While exciting, planning a Disney trip can sometimes be a bit daunting. It’s tough to decide where to stay, where to eat, when to make reservations, how to navigate the Fastpass system (which is currently unavailable due to COVID precautions), and what Disney extras you may want to do. It’s also tough to decide what to pack. Sure you will need to pack daily clothes for the parks, swimsuits for the pool, and maybe something a little nice for going out to dinner at night. However, did you also know you need to have an essential Disney packing list? Items you shouldn’t leave home without.
Based on our trips with kids of all ages, I’m happy to share our perfect packing list. First, start with the standard clothing must-haves; shorts, t -shirts, sweatshirt (just in case) underwear, socks, and swimsuit. Most likely, you will find that most visitors to Disney tend to dress very casually, leave the cocktail attire at home for a different trip. There is no need to overpack, most of your time will be spent in shorts and a t-shirt in the parks and you may find yourself staying out all day and wearing the same clothing from morning to night.
The essential Disney packing list, are the items you should definitely not leave home without. Not having these essential items on your Disney packing list will leave you scrambling to find them with limited and, at times, overpriced shops at the parks and hotels. To help you maximize your Disney Vacation and make sure you have not forgotten anything to take on your trip, we have put together an essential Disney packing list.
Essential Clothing Items and Accessories
A Great Pair of Shoes
If you haven’t yet been to Disney World, let me be the first to tell you, there is a lot of walking. The parks cover a lot of acres. We have clocked 9-10 miles of walking per day. While you may be tempted to bring flip flops to wear in the parks due to the heat, don’t. Save the flip flops for the pool at your Disney Resort. If you insist open-toe shoes, then I recommend Teva or Eccos. You can even try Keens, but the back of the shoe sometimes causes blisters, especially with the heat and your feet swelling up.
For me, the simplest and best choice is a great pair of sneakers. I don’t seem to notice the heat while wearing them–perhaps it’s because I am too distracted by the excitement of being in the parks. Pick whatever brand fits your feet and your budget best. After a long day of walking in the parks, your feet will thank you for choosing function over fashion.
Because Orlando’s sun is strong year-round, a hat is key. Being outside all day with the sun bearing down can zap a lot of energy out of you, especially in the summer when it is hot and muggy in central Florida. Some of the parks, like EPCOT do not have tree canopies shielding the sun during the day. A hat will also protect you from sun-damage to your face.
A sock is a sock right? Wrong. A good sock is comfortable, lets your feet breath, and has a bit of cushion to it. This is what you are going to want if wearing sneakers into the parks during a Disney World vacation. Walking up to ten miles a day, your feet will sweat. When they do, a cotton sock can end up giving you blisters. My hubbie, who’s a runner and learned this the hard way, turned me on to synthetic and wool socks. These materials also have the advantage of being faster drying. My fave is Smart Wool—they’ve paid off their high price through trips across the world and across the Magic Kingdom.
To keep everyone safe in the parks and on Disney properties, you are currently required to wear a mask. Disney is enforcing it and if a cast member sees you not wearing one or wearing one inappropriately (below the nose), they will kindly remind you to put it on. It’s hot in Orlando through most of the year. Wearing a mask in the heat can be a bit uncomfortable, but still necessary. Bring a couple to change out through the day. When one gets too sweaty, replace it with a another for a couple of hours.
A lot of Disney vacationers like to bring or buy ponchos. This way if it rains, they can throw it on or even use it for some of the rides like Splash Mountain. I’m not a huge fan of the poncho; I think they’re bulky and flimsy, and also create tremendous plastic waste.
Bring a good, lightweight rain jacket. A modern rain jacket is both superlight and acts as a shell when it gets cooler. Most have pockets inside that keep important things like your park map or autograph book dry during the rain. If you plan to visit Disney in the summer and fall time, then expect rainstorms throughout the day, which typically last 20 minutes or less. When it’s not raining, the rain jacket rolls up small and you can put it right back into your backpack or wrap around your waist until the next rain, while the poncho become a balled-up hunk of plastic that’s hard to reuse.
Many rain jackets fold into their own storage pocket. If yours doesn’t, then try this packing tip: lay the jacket on a flat surface, front up and zipped shut. Fold the sleeves over the front, and then take the outer thirds and fold them inward. Roll up the folded material up and into the hood. Makes it space efficient and easy to pull from your pack.
Travel Laundry Detergent Packets
I always bring small laundry detergent packets on my trip to Disney for a number of reasons. We are light packers and re-wear our clothes on vacation; Florida is hot, you will sweat, and your clothes will get stinky. Traveling with young kids? They are bound to spill something on their clothes—we could never pack enough changes when ours were younger. Actually, it doesn’t change much with teenagers or adults, who also may spill food on their clothes. If you plan to go swimming, you may want to wash out the bathing suit for the next pool adventure. Having the laundry detergent packets are great for a quick load of laundry. Fill the bath, add the detergent and clothes, give it a stir or two, then rinse, wring and hang to dry. You are good to go.
If there is one item you should definitely not forget, it is the portable battery charger for your smartphone. You’ll be taking photos, using the My Disney Experience app while in the parks for everything from entering the parks, checking out ride wait times, happenings, ordering food ahead of time, and maybe even scanning it to pay. Oh and don’t forget you will most likely be calling and texting people if you are in a large party and split up. Chances are, your smart phone is going to run out or get really low of battery during your day at the parks. It’s happened to me and the panic is no joke. Now more than ever, it’s so important not to run out of power. Disney has shifted away from the Magic Band (wrist band) and has moved to encouraging using the My Disney App on the smart phone. The App is now the key to everything Disney while on vacation. Make sure to have the portable charger fully charged the night before, that you can use throughout the day. I guarantee you will need that portable charger at some point during your day.
Reusable Water Bottle
We have been bringing re-usable bottles since we started visiting Disney. Prior to leaving our hotel for the day, we fill the bottles with ice from the hotel ice-machines, add the water and we are set for most of the day. You can refill at some of the restaurants. Bringing a reusable water bottle on your Disney vacation will cut down on waste. You will be drinking a lot of water through the day, meaning lots of used plastic bottles. The other reason is cost. One bottle of water will cost $3.50. If you are a family of 4, that’s $14.00 just on one round of water for the family. On a hot, humid Orlando day, figure you may need 3 bottles per day. I just saved you $42.00 each day. The re-usable water bottle is a must have on your essential Disney packing list.
It gets hot in Florida, which means t-shirts and shorts. It also means sun and lots of it. You are going to want to slather on the sunscreen if you are going to be in the parks all day. The last thing you want is a painful sunburn that takes away your fun in the parks. Trust me that it’s cheaper at your local store or online retailer than in the parks.
I can never say no to a Mickey ice-cream bar and look forward to so many treats across the parks. However, like bottles of water, snacks add up. Some of the snacks cost upwards to $7.00. Also, you never know when your kid is going to get hungry and totally melt down, which seems to happen often in the middle of a long line. I love bringing single-serving packs of trail mix. It gives some protein from the nuts mixed with a bit of sweet which seems to stop any meltdown in its tracks. Another great one is a trail/energy bar. The name says it all, energy. You and the kids will need the energy to keep going in the parks until your next mealtime.
A good daypack is an essential. Think about Goldilocks and the Three Bears: you want it big enough to carry what you need but no so big that it’s bulky and heavy. We figured out a bit late that a daypack is a great diaper bag as well. Your pack will hold the water bottles, portable chargers, rain jackets, and sunscreen. The great thing also is that you can bring bags on almost all of the Disney rides. Find the bag that fits your back and your budget. My holiday shopping list includes the Osprey Daylite Pack. It’s the right size and the right price. Oh and it will hold those reusable water bottles.
Extra Reusable Bags
My list includes reusable bags for every vacation including Disney. These aren’t the thick ones you bring to the grocery store, but the little nylon ones you can fold up into tiny, little squares and tuck away in a pocket. These are perfect for separating laundry or stuffing with all of the plush Disney characters you have purchased for the kids. The bags are durable, weigh almost nothing, and–when folded–do not take up space.
Disney Autograph Book
The first time we went to Disney, we didn’t know about the character autograph book. As we came across our first character meet and greet, my husband and I quickly realized that it wasn’t only about getting pictures, it was also getting the character’s autographs. Fortunately, we also had our first visit to Disney when crowds were super low. However, we still had to step out of line, duck into a store and purchase grab an autograph book. Fortunately, we did make it back in time to get the coveted character autograph. Get this purchase out of the way by ordering it on Amazon before you go.
Disney Magic wrist bands are a fun accessory to have during your visit to Disney World. They are your key to everything during your Disney Vacation. Disney has moved away from them. Instead, Disney is pushing the use of the My Disney Experience App, as mentioned above. For some of us, the wristband is part of the entire Disney fun and magic. It is hard to give them up. They get you into the parks with a swipe of the band, allow you to purchase using the band, they even unlock your hotel room.
Disney, up until recently, included a basic color band with your Disney Vacation purchase. You could even spend a little more and upgrade to a character band. However, this is no longer the case. The band is no longer included in your Disney vacation. Now Disney has moved to using the My Disney Experience App for all of your Disney vacation needs. Makes sense for Disney, they no longer have to pay for the additional band product. Call me old school, but I love the wrist band. Besides what if your smart phone runs out of battery and you didn’t heed my advice of bringing a portable charger. Well, you are SOL.
The good news is you can still buy a wristband prior to leaving on Amazon or on the Disney World online shop. Once there, your hotel can connect the band as your passport to parks, purchasing power and your room. I’ll be buying mine before I go on my next Disney trip.
You can buy Minnie Ears in the Disney Parks, but sometimes having them before and the day or arrival is so sweet. I love my ears and continue to buy more because I’m slightly obsessed. At times will even wear them on top of my hat. This way I’m shaded by the sun and yet still have my ears. They are easily found on Amazon for purchase.You can use them as surprise gifts for the kids, to surprise them that they are headed to Disney World.
I love Disney and love sharing what I’ve learned. If you are planning a Disney, I can help. Check me out atalison-wishesandwizardstravelco or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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