I recently hit a huge milestone as a parent: taking my toddler to Disneyland for the first time. I was so excited to show him the castle, take him on it’s a small world, and see his face when he saw Mickey Mouse for the first time. My wife and I wanted to be as prepared as we could be to make sure he had as amazing of a time as possible.

I’ve been to Disney World and Disneyland countless times, including many trips with my nieces and nephews. But this was my first time really being responsible for taking a tiny human being around the theme parks. Fortunately, our trip was amazing, with plenty of pleasant surprises along the way, like how much my little guy loved the Enchanted Tiki Room. In fact, “tiki” is now one of his first words, which makes me feel like I’m doing something right in this parenting thing.

Speaking of surprises, I wanted to share with you the ten items that might be a bit surprising, but are total game changers when it comes to taking a toddler on a Disney World or Disneyland vacation. Some of these items I almost didn’t pack, but I’m so glad I did, as it helped make sure our toddler had an amazing time visiting the Happiest Place on Earth.

Items for Getting A Toddler Around Disneyland and Disney World

1) A Carrier

Toddler Carrier seeing Minnie- Disney Toddler Packing Guide

Strollers are king when it comes to taking kids to Disney World and Disneyland, right? Maybe. Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t go to Disney without a stroller. It’s way too useful. But a carrier ended up being much better and much more fun for our little guy. He’s at an age where he gets antsy if he’s in a stroller for way too long, but also he’s too small to walk long distances. The carrier was great, because we could carry him around from ride to ride and he had a great vantage point to see all the fun decorations and characters around us. In the stroller, his view was limited to the backs of people’s legs as we walked around. The carrier was also great to give him an awesome view during the parade! Another bonus for the carrier is that you can keep wearing your child on certain rides if you have them positioned in the front.

Baby Carrier at Disneyland - Disney Toddler Packing GuideWe found that the combination of a stroller and a carrier can’t be beat. We would store our carrier under our stroller most of the time, and then take the carrier out when he was getting tired of being strolled around. We even went in one evening only with our carrier, and it was awesome to not have to deal with finding stroller parking for part of the day.

I almost didn’t want to pack this, mainly because I figured the stroller would be all we needed. I was very wrong on that front. We had also had issues with a hand-me-down carrier, which was uncomfortable and hurt our backs. But after some research, my wife found the LÍLLÉbaby Complete All Seasons Ergonomic 6-in-1 Baby Carrier. It’s extremely comfortable for both parent and child, and you can wear it in several different positions. If you’re interested in bringing a carrier to Disney World or Disneyland for your toddler, we highly recommend this. 

Lillebaby Ergonomic Baby Carrier

LÍLLÉbaby Complete All Seasons Ergonomic 6-in-1 Baby Carrier

$119.99

Our preferred baby and toddler carrier for going to Disney World and Disneyland. It’s lightweight, breathable, and supports babies and toddlers between 7 and 45 pounds. This carrier is extremely adjustable, with 6 different carrying positions, including front, back, and side.

Buy from Amazon

2) A Harness… AKA A Child Leash

Toddler Leash - Disney World and Disneyland Toddler Packing GuideThis will probably be the most controversial item on this list. People don’t like the idea of keeping their kid on a leash, and I totally understand that. In fact, I would have been firmly in that camp up until this trip. But for us, it wasn’t about restraining our toddler, it was about giving him freedom. All toddlers are at different stages of development, and when we visited Disneyland, our 1 year old had just started wanting to walk (and run) everywhere. But he’s still too little to really know how to hold our hands, listen to instructions, or navigate a crowd. We wanted to use the harness (okay, it’s a leash) in certain scenarios where areas were less crowded and let him explore to his heart’s content. The harness let us give him that freedom, without having to do the whole “no, no, no, don’t go there, don’t touch that” chase.

Toddler Harness at Disneyland 2 - Disney Toddler Packing Guide

This was amazing in two instances. During the Disney Jr. Dance Party, our little guy could move around and “dance” without us having to keep him from running away to other families. Without it, we would have had to spend the whole show holding him down and restraining him. With it, he could have his fun and we could keep him safely with us. The second instance was Galaxy’s Edge at night. It was a less crowded part of the park at that time, so we all were able to walk around together. He had so much fun running, looking at all the toys in the marketplace, and seeing the spaceships. The 2 in 1 Baby Leash we got from Amazon is affordable, easy to use, and gets the job done.

Toddler Leash from Amazon

2 in 1 Baby Leash

$12.98

The toddler harness / leash we used at Disneyland is this one from Amazon, and it worked great. Easy to stuff in a bag or under the stroller when not in use, and it has some nice safety features like being able to lock the clips. This actually gave our toddler freedom to roam around and helped us spend less time chasing him.

Buy from Amazon

3) A Stroller Identifier

I stumbled into a great idea at the airport. My wife’s carryon had a bright blue and orange luggage tag that we had bought from Disneyland years ago. Right before we boarded our flight, I realized we didn’t have an identification tag on our stroller. I moved the tag from my wife’s suitcase onto our stroller’s handle.

This ended up being a lifesaver at Disneyland, because all strollers look pretty much identical. It doesn’t matter if you’ve stared at your stroller every day for over a year, you will lose it in the sea of grey and black sameness that is the stroller parking at a Disney park. It also doesn’t matter if you have a great memory for where you parked your stroller: it will get moved eventually by a cast member whose job it is to regularly rearrange the strollers. Do they do this as some kind of social experiment to test parents? Who knows? But what I can say is that having this bright luggage tag on our stroller was an amazing way to easily find our stroller in a crowd.

The same effect could be achieved with a brightly colored ribbon, but here are a few Disney bag tags that you can personalize.

Mickey Mouse Luggage Tag

Mickey Mouse Leather Luggage Tag – Personalizable

$16.95

Take along the one and only Mickey Mouse on your travels with this luggage tag. Crafted from genuine leather, this tag features Mickey framed in a regal filagree pattern. You can even personalize it with your name!

Buy from shopDisney

Minnie Mouse Luggage Tag

Minnie Mouse Leather Luggage Tag – Personalizable

$16.95

Take Minnie Mouse on your travels with this luggage tag. Crafted from genuine leather, this tag features Minnie framed in a golden filigree pattern. You can even personalize it with your name!

Buy from shopDisney

Star Wars Luggage Tag

AT-AT Family Vacation Bag Tag by Leather Treaty – Disneyland – Customized

$11.95

Your luggage will be safe from rebels with this genuine leather ''Family Vacation'' bag tag. Attached with its beaded chain loop, this ultra-cool Leather Treaty accessory can be personalized in English or Aurebesh.

Buy from shopDisney

If you want to go a much more techy route, tracking tags like Apple’s AirTags would work great, and might help you in the rare case that your stroller gets taken by someone.

Apple AirTag

Apple AirTag

$29.00

Easily track your book bag, stroller, or luggage while visiting Disney World! Apple AirTags use your iPhone’s Find My app and Ultra Wideband technology to be able to precisely lead you to the items you need to keep track of most. Never waste time looking through the sea of strollers at Disney again! (iPhone only)

Buy from Amazon

AirTag Holder

Belkin AirTag Case with Strap

$12.95

Attach your AirTag to your stroller or luggage with this Belkin AirTag case that comes in a variety of colors.

Buy from Amazon

Items to Help with Mealtime

Figuring out food with a toddler is one of the bigger challenges. Our son was firmly transitioning between the containers of goopy purées and what my wife and I refer to as “actual human food.” We still relied on a combination of milk bottles, purée pouches, and real food at restaurants — with waffles and Mac and cheese being big hits. Here are a couple of items that made mealtime more manageable.

4) A Placemat

Disney Parks Placemat - Disney Toddler Packing GuideThis is actually something we didn’t even think to bring. Our son doesn’t quite understand plates yet: they’re just food-filled frisbees. Up until this, we were wiping down the table and putting our son’s food directly on there, which was not ideal. But fortunately we found this silicone placemat at the World of Disney store at the beginning of our trip. We used this at every meal. It made for a clean surface to place our son’s food on, and it was easy to wash off with soap and water. (As a bonus tip, packing some travel dish soap is key!)

I couldn’t find the exact placemat I bought at Disneyland online, but here are two excellent options to consider.

Mickey Mouse Placemat

Disney Mickey Mouse Table Topper Disposable Stick-on Placemats in Reusable Package, 18 Count

$9.99

If you want to keep your toddler’s table clean and don’t mind going the disposable route, Disney makes some adorable Mickey Mouse stick-on placemats. The placemat even includes a fun “Find the Colors” activity.

Buy from Amazon

Munchkin Silicone Placemat

Munchkin Silicone Placemats for Kids, 2 Pack, Blue/Purple

$9.99

f you want some reusable travel placemats for feeding your toddler at Disney, you can’t go wrong with these silicone mats from Munchkin. It’s one of our favorite brands for baby gear, and these placemats can be easily rolled up and placed in your bag.

Buy from Amazon

5) A High Chair Cover

Disney World and Disneyland have lots of high chairs conveniently located at every dining location. The cast members do a great job of wiping them down, and every high chair we found looked clean. However, if you want the cleanest possible surface for your kiddo to sit in while they eat, a high chair cover is a must.

Sussie Highchair Cover

Suessie High Chair Cover

$29.99

We use this awesome high chair cover at Disney and at restaurants to keep our son from touching dirty surfaces. It also fits in shopping carts, as a nice bonus. It includes a sippy cup strap, see-through smartphone pocket, and several colorful designs, ranging from dinosaurs to unicorns.

Buy from Amazon

Just for Fun

6) A Costume

Toddler Dressed as Ewok in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge - Disney Toddler Packing Guide

Dress 👏 your 👏 baby 👏 up 👏  in 👏 a 👏  costume! This is a must-do at Disney World or Disneyland! Remember when I mentioned that we let our toddler run around Galaxy’s Edge? I didn’t mention that we had dressed him up as an Ewok for this excursion to Batuu. Not only did it make this Star Wars nerd’s heart overflow, but it caused the characters, cast members, and other guests to freak out and squeal over how cute he looked. And who doesn’t want to hear how cute their baby is?

Ewok Wandering Around Galaxy’s Edge - Disney Toddler Packing Guide

Ewok Costume Galaxy’s Edge - Disney Toddler Packing Guide

Ewok Costume at Disneyland - Disney Toddler Packing Guide

Is bringing a costume the most practical thing? No, especially an extra fluffy Ewok costume when packing space is at a premium. But it’s worth it. Whether it’s an Ewok or Baby Yoda in Galaxy’s Edge or dressing your baby like Mickey or Minnie to meet their favorite mouse, you should 100% pack some fun outfits for your toddler on your Disney vacation.

Baby Yoda Toddler Costume

Baby Yoda Toddler Costume

$24.01

Dress your baby like Baby Yoda. This officially licensed Grogu costume will make your toddler look like everyone’s favorite character in The Mandalorian.

Buy from Amazon

Toddler Ewok Costume

Star Wars Classic Ewok Deluxe Plush Costume Romper, Toddler

$33.89

Yub nub! Let out your child’s inner Ewok at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with this adorable toddler costume.

Buy from Amazon

Items for Your Hotel Room

Figuring out nap time is a crucial component to managing your day with your toddler at Disney World and Disneyland. Taking a break in the middle of the day might not sound great, especially when you consider how much your tickets cost. It might be tempting to try to power through the day or just let your toddler nap in the stroller. However, with so much stimulation and excitement, your little one will need some rest or you might encounter the dreaded “Mickey Meltdown.”

When we went to Disneyland, our son was between one and two naps a day. We changed up his routine slightly, pushing his morning nap later than normal until he was getting really tired. Luckily, he ended up taking one really long nap in the middle of the day, and we were able to go back into the parks and enjoy rides way past his regular bedtime.

We packed two items that not only helped with naps, but also helped our son sleep at night as well.

7) A Breathable Crib Cover

Our son sleeps much better in a completely dark room, and my wife and I use this breathable cover to help out when we travel. This thin mesh crib cover works as a shade, and it perfectly fits over a Pack and Play. It worked well enough with the crib at the Disney hotel. It allowed us to not have to keep the entire room in darkness during nap time, and we were even able to get our bags packed with some lights on while he slept in his crib.

My overprotective dad brain was definitely skeptical about how breathable this really was, but I was able to put my face against it and breathe easily. However, just to be extra cautious, we opened up one of the zippable side windows whenever we used it on our son’s crib.

Pack and Play Crib Cover

Dofilachy Pack N Play Crib Canopy Cover

$24.99

This breathable travel crib cover will help if your child is sensitive to light while you’re traveling. The cover has zipable windows and breathable polyester mesh. It fits over a Pack and Play or small crib like the ones they give you at a Disney hotel easily.

Buy from Amazon

8) A Sound Machine

Whether it was in Babywise or Happiest Baby on the Block, one of the tips I read over and over again was to use a sound machine to help our baby sleep. Since he was around 5 or 6 months old, our son has been an amazing sleeper. Part of this is due to having a consistent routine, which includes using a sound machine. However, sticking to a routine can definitely be hard when you travel. By packing the sound machine we use in his room, we are able to bring one element of consistency. If your child already uses a sound machine, I would strongly recommend packing it for your hotel room. If your child doesn’t, it’s not a bad idea to bring one. A hotel can be full of unexpected noises, and a sound machine helps keep sudden noises from waking your toddler.

Hatch Sound Machine - Disney Toddler Packing Essentials

Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine

$59.99

The sound machine we use (and love) is the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine. It has several different noises and songs, plus a night light, and it is all controllable from your phone. It’s easy to fit in a suitcase, and it makes for a great addition to our hotel room when we visit Disney World or Disneyland.

Buy from Amazon

Items for When It Rains

These two items aren’t surprising for Disney World, where rain is the norm. But when there was a torrential downpour at Disneyland, it definitely caught us by surprise.

9) A Rain Coat

You might think “I can just get a poncho for my toddler.” Wrong. I discovered that they don’t make ponchos sized for toddlers or babies. The smallest poncho is a child size, and it was way too big for our son. It makes sense, as a poncho is essentially a trash bag with arm holes, and it really could be a suffocation hazard. Don’t do what I did and essentially burn money on ponchos you won’t even be able to use. Pack a rain coat, even if you are visiting Southern California and you think that there’s almost a zero percent chance of rain. Because you’ll be so glad you have one just in case you need it.

Toddler Rain Jacket

Simple Joys by Carter’s Toddler Boys’ Puffer Jacket

$29.00

The rain jacket we should have packed for our Disneyland trip. We love Carter’s. Pretty much everything we buy from them is reasonably priced and really nice quality.

Buy from Amazon

Toddler Rain Coat Pink

Simple Joys by Carter’s Toddler Girls’ Puffer Jacket

$29.00

A pink version of the Carter’s raincoat we recommend.

Buy from Amazon

10) A Stroller Rain Cover

Despite having an umbrella and extra ponchos to cover our stroller, our stroller got soaked, and the ponchos just blew away in the wind. I really really really wished I had a stroller cover like the ones that I saw many families using while going around Disneyland. You may be smarter than me and this may not qualify as a surprising item for you. But I never even considered getting a rain cover for my son’s stroller, which I will chalk up as a rookie dad mistake. But I just ordered this one, which is the number 1 best seller on Amazon, and I will not be going to Disney World or Disneyland without packing one as long as we need a stroller.

Stroller Rain Cover - Disney World Toddler Packing Essentials

Bemece Universal Stroller Rain Cover

$17.99

This is the #1 Best Selling stroller rain cover on Amazon. It keeps both your stroller and baby dry, while providing them a view of the outside world while you navigate Disney in the rain.

Buy from Amazon

Despite the rain, we had an amazing first trip to Disneyland with our son, and these items really helped us get the most out of our time (well… at least the ones we remembered to pack).

Plan the Perfect Day at Disney with Your Toddler

If you want more help, get in touch with our friends at Vacationeer. Their travel agents are Disney experts who can help you plan a vacation full of magical moments for your toddler. Plus, they’ve helped tons of families, so they know a ton of advice for taking kids to both WDW and Disneyland.

We want to hear your thoughts!

Will you pack any of these the next time you bring your toddler to Disney World or Disneyland? Let me know in the comments below!