Packing for any vacation can be stressful, but packing for Disney World is a whole different ball game. Not only do you need to bring your vacation essentials (a bathing suit and cute outfits are a must), but you also need to plan for spending a lot of time walking out and about in sunny Florida.
I’ve been to Disney World dozens of times for my job (and because I’m a cheesy Disney adult), and one of the surprises I’ve heard from first-time visitors is how much walking they do. A day in the Disney parks can easily involve 10+ miles of walking, mostly done in the hot Florida sunshine.
And because you’re spending so much time in the parks, it’s incredibly important that you are packing the right things to help make your time in Disney World as stress-free as possible. Whenever anyone asks me what I pack with me in my park bag for Disney World, these are the eleven things I tell them I couldn’t live without.
1. A bag for your essentials
First and foremost, you need to think about the bag you’ll bring. If you are a highly organized minimalist, you may be able to get away with something like the lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag to keep your hands free. However, I am not that person, and I always need something a bit bigger to carry all my essentials.
I like to opt for a bigger backpack to keep me organized, like Colugo’s The Parent Backpack. With multiple compartments, I can pack everything I need into it without feeling weighed down throughout the day. It’s big enough to carry what I need but not so big that I feel like I’m going on an expedition up a mountain.
2. A portable charger
If you haven’t been to Disney World in the past decade, you may be shocked to learn how much you need to use your phone to get around now. From picking your next Disney Genie+ selection to mobile ordering, you will find that you are constantly on your phone within the parks.
With that in mind, bringing a portable charger with you is incredibly important. Your phone will run out of battery quicker than you realize, so avoid having to walk around with a dead phone for most of the day by bringing a portable battery with you.
Alternatively, you will also have the option to use FuelRods in the park. There are multiple FuelRod stations at both the parks and in the hotels that allow you to purchase a portable FuelRod charger for $30. The benefit here is that you can simply switch out your maxed-out charger for a new one any time you need it, so you never have to worry about your portable battery running out. If you do choose this option, I recommend buying a FuelRod in advance on Amazon and then switching it out when you need it in the parks.
3. Comfortable sneakers
Whenever you reach the end of the night at Disney World, you’ll spot different types of people. There are the tired parents, the melting-down children, and the people who clearly wore the wrong shoes to the park.
While it can be tempting to wear a brand new pair of shoes to the park, I urge you to break in a comfortable pair of sneakers well before you enter the Most Magical Place on Earth. My personal pick has always been the Reebok Club C 85, which are incredibly comfortable and never give me blisters—but choose whichever shoes will be best for you when walking several miles.
Along with the Florida heat comes the strong Florida sunshine. Wearing sunscreen is absolutely essential to keep your skin safe from getting burned. I like to bring along a joint face and body sunscreen that’s easy to reapply throughout the day (because believe me, you’ll sweat the first application off in no time). I also love the Supergoop (Re)Setting Refreshing Mist with SPF 40 to give my face a refreshing spritz throughout the day, with the added benefit of sun protection.
Along with the Florida heat comes the strong Florida sunshine. Wearing sunscreen is absolutely essential to keep your skin safe from getting burned. I like to bring along a joint face and body sunscreen that’s easy to reapply throughout the day (because believe me, you’ll sweat the first application off in no time). I also love the Supergoop! (Re)Setting Refreshing Mist with SPF 40 to give my face a refreshing spritz throughout the day, with the added benefit of sun protection.
6. Cooling towel or fan
The first time I went to Disney World as an adult, I saw dozens of other guests with cooling towels and wearable neck fans and thought, “that will never be me.” By the next visit, I had changed my tune.
After hours of being in the park and getting hot and tired, you will begin to care quite a bit less about what you look like. Things like a portable neck fan or cooling neck towel make a world of difference in helping to cool down when it feels unbearably hot. If you have a kid with you in a stroller, a stroller fan is also tremendously helpful.
7. Chafing-prevention products
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in Disney World was not preparing for chafing. It’s a subject no one really wants to talk about, but it’s a harsh reality when you’re dealing with a combination of shorts, sweat, and unbelievably hot weather.
I swear by the Megababe Thigh Rescue, which is a deodorant-like stick that can be applied on your inner thighs to prevent chafing. When I’m wearing a dress or skirt in the park, I also always wear a simple pair of biker shorts underneath to prevent friction.
8. A reusable water bottle
Instead of spending a ton of money on water in the parks, bring along a collapsible water bottle with you to stay hydrated. Around the parks, you’ll find a ton of different water bottle refill stations where you can easily fill up your bottle of water throughout the day. You’ll be shocked at how much money you end up saving.
9. Rain essentials
Whenever it rains in Disney World (which happens more often than not), you’ll see a mass of people running to the outdoor carts to pick up a poncho. Avoid spending the upcharge and bring a poncho or rain jacket along with you. I love to order a poncho pack beforehand, with a multi-pack often costing the same amount as one poncho bought in the parks.
10. Ways to keep kids entertained in line
While this list is not specific to just parents, if you are bringing kids to the park with you then it’s never a bad idea to bring a few travel-friendly ways to keep them entertained in longer ride lines. If you have older kids, interactive games on the phone like Heads Up are an entertaining way to spend some time.
For younger kids, I love to bring things like a coloring book, or a magnetic puzzle and Tic-Tac-Toe that they can use in line and then easily pack away in your bag.
11. Hand sanitizer and hand wipes
Hand sanitizer. That’s all. But for real, you will want to bring hand sanitizer and antibacterial hand wipes for your own personal sanity. Disney does a great job of keeping things nice and clean, but this is a park with thousands of visitors a day, so it’s never a bad idea to bring a travel-size sanitizer to use throughout the day. For a bit of extra fun and organization in your bag, you can keep everything in a cute cosmetics case.
What you don’t need to bring to Disney World
Along with the essentials, there are a few products you absolutely do not need to bring with you. The first may surprise you, and that’s bug repellent!
One of the truly “magical” parts of Disney World is the lack of bugs you’ll find throughout the resort—and there’s a big reason for that. Disney uses various methods to keep mosquitos away, including flowing water and garlic spray (yes, really). So, while bringing your own bug spray with you is never a bad idea, it’s not entirely necessary.
First Aid basics are another typically essential item you don’t need to bring with you to Disney World, and that’s because they have everything you need complimentary. If you get a minor cut that needs a bandaid, or a headache that needs Tylenol, head over to a First Aid station.
With a location in each of the four theme parks and both water parks, these helpful stations provide over-the-counter medication, bandages, and other remedies for smaller issues. On-site nurses are also available in case you are in need of further assistance. Additionally, these First Aid centers can store medication that requires refrigeration, which is something else to keep in mind when figuring out what you want to bring with you.