|By Rebekah Coley|
As thrilling as a Walt Disney World vacation can be, it can also be downright exhausting, over-planned, and wrought with unpredictable tropical weather. Keeping these things in mind, it is imperative that you pack your suitcase accordingly to ensure the best possible vacation experience. You may be familiar with some suggestions, but check out this list of 12 must pack items that Disney Avenue contributing writer Rebekah Coley recommends you bring along on your next family vacation to the happiest place on earth...
These 12 tips on what to pack for your next Walt Disney World family vacation have been collected from various first-hand sources as well as other Disney fan blog recommendations. All have been tested and found to greatly improve trips to the vacation kingdom of the world...
1) Good Walking Shoes (Several Pairs):
On average, most WDW visitors walk at least 10 miles a day during their vacation. If you are a WDW visitor that likes to pound the pavement, you want to make sure that you are taking care of your feet! This means not only taking along reliable footwear, but bringing along at least 2-3 pairs. (In my experience, even my comfiest shoes start to rub and make my feet ache if that is all I have worn for a solid week). Traditional tennis shoes are always in my suitcase, but I have also discovered the beauty that is a comfortable walking sandal. Specifically, I have fallen in love with Olukai Hawaiian comfort flip flops (great arch support, my feet get a chance to breathe, and these look more suitable with dressier ensembles). Several Disney fans are also loyal to Keen athletic foot ware. Although these aren’t the most attractive shoes, they are made for walking, and they dry quickly after a mid-afternoon rain shower. Finding the right shoes involves a lot of trial and error, so don’t be afraid to return items and try various brands as needed. (I made at least 3 returns during my own comfortable-shoes seeking journey). Honestly, it can also be overwhelming to ask for recommendations via the various online Disney forums, so take all suggestions with a grain of salt, and stop reading Facebook comments once you get into the hundreds.
Random Tip: Also, consider bringing an extra pair of socks and shoes to stash in a locker. If you aren’t wearing footwear that dries off easily, you may not want to spend the rest of the day in soggy shoes.
2) Aluminum Wallet:
I think we can all agree that Magic Bands are ridiculously convenient and luxurious. Gone are the days of fumbling for fast passes, credit cards, and even hotel room keys during your WDW vacation. That being said, Magic Bands are controlled by computers, which can malfunction and let us down from time to time. It is also unlikely that rest stops, airport security, etc. are going to accept your Magic Band as proof of payment or identification before you get on WDW property. To reduce fumbling in an oversized wallet or bag, my fiancé and I like to carry these items in a slim aluminum wallet with RFID protection (specifically the Pixio Aluminum Wallet & Credit Card Case). Not only are these small enough to fit inside pockets and small bags, no one is able to scan information from any cards you keep inside this case. (Yes, it’s sad to think about, but there are people out there who would take advantage of a distracted tourist.)
Speaking of Magic Bands, how inconvenient would it be to lose yours? I’d also suggest you buy a BitBelt. This is a small silicone piece that you can fasten on your Magic Band, and will keep it from sliding off your wrist. Many people like to use these for their FitBits as well, and I’m confident that this tiny item has saved many a wrist band.
Yes. Florida is hot. Hot and muggy. One of the best ways to combat Florida humidity is to dress appropriately. In addition to wearing light-weight clothing, consider trading your mouse ears for a hat on a particularly roasting day. You can’t beat giving yourself some personal shade, and certain hats can tie in a Disney-inspired outfit if paired accordingly. (My fiancé is a fan of Mickey baseball caps, and I like to dress up my sundresses with feminine sun hats). Also, hats are simply back in style folks. You can even find a new hat at the Chapel Hats boutique at Disney Springs, but you’re likely to find a more reasonably-priced chapeau on Amazon beforehand.
Humid, sweaty weather can make us all uncomfortable, so it may also behoove you to pack a stick of Bodyglide. This anti-chafing balm can be applied anywhere that your skin is itchy and irritated. You can never be too safe and never know when this little gem will come in handy.
6) Healthy Snacks:
We all have our favorite Disney snacks, but if you only snack on Mickey Rice Krispy treats and turkey legs, you’re likely to feel more lethargic than eager to seize the day. In order to keep your energy up and your body fueled properly, remember to pack fruit, energy bars, and other protein-based munchies. These treats can refresh you during the day and can save you a significant amount of time and money if you eat these snacks in lieu of grabbing a quick service breakfast at your resort (especially if you are staying at a crowded, family-friendly spot like Pop Century). If you’re concerned about finding healthy snacks on property, or don’t have room to pack them in your luggage, you can arrange to have fresh groceries delivered to your room from Garden Grocer. (Please note that delivery services like this often have a minimum dollar amount for your order, as well as a delivery fee, but this service can really pay off if you resist over-snacking inside the parks. Garden Grocer has a $40 minimum, and a $14 delivery fee, or a $2 delivery fee if your order is over $200. We hear you can also have Amazon deliver to your room!) Also, don’t forget that you can bring your own water bottle in the parks, and you can ask for a free cup of ice water at many counter-service restaurants and snack stands.
7) Lightweight Bags:
If you are like me and you can’t imagine walking around a park all day and only bringing your wallet, you are going to need a bag that is roomy, yet comfortable to carry. My fiancé carries a small, light-weight New Outlander backpack, and I carry a small Cleo Lesportsac cross-body handbag. (Again, this is a lightweight purse that fits much more than a tiny wallet, yet isn’t heavy after I stuff it to the brim. This brand also carries Disney prints.) We will never go back to using cinch bags with straps that cut into our shoulders like knives – Ouch!
8) Sunblock, Ponchos, Lightweight Sweatshirt, Sunglasses, Ziploc Baggies:
I realize that most of these are “duh” items, but they are all things that can be hard to find on property, and once located, can cost an arm and a leg. Specifically, you don’t want to drop $20+ for sunglasses you didn’t want, or a poncho you’ll never touch after your trip. You also don’t want to be replacing electronics after an especially big splash on Splash Mountain (hence the Ziploc bags on hand for cell phones). Lastly, you don’t want to go home with or suffer from a terrible sunburn during your trip. Forget the tan, and slather on lots of BullFrog Sunscreen. (Unlike other pasty suntan lotions, this sunscreen comes in a clear, less-sticky gel.)
9) Portable Chargers:
We are more connected to and dependent on our smart phones than ever before (for Heaven’s sake, fast passes are now booked on Disney’s mobile app!) Keeping that in mind, you don’t want to waste time seeking out a charging station in the park when you need to update your reservations or take a video of the afternoon parade. Just say “no” to that. Bring your own portable charger so you can stay plugged in throughout the day.
10) Waterproof Disposable Camera:
If you are planning to spend any time at one of the water parks or your resort pool, then you may want to take pictures with a disposable, waterproof camera. I’d especially recommend having this camera on hand if you are staying at the Art of Animation Resort and are taking pictures at the Big Blue Pool that features underwater music!
11) Hotel Room Items:
Despite spending long days walking around the parks, not everyone falls asleep the second their head hits the pillow. I am one of those people. If you also don’t get a fantastic night’s sleep when staying in a hotel room, consider bringing ear plugs (which can block out noises you aren’t used to, like families returning to nearby rooms) and a pillow/blanket from home. (Studies have shown that many people sleep better when their environment smells like “home”.) Also, if you have kids (or are a big kid yourself), remember to pack a stuffed animal, or purchase one in the parks. Mousekeeping seems to have an enjoyable time making pillow and blanket art that features the furry friend you left behind.
12) A Good Attitude:
Despite extensive planning, no vacation (even a WDW vacation) is going to run 100% smoothly and be perfect. While I feel that preparation is necessary, don’t forget to also bring a “go with the flow” attitude that will help you find the magic even if the lines are longer, the weather is hotter, and the days are a little more unpredictable than expected. Don’t forget that you and your family/friends have been counting down the days until your trip for months (maybe longer), and stopping to smell the Disney roses is an absolute must. Just think back to that day at the office when you found yourself daydreaming about the Magic Kingdom (we’ve all done it), and take the rest of your experience from there.
Do you have any "must pack" tips? If so, be sure to share them with the community in the comments below or on the Disney Avenue Facebook page. Happy Planning!
Rebekah Coley is a Pittsburgh native who has been obsessing over Disney films (and the corporation in general) for her entire life. Starting with a childhood of constantly dressing up in princess costumes, memorizing songs, and watching the newest Disney VHS tapes on repeat, her love and passion for Disney magic has not faded over time. In fact, she met her fiancé at an audition for the Disney College Program and although they are not annual WDW pass holders yet, the future possibility is inevitable.
In addition to loving the most popular Disney movies, Rebekah has a soft spot for underrated works that didn’t receive the same fanfare (e.g. A Goofy Movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc.) It is a passion of hers to remind other fans of their existence and excellence.
By day, Rebekah works in professional development and holds a Bachelors degree in Human Resources Management from Point Park University. By night, she performs in community theater musicals, reads and exercises compulsively, and strives to stay on top of any Disney-related news. As a lover of entertainment, Rebekah’s blogs focus on reviewing Disney’s theme park productions, stage adaptations, films, and books.
You can find additional examples of Rebekah’s work on her personal blog- https://toeachhisownblog.wordpress.com/.
You can find all of Rebekah's articles here.