Pros: ADORABLE design, two-seater, seat belts, easy to steer, great pretend cellphone.
Cons: Gear shifter breaks and gears on wheels strip with minimal use.
We became interested in buying our daughters a battery powered ride-on after our next door neighbors moved in. They have a son, Vincent, who is just a few months younger than Emma. He has a one-seater Power Wheels Jeep that Emma would drive every chance she got. My younger daughter was only about 15 months at the time, so she did not have the capabilities (she still doesn't) to operate it, but she loved to climb into it and attempt to figure it out.
Emma's driving skills were fair (ok horrible, really) at first and she ran into me, our dog, our car, and another playmate until mastering the driving over a few weeks time (she only got to drive it once or twice a week). Once she had it mastered, it was nearing Christmastime, so we decided that a battery-powered ride-on would be a great present for our daughters. In November, we narrowed our search and eventually decided on the Little Tikes Disney Princess Fairytale Cruiser, primarily for the following four reasons:
1)It is a two-seater, so our younger daughter can ride as well.
2)It has seat belts, which was important for the little one.
3)It's Disney Princess.
4)It was cheaper than most of the others, costing $199.68 from Wal-Mart, while the others were running from $230 to $350.
Assembly: It took about two hours to assemble the vehicle completely. My husband did most of the assembly himself, and then I helped him at the very end and with the decals. There were a few unclear areas in the instructions, but it wasnt anything that most people could not figure out. The decals were surprisingly easy to apply without any air bubbles or creases. This is probably because the decals were a little more rigid than regular stickers. There was supposed to be two plain white rectangular decals for the headlights but they were not on the sheet of decals. However, we were able to cut some out from the leftover sheet.
Battery: The instructions stated to charge the battery for 18 hours for the first use. After that, it says to charge the battery for at least 14 hours after each use, but never longer than 24 hours. We found that the battery charge lasted for a reasonable amount of use and we never had any problems concerning the battery. However, we only had this vehicle for three months. (Read on.)
Design/Features: The Disney Princess Fairytale Cruiser is a two-seater Jeep-like ride on vehicle. Like all others we have seen, it is predominately made of plastic. The frame of the vehicle is a pink/purple type color and is decorated by decal stars, pictures of the Princesses (,Cinderella, and Belle, and Aurora if I am not mistaken) along with the word Princess across the front and decals on the dash. There is a roll bar with fake lights attached behind the seats, along with a bar that comes out of the dash which has a rearview mirror on it (its really just a reflective sticker), and a working tailgate with a small storage area at the back. The design of it is too cute for words. It is a perfect design for your little princess, but read on.
There are 3 speeds: 2.5 mph, 5 mph, and reverse (2.5mph). There is a removable high speed lockout (just a piece of plastic that prevents the child from switching the gear to the side, which is high speed) which we only used for about 3-? minutes. The seat belts are secured with Velcro, so they are easy for even younger children to take off and put on. Even though they are just Velcro, it is a long strip, so they do hold the child securely in the seat. The dash has three buttons, two for the turn signals, which flash only on the dash, not on the front or back of the car. The other button plays music. There are three songs .A Whole New World from Aladdin, Bibbity Bobbity Boo from Cinderella, and I Know You from Sleeping Beauty. All the songs have been kind of sped up and given a background beat to make them sound more peppy. The music is really cute, but you could not hear it over the car running. In the dash, there is a dual cup holder, which also held the cellphone that came with the car. The phone beeped and lit up with the pressing of buttons and was used constantly by the little one.
Now, on to what you REALLY want to know: This car is a piece of junk. No other way to put it. As I said before, the neighbor is a young boy, and like most boys, he is quite rambunctious and destructive. In February, after he drove Emmas car a few times, the gear shifter broke and you could not switch gears. My husband promptly fixed the problem without any money being spent or much wasted time. But shortly after, the gear shifter broke again when Vincent was driving the car. My husband, again, fixed it. About a week later, the gears on the tires suddenly stripped out while Emma was driving. My husband couldnt fix that problem, so we looked in our instruction booklet for the warranty information. The vehicle has a one-year limited warranty on the vehicle (6 months on the battery). We had only had the vehicle about 3 months (only 2 months of driving it since we bought it a month before Christmas). We called up Little Tikes and were instructed to take it to a service center listed in the booklet. After about 15 busy signals, we finally got through to the service center, which was a ? hour drive from us. We brought it down there and had them replace the gears on the tires, and they also had to replace the gear shifter, which required them to replace the dash. The new dash did not come with the decals, so the dash was now very plain looking and looked incomplete. But our daughters didnt seem to mind. It took the service center about a week and a half to fix the car because they needed to order the parts.. They just required our information and the receipt so they could make a copy. After we got it home, I decided we should attempt to keep Vincent from driving the car since the main reason we thought the gear shifter broke was because he was too rough with it. We managed to do that for the next week, and then Emma got in trouble and part of her punishment was her car taken away for the week. The following week, Emma got it back and drove it a few times. Later that week, the gears on the wheels stripped again while Emma was driving.. So only after about 3 weeks of actual driving (which was probably about 8-10 actual times driving), the brand new gears were broken again. Now we were quite ticked off.
I called up Walmart and talked to a manager, who pretty much blew me off because their policy is three months. Even though we had only actually been using the car for three months, it was purchased FOUR months ago, so they wouldnt do anything for us. My next call was to Little Tikes.
This is where Little Tikes redeemed themselves, at least a little bit. I got through to them without much wait on the phone and only had to speak to one person. I explained the situation and she said that since it was still under warranty, we could again take it to the service center. I told her I was not happy with that solution, because it was apparent that the gears are going to strip out every month or two, and its inconvenient for my child to lose her car every few weeks to get it fixed. In addition, once the warranty would be up, wed have a vehicle with stripped gears that would be costly to repair. So she asked if I would just like a refund at this point, and I said yes. In order to get a refund they needed four things:
1) A copy of the receipt (which we kept, of course, stapled to the instruction manual).
2) A clear photograph of the hood of the vehicle with a 10-digit number (that they gave me on the phone) written across it very largely with a permanent marker.
3)The same as number two, but this time written on the side of the vehicle.
4)A clear photograph showing the main wires of the vehicle cut completely (to show that the vehicle was now unusable and could not be repaired. I would assume this is to prevent dishonest people scamming a refund and still keeping/using the vehicle.
We sent the four items to them via email. I got a response the following day stating that they would be sending a refund check and I would receive it in about two weeks, which I did.
In short, the durability of this product is horrible and it is a good thing for the consumer that they have a one-year warranty because you will be using it! However, after spending $200, one would hope you would be able to get more than a year of use out of it before having to spend a bunch of money to fix it. The pretend cellphone, however, is of great quality. Its been dropped, thrown, stomped on, and left out in the pouring rain. After just popping it open and drying the computer board inside, it works great, and the little one still loves it.