When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, there are certain items that can make or break your trip. They go beyond basic items such as deodorant or a toothbrush (though I hope you bring those, too). This list is the Top 10 Things to Pack for Walt Disney World that are absolutely essential and very specific to maximizing your time in the parks!
Great Walking Shoes
With all the walking that you’ll be doing in the parks, a great pair of comfortable shoes is a no-brainer. The type of shoe you wear is definitely up to you, but go with something that has plenty of padding and support. I often recommend looking for something that is also water-resistant, particularly if you are traveling the summer. With all the water rides and potential rain storms, you may end up walking around with soggy socks.
I have worn a pair of Nike Roshes for my past few trips, and have been really happy with them. They are lightweight and though they aren’t water resistant, they dry quickly since they are made with a mesh instep. If I decide to wear flip-flops, I love my Teva sandals. They offer the most support of any flip-flop I’ve ever worn, they are durable, supportive, water-proof and still look cute. In other words, they’re perfect for Disney.
Other shoe brands good for Walt Disney World are Crocs, New Balance, Chacos, and Abeo.
2. Sunscreen and Sunglasses
One of my main concerns when going to Disney World is the sun. I have very fair skin, and am especially prone to sunburn. I am from New Mexico, so strong UV rays are no stranger to me, but it still presents a problem in sunny Florida.
My first step is to use a face moisturizer with an SPF of about 30. Most suncare moisturizers will have at least SPF 15. My favorite is the Classic Sunscreen moisturizer by COOLA. It goes on nice and light and has a refreshing cucumber scent. It makes a great base layer for my suncare. This step is probably unnecessary for those with darker pigmented skin than mine, but is a good option if you feel you need the extra coverage.
Next I use Neutragena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen with SPF 100. I know this seems like an extreme amount of SPF, but since I’m so prone to sunburns, it’s enough that I can last all day in the sun without worrying. I put it on underneath my makeup to avoid a greasy or oily appearance, and usually only need to reapply once or twice throughout the day.
These are the products I like, but the point is just to get some sun protection, regardless of brand or SPF. Do what you think is best for you and your skin.
Not only do you want to protect your skin from the sun, but protect your eyes, too. I’ve had lots experience with sunburns and even sunburned eyes (really!), and even a very basic pair of sunglasses can do a lot to help avoid this painful occurrence. I always recommend you bring your own sunglasses and forego purchasing them at the parks. They’re fine to buy at Disney if you’re in a pinch, but they are typically overpriced, and not much different in quality than something you could get for $10-$20 from Target.
3. Small Bag
It’s nice to carry a small to medium sized bag in the parks to carry any essentials throughout the day, particularly if you don’t plan on returning to your hotel room at all. While the Magic Band (theoretically) removes the need for carrying a wallet, many people still favor keeping one with them, and there are many other items you might need to carry with you. My favorites are either a cross-body or drawstring bag.
Basically, look for a bag that offers a hands-free experience, and contains lots pockets for optimal storage. I use the Vera Bradley Hipster whenever I go to Disney World. I like that it’s cute, lightweight, durable, and has tons of storage to ensure you can carry everything you need for a full day. It can even hold up to two small jackets, which is great for me and Josh.
4. Moleskin and Other Foot Savers
Moleskin is a life saver! If you have never used it, Moleskin is a type of padded gauze with an adhesive side designed to stick directly to your skin. It’s amazing for protecting and covering any cuts or blisters you may develop while walking around the parks.
If you have a great pair of shoes, you shouldn’t get any blisters, but with the amount of time you spend on your feet in Disney, it’s best to assume it will happen. Carrying a bit of Moleskin around with you will absolutely help if you feel a blister coming on, and you’ll be able to spend the rest of your day pain free and make the most of your day.
Other great foot savers are bandaids, extra socks, or Dr. Scholl’s inserts.
5. Cooling Towel
This is one of the coolest things (pun intended) I’ve ever seen. Cooling towel products have been on the market for a few years now, and there are several different brands. They are small towels with cooling fiber technology that stay cold even in the sun. All you do is get the towel wet, and as it retains the water, it gets cold and stays cold for hours, while remaining dry to the touch. Pretty amazing stuff! I like the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pads for an easy, but super effective way to stay cool in the Florida sun.
6. Rain Gear
If you are traveling to Disney World in the summer, you will be there during Florida’s monsoon season. Needless to say, you will get rained on. The best thing to do is to purchase a pack of rain ponchos at home and bring them with you to the parks. Disney World famously sells their own ponchos, and while they are very cute with their Disney logo, they’re about a zillion percent more expensive than a generic poncho you could buy at your local dollar store.
Some folks prefer to bring a rain jacket or umbrella. While this will keep your head and torso dry, it won’t protect your lower half from the powerful rains. A poncho is your best bet since it covers the entire body and it will keep you more dry and warm than the alternative.
Keep in mind that you are more likely to get rained on in the afternoon, so throw those ponchos in your bag, and be prepared to power through the rain like a champ! The bonus to staying in the parks during the rain, is it typically means smaller crowds and shorter lines. If you come prepared, the rain doesn’t have to deter you, and you can get as much time as possible in the park.
7. Portable Chargers
When Disney World first introduced the MyDisneyExperience app, more and more people were using their smart phones in the parks. And while a lot of people had been using phones as cameras long before that time, the app increased the amount of battery life required out of a phone for a single day in the park. Disney does have charging stations, but they’re usually very crowded and require you to wait around while your phone charges.
The portable charger can literally eliminate this entire problem! This little gadget is awesome and will allow you to utilize your phone all day without worrying about conserving precious battery. I love to charge mine up the night before, throw the charger in my bag, and I know that I can use my phone all day long for pictures, Fastpasses, checking reservations, and of course, make a phone call.
8. Water Bottle
A day at Disney World can be extremely fun, but it can also be extremely dehydrating! Disney allows guests to bring in water bottles, and there are tons of places to refill them throughout the day. You can even ask for ice water at most quick service dining locations for free.
This is a relatively basic item, but is one that a surprising amount of people don’t include on their packing lists. Walking around in the heat and standing in lines can wear on you, but if you are properly hydrated, you can last significantly longer, therefore maximizing your time and enjoyment in the park. As a side note, bringing your own water bottle is way cheaper than purchasing water bottles inside the park. I like my Hydroflask since it keeps water cold all day and doesn’t sweat; also check out this awesome collapsible water bottle, and a Camelbak is nice if you don’t mind carrying it around all day.
9. Camera and Other Photography Gear
I’m no photographer, and I won’t pretend to try to tell you the best gear out there, but it should be mentioned that a trip to Disney World wouldn’t be the same without all the amazing photos that capture your memories.
I think the type of photography gear you bring completely depends on your needs (and maybe skill level). With such high quality cameras in smart phones, tons of people just use that as a camera, but there are some more advanced options that you could use for even better pictures.
A nice point and shoot DSLR camera is really a must-have if you want to take high quality images. This is particularly important if you plan on taking shots of any fireworks, lights, or night time shows. This is the area where iPhone cameras really don’t cut it, and the resulting image shows.
Along with a great camera, a trip-pod can make a huge difference in capturing amazing Disney images. Many people only carry a trip-pod at night for the night time spectaculars, but there are some awesome portable options such as this GoPro tripod that could easily fit into a bag or backpack.
10. Comfortable Clothing
Comfortable clothing can mean different things to many people, but a good rule of thumb is to find something that is relatively loose fitting and allows you the freedom to move.
Loose fitting shirts, shorts and dresses are my go-tos when dressing for a day at Disney World, and I opt for clothes that are not too constricting since I’ll be walking around all day in the heat. I often find myself wearing work out clothes to the parks since they are usually made from water wicking fabrics, are comfortable, and allow me to freely move around.
I also love wearing short, casual dresses to the parks because they are the ultimate in comfort and tend to keep me the coolest out of any clothing option. Skater dresses, t-shirt dresses, and shift dresses made with light, loose fabrics such as cotton or linen work best. This awesome, reversible dress from Betabrand is one of favorites. Even though it’s a bit pricey, it’s reversible and can act as four dresses in one while still being light and comfortable enough for Disney World.
As a side note, I see a lot of girls wearing Disney inspired dresses in the parks. Hot Topic carries quite a few casual day dresses with Disney inspired prints, like this cute Cheshire Cat dress. You can also find Disney dresses on Amazon by searching “Disney Casual Dress.”
I know this item will not be necessary for everyone, but it certainly is for me. I easily get motion sickness, and one tablet of this stuff is can be the difference between a great day or a pretty bad one. It works wonders as a preventative measure, so taking one in the morning can help avoid an upset stomach later in the day. It definitely gives me the confidence to go on any and every ride I want with no fear of getting sick.
Aloe Vera is a natural cooling agent that is particularly helpful for calming inflammation caused by sunburn. Rub some aloe on a sunburn for a little relief, and the cooling agents in the plant will help heal the burn and revive your skin faster. Aloe is also good for calming and soothing blisters.
Body Glide is an anti-chafing stick that you can rub on your skin in areas you want to avoid this painful problem. It’s a huge help and can really aid in your general comfort level throughout the day. This can be especially useful if you are participating in a runDisney event, but it can come in handy even if you’re just spending a leisurely day at the park.
Is there anything I’ve left out? What are some essentials that you pack for your trips to Disney World? Let me know what I need to know about!