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Your Top 3 Theme Park Questions Answered

Now that summer has arrived, people are preparing for vacation. Many of us plan on using that vacation time to visit theme parks and question what can and can not be taken to the parks.

As a theme park geek and as someone who sends people to theme parks for a living, I see many people asking the same questions repeatedly on social media forums. Today I will tackle the Top 3 theme park questions I have seen on social media this week for three of the principal Theme Park chains in the US, Disney, Universal and SeaWorld Parks.

Can I bring outside food and drink into the park with me? If so can I use a cooler or cooler bag?

Disney Parks have the most relaxed of all three theme park chains’ outside food and beverage policies. When taking food into the Disney Parks, remember that they limit the size and type of bag/cooler you can use. Ice in Ziploc-style bags and reusable ice packs are allowed and recommended.

Guests are allowed to bring outside food and nonalcoholic beverage items into the park for self-consumption, provided they are not in glass containers and do not require heating, reheating, processing, refrigeration or temperature control and do not have pungent odors.

Coolers or backpacks, with or without wheels, larger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high, are not allowed in any theme park or water park. Loose or dry ice is not permitted in these containers.”

Busch Garden Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival offerings.

At SeaWorld Park no outside food, beverages, or coolers can be brought into SeaWorld Parks except for single-use or refillable water bottles. Some SeaWorld parks do have picnic areas outside the park entrance for guests who want to bring meals with them.

Per all the SeaWorld locations’ websites, Exceptions may be made for Guests with special dietary needs, including food allergies and baby food/formula. Guest should contact Park Security or Guest Relations when they arrive at the Park for approval to bring in special dietary foods.

Universal Parks allow guests to bring in small snacks that don’t require heating and “any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements, any food required for special dietary needs  and baby food/baby formula.

Guest may bring in a max of 2 liters of bottled water.  Universal allows soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep. “Glass containers, hard-sided coolers, larger soft-sided coolers and wheeled coolers are prohibited” in any of Universals’ Parks or City Walk Areas.

Is my stroller too big to take in the parks? Is there a size restriction on strollers? Can I take a wagon instead?

All three Theme Park chains allow guests to bring their own strollers to the parks. They also have single and double strollers available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis at their entrances.

None of them ban specific brands of strollers, but some do have size or style restrictions. Many outside companies will rent a stroller to you for the length of your stay.

Disneyland Stroller Check box.

Whereas Disney Parks are the most relaxed about outside food, they are the most restrictive when it comes to strollers. At Disney Parks, strollers larger than 31” in width and 52” in length are prohibited. If you aren’t sure how big your stroller is, google its name and model, and the dimensions will be posted on the manufacturer’s website.
Pull wagons of any kind are prohibited from Disney Parks. Stroller wagons are also not permitted, except due to ADA regulations in the case of children with disabilities that qualify for a Stroller as a Wheelchair tag. Guest Relations at Disney can only issue this; guests who do not qualify must return their wagon to their car or resort.

Currently, SeaWorld Parks do not have any restrictions on the size, design or style of stroller or wagon you use.

Currently, Universal Parks do not have any restrictions on the size, design or style of stroller or wagon you use.

Here are a few essential stroller tips that apply across all the parks:

  • Strollers are prohibited on escalators or moving sidewalks at any park.
  • Due to Department of Transportation regulations, children must be removed from strollers, and the strollers folded up on trams, buses, trains or monorails.
  • A Cast/Team Member may move strollers due to operational needs, so make sure you make it easy to see your stroller by adding a name tag, fun color, or unique decoration.
  • Please remember that these stroller parking areas are not secure or monitored, so you should never leave valuable items unattended in a stroller. All the parks rent out lockers that you can use to store your purchases and valuables in.
  • Keep in mind these policies can change at any time.  In 2019, Disney Parks allowed all guests to enter the parks with Keenz push wagons for a short period due to their policy stating that pull wagons were prohibited. On May 1, 2019, Disney updated their policy banning all push and pulled wagons and stroller wagons from their theme parks. So check the Prohibited Items and Park Rules section of a theme park’s website before you head out the door.

Can I take my _insert name brand name of  recently made famous on social media beverage vessel here_  into the parks with me?

Honestly? None of the Theme Park companies care about who manufactured your reusable water bottle or cup. All they care about is:
  1. That you aren’t carrying a beverage they have clearly noted isn’t allowed in the park. (IE, outside alcohol etc.)
  2. Ensure the container doesn’t hold more water than the parks state is allowed.
  3. The container isn’t made out of glass. Plastic and metal are fine.
So feel free to take your Tervis, Yeti, Hydro Flask, DIVEIN, Corkcicle, Circl, Brita or Camelbak bottle with you. 
Most parks now have water bottle refilling stations built into their water fountains. Don’t forget that many Theme Parks will let you fill your water bottle from the “Water” dispenser on their Coke or Coke Freestyle machine if it is in a publicly accessible area.
Are you considering visiting the Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios Orlando or Hollywood or SeaWorld Parks? Autumn is an experienced travel agent who is the co-owner of Pirate and Mermaid Vacations, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. PMV also books Universal and SeaWorld Travel. To learn more about their agency visit their website.
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