage online.
Disney parks’ current specifications for strollers and wagons state that “strollers larger than 36″ x 52″ and wagons are not permitted.” Stroller wagons, a hybrid stroller/wagon with more space that can accommodate medical equipment and a closable canopy to reduce sensory overload, weren’t specifically prohibited under those guidelines. But the new restrictions state strollers larger than 31 inches in width and 52 inches in length will be prohibited and “stroller wagons will also no longer be permitted.”
According to several reports, the ban appears to be in response to strollers and stroller wagons creating congestion in the parks due to their bulkiness and size. While technically stroller wagons were banned under the previous restrictions, parents reported online that Disney parks allowed stroller wagons that could be pushed. Disney now seems to be explicitly closing that loophole. However, the new size specifications for strollers are bigger than the popular Keenz-brand stroller wagon, which is only approximately 34 by 20 inches.
Since this announcement, a Change.org petition has been circulating online and has over 5,500 signatures. The petition was started by Shantall Michel, a parent of children with disabilities. She wrote in the petition:
I am part of an online community with families who love Disney and families who also love their Keenz stroller wagon, myself included. … Our kids need the Keenz for multiple reasons including; having developmental delays, the use of oxygen tanks, noise sensitivity, children who cannot walk for long [stretches] due to health issues and more, that other strollers lack help with.
In addition to the petition, many parents have taken to Twitter to express their concerns over the ban.
@Disney your new policy on stroller wagons needs to be reconsidered. As a parent of a child with special needs who is permanently disabled I believe you are violating his ADA rights. #keenz #ada #downsyndrome pic.twitter.com/anlNQX3xsI
— Janine (@DSMomJ9) March 29, 2019
@WDWNT as a annual passholder a and single mom to 2 special need. Children. I have both a keenz (bought specifically for Disney trips) and a larger double stroller because my children are 6. Your new stroller rule will effect how we enjoy Disney or lack there of. May can. Our AP.
— Mary (@mbw7598) April 1, 2019
@DisneyParks can you confirm that the Keenz 7S stroller is no longer permitted in the parks? We bought one for our special needs child in December PURELY for Disney because a standard stroller does not accommodate her needs. Unfortunately his could be the end of our AP’s
— Daniel Stockbridge (@danstockbridge) March 30, 2019
“…kids need the Keenz for multiple reasons… dev. delays,…oxygen tanks, noise sensitivity, children who cannot walk for long stretches due to health issues & more…”
Don’t ban Keenz stroller wagon from Disney parks – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/vwNc7RFoEL via @Change
— Jana Ben-Moshe (@jb_in_motion) April 3, 2019
Disney parks have a history of supporting families of children with disabilities. Its FastPASS Service allows families to sign up for rides without having to wait in line, an accommodation necessary for some individuals who are unable to wait in long lines. Many parents of kids with disabilities consider Disney parks to be very accommodating and welcoming to their families.
Mighty contributor Deidra Darst, who has a child on the autism spectrum, wrote in her post, “Thank You, Disney World, for Providing Accommodations for My Son With Autism“:
Thank you for understanding that kids like my son cannot handle waiting in extremely long lines. Thank you for providing a disability pass for our family so we could still enjoy rides without a meltdown. …
Most of all, thank you for accepting those with disabilities. Thank you for making life a little bit easier while we are on Disney property. I mean, really, can we just move in, please? We could all learn a lesson from Walt Disney World about acceptance.
Some parents are hopeful Disney will reconsider its decision or that it will not affect families of kids with disabilities.
I believe Disney has shared that Keenz can still be used when the stroller is also the designated wheel chair, so your little one should be good to go.
— Maggie (@MaggieBruski) March 29, 2019
Other parents, however, see this as a move from Disney parks to force parents to rent its strollers and therefore increase their revenue.
Disney – Why ban the Keenz wagon stroller when it’s well within your size requirements? We have 3 children under age 5 this stroller can accommodate and now will be forced to rent multiple strollers from you leading only to more congestion and revenue for Disney.
— Dan (@Dan27417254) March 28, 2019
This may not mean a lot to you but for our large family (4 kids 8 and under) this is a big deal. Instead of a single stroller wagon we now will need to rent two double wide strollers. Please consider signing it. #Disney #Keenz https://t.co/pEj7t6XoWH
— Hokie Fireman (@FiremanHokie) April 3, 2019
— Christine Naisby (@cmnaisby) March 28, 2019
The stroller wagon ban and stroller size restrictions are not the only changes taking effect on May 1. Disney parks will also become smoke-free and have no designated smoking areas. As of March 28, loose and dry ice is also no longer permitted.
The Mighty reached out to Disney parks and has yet to hear back.