It’s getting to be that time of year when families will be packing up and heading down to Walt Disney World for a memory-making vacation.
Most families start traveling to Disney during Memorial Day weekend and it doesn’t really slow down until the middle of August.
So, since we’re a few weeks away from Memorial Day, I figured now would be a good time to give some of my tips on packing for Disney World.
There are some obvious things (clothes, deodorant, toiletries, etc.), but there are quite a few things that the inexperienced Disney traveler might not even consider.
These are some of my must-have items in my suitcase when I’m heading down to the Disney World:
Portable phone charger/charging tower
Pretty much everything is digital these days and Disney is definitely no exception. From wait times to FastPass times and dining reservations, everything at Disney can be accessed through their app.
And when you throw on top of that the desire to take pictures/video with your smartphone, it’s a certainty you’ll watch your battery go from 100% to 25% before lunch.
In order to combat this problem (and it doesn’t matter how new your battery is, if you’re using it at all for Disney wait times or FastPass, it’s going to drain), purchase a portable phone charger to bring with you to the parks.
We keep ours in the backpack with a couple of cables and when we’re eating lunch, we’ll put our phones charging. Usually 45-60 minutes of charging will get it back to around 80% or so, which will last until dinner time.
It’s also not a bad idea to keep one phone charging while you use the other, if you’re traveling in a group that has more than one phone.
There are several models out there. Some will charge only one device at a time. Some can charge two. I go with the one that can charge two. And then when you get home at night, just recharge the portable charger while you sleep.
Speaking of that, be sure to either bring with you a charging tower to recharge all of your devices while you sleep, or a small power strip because Disney resorts never seem to have enough outlets.
This is one of those “would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it” situations.
It’s Florida during the summer, which means you could start out with beautiful weather at 9 a.m. and have a mid-afternoon thunderstorm blow through and absolutely drench you.
In those situations, it’s good to have ponchos ready. Ponchos will allow you to stay relatively dry while you continue to tour the parks.
If you wait to buy ponchos there, you’re going to be spending in excess of $10 per poncho. So, best bet is to go to your local sporting goods store or Wal-Mart and buy a pack of them. Throw that pack in the bottom of your backpack and hope you never have to open it.
Again, this seems like a must-have, but you couldn’t begin to imagine how many people travel to Disney without any sunscreen.
And, remember, it’s Florida, the Sunshine State. Granted, there are plenty of shade areas in Disney, but there will be times when you’ll be exposed to the sun for hours at a time.
It’s one of those things that you will regret having to purchase in the parks. So make sure you pack some in your luggage.
Wait, what? Go with me here. Ziploc bags are essential packing items for Disney.
My wife has a foolproof system for Disney packing and it involves Ziploc bags. She sets aside an outfit for each kid for every day, complete with underwear, socks, t-shirt and shorts, and puts them in a Ziploc bag.
She marks those bags accordingly: Kaleb Magic Kingdom Day 1; Logan Animal Kingdom, etc. Eliminate as much air as you can from the bag and stack them in the suitcase.
What it does is keeps everything organized and it takes any mystery out of the “What will I wear today?” game that is played every morning.
My wife just takes the ziploc bags out the night before, puts them on the dresser and when the kids wake up, they grab their bags and get dressed.
The empty ziploc bags go INTO the backpack for that day’s journey. Since you should always be packing extra socks/t-shirts/shorts in the backpack for the little ones, the ziploc bags can be used to put soiled clothes into them and back in the backpack without fear of making the bag all nasty.
You can also use the ziploc bags to store cold/wet rags to bring into the park to cool down in the afternoon.
Another one of those, DUH items. But by comfortable shoes, I mean shoes that you’ve worn for a couple of months.
Don’t buy a new pair of shoes for Disney without breaking them in. New shoes haven’t had a chance to form fit to your foot, so while it might feel good sliding on in the morning, it won’t feel good standing in line eight hours later.
Socks should be moisture-wicking socks, preferably ankle high, unless you just prefer that wicked calf sock tan.
Now, I usually buy new socks, because socks don’t need to be worn out. Newer socks seem to work fine in the parks.
While you’re in the shoe/sock isle, look for some moleskin pads in case you do form a blister while you’re there (and it’s a good chance you will).
Better to have something to fix that blister before it gets too bad.
Oh, and while it probably sounds OK to wear cute dress shoes or sandals to the parks, remember that you’re going to be walking anywhere from 5 to 10 miles a day.
So, be smart in your shoe selection.
Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with severe dehydration in Disney (who knew it could feel like a heart attack, huh?).
We usually bring two aluminum water bottles with us to the park. We put them in the two pouches on the side of our backpack and keep refilling them at water fountains all day.
Well, our last trip I decided I was OK and didn’t need to drink a lot of water. It resulted in me spending our last night at Disney in the hospital running a dozen or so tests only to find out that I was suffering from severe dehydration/potassium deficit.
So, don’t make my mistake. Invest in a decent aluminum water bottle and fill it up with ice and water in the morning on your way to the park.
Drink from it often. The rule of thumb is if you’re thirsty, it’s probably too late. So drink even when you’re not thirsty.
You will lose a ton of water at Disney through sweating. You’ll probably sweat like you haven’t sweat in a long time.
And replacing those lost liquids with coke is not a good idea.
Oh, and here’s a bonus tip. If you ask for a glass of ice water at quick-service locations, they’ll give it to you for free. Just take that glass of ice water and throw it in your water bottle to keep it cooler longer.
This seems like a silly thing, but you don’t miss gum until you can’t buy it.
Disney doesn’t sell gum on property. At all. They will sell mints, but it’s Disney, so it’s not $.99 for a box of mints.
Between walking, eating and screaming on those thrill rides, your mouth will feel like a barren wasteland. What better way to refresh it than a stick of gum.
We usually go to Wal-Mart (or wherever) and buy a 3 or 5-pack of gum and throw it in the bag. Every morning, we do a gum check (in our backpack) to make sure we have enough to last us the day.
Chewing gum also helps in between meals.
And speaking of in between meals, grab a couple of snacks for the trip. Beef jerky, cheez-its, goldfish, protein bars (although watch them in the backpack, they’ll melt into a gooey mess), cereal bars.
Whatever your snack of choice, pack a few bags of them in your luggage. Every morning when you’re doing your gum check, check your snack ration. It’s always good to have some snacks while you’re in the park.
Like I said earlier, in addition to losing a lot of water, you’ll be burning a ton of calories. So have a plan to replenish a little bit of those calories without having to break the bank by buying snacks at Disney.
It’s also a good thing to have when you’re waiting in a long line (like for a show/fireworks/parade). Toss the kids a back of goldfish and they’ll forget they’re bored while waiting for the next show.
OK, that’s my list. I probably left something off.
Tell me what’s on your must-have list. What am I missing?
And again, thanks for reading and sharing this blog to your Disney friends.
Have a great day and remember to always let your conscience be your guide.