Thursday, October 17, 2013

Evil Contraptions For Rent

They are the bane of my visits to Disneyland. Those not-so-little contraptions that parents load up with every toy and gadget known to man. Back in the day, strollers were just big enough to do what they were intended to do: help parents get around town with their young children without the burden of having to physically carry them. What a great idea! This vintage shot shows the area that guests could rent strollers from.

Zooming in, you see a father attempting to figure out how to use the stroller. Mom will probably have to show him how!

To accompany this photo, here's an article from The Disneyland Line Newsletter, June 29, 1978:

While Strolling Through the Park One Day...

Among the many services that Disneyland provides for its guests is the facility that helps put our non-ambulatory visitors on wheels: the Stroller and Wheelchair Shop. With 1500 strollers and over 100 wheelchairs to clean, repair and rent out to guests, the location's Merchandise Hosts and Hostesses have plenty to keep them busy.
When a guest pays his or her $1.00 fee and $1.00 deposit for a stroller or wheelchair, he or she expects to be given a sturdy, clean and pushable unit. The Hosts and Hostesses at the Stroller Shop strive to see that every expectation is fulfilled and exceeded. A pool of available vehicles is fed from the neat stacks of folded strollers in the backroom. While Stroller Shop personnel pull from these stacks, they make sure that all units are operational.

Most stroller repairs are done in the Shop by the Stroller crew. In fact, when guests' strollers suffer mishaps while in use in the Park, the Stroller Shop acts as a pit stop where minor repairs can be made. The equipment and skills utilized in the Stroller Shop have become more and more sophisticated. Don Carter, day Working Leader, explains that this increase in repair knowledge and abilities has resulted in a 70-75% decrease in the number of strollers that need to be sent out of the Park for repairs. Don adds that there is a feeling of accomplishment in fixing a stroller and making it usable, and says, "A repaired stroller is a thing of beauty."
Until recently, guests were asked to leave a form of identification when renting strollers, so that they would bring the units back. Now, however, the new procedure of keeping $1.00 as collateral speeds up the stroller-return process at the end of the night.

"The nights are very different from the days," explains night Working Leader Charlie Moss. While the day cre is kept busy repairing and renting out strollers, the night crew seems to get all the units back at one time, right after the Electrical Parade. Then they have to be cleaned, broken down and stacked.
The Stroller Shop, once staffed only by Merchandise Hosts, now is operated by a crew that includes many Merchandise Hostesses as well. The girls like the non-stop hustle and bustle that the shop provides, and find that the lifting and pushing help to keep them in shape.

The Stroller and Wheelchair Shop accomodates those guests who require their own mobile units to enjoy the Park. So, when guests want to get "pushy," send them to the Stroller Shop.

Today, strollers are much larger and parents pay less attention to the guests that they constantly bump into, block, or worse over their feet! Please Disney...create an annual Stroller-Free Day—I'd be first in line!

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Major Pepperidge said...

It really is astonishing to see the stroller parking areas throughout the park - 30 or 40 strollers (or more?) make for an unsightly mess. I understand that kids get tired, but wish there was a better way to deal with the problem.

Joe Shelby said...

on the other hand, it would be nice if walking/standing guests actually paid attention to wheelchairs and the like. I can't count the number of times I have been bumped into (especially by kids whose parents then don't discipline them for being rude, nor apologize on their behalf), or the number of times we have tried to see Fantasmic only to have some 6" person stand directly in front of us as if we weren't even there.

plus the teenagers who shove past the rollator in the queue in Space Mountain (Florida this time, wheelchair access for Disneyland's Space Mountain is a different beast entirely), again with no second glances or guilt at all.

try actually renting a wheelchair and using it for an afternoon, then see if you feel differently on that front. We sure did.

i do agree that the modern super-strollers are not appropriate for a theme park environment, as parents use them for effectively their shopping carts more than actually just trying to get the kid around without exhausting them.

K. Martinez said...

Disneyland is definitely a crowded place where the masses are in pursuit of their own Disneyland pleasures. So much to do in so little time seems to be the mindset of many. Unfortunately some are rude and unapologetic in the way they go about it.

I have had kids and teenagers run into me at Disneyland. Because I'm a big solid guy, they usually have that dazed look like they just ran into a brick wall after impact. I sort of chuckle inside when it happens.

I do agree the strollers are unsightly. I've seen many potentially great photos ruined by the ugly sight of huge strollers clustered up in front of an attraction.

@Joe Shelby -

I'm sure I would get a totally different perspective of experiencing the Disney parks if I was in a wheelchair. I had a similar situation to yours but with a different twist and on the other side of the coin.

I'm 6'4" and I once stood in front of a wheelchair occupant during Fantasmic!. The wheelchair occupant and his wife arrived later than we did and everyone beyond the roped seating area was standing anyway. The only way I could get my little nephew to see above the adult heads in front of us was to hold him up to my eye level (he was not on my shoulders). The wheelchair occupant and his wife started to become very verbal about their unhappiness and accused me of being thoughtless towards handicapped people. I ignored them until eventually everyone started to notice. I informed him that everyone outside the roped area was standing already, but they just got louder and ruder. Eventually security got involved and escorted the couple away from the area. It really was just a matter of he and his wife arriving too late for a good view of the show. Even our view was just ok.

I do think that for unreserved shows like Fantastmic! one must arrive very early to be guaranteed a good view of the show. It's just the nature of the beast.

Janey said...

I can't believe the number of strollers that are now at Disneyland nor can I believe the AGES of some children in strollers!

Traffic would move much better with smaller strollers not to mention LESS strollers! The parking for the strollers has gotten out of control! I feel like Disneyland should institute and age restriction on their renting of strollers.

K. Martinez said...

@Janey -

Are people allowed to bring their own strollers? Or do they have to rent them from Disney? If they have to rent from the Park then they can definitely control it. Otherwise if you reject parents with self-owned strollers at the gate I'd think Disney could risk alienating a sizable portion of their customer base.

Sufiya H. said...

I am reminded of "Spinal Tap" when I read Joe Shelby's letter with the remark about 'the 6" person standing in front of us'...if he was BEHIND you, all he would see is a sea of ANKLES.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure people bring in their own strollers, as the variety we saw on the last trip was pretty broad. Rental units all tend to be the same or similar models and manufacturers.

Today's "SUV" strollers are far bigger, bulkier, and more feature-laden than the sparse metal frames from the past, and the operators even more oblivious. We did see one "two-story" unit which carried four babies in those "cradle" gadgets, two over two. Unbelievable.

My favorite though, are the rental scooters. These electric scooters are not wheelchairs, are steered by little handlebar rigs and are for rent at the front gate. These have wide latitude to be driven into shops and all sorts of improvident locations. Many of the people we saw riding these things were not disability-impaired, just fat or otherwise disinclined to walk.

One whole family group had them and rode in convoy, four abreast through Tomorrowland. I watched them all follow one another single file up the EXIT ramp of the RR station there. The leader couldn't open the gate without dismounting his electric steed, then discovered that since the EXIT gate swings OUT, there was no room to open it, because he rode right up to it to fiddle the handle without getting off. Mom and all the kids piled right up behind Dad, as tight as they could get.

All four boneheads had to reverse out, since the ramp was too narrow to turn around.

Pretty comical to watch, especially since they all seemed to be sober, were not outrageously obese, and had no particular difficulty walking. Just out for a drive.