We’ve all been there: you’re up late the night before your flight, wildly grabbing items from your bedroom, and cramming as much as humanly possible into your suitcase. Well, at least I’ve been there. I’m not afraid to admit that I wasn’t a pro when it comes to packing. I used to find myself very often waiting until the last minute to pack my bags in a mad dash of stress, only to find that I somehow packed 14 t-shirts but no pairs of socks. While I haven’t quite cracked my procrastination habit, there is a lot more method to my madness when it comes to packing, especially for Disney World trips. I’ve been to Disney World more times than years I’ve been alive, so I’ve learned which items I absolutely need to bring with me every time.
This list focuses on items that aren’t necessarily the first thing you would think of to pack, but will really make a difference in your Disney World vacation. I’m already assuming that you will be packing weather appropriate clothing, toiletries, your wallet with ID/currency, and your Disney World tickets. Be sure to make room in your suitcase for these Disney World essentials. Read on for our ultimate Disney World packing guide! (Update 4-6-2017 – Added new recommendations for walking comfort, shoes, and day packs)
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Weather the Weather – Items to Stay Dry, Cool, and Hydrated
Insanely hot, muggy, and suddenly rainy: that can describe an average summer’s day in Orlando. If you’re not prepared, the weather can feel downright oppressive. The following three items will make sure the elements don’t get in the way of your Disney World vacation.
Frogg Togg Chilly Pad
Want to beat the heat at Disney World? Do yourself a favor and buy a Frogg Togg Chilly Pad immediately. These amazing towels feel like some sort of magic trick: rinse with water, wring out, and they stay up to 30 degrees cooler than the outside air while feeling dry to the touch. I’ve been using a Frogg Togg Chilly Pad while training for a RunDisney half-marathon during a heatwave in Los Angeles, and my runs have been so much more comfortable with this around my neck. My family never goes to Orlando without a Frogg Togg, and neither should you.
Recommended Item: Frogg Togg Chilly Pad in the color of your choice.
Poncho / Rain Jacket
In Orlando, rain is pretty much always a possibility, no matter the time of year. Even if the forecast doesn’t call for rain before you head down to Florida, it’s a good idea to pack a poncho or light rain jacket. Disney does sell ponchos at a premium, so by packing ahead you can be prepared and save some money.
Recommended Item: Wealers Set of 10 Ponchos – Amazon. This set of 10 ponchos will set you back about as much as 1 poncho will at Disney World. It comes in 5 different colors and should be enough for your entire party. This set of ponchos ships with Amazon Prime and has a 4/5 star rating in customer reviews.
Nothing can stop your fun day at the Magic Kingdom than getting dehydrated. You can always get a free ice water from any Counter Service restaurant inside Disney World, but I’ve found that bringing in a reusable water bottle works really well and helps me avoid wasting time in restaurant lines early in the day when time is at a premium.
Recommended Item: Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug – This has been my travel mug of choice for the last few months. The autoseal lid makes sure that it’s easy to sip without the risk of spilling, and there’s even a lock on the lid to make sure there’s no risk of the bottle spilling in the bag. The Contigo is also insulated, meaning that there’s dual benefit: you can keep ice water cool for hours, or use it as a travel coffee mug. They also have a Contigo Autoseal Fit Trainer bottle with a sport design and bigger spout for a few extra dollars, if that’s more your style.
Recommended Item: Brita Filtered Water Bottle – There’s one big downside to the Contigo: refilling at water fountains is a no-go. The water fountains at Disney World taste pretty funky (to put it lightly), so I’m reliant on refilling at Counter Service restaurants or my hotel during a mid-day break. If you want to have more flexibility, this Brita Filtered Water Bottle is a very good choice, as it will take the funky taste out of that Florida fountain water.
The WDW Necessities – Don’t Leave Home Without These
The following items will make your Disney World vacation more comfortable, more organized, and even more affordable.
A Good Pair of Walking Shoes
One thing you won’t hear too often is how much you’ll end up walking at Disney World. Thanks to my Apple Watch ownership, I’ve gotten into tracking how much I walk every day. Most days are anywhere from 3 – 5 miles; however, when I go to Disney World, I can easily end up walking 10-15 miles. Basically, a day at Disney World can be a very slowly paced half-marathon. Even on days where I was trying to “take it easy,” I was still logging in 6-8 miles. That adds up over the course of a weeklong vacation.
Do your feet a favor and be sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes, or at the very least some very supportive sandals. A pair of shoes or sandals that can support your dogs through all that walking and activity will make the difference between doing everything you want to do and being miserable for half your vacation. If you buy a new pair of shoes for your big WDW vacation, be sure to break them in before you go, otherwise you’ll definitely need the next item.
Recommended Items: Your personal preference may differ, but I personally really enjoy the Asics Gel Nimbus 18 for running/walking shoes (my sister uses the same type of shoe) and Reef Fanning Sandals for good sandals that are very comfortable for walking. They have styles for both men and women.
Items that prevent blisters, chafing, and other discomfort
As we’ll cover later, Disney World vacation means a lot of walking: miles and miles of walking. Logging all those miles can lead to some problems like chafing, blisters, or just sore feet. Here are a few items that you will definitely want to pack with you.
Recommended Item: Body Glide – Anti Chafe Balm: I first got this for when I ran my first runDisney half marathon, but I found that it was extremely useful for preventing chafing when I was walking around the theme parks as well. It works like a bar of deodorant: just place it on before heading out in the morning.
Recommended Item: Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus: Hopefully you won’t need to use these, but you’ll be very glad you have them. In case all that walking ends up resulting in a nasty blister, placing a Moleskin bandage on top can be a life saver. It can also be good to use if you feel a blister coming on to prevent the injury before it happens. Pack this item along with your other first aid essentials.
Recommended Item: Dr. Scholl’s Insoles – After doing so much running and walking around Disney World, I’ve learned that having the right insole can make a huge difference. Dr. Scholl’s Insoles can help prevent walking discomfort, which will help you enjoy more of your Disney Vacation.
Disney Gift Cards
This one might seem optional, but if you’re able to score the right deals, Disney Gift Cards could be a great way for you to save some money on your Disney World vacation. Through credit card cash back offers as well as sales at Target and Kroger, we’ve been able to save anywhere from 5-20% on Disney Gift Cards. This is huge considering that you can use these for everything at Disney World, from souvenirs to tickets to dining and even to your hotel room. Basically, if you look at the right places, you can get an extra discount on your WDW vacation and save up to hundreds of dollars. Be sure to check out our complete guide on how to save up to 20% (or more) on Disney Gift Cards for your Disney World vacation.
One tip that’s extremely important when it comes to gift cards: Just be sure to pack them in a secure place that’s easy to remember. Treat Disney Gift Cards like cash, as there’s no way to recover them if they are lost or stolen.
Tickets, gift cards, park maps, water bottle, sunscreen, snacks: these are just a few of the things that you may want to have on you at any given moment while you tour the parks. Having a lightweight bag is a must, so you can carry all of your items without having to rent a locker. I used to rely on light drawstring bags to hold my supplies for the day, but found that if I had anything over a pound in them they would be pretty irritating to carry.
Luckily, my girlfriend is a camping expert, and she opened my eyes to the benefits of a light daypack or backpack. These have padded straps that are much more comfortable than those drawstring bags, but they’re still extremely light and comfortable to carry. I’m currently using the High Sierra Visalia 9 as my go-to Disney World bag, and I love it. An extra benefit of this particular bag is that it has a water bladder (also known as a Camelback) built into it. This lets me stay hydrated while removing an extra item to carry around.
Recommended Item: While I couldn’t find the Visalia 9 online, here is a Wacool Hydration day pack that is highly rated on Amazon:
If you don’t need the water bladder, this Amazon Basics Day Pack is a great, affordable option. Also, it comes in bright colors that are awesome to put pins on.
Packing Cubes and Zip Lock Bags
Despite how hard I work to pack everything all nice and neat, my suitcase usually looks like the aftermath of two wild animals battling over a piece of meat. There had to be a better way, so I purchased a set of Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes. You roll your clothing into these differently-sized cubes, and then pack them into your suitcase. Not only do you stay more organized, but these packing cubes actually save space inside your suitcase, as rolling is a much more efficient way to pack your clothes.
For other looser items like gift cards or Disney pins or anything with liquid that could possibly spill, I like having some gallon-sized zip lock bags at the ready. These are actually extremely useful while traveling. Stash a few of these bags
Recommended Item: Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes – Amazon. This set of 3 differently-sized cubes is rated 4.5/5 on Amazon.
A Nice Outfit
For most of your time at Disney World, you’ll most likely be wearing very casual clothing. T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and jeans are ubiquitous among park-goers. However, Disney World is home to a fantastic lineup of restaurants. While most of these don’t have strict dress codes, it still feels nice to have a nice dressy outfit at the ready in case we end up dining at one of Disney World’s best sit down restaurants. If you’re planning on going to a restaurant like California Grill, Le Cellier, or Flying Fish, do yourself a favor and pack something that isn’t just park attire. Trust me, nothing kills the mood of sitting down to a nice steak dinner than wearing shorts and sneakers.
Stay Charged – Electronic Essentials
Extra battery for your cellphone/electronic devices
You already know your phone has become an essential part of life, and that doesn’t change at Disney World. Whether you’re making FastPass+ reservations, texting with your traveling party, or posting the perfect selfie in front of Cinderella Castle, a phone is one of the most versatile tools you’ll have during your vacation. But all that activity can be a strain on the battery, especially if your phone isn’t brand new.
An extra power bank has become a must for making it through a full day at the parks with my phone’s battery intact. If you’re just bringing it in a bag, go for something light and small. If you have a stroller you can keep it on (or have somebody who doesn’t mind the extra weight), bringing a single large power bank to share between a few people can work well too.
Disney has started selling FuelRod external batteries inside the parks, but I think these are a bad deal. For $30, you get a battery that has very little capactiy (I read somewhere that it carries about 60-80% of a regular iPhone’s charge). If you plan ahead, you can get a battery that charges much more for a much lower pricetag.
Recommended Item: The Jackery Bar Premium 6000 mAh External Battery Charger – Amazon. This is the charger that I currently use, and I think it has the perfect combination of size and power. It’s small and light enough that I can fit it in my pocket or backpack without thinking about it, and it has enough power to pull three full charges back into my iPhone. Plus, it only costs $13 currently, which is much less than the FuelRod sold by Disney. Jackery Bar has a 4.5 rating on Amazon.
Recommended Item: Anker 20000 mAh Portable Charger – Amazon. Need more power than the Jackery Bar? This 20,000 mAh Anker charger carries over 3 times the charge capacity of that smaller charger, but at a higher price. This is great for people who need a battery charger to share among the whole party, or people bringing their iPads into the park with them. It has a 4.5 rating on Amazon.
USB Hub/Wall Charger
What about charging your phones at night? Get a USB power hub you can plug straight into the wall. These are a life saver at hotels! They have multiple ports, so you don’t have to worry about packing and managing several small power bricks in your suitcase. Also, this helps with dealing with limited power outlets in the hotel room. No longer searching behind the bedside table and unplugging the alarm clock!
Recommended Item: Belkin 3-Outlet Surge Protector with 2 USB Ports
Recommended Item: Anker 5 Port USB Charger –
Need more than 2 USB ports and don’t care about the other plugs? This 5 Port USB Charger is a great alternative, and most likely you’ll find it handy to have at home as well. I use a charger like this at home for all my iDevices, and this particular model has stellar user reviews on Amazon.
That’s it for the items I always bring. What do you always pack to Walt Disney World? Let me know in the comments below!