As I have mentioned before, my family and I have been to Disney World many times over the years. It has been a favorite for us for many years. I feel like we are kind of pros at it by now. I always have people asking me what they should pack for Disney. I know that before I headed to Disney for the first time with my kids years ago, I was all over Pinterest looking for tips and tricks and what to pack. I read blog after blog of all the things that people suggested that you bring. I remember making this massive list of things that I needed to pack before we went on that first trip as a family. Our suitcases were filled to the max. Then, I ended up carrying this massive backpack loaded down with so much stuff that I was miserable at the parks each day. My back and shoulders ached every day from lugging that heavy thing around. What I have come to learn over the years was that I really didn’t need as much stuff as I packed or that I was carrying around. Yes, when your kids are younger, you are going to need more things. I totally get that, but you don’t have to bring 10 million things just because you think you might need it. I have compiled a list of the essentials that I think you really need, but just know that you have to figure out what is best for your family. Not all of these are things that you will carry with you to the parks. Some are things that will be helpful in the hotel. I have come to learn that less is more. You really don’t need everything that everyone suggests you bring. I promise!
1. Anti-Friction Stick (Amazon)
This is the #1 thing that I make sure we have each trip besides sunscreen. When I first started using one of these, Johnson and Johnson carried something called Band-Aid Blister Block, which I loved. You can no longer find it in stores, and it is ridiculously priced on ebay and Amazon now. However, any kind of anti-friction stick will work the same way, like the Dr. Scholl’s one above. I didn’t learn this trick until after we had been to Disney a few times. If you have never been there, please note that you are going to be walking for miles every day that you are there. Your feet are going to hurt and they are going to get blisters. That first Disney trip, we were all wearing Band-Aids all over our feet because we had so many blisters. Since I discovered the blister block, we never get blisters when we go anymore. You just rub it all over your feet and toes on the top, bottom and sides, put on your socks and shoes, and then you will be good to go. This stuff is amazing.
2. Tennis Shoes (Under Armour)
I will tell you that my opinion is that the best shoes to wear at Disney are athletic tennis shoes with socks. Some would argue with me, but I have found no other shoe that works better for all the walking you will be doing. You do not want to wear shoes that will easily come off on rides like flip flops. You want a shoe that is supporting your feet and ankles, that won’t cause blisters (don’t go with brand new shoes that have never been worn), and that are comfortable. There are lots of water rides where you will get soaked and your shoes will get wet. Plus, it rains daily in Florida, even if only briefly, and your shoes will get wet. No one likes walking around in wet shoes every day. I personally bring a back-up pair of shoes with me that I keep at the hotel in case my shoes aren’t dry by the next day. That is totally a personal preference, though. These Under Armour sneakers are my favorite right now.
3. Extra Socks (Amazon)
For the same reasons as listed above, make sure that you bring extra pairs of socks. Your socks will get wet! I typically pack 2 more pairs that the number of days we will be there. You can choose to bring them with you in the park if you are someone that hates having wet socks like me or you can just have spares in your suitcase in your hotel.
4. Ponchos (Dollar Tree)
As I mentioned, it always rains in Florida! I don’t think that there has ever been a time when we were at Disney that it hasn’t rained at least once while we are at the parks. Just this past weekend, it rained 3 days that we were there. I highly recommend that you go to your local dollar store and buy multiple packs of the cheap ponchos. Trust me, you don’t want to have to buy a super expensive poncho in the parks! You have two options when it comes to dealing with wet ponchos. You can either bring zip lock bags (or plastic grocery bags) to put the wet ones in when you no longer need them, or you can buy multiple and just throw the used ones away when done with them. Either way works. I do not recommend that you bring an umbrella. There are just too many people around to carry an umbrella, and it just adds weight to your backpack.
5. Sunscreen (R+F) and Face Stick (Amazon)
This is right at the top of the list with the anti-friction stick. They probably tie for first. You are in FLORIDA, the SUNSHINE state! You will need sunscreen. It is essential to apply is every morning before you leave for the parks, reapply it at lunch, and then reapply it again in the afternoon. Sunscreen is ESSENTIAL! I cannot stress this enough. I recommend an SPF of 30 or higher. If you use anything lower, you will get burned, especially if you don’t reapply. My favorite sunscreen is Rodan + Fields Essentials Body Sunscreen. It has a light, airy feel to it. It doesn’t go on thick and it doesn’t make you feel slimy. I prefer to use a face stick sunscreen for my kids’ faces. I do not recommend spray sunscreens for a couple of reasons. First, they tend to leak and get all over stuff in your bag. Second, they do not provide as good of coverage as liquid sunscreens do. You will miss spots with a spray. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears and in the part of your hair. Those places are prime spots for sunburns that people often forget.
6. Cooling Towels
Disney has Mickey and Minnie cooling towels that you can purchase in the parks. They do cost a little more but I highly recommend them. I have seen others recommend the Frogg Togg Chilly Pads (Amazon), which are good, but I do not like them as much as the ones that you can get in the parks. I don’t like the feel of the Frogg Togg (Amazon) ones or the fact that they get super stiff when they aren’t wet. No matter which you get, I recommend that you have at least 2 of some kind of cooling towel. It is HOT in Florida! You can get over heated, even in the winter months. These towels really help to keep your body temperature down. My kids absolutely love using them. As you can see, my oldest loves tying hers around her head to keep her head cool, and my youngest likes it draped around her shoulders. Make sure that you bring them in a zip lock bag so that you can store them back in it without getting your bag wet.
7. Hand-sanitizer clipped to Back Pack (Amazon)
You will need hand-sanitizer. When you eat lunch or grab a quick snack in the parks, you will want to wash your hands. Clipping it to the outside of your bag makes it much easier to locate whenever you need it. I promise you that it will be often!
8. Band-Aids (Target)
A small thing of Band-Aids like this one is all that you need. I do recommend this flexible fabric kind as well. They hold well in the most tricky of spots even when wet. If you need anything larger or more than this package contains, there are first aid stations in every park, and they are extremely kind and helpful. We had to go to one when my nephew was stung by a bee, and the staff there was amazing with him.
9. Portable Charger (Amazon)
This is essential! I do not recommend that you bring a camera with you to Disney. It is just one more bulky, heavy thing to carry and keep up with. Trust me, I carried around my big heavy camera for years. It isn’t worth it. This means that you will be taking lots of pictures with your phone. You will be checking ride wait times on your phone. You will be handing your phone over to little ones for entertainment in long lines. Trust me, you will be using your phone a lot so your battery will get low and you will need to charge it. A good portable charger is essential! This is the one that I have, and it works great and holds a charge for a long time.
10. Multi-port USB wall charger (Amazon)
If your family is like mine, you have multiple devices that you need to charge at night including your portable charger from above. It is nice to have a multi-port USB wall charger that you can easily use to charge multiple devices. These work great to charge phones, watches, portable chargers, and tablets all at once in your room over night.
11. Sunglasses with Straps (Amazon)
Again, Florida is the sunshine state, and you will want to have your sunglasses with you at all times. I highly recommend that you also have a strap on your sunglasses so you can easily just let them hang around your neck as you go inside or are waiting in line inside somewhere. The strap is also good for rides to keep your sunglasses from flying off.
12. Travel Tissues (Amazon)
I always bring one thing of travel tissues because it is inevitable that someone is going to need one every time that we go. I have told you before about my hypersensitivity to sounds and sniffling is one of those sounds that makes me nuts. I like to have tissues on hand for anyone I hear sniffling.
13. Stroller Fan (Amazon)
If you have small children and you will be using a stroller, I highly recommend that you get a clip on stroller fan. It will help to keep your little one cool. How cute is this lion one?
14. Ribbon or Scarf for Stroller
Another thing that you will need if you are using a stroller is a brightly colored ribbon or scarf that you can tie around the handle of the stroller. This will allow you to easily find it in a sea of strollers when you park it for a ride. My brother-in-law even put his favorite college flag on his stroller which could be spotted a long way away.
15. Breakfast Foods
When we lived close enough to drive to Disney, I always packed breakfast foods, plastic utensils, and bowls. When we fly to Disney, I will go to a store nearby and grab a few breakfast items. I have found that it saves time and money if we eat breakfast in our hotel room before heading to the parks. You could have yogurt, cereal, milk, muffins, pop tarts, fruit, etc. to eat in your hotel room.
16. Small Convertible Backpack (Vera Bradley)
For the things that I carry into the park, I like to use a small backpack purse. I do not like using a big regular sized backpack because it is cumbersome and can get heavy. I also like ones that can be converted into a crossbody bag as well. This one from Vera Bradley would make a great bag to take to Disney.
These things are the things that I think are essential for a successful Disney trip. Now, some may say to pack many other things including snacks and water. I have done that many times. However, it is more stuff to carry and my kids inevitably would rather have a Disney snack over anything that I brought anyway. The other things that others suggest are all great but I don’t think that are absolutely necessary. Now, use what I have suggested as a guide based on your family’s needs. These are just the things that work for my family. Obviously, you will need to pack essentials like clothes, toiletries, swim suits, etc. These are just the things that I think are extra that will make your trip smooth, easy, and fun. After all, it is the place where dreams come true!