Welcome, World Travelers! Here’s What to Pack for Your Day Trip to Disney World
by James Coulter
So, you’re planning to visit the Happiest Place on Earth but you don’t know what to bring along? Perhaps this is your very first time visiting the parks. Or maybe you haven’t been to them in a long time due to the COVID-19 crisis. Whether this is your first time or your first time in a long time, here’s some of the bare necessities you need to take on your visit:
Of course you need something to carry your other things in. While some people settle for a purse or fanny pack, a backpack is the best overall option for carrying the most items.
Backpacks are convenient when you want to do a lot of shopping but don’t want to carry around your shopping bags all day. Stow away your merchandise and leave your hands free.
They also come in handy when protecting your valuables when boarding rides. Store the items from your pocket and place your bag either in the designated compartment or between your feet.
My Recommendation: Don’t get a drawstring bag. I bought three of them, and each of them snapped apart upon my second or third visit. They were relatively cheap, but I ended up getting what I paid for.
Buy a regular backpack instead. You don’t need a large camping or hiking knapsack. A small or moderate-sized school bookbag will do well. The more pockets and compartments, the more convenient organizing your items will be.
#2: Refillable Water Bottle
Walking around the parks in the Florida heat will leave you dry and thirsty. Don’t bother buying soft drinks. They cost more than three dollars a pop. Plus, the high sugar and sodium content will only make you thirstier.
Settle for good old H20 instead. You can get it for free from any water fountain or food vendor. But your best bet is to bring along a refillable water bottle, preferably one that can fit in your backpack’s side pouch.
Fill up your bottle before you leave, and refill it whenever you can at the water fountains. Don’t like the taste of plain water? Bring a few flavor packets. Or fill your bottle with fruit like lemons, berries, or cucumber.
My Recommendation: A regular plastic bottle works well. If you’re willing to invest in a refillable water bottle, don’t buy a large water jug. Either 16 oz to 24 oz is big enough for your hydration needs.
The average wait time for most rides is around half an hour. The more popular attractions will have you waiting over an hour. However, some attractions, like Flight of Passage, will have two to three hour wait times. Of course, this all depends on the time of year and whether it’s a holiday.
No matter what, you’re going to be doing a lot of waiting in line. Unless you’re content with playing “I Spy” or singing “99 Bottles”, you’ll want to bring along something to keep yourself entertained.
Some people settle for their phones, but you want to conserve your battery life. Instead, bring along a small tablet or a handheld video game, something that can easily fit in your pocket or bag.
Public Wi-fi is available, but the park’s bandwidth is not ideal for streaming videos, movies, or games. Also, unless your device is equipped with a VPN, using public internet can leave your personal information and data vulnerable.
My Recommendation: I recently purchased an Amazon Fire 7 Tablet. It cost less than $50, and it’s small enough to carry safely in my backpack or even my pocket.
Sometimes I use it to surf the internet or read e-books. But I especially make good use of the Netflix and Disney Plus apps, both of which allow for downloadable movies and episodes. Nothing passes the time better than binge-watching The Mandalorian.
#4: Portable Charger
Obviously, your phone is a basic necessity, and portable devices help keep yourself occupied in line, but your battery is going to run out sooner or later. That’s why you never leave home or the hotel without a portable charger.
While a single charge battery will suffice, a charger that can contain multiple charges are ideal, especially during stays over multiple days. Simply charge your battery the day before you depart on your trip, and you have enough power to last you two to three days without recharging after returning to your room or home.
My Recommendation: I own two power banks. One contains two full charges. The other, four. Both fit in my pocket and use the power cords for my phone and other devices. The four-charge bank is ideal for long trips. Again, simply charge it the day before you leave, and you have enough power for a good week.
Sunscreen: Spray-on sunscreen is best. Lotions are far too messy. Anything over SPF 30 offers the best protection. Some people carry their sunscreen with them to the parks, but if you have a high enough SPF, then one spray before you leave will protect you for the day.
Snacks: You’ll want something to keep your energy up between meals while walking through the parks. Try to pack light with foods that don’t need refrigeration and won’t melt in the heat. Protein bars or small bags of chips, cookies, or gummy candies offer something small to eat to keep your hunger sated and your energy levels high.
Ponchos/Umbrella: With Florida weather being, well, Florida weather, there’s always an unexpected chance of inclement weather. Don’t bother with a big rain jacket or umbrella. A handheld umbrella or disposable poncho will suffice.
Hats/Sunglasses: A wide-brimmed hat, especially a sun hat or baseball cap, will keep the sun out of your eyes. Pair them with a pair of sunglasses, preferably prescription sunglasses tailor made for your eyes.
My Disney Experience App: This mobile app is a must for any visit, be it a day trip or a several day-long vacation. It has everything you need: wait times, fast passes, dining reservations, park maps. Don’t leave home without it. Download it to your mobile device through Apple Store or Google Play.
Dry Bags: You might want to get soaked on the big water rides, but your electronics probably don’t. To keep them dry during water rides or heavy rain, bring along a cheap zip-top bag for protection.
First Aid Kit: First aid stations are available at the parks for your minor first aid needs from nausea to headaches. However, if you’d prefer personal care, bring along a small bag with bandages, aspirin, and antibiotic cream.
Portable Fans: Personally, I’ve never needed one. But if Florida weather leaves you sweltered and breathless, consider a portable fan. Don’t burn away money with the fans sold at the park. Buy something affordable from a dollar store or supermarket. If you are super budget conscious, bring an empty spray bottle that you can fill with water to help you cool down.
Personal Information For Children: Disney does an overall good job reuniting lost children with their parents. However, make sure your little ones have their personal information available just in case. A small slip of paper will work. Some parents write their number on their child’s arm with a sharpie.
What To Wear
Shoes: Comfortable shoes are a must. A good pair of sneakers allow you to tread several miles through your park stay comfortably. However, if you plan on riding water rides, consider wearing shoes that can dry quickly like crocs, or bring along a spare pair of flip flops and dry socks just in case.
Clothing: With the exception of water parks, swimsuits are not allowed in the parks. Between the rides, the rain, and the sun, quick-drying UPF shirts are an excellent choice. They offer sun protection, they are designed to keep you cool, and they dry quickly if they get wet.
What Not To Bring
All bags are searched prior to entering the park. With fluids being the exception, if you can’t take it on a plane, you cannot take it in Disney. No weapons of any kind are allowed in the parks so leave the pocketknives, tasers, pepper spray and firearms at home.
For more suggestions on what to bring on your Disney trip, visit: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2019/03/moms-panel-update-know-before-you-go-tips-for-your-next-park-visit/
Those are my thoughts, but I want to know what you think: What are some “must have” items you bring with you to the parks? What can’t you leave your home without before going to Disney World? Leave your comments below or on Facebook!