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Whether you’re a first-timer into the Disney parks or are a seasoned expert who needs a bit of a checklist to keep your sanity in all of the planning, I’ve put together a list of things to bring to Disney World so you know exactly what to bring to Disney to ensure that you’re ready to take on the Happiest Place on Earth in style and comfort.
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There are a few things you’re not allowed to bring into the Disney parks, including scooters, inline skates, drones, shoes with built in wheels, alcoholic drinks, selfie sticks, and very large coolers or suitcases.
Here is what you SHOULD bring to Disney World. Let’s assume you’ve already got your phone and wallet with you!
1. A backpack
The easiest way to carry things around the parks is going to be in a high-quality, wide-strapped backpack that isn’t too suffocating. Yeah, it’s not the most fashionable thing you’ve ever seen, but comfort over fashion for this one!
You’ll want to make sure it’s relatively light so it’s not going to drag you down, and you don’t want to be carrying something particularly thick around on your back in the heat of Orlando all day.
The straps are important because I have seen the damage that the smaller, thin-strapped backpacks can do to your shoulders after 14 hours in the park and 0/10, would not recommend.
You also want to make sure that your backpack has a lot of compartments. I have a few backpacks that are just one empty pit of mess, which is fine for my normal purposes, but not when you want easy access to the sunscreen or Cheez-Its or pen to get an autograph for a character.
One of my favorite backpacks for the Disney parks is the High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack.
It’s got both function and style, and it comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The design is hefty enough to deal with being slung around your shoulder and tossed from ride to ride, and the compartments are perfect for shoving in park maps, food, changes of clothes, and all of the other essential things to bring to Disney I talk about down below!
Okay, I’m just going to tell you now, for the vast majority of people who think “oh, I’ve been in the sun before, Florida shouldn’t be any different than a sunny day in upstate Maryland/mid-summer North Carolina/insert place of choice here.”
NO! You are wrong! I am saying this for your own good. The Florida sun is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced unless you live on a tropical island somewhere or maybe in Texas.
Not only is it hot basically all year round, but the humidity makes it so that you step outside and you’re basically bathing in your own sweat.
Yes, the humidity is worse in the summer, but whatever time of year you’re visiting, you need to be prepped with water-proof sunscreen for the whole family. You need to be dousing this all over everyone, head to toe, covering every inch of exposed skin.
This is seriously the most important thing to bring to Disney World!
Get the highest SPF you can and don’t think twice about buying in bulk. Sunscreen is sold at Disney, but as you can imagine, the prices are sky high because of the captive audience collectively burning alive in the parks. Bring your own!
I recommend this Neutrogena sport sunscreen. The SPF 70 is perfect for protecting the family from the sun’s rays, and the oil-free blend means that you get less of that horrible sunscreen “sticky” feeling that makes you never want to wear sunscreen again. Click here to get the best deal for it and bulk buy ahead of time.
This is MUST, both to keep you hydrated and to avoid having to buy water bottles every 10 seconds in Disney. Traditionally it’s said that if you are feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even before you’re necessarily feeling like you need to.
You don’t know how much walking around the parks in the heat can take out of you, and there are plenty of water fountains throughout the park to allow you to refill frequently.
My recommendation for the best water bottle for Disney World is this Thermos Tritan Water Bottle. No leakage, sturdy, sleek, and it comes in a few different colors so you can get everyone in the family their own and still tell them apart.
One piece of advice I would give to anyone who isn’t used to Florida tap water is to consider one with a built-in filtration system like the one above. Florida tap water is an acquired taste, and by “acquired taste” I mean basically no one acquires it ever and Floridians drink a lot of bottled water.
Not because the water is dangerous for you, but it can taste a bit like sulpher and swamp mixed together. So. Yeah. Filtration system all the way!
4. Frog togs or a hat
In addition to copious amounts of sunscreen and a refillable water bottle, I always like to have at least one other heat-beating method in my backpack when I go to Disney World.
My personal choice are frog togs, which I discovered a few years ago and are serious life savers. You basically activate them by getting them wet and then wringing them out, and then put them around your neck to keep you cool for a good couple of hours.
They’ll start to lose their cool temperature when they dry out and become stiff rather than flexible, and to reactive you just get it wet and wring it out again!
You can buy them in different colors so every member of the family has their own, and they are reusable so you can save them for future trips.
If water togs aren’t your thing, consider bringing some sort of hat to keep the sun off of your face. This will do wonders in terms of staying cool and not suffering from any sort of heat-exhaustion related illness.
5. Portable recharger
Nowadays, we use our phones for SO MUCH. It’s not just to call and text – it’s the weatherman, your camera, your heartrate monitor and so many other things rolled into one.
And not only that, but Disney’s app, My Disney Experience, is app-based and is the preferred choice to search for new Fastpasses, remind yourself of dining reservations, or check lines while you’re in the park.
Suffice it to say, you are going to spend some time on your phone, and that’s not a horrible thing. It’s just the nature of our dependence on technology and Disney’s free WiFi.
However, you should come prepared with a portable charger to make sure that your phone makes it through the day, especially if you’re also using it as your camera and constantly refreshing My Disney Experience to see if you can get Flights of Passage Fastpasses.
You can get small ones that are hardly noticeable, but will charge your phone all the way from 0 to 100 and allow you to get through the rest of the day.
6. Snack packs or pre-packed meals
If you have the Disney dining plan or money isn’t an object for you, then you can skip this step. But if you have even a hint of “maybe I should try and save money on this Disney vacation” or “I have the perfect snack to keep the kids occupied when Space Mountain is 310 minutes long,” I want to make it clear that you ARE allowed to bring food to Disney World’s parks.
Some people are surprised by this, because it doesn’t make sense that a company who knows they have a captive audience in the parks would allow you to bring in your lunch. But if you think about how many people are at Disney every day and the amount of space they have in their restaurants, it suddenly makes sense.
We always bring bags and bags of food into the park in our backpacks. Full bags of Cheez-Its, pre-made sandwiches, Oatmeal Crème Pies, anything!
7. Autograph books and a pen
Pro tip for saving money: make your own autograph books ahead of time and bring them into the park with you! Autograph books are a great way for kids to collect character signatures all in one place, but official Disney ones can be pricy.
Nobody’s going to stop you bringing your equally adorable autograph book into the park with you, and it means you don’t have to worry about stopping to buy one on property.
Character interactions that are unexpected are not as much of a thing in the parks as it used to be years ago, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared just in case there’s a bit of magic coming your way that day.
Also carry a pen with you, not only for the autograph signing, but because it works to write down when your new Fastpasses are (in case your phone dies if you haven’t followed my tip about bringing a portable charger!).
I also like to use a pen to cross off rides on the map once we’ve done them. Call me old school, but it’s an important part of navigating my way through the parks for me!
8. Baby wipes or antibacterial wipes
I’m just going to say it.
Disney World is filthy.
I don’t mean the surfaces aren’t clean to the naked eye and that the Disney staff don’t go above and beyond to sanitize everything and keep the walkways clean. Because they do.
I’m just saying that when you combine thousands and thousands of children and families in one place, it’s a breeding ground for things I don’t even want to think about.
If you’re particularly germaphobic, carrying baby wipes allows you to do a quick wipe of things like the quick-service tables you’re about to eat at or the handles of some ride vehicles (hey, I did say ‘particularly germaphobic!’.
But what’s more important is having them to wipe your hands off before eating if you’re not near a bathroom.
Maybe you’ve brought your own food and are about to dig into a sandwich, but the line for the Tangled bathrooms at the Magic Kingdom is like 10 miles long and you are too hungry to deal. Boom, antibacterial wipes come out, hands wiped down, and away you go!
Also it doesn’t hurt to have wipes around to clean up sticky hands and faces from Mickey Bars and other delicious Disney snacks that like to spread themselves out!
9. Change of underwear and socks if going on water rides
This tip isn’t necessarily for heading to the water parks, but instead to the main parks. There are water rides at Magic Kingdom (Splash Mountain) and Animal Kingdom (Kali River Rapids), as well as that lovely Florida summer weather that means you could be stuck in a torrential downpour at any time.
If you have enough room in your bag and plan to go on the water rides or see that thunderstorms are predicted, bringing a full change of clothes is a great option, but that’s not necessarily always possible.
In that case, pack everyone a spare set of socks and underwear. There is NOTHING worse than walking around in soggy socks and underwear, especially after your outer clothes have dried.
It can be a saving grace for everyone’s moods and productivity the rest of the day to have dry socks and underwear to change into.