One of the most frequent questions we receive from first time Disney guests, is ‘what the heck do I pack for the happiest place on earth?’. It’s a fair question, as the idea of four theme parks in Florida’s ever changing weather can be daunting. Not only can you see sunshine, rain, and a wide variety of temperatures in a single day in Orlando, but a family vacation to Disney World will most likely be one of the most photographed times of your year (as if the pressure isn’t high enough!). We don’t want to brag, but over the years we’ve gotten our Disney packing down to a science, and want to share our hard-earned insight with you.
1. American Tourister 30′ Wheeled Duffel
What to pack your things in can be just as important as what you pack. Over the years, we’ve had airlines rip, tear, and demolish multiple suitcases, and we’re not sure if it’s a sign of decaying airline service, or quality in suitcases. Whatever the reason, we’ve been using an American Tourister Wheeled Duffel, and love it. The best part of the bag are its two large compartments, which have enough room that two people can easily share it. Before we got an airlines credit card, with the perk of free checked bags (really great if you fly a lot), using this duffel saved us considerable money when flying. We also love that this is a wheeled bag with soft sides, so it rolls and is easy to store in a Disney hotel room, without doesn’t taking up too much room. American Tourister happens to be the official luggage of Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so you know it can be trusted!
2. Mickey Vans
We’ve read several statistics that you walk almost 13 MILES PER DAY in a Disney Theme Park! And judging from our own iPhones and aching shins, it doesn’t surprise us at all. YOU NEED COMFORTABLE FOOTWEAR. And what better way to kill two birds with one stone, than to have comfortable footwear and show your Disney side? These Mickey Mouse Vans are not only comfy, but you can wear them with anything because they have Mickey Mouse on them, and you’re at Disney World. It’s almost a no-brainer why these are David’s go-to shoes.
We’ve heard a lot of people say that you should get bottled water shipped to your hotel room, or go pick some up at the local grocery story for the duration of your stay. We urge you to simplify your life, and order one of these Brita Water Bottles, because it has a built-in filter. Carry it with you in the parks, and either fill it up from a water fountain, or ask a restaurant for a free cup to beat the heat.
4. Collapsable Umbrella
You are in Florida, and it will rain at some point during your trip. Most likely, the storm will be brief and heavy, and skies will be blue afterward. It’s just the law of the land in Florida. We’ve found our favorite way to combat these frequent weather tantrums is to carry small, collapsable umbrellas, like the Totes Titan, in our daypacks.
One of our biggest money saving tips – buy Disney merchandise before you go! Even if you don’t think it will happen to you, once you get into the parks, you will be overcome with the overwhelming desire to wear something with Mickey Mouse on it. You can save a ton of money by buying your daughter’s princess dress, or a few trading pins online before you get into the parks.
We recommend bringing protein bars (these are my favorite!) and Starbucks VIA, even if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. For the most part, breakfast items at Disney are either low quality or sugary, and won’t provide any energy. Plus, Joffrey’s, the coffee brand that Disney Resort’s provide, is one step above drinking mud. Hot water is free at all resorts, so Starbucks VIA could save you a lot of money each morning, if you’re like me and can’t imagine a world without your morning coffee. Protein bars will save you money as well give you some nutrition, and can help satisfy your afternoon .
Since we have our own camera gear, we never use Disney Photopass photos. When we want to take a non-selfie picture of ourselves, we pass of our camera to the Photopass photographers, who are always more than happy to take pictures for us. If you’re curious about what we pack in our camera bag and what equipment we use, check out our What’s In Our Camera Bag post.
This might sound like a lot of clothes, but hear me out. We always wear comfortable, athletic, somewhat grubby clothes to the park when we get there for rope drop in the morning. We go hard, ride water rides, sweat, and have a great time. But sometime in the afternoon, we always go back to our hotel and take a nap or just relax by the pool and recharge. Most of the time we have a nicer, sit-down dinner reservation, so we change into still casual, but nicer clothing. David usually wears a short sleeve button up and shorts, and I put on a comfortable sundress. We always save most of our family-photo taking time for after we’ve changed clothes for the night, and gone back to the park refreshed from our nap. This is obviously not the only way to do things, but this is how we do it, and it works for us. We hate being sweaty and dirty, and I would get really grumpy, really fast, if I had to stay in the same gross clothes all day.
I wear a ton of dresses in the parks, and NEED comfortable flats to go with them. My favorite are the dexflex Comfort Claire Scrunch Flat, which have memory foam in the sole. They’re the only flats I’ve found that don’t give blisters, don’t pinch, and don’t make you hate your life. They come in a million colors, and are perfect for the parks.
We take one of two backpacks in with us for the day. If we’re taking photos, we always have our BESTEK Waterproof DSLR Canvas Camera Bag with us. If we aren’t, we carry a Northface Backpack, which we’ve had for almost ten years. We love it because its so well made that even though its a decade old, you can’t see any wear and tear on it. It holds up well on water rides, rainy days, and countless park trips.
There are countless items that you COULD take to the parks, and this is by no means the most extensive list out there, but these are the ten items that we have found the most helpful in our exploration of Walt Disney World. We hope you find these items as helpful as we have as you explore the most magical place on earth!