The Great Disney Stroller Debate

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Features, Park Wise

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Published on August 08, 2013 at 1:00 am with 100 Comments

You see it over and over again on Disney forums across the internet.  The dreaded s-word.  STROLLERS!!!  It strikes fear in the hearts (and ankles) of pedestrians all over the theme parks.  But are they so bad?  I know we were sad to see ours stay home, but something tells me the eight year-old wouldn’t go for it.

Strollers: convenient parental aid or vicious battering ram?  You decide!


Let me start by saying that having our own stroller on the first couple of trips with the kiddos was invaluable.  My boy could fall asleep anywhere, and we were definitely able to stretch some park days because he was happy as a clam catching a few ZZZs in his Peg Perego (with full recline!).  Our stroller also happened to have a footboard on the back so my niece could hitch a ride, as well.  Definitely made better time heading to Toy Story Mania without having to hold back for short legs.


At that age, the kids also had a couple of costume changes during the day, and it was nice to have a place to store my niece’s glitter covered princess dresses when the itch factor got to be too much on a warm Magic Kingdom afternoon.  The storage also came in handy for a small cooler packed with water and juice boxes.  We saved lots on bottled beverages during the stroller years.


Transportation was pretty hit and miss.  While it was nice to roll onto the monorail and some boats, having to unpack and fold up the strollers to hop a bus or parking lot tram was kind of  pain especially when the kid was still sleeping in it.  Much harder to fold that way. ;)   We did get a little system going, but it was a chore.

Stroller parking.  I appreciate the stroller parking, I really do, but the constant reorganizing of some of the busier areas (which I completely understand) could mean a slightly panicked few minutes trying to find your stroller in a sea of P3s and Jeep Doubles.

The ridiculous amount of things hanging from our stroller made it easy to spot!

The ridiculous amount of things hanging from our stroller made it easy to spot!


ŸGet Park Wise: Do something to make your stroller stand out from the crowd.  Flashing lights, hot pink zebra duct tape, your very own Jolly Roger.  Something that lets you know “Hey, that’s my ride!” when you’re scanning Fantasyland for your buggy.

To Bring or to Rent?

We always brought our own stroller for several reasons.  First of all, I already paid for it.  I didn’t want to shell out the cost of a new stroller when I already owned one (or three…I was a stroller addict even though my little walker didn’t use one often past the age of about 18 months).  It was also a great convenience having our stroller at the airport.  We could hang our carry-ons off the back, throw one kid in the seat, a niece on the footboard, and off we went to our connecting flight.  Finally, it was great at the end of a long park day not to have to carry the dead weight of a sleeping child back to the room.


However, if you have older kiddos, renting may be the way to go.  They may or may not even be into catching a ride once they hit the parks.  If you don’t already have one and they won’t be using one at home, grabbing a stroller once you get to Disney is probably smart.  I hear the strollers are very comfortable for the kids (well, to be honest, I’ve even seen some dads in them while waiting for parades), and they have a great big shade to keep them cool in the afternoons.


ŸGet Park Wise: If you do decide to rent a stroller, ask about a length-of-stay rental from the parks or consider a local stroller rental company.

Stroller Etiquette

Stroller drivers, do not use your stroller as a weapon.  Lots, maybe even the majority, of us park-goers have kids.  Having one in a stroller does not make you king of the road.  “Lady with a baby!” may get you special treatment at some locales, but Disney is not one of them.  Even if you’re not intentionally bruising ankles, keep an eye out for those around you.  And, remember when I said folding and unfolding strollers for transportation was kind of lame?  Well, just suck it up and get it done before it’s time to load.  Don’t make the entire tram/train/bus wait for you to pack up your stroller right before it’s time to board.  And when it’s time to get off, move out of the way before you snap that bad boy open and start loading.

Non-stroller friends, please watch where you’re going, too.  Stepping out in front of a stroller more or less guarantees a smack in the shin because those things don’t stop on a dime.  Those of you cheaters who smoke outside of designated smoking areas, your ashes are right at eye level of stroller bound babies, so please be cautious.  When waiting for the parade or fireworks, a stroller that you don’t own is not a spot to set your drink or something to lean against.

Let’s just all practice being aware of our surroundings, and strollers and walkers can all live in magical harmony.


What are your stroller sentiments?  Have you used one at the parks?  Do you run screaming in the other direction when one’s coming at you?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • Skimbob

    I wish there was some special place to put strollers so they are not so obnoxious looking. They are everywhere and a real eye sore. Maybe Disney could come up with some themed storage units.

    As for electric vehicles I get annoyed because people seem to play chicken with them. My poor dad has had people run into him and me both just walking along beside him. They have no concept of what it takes to stop those things and then some people get mad when he hits them because they try to make a last minute run in front of him. The poor guy is 79 and has bad rheumatoid arthritis. If he could walk he would walk. I know many people think scooters are a pain but some people have no choice. Now as for those that use them for convenience instead of need I say shame on them. The same applies to people who don’t really need a stroller.

    • And as soon as those designer stroller store spaces are built, Disney can charge by the hour to use them ;)

    • DobbysCloset

      If people could start buying themed Disney Strollers…or at least decorate their own…

    • victoriaskitten

      I use a mobility scooter and am NOT obese. I would love to not have to use it but my health doesn’t allow me to enjoy the park for long without it. I do get frustrated when people look me in the eye and then run in front of me. I had one man last winter push me into one of the construction walls by grabbing the steering and it split my leg open and was very painful. I had done nothing to him he was in a bad mood as the sidewalks were very crowded on Main Street during the parade. He was cursing everyone out. Not a happy place for him.

      If parents do let the little ones walk it is imperitive that they have 100% control of them. Little ones are likely to dash off and run into the path of an oncoming stroller or scooter and can be seriously hurt.

      I began taking my Grandkids at 1 year and 6 months. At a year my Grandson was so captivated when we came onto Main Street and saw all that was before him. He loved it and his desire at 8 is to quit school and be an Official Cast Member. I feel sure his dream will come true someday…not quitting school though.

      We do take a stroller but that day is now probably over. We will have to make adjustments for carrying water and snacks and extra clothes. I have had rude people one woman in particular, pushing a stroller say she would just ram my 8 month pregnant daughter if she didn’t get out of her way, that didn’t happen cuz she got the wrath of Mom, I think I scared her pretty bad. So yes, there are bad inconsiderate people useing strollers but many more who are kind and thoughtful. It does seem that we see hundreds more of both in the parks even in the last year. I don’t know what the solution is but there are not enough lockers to be used by so many and they are exspensive for many.

  • Cjedwards44

    I use a stroller for my son and I can even admit there are way too many strollers. We have two strollers that we own. The big bulky one and our “Disneyland stroller” which is small and easy to fold. Must of cost us 20 bucks to get a stroller specifically for Dland. I personally make an effort to be an amazing stroller driver because only a few years ago I could not stand them. I know disneyland must make some pretty good money off stroller rentals so I can’t expect them to get rid of strollers but maybe to rent out the small easy to fold ones.

    • StrikeYerColors

      Smart parent!

    • StevenW

      The small ones are easier to break and easier to steal.

      People should not be folding their strollers. You can’t bring them on the rides. I tried bringing my folded umbrella stroller and they wouldn’t allow it.

    • The cheapy umbrella strollers can be a great option for travelers just needing the sitting space! When traveling without my niece, we hit the parks with less stuff since she was my costume queen. I could’ve done one of those with the boy, but those things are MURDER on my back! I’m a tall gal, and our P3 had extendable handles that were a life saver! I can definitely see your line of thinking, though, and I think it would work for a lot of families. Thanks for sharing!

  • StrikeYerColors

    As someone who is in DL once a week, my friendw ho go once a year sometimes ask me or my family for tips. One was a coworker of my mom’s who has two toddlers. The first thing my mom said? “Don’t bring the doublewide stroller! You may love it for walks, for Walmart, whatever, it is probably a GREAT stroller, but you will have such an easier time if you don’t bring it!” She told them to bring two tiny easy fold umbrella strollers. She texted my mom the second day of their trip (and they are not even good friends, just friendly coworkers) and said THANK YOU!

    I recently played host to a friend with a little 2 year old for the very first time. He had JUST turned two, and he is a pretty big boy, but a little walker and it would be his first time in any theme park or fair or anything like that. They brought the umbrella stroller. And it was a snap to fold and unfold. All the clothes, diapers, snacks, necessities went in a big tote bag that we took turns carrying or could hang from the handles when he was sitting in it. He almost never needs to ride in a stroller at home, so it took him a few times to get the hang of getting in and out and being pushed. But that teeny stroller was perfect. It snapped together in an instant in the train station or at the parking lot to step aboard the train or bus. It was no big deal if it got damaged, lost, or stolen, because it only cost $15 (of course, it is a cheapy and not going to be targeted to steal in the first place). It had no storage so we never accidentally left a valuable or wallet in it. It fit through little Main Street doors and slid through fireworks crowds with ease and it is not so long that you accidentally hit people’s ankles with it. In Disneyland, everything is paved, you don’t need bike tires and shock absorbers; there was rarely a bumpy ride and he could sleep in it even!

    I would heartily recommend anyone who has a little one to bring an umbrella stroller. I thought it might be hard to have ANY stroller but having a teeny one was honestly a dream. If you normally bring a big stroller, try travelling light for a change and feel free! And once they are too big for one of these strollers, they are big enough to walk. :D

    • Two separate strollers for two kids is ABSOLUTELY the way to go! I commented earlier about my absolute disdain for our side-by-side stroller (well, it was only ours for about a week because I hated it so much!).

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Growing up, my parents hardly ever used a stroller for me and always encouraged walking. We took family walks all the time through the neighborhood, which basically trained me for visiting theme parks in the long run. They never used a stroller for me at the parks – my 1st visit to WDW was spring of 1978 when I was 3 (turned 4 that summer). I’ve always walked. I’ll even walk from my car at whatever park I’m at instead of taking the tram… even if I’m parked at the back of the MK parking lot. I’ve beaten the tram to the TTC just walking on my own.

    • Aww, but I love the tram! Well, now that those stupid doors are on there, I don’t love it as much, but it’s something we don’t see on a regular basis, so it’s just part of the Disney experience for us. Haha!

  • caseyj

    When taking our kids to DLR this June, we brought our smallest stroller with us, knowing the bigger one was just too big for a crowded place. We did hang three strands of bright ribbon on the handle to make it easy to spot…good thing too, since at our first stroller parking place we put it next to an identical one. We did try leaving the stroller at the hotel on our first morning in DCA. Our 3.5 year old got whiny and tired and wanted to be held (the heat didn’t help). For the remainder of our trip, he was happy in the stroller and we were happy to move at a quicker pace.

    • So many ways to do Disney, and if having a stroller makes for an easier day, go for it! Glad it worked out for you guys and that you could spot your stroller in the crowd.

  • holierthanthoutx

    My family has triplets, so once the kids were old enough to walk, they ALWAYS walked. Triplet strollers are the most impractical things on earth, bigger than some SUVs.

    And, funny, because they always walked at home, they had no problem walking at Disney World. SO many parents claim that their children NEED strollers because they “get tired.” Well, if you never make your child walk anywhere, of course they’re going to get tired. Children who actually get out and walk every day, however, can handle a theme park.

    Our rule was always that the children didn’t need to be in the parks for 14 hours a day, though. We’d go in the morning, stay until about 2:00, then head back to the resort for rest time. Maybe an hour at the pool if it was hot out, then a nap for 1-2 hours. Then back to the parks for dinner and rides until bedtime. One or two nights during the trip would be “special” nights for fireworks or parades, but the rest of the evenings we were done by 8:00.

    Yes, you do have to watch your children more closely when they’re ambulatory. Yes, you might not be able to run to get the Toy Story Mania fastpass. That’s too bad for you. If our family can do it, any family can do it.

    • daveyjones

      this, this this this. this.

    • StevenW

      I would love to insist all the obese people on scooters walk. This doesn’t happen.

      This is a trip to Disneyland, not bootcamp. There are still advantages to having a stroller. You need it to store things. Kids need their snacks and juice and diapers and everything else you can think of. More people on a trip means more stuff.

      Remember, you’re trying to have fun. You don’t want to be delayed when a child is acting up. A theme park means you have to move on. A child can be stubborn and not walk. You can force it and this means crying and a meltdown. Besides, the child can be quite content sitting in their own carriage. And you can escape (leave the scene of the crime).

      The fact that people hate it means they should stop focusing on it. I wasn’t aware until I had my own, then I insist on using it as much as possible.

    • Haha! I recently saw a quad stroller on our local “yard sale” Facebook group. That thing looked like a monster! Definitely not something I’d want to push around a Disney park.

      There are so many different types of families that visit the Happiest and Most Magical Places on Earth. What works for your family may not work for others, so I’ll definitely have to disagree with your last opinion. So many different preferences, abilities and backgrounds at some of the world’s most popular destinations that there’s no way it can be said that what works for one family will work for any family.

    • daliseurat


  • daveyjones

    chalk this up to awful parenting. if your child is old enough to walk, they should walk. when the child gets tired, you rest. when the child gets sleepy, you nap. every time i’m at the park, there are clearly parents who are pushing to do the park from 8am to midnight, regardless of how their little children feel about it. thus they push them around in a massive stroller all day.

    there is nothing i despise more at the park than the glut of strollers. this was not a problem even as recently as the early nineties.

    • StevenW

      Was attendance much lower in the 90s? Maybe this explains it. You’re complaining about Disney’s ability to drive up attendance. Perhaps the strollers are merely a sympton of increased attendance.

    • Eh, I don’t know. I don’t think building your day around a child’s whims is sending the right parenting message, either. Family, even on vacation, is about compromise. I’m not going to physically push my kid to the the point of exhaustion, but if he’s whining about being tired, I’m not making us all go back to nap. Will we slip into a cool place and grab a snack? Probably.

      If a stroller, massive or otherwise, lets the majority of the party have more time in the park, I can see how that’s attractive. Like I said, my guy was perfectly fine napping in his stroller while we knocked out a few rides. He’d wake up an hour later and be ready to roll. ;) No pun intended.

      • holierthanthoutx

        Um, a rest for a child that needs one isn’t a “whim.” You talk about the need for parents to carry juice and snacks and things for children — yet you think putting your child to bed when he/she is sleepy is the child’s “whim”?

      • Well, it wasn’t an issue for us because we had a stroller. If the boy got tired, he kicked back in the P3. It worked for us.
        I can also tell when my kid’s being whiny and when he’s really over it. If he’s throwing out an “I’m tired” because he wants to go back to the room and bust open his souvenirs, yeah, that’s a whim. And I’m not planning everyone’s schedule around that. If he’s truly done, the rest of us probably aren’t far behind, so we’ll decide if it’s time to head back. It’s give and take when traveling with a group, and the kids don’t get to call all the shots.

  • Big D

    I’m a child of the 90′s and MTV’s Pimp My Ride. My stroller has spinning rims, is lowered, has a flip down ipad under the sun visor for the child and another flip up ipad on top of the sun visor for the driver. It can park itself, and has laser targeting all around and will automatically stop itself before I hit someone’s ankles (so that I can safely watch YouTube videos on my ipad while driving). In the event of a water landing it can also be used as a flotation device. It even has a mini flare gun on the back that I can remotely control, so if I can’t find the stroller, I just hit a button and it launches a flare that tells me where it is.

    I can’t wait until I have kids and get to actually use it!!!

    • Why wait for kids? You saw that guy in the stroller in the article, right? Stick a motor in that thing and cruise!


    Hi All,
    I love this discussion.
    This boils down to what should be some basic parenting skills…Be considerate of how YOUR children and their necessities infringe on the flow of the rest of the traffic..
    We are told to be tolerant of these but I say if the parents were considerate then we would not need to be tolerant.
    I have been taking my children (adults now) to Disneyland since our youngest was 2 (1987) and Disneyworld since 1990. We would bring A stroller but we understood that WE were to be considerate of those around us so we would walk toward the curb or side of the pathways, therefore not clogging the main flow of park-goers. If we had to stop then we would pull all the way to the side against the wall or rail THEN handle our business. We packed a diaper/clothes bag that we could hang on back of stroller or …wait for it….actually CARRY.
    When I see a parent ACTUALLY being a parent ( not allowing the child to express themselves by throwing a tantrum, making sure their child is considerate of those around them and having MANNERS, watching their child instead of their phone) we have thanked them.
    I visit Disneyparks so often my friends consider a sickness and the lack of consideration is astounding. Like one of the earlier posters mentioned “I am coming so watch your ankles” is proof of this.
    If we all followed a few considerate gestures (whether you have a stroller, electric scooter or just move slower than the majority) it might eliminate some these complaints…

    If you are moving slower than the rest of the crowd, move to the side, remember you are like the big rig on the freeway,
    If you have to stop for any reason, move to the side instead of stopping in the middle and making everyone go around you
    Don’t let your 5 year old push the stroller, they will almost ALWAYS hit someone else. While YOU may think it is cute believe me the person they hit WONT.
    Don’t leave your stroller in the middle of the aisle while you venture off. If you bring it in then keep it with you.
    If someone does stop in your way, leaves the stroller in the middle of the aisle or is slower than you PLEASE try to be considerate to the fact that there may be a good reason why, don’t just assume that they are being inconsiderate.

    IF you are a PARENT and you decide to bring your children remember that they ( and ALL of their actions) are YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, not the cast member , not the people around you. So control your child which may require that you …wait for it…

    Try these sometime, we did and never had a dirty look or grumbling on any of our vists.

    • Absolutely! I hate when common sense goes out the window when people are on vacation. Let’s be aware and be considerate. This applies to ALL guests whether strolling, walking, ECVing or wheelchairing.

  • alan1701

    I am going to make this simple and yes I anti stroller. Make your kids walk if they can. If they complain, do what my patents did, tell me life is not fair but we can sit for a bit on a bench till you can go on. If you need a stroller, there is zero need to bring anything more than a little folding stroller and I wish Disney would implement a policy whee only small folding strollers are allowed in the park. There is no need for a school aged kid to be in a stroller as well. I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen that. I guess I just had mean parents, the day I started walking my mom threw my little stroller out. She later told me if I wanted to get around from that day on, I needed to learn to get around on my own without help from other.

    • I get the sentiment, but it’s not a one size fits all situation. I realize my views are slightly skewed because of my day job, but I just can’t accept blanket statements about individuals’ needs.

  • rwsmith

    On the same token, the parks are very crowded. It’s stressful to navigate through shoulder to shoulder crowds with a stroller. You need to keep your head on a swivel for people who can’t walk a straight line and step in front of you. Or the people who walk around you, cut you off and walk slower in front of you. Etiquette and courtesy roll both ways.

    • True story! Etiquette should not be on vacation just because we are.

  • OriginalMousekteer

    As every Cast Member I know will tell you:


    If the stuff hanging on the back makes the stroller tip over when you take the kid out–IT’S TOO MUCH!

    If you have drinks and snacks perched precariously on the shelf by the handle when you leave it parked, IT’S TOO MUCH!

    If things fall off any side of said stroller when CMs have to move it after it’s been sitting for hours, IT’S TOO MUCH!

    DO NOT leave valuables on board.

    DO NOT lock it to a railing or stancheon.

    DO NOT park it eight feet outside the Stroller Sign and then wonder where it went when you finally get around to claiming it.

    DO NOT bring it into any attraction queue and then ask where you can park.

    DO NOT assume that you can bring the stroller along for the ride just because you have a wheelchair (or GAC) in your party.

    DO NOT stop in the middle of a busy walkway with your party of eight or more completely blocking traffic while you remove or replace your precious angel, especially directly in front of an entrance.

    Disneyland is for kids (of all ages). Strollers are a necessity and a blessing for parents and families. But use common sense (and I realize that’s the first thing to go out the window when entering the Park).

    • Definitely a good idea to know what to expect when heading to the parks with a stroller in tow.

  • ufmaule

    This has been a fun topic as it’s easy to see by the comments who has kids and who doesn’t. My wife and I take our own stroller for our two year old and while we complain about the wheelchairs, scooters, and the rental strollers that are the size of small golf carts, I think the problem is actually bigger. Instead of strollers and wheelchairs being the problem, I think its the “conveniences” of the park that are causing all the issues. The real problem for me are the reservations and the Fast Passes. Everyone is in such a time crunch and rush to get everywhere. You don’t ever see videos from the past of people navigating strollers through the pathways like they do today. So many families look like Nascar drivers weaving through traffic trying to get the top spot. It’s become one big race to meet the next Disney Deadline to “hit the Fast Pass time slot” or to “make our dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.” And it seems to me it’s only going to get worse. Can’t you just picture all the people navigating their large strollers and motorized scooters while trying to navigate the MyDisneyExerience App on their smart phone! It’s going to be like texting and driving! What a relief to have one more distraction for the drivers! If everyone would just slow down and enjoy the park, everything would be so much better. But I know it’s asking a lot since visitors are trying to get in as much as they can since Disney charges a fortune now.

    But I will say, I’ve actually tried the “child leash” in the parks like the guys in Modern Family for my 2 year old and gotten a much more negative response from others, so I guess we’ll stick with the stroller.

    • Definitely some interesting thoughts. Lots of people have mentioned “the old days” in the parks, but, you’re right, so much has changed. Why would anyone expect this particular thing to stay the same?

      And that episode is hilarious!! Really, though, as long as your kid is safe and happy, do what you need to do. As long as you’re not impeding on someone else, it’s not anyone’s business.

  • daliseurat

    There are simply too many strollers at WDW. And too many of those are over-sized. At Disneyland, believe it or not, there are FEWER strollers. And if you go to almost any other theme park, you will find way less. I have no issue with people using a stroller for their child who requires one. Kids 4 and under, kids with physical issues all need a stroller. But people are really, REALLY abusing the privilege. Your seven year old does not need a stroller unless he/she has a physical issue. You should not be using a stroller just to carry all the stuff you feel the need to drag around the park. A stroller is not for you to take up large amounts of space to save spots for your family during parades and shows while they run around enjoying the park. Disney should limit stroller sizes and maybe even create a rule to help end the abuse. I ditched our small umbrella size stroller at age three. I carried my water bottles, cameras, snacks and change of clothes in a small bag over my shoulder. If my daughter was tired, w stopped for a snack, or went to a show or just hung out on a bench. The idea that your children get tired and can’t make it through the day without a stroller when they are kindergarten age is silly. At the parks, you stop and sit often. If I wanted to move quicker, my daughter went on my shoulders. Seriously, the problem would be so much less if people would stop abusing the privilege and really consider whether they really NEED that stroller or whether they are just too lazy. And if other parks can somehow manage to have fewer strollers, Disney should be able to as well.

    • I think the variable is the amount of time spent in other parks versus Walt Disney World. We did Six Flags this summer (don’t ask!), and there were very few strollers, but it’s not a multi-day destination. Many families are at Disney World for a week. You may see a six year old in a stroller on day five while they walked days one through four. You just never know, so it’s not really worth judging, at least in my opinion.

      And, really, you never know why a little one is riding at all. The “silly” looking kindergartener may have an unseen issue. The little princess may be spoiled rotten and daddy is wrapped around her finger. The grown-ups may only be able to afford one trip so they’re squeezing everything possible into their limited time. Auntie may be sick of stopping every ten minutes. There are so many ways people do Disney that it’s impossible to know who needs what.

      • daliseurat

        Absolutely, there are older kids who DO need a stroller. But my issue is the amount of lazy parents and children who do not NEED the stroller. And that is what’s clogging up WDW these days. I think you are probably right that because WDW is a multi-day destination, it probably does mean some parents feel more of a stroller need than if they were just going for the day. Which is probably why there are less at Disneyland…lot’s of local daytrippers.

      • I’m sure there are lots of families out there using strollers that don’t “need” them for any other reason than convenience, but without knowing who’s who, how does one weed them out? That’s my issue with this particular line of thinking. I DON’T think you’re wrong about the amount of superfluous, but aside from polling each person with one, there’s really not a way to truly know.

  • DobbysCloset

    Jessica’s best column ever!

    • Oh, I hope not! It’s definitely been the most chatty column yet, but I’d hope my best column ever solicits more happy comments. The stroller debate can get pretty ugly! Buuuut, I love that so many people are reading and returning to continue the conversation! Bumps up those page views. ;) Haha!!

      Keep commenting, folks, let’s get to triple digits!