A well packed park bag can make or break a day in a Walt Disney World theme park. You don’t want to overpack because that can mean a heavy, cumbersome and hot bag to carry around all day. But, there are a few essentials that you should bring with you to make sure your day goes as smoothly as possible.
If you have smaller children with you, you might want to consider some type of accessory for them in case they are lost. I always tell my little ones that if they are separated from me to stay very close to where you are and look for a Cast Member—when we enter the parks I point out a few to them and tell them to look for the nametag. I also like to have them wear something that would help the Cast Member they find get in touch with us. For my children I’ve used bracelets, most recently RoadID, with cell phone numbers on it to contact us . . . that way if they are scared and upset and can’t think of the phone number they can show the bracelet to Cast Members. I’ve also seen some Etsy sellers making vinyl decals with your phone number that could be put on a Magic Band. Temporary tattoos are another alternative.
10. Rain Gear
In Florida rain drops are inevitable, so I always like to pack some rain gear. My preference is an actual rain jacket, but many people pack ponchos. You can get inexpensive versions at home from a Dollar Store, or invest in the heavier duty versions like Disney sells. The cheap ones are nice because you can just throw them away after use, but the heavy-duty ones will do a better job keeping you dry. And your rain gear can do double duty by keeping you dryer on water rides like Kali River Rapids and Splash Mountain (unless you want to get soaked).
9. All the Cards
Obviously you want to make sure you have your tickets to get into the park. This might mean your Magic Bands, or if you are staying offsite your ticket cards. But those aren’t the only cards you will want to bring. You also want to bring any possible discount cards you may have: Annual Pass, Disney Visa, Disney Vacation Club. All of these can get you merchandise or food discounts at select locations, but you have to show the card to get it. Your Magic Band won’t work for discounts even if you have your Annual Pass linked or put your Disney Visa down for your charges.
8. First Aid
I am always in need of a band-aid in the parks! I have a terrible time with blisters between the long miles walked and the humidity in Central Florida. And with 3 boys someone is always getting excited and ending up with a scrape or cut. So, having a band-aid or two in my bag is a must. But, if you don’t have one you can sometimes get one from a retail location, or you can find the park’s first aid station to get the band-aid you need.
7. Alternative Payment
Because there are times when the My Disney Experience network or other systems go down, you may find that you need something other than your Magic Band to make a purchase. I always recommend to clients that they take a credit card and a small amount of cash into the parks just in case the system goes down, and for the possible cart that doesn’t take Magic Band payments. Along with that—always take your photo ID with you as well.
6. Comfy bag
So, you are carrying all of this stuff through the parks . . . you’ll need a comfortable bag to put it in. The type of bag you put it in will depend on the size of your family & how much stuff you have to bring. With diaper aged toddlers you’ll need a bigger bag than when you have teenagers who can carry their own stuff. I’ve tried lots of options over the years and I’ve found that it is really personal preference as to what you carry, just make sure it is comfortable to you and holds what you need it to have.
5. Itinerary Details
I always recommend that my clients take screenshots of all of their itinerary details including dining reservation times and confirmation numbers, along with their FastPass+ arrangements for the day. Sometimes the WiFi in Walt Disney World is spotty, and sometimes My Disney Experience app goes down all together. If you have the screenshots you can quickly go to your camera roll on your phone and access all of the information you need about what time you need to be at a restaurant or at an attraction for your next reservation. If you have other activities you’ve schedule that don’t show up in My Disney Experience, like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Pirates League, behind the scenes tours, etc. I suggest creating a “note” on your phone listing each activity with dates, times, confirmation numbers & relative details (like meet at Town Hall). When traveling with older kids and other families I like to create a shared photo album to upload screenshots of all of these so they have access too.
This is Florida, the Sunshine State, and the rays are intense year ‘round. And nothing can ruin a vacation like a painful sunburn. You should plan to apply liberally each morning before you head to the parks, but remember to pack a travel or small size tube in your park bag to reapply after a few hours of touring & sweating.
3. Your Phone
To many this would be the last thing you would forget, but for some they want to be on vacation and unplug. While I highly recommend turning an away message on your email and tuning out the “real world” there are some very important things you’ll need to with your phone. The first is that My Disney Experience app to keep track of your reservations & arrangements, and so that you can make additional arrangements as needed. Once you use your first 3 FastPasses you can make #4 on your phone. Or, you may even be able to snag an elusive same day/last minute dining reservation. I like to have a couple of weather apps on my phone too—usually one of the local news station’s weather app along with a good radar app. Those storms in Florida can come up quickly and be quite powerful. And of course, you want to be able to record all of the happy memories of your vacation with your phone’s camera. Going along with this don’t forget to bring a small/short cable and a portable charger. If you don’t have a portable charger or forget they do sell some in the parks.
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Keep yourself hydrated!! A Walt Disney World vacation involves miles of walking—much more than most people are used to on a daily basis. Combine that with the central Florida heat and humidity and you can have a recipe for disaster with dehydration and dangerous heat stroke. I like to pack ice water in a thermal bottle like the Hydroflask or Corkcicle brand. Plastic bottles work too, but are harder to keep really cold. Of course you can buy water bottles in the park, or use your Disney Dining Plan snack credits . . .and at some counter service restaurants you can request a free cup of ice water. But, I like to have it with me so that we can keep constantly hydrated walking from attraction to attraction and not get in a spot where we really need water and cant’ find a cart to purchase it. And, there are many more fun things like cupcakes to spend your snack credits on!
1. Your Positive/Patient Attitude
The most important thing to bring to the parks doesn’t take up any space in your bag—it is your attitude. A Walt Disney World vacation can be tiring, it can be stressful, it is hot (usually), and if you aren’t prepared to be patient and positive a bad attitude might catch you off-guard. If you go into it knowing that it isn’t all going to be rainbows and pixie dust you’ll be able to cope with the meltdowns, lines, heat, and walking much better. You are in the most magical place on Earth—let yourself enjoy it and take things as they come—and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!!
What are you “must-bring” items for the Walt Disney World parks?