We just wrapped up seven days in Disney World and it was, you guessed it, magical. I visited Disney World often as a kid but this was my first time being The Parent. You know, the one making all the decisions, coordinating the planning and doing all the packing. Because I’m me, researching and packing and preparing was almost as fun as the trip itself but judging from my DMs and email inbox, I realize that’s not the case for many of you. Disney can be a blissful breeze or a next-level nightmare and so much of that comes down to packing. Here is everything you need (and even equally as important-what you don’t.)
Before the pandemic, it wasn’t unusual for us to travel nearly every month with our kids but we welcomed our third baby in May of 2020 and like everyone else around the world, we were forced to slow down. It had been so long since I had to pack for such a big trip but all my tried and true tricks came in handy.
Disney World will be celebrating its huge 50th Anniversary in October of this year so the park is filling up fast and merchandise is flying off the shelves. It’s best to grab Disney themed things often just to know they’re ready to go rather than waiting and facing ridiculous wait times and price jumps. Let’s get the Disney gear out of the way first:
1. This Mickey-ear fan. This fan is adorable and has shockingly good air pressure. I only got one which ended up being fine because we brought along two other fans which I’ll talk more about later. This fan comes with a loopy ring attachment which makes holding it even easier.
2. This Mickey stroller hook. This was an MVP for sure. To get on and off Disney transportation with a double stroller (or any stroller if we’re talking about the buses,) you need to fully break down the stroller. With the amount of items we packed every day to keep in the park with us on top of the number of things you accumulate out at the parks, emptying out the stroller can be a nightmare. *cue infomercial voice* NOT ANYMORE! The nooks on this clip made it perfect to hook all of our water bottles on it as well as our park bag and whatever shopping bag we may have picked up that day. I’d unclip it, get on the transportation with the kids and O would load up the stroller with zero issues. Absolute essential.
3. Mickey/Minnie Ears. Of course, you’ll be able to buy endless amounts of ears there but since I know we wouldn’t really be wearing them outside of the parks and I prefer a simpler style, I picked some up beforehand. These are simple and stunning and less expensive:
Of course, we did scoop up a pair of Yoda ears for Lema and glittery Minnie ears for Nana in the parks. If you visit Disney regularly or are just more committed to the new ears than I was, here are some current favorites from the Disney Store:
Disney Clothing. This is a whole thing. I personally prefer the most simple and unique styles rather than the run of the mill graphic tees so I’m linking my own personal favorite picks but a quick trip to Target or Amazon run will guarantee you’ll be sit with whatever you need if you’re thinking, “honestly-is she serious?? why would I go out of my way to buy disney clothes?” I’ve received so many questions about where we’ve gotten our more simple disney gear so here are some favorites:
Fanny Packs for Everyone. Fanny packs for the kids is more of a novelty item but a fanny pack for the non-diaper bag wearing parent is essential. Hear me out. If you’re taking advantage of the ‘Ride Swap’ luxury (where your spouse can take your kids for a ride while you stay with the baby or whoever doesn’t want to ride and you can swap adults, skip the line and take your kids again) the adult standing in line is going to want a fanny pack. O wears a fanny pack zero days out of the year but he fell in love with this one. I picked it up and kept it stocked with a hand sanitizer, this portable fan or two, his portable charger and anything else he needed while waiting.
Diaper Bag/Backpack. Ab.so.lute. Must. We had a one year old on our Disney trip so we brought our absolute favorite diaper bag ever-the Fawn Backpack. It has enough compartments and trinkets to make it the perfect bag even if you didn’t need to use it as a diaper bag. Always, always keep these things in the diaper bag: your wallet, an umbrella, hand sanitizer, wipes, extra diapers, lightweight extra clothes for whoever may need a spare outfit, gum and/or vitamin c lollipops and a small toy to distract the baby in a pinch.
This Set of Clear Pouches. This exact set was a life saver. I used one pouch as a “baby meal bag” for our one year old which is perfect for these short silicone straws, a silicone bib, disposable placemats, baby utensils and mini boxes of raisins for long wait times.
I used the second pouch as our “weather bag” and kept multiple disposable ponchos in kid and adult sizes and a cold towel for each of us.
I used the third bag as a “boo boo bag” and made it a first aid kit of sorts. Scroll through this slider for everything I packed in it.
Hydroflasks. Do not go to Disney without your Hydroflasks. You’ll find yourself buying a hundred $4 small Dasani water bottles every day and you’ll wish you had the bottle that keeps your water ice cold for 12 hours straight on hand. We filled them to the top with ice and added only a bit of water every morning and it made staying hydrated so much easier. *PRO TIP*: Freeze two large water bottles every night. They’ll start melting almost immediately after entering the park and you’ll be sure to have extra cold water on hand. Plus, the frozen bottles will help cool down anything else you need throughout the day.
Portable Charger. I brought two of these and praise the Lord I did. A huge part of your Disney hotel and park experience is using your phone because of the app. That coupled with taking photos and videos and-if you’re me-watching videos or listening to podcasts while everyone else is on rides, your battery will drain quickly. This quickly charges your battery on-the-go and is crucial to charge up every night and pack in the park bag every day.
Packable Bag. Our park bag was a nylon bag that folded down to the size of my palm. I didn’t want to bring a big bulky bag but knew I didn’t want to use an actual piece of luggage as the park bag. This was perfect.
Three Pairs of Shoes per person. This sounds excessive but hear me out. If you’re going to be walking the parks for more than three days, you need three pairs of shoes. Even the most trusty sneakers can betray you when you’re walking miles and miles in them. I rotated between my Birks, my Tevas and my favorite sneakers and had the kids rotate between Natives or Tevas and sneakers. Be sure everyone has a sneaker that is ALREADY broken in (super important) and a sandal or shoe that can get wet and dry quickly.
All. The. Fans. This stroller fan was the life saver. I wish I had brought two since there were always two kids in the double stroller but we prioritized the baby since babies overheat the quickest and can’t hold a portable fan. Here are all the fans we brought along:
Masks. Disney Parks are doing their best to protect every single cast member and guest which means the rules are constantly changing. The rules changed again last weekend to mandate every person, vaccinated or not, must wear a mask while in line and inside any Disney property. These masks are my absolute favorite for kids because they’re breathable, comfortable and adjustable for their little ears.
Hats. Hats for everyone. Trust me on this one. The sun is hot and heavy and you’ll want to shade your face, keep the sun out of your little’s eyes and protect everyone’s scalp. I brought a bucket hat and baseball cap for the kids, this giant reversible bucket hat for myself which worked like a charm and my favorite baseball cap.
Magic Bands. Your Magic band is your room key, your ticket to the parks and what will unlock doors for you throughout your Disney resort. Through the My Disney Experience app, you’ll be able to access more magic bands but customizing these bands made us so excited for our trip. Be sure to order far enough in advance for them to arrive!
Cooler Bag. We rented strollers (more on that later) and I selected the option that would give us the cooler bag with the stroller so I didn’t pack my own, but this was essential. I put sandwiches, Zeameh’s pouches, yogurts and anything I wanted to keep fresh in this bag.
Ziplock bags. (!!) Bring a whole bunch of these. I ended up using these to shove the rest of our all you can eat breakfast in, to keep phones and cameras dry on wet rides, to store clothes after a diaper leak, to keep a turkey leg, as tupperware in our hotel refrigerator and more. Trust me, you need a handful (or more) of ziplocks.
Disposable Cameras or Instax. This is not an absolute essential but it is so special for your kids. I gave each of the big kids a disposable camera when we surprised them with the trip and told them they could use it for whatever they wanted to remember starting the second we got on the plane. Did Keogena take about 11 photos of the same thing? Yep. It’s still worth it.
Suitcases that will last and get the kids excited. I’m an enormous fan of these bags. The brand gives back with every bag purchase but on top of that, every bag is special and cool and durable. I got the smaller size for my 4 year old and the larger size for my 6 year old. I was able to fit everything my four year old needed and more in her suitcase and packed all of the baby’s clothes and shoes in with my six year old son because the bag was that spacious. I avoid checking bags at all costs so having the kids carry their own backpack and suitcase is key for me.
(click any bag above to shop)
Those bags-while my favorite-are an investment so here are other less pricey suitcases that will fit the bill for a Disney trip:
While we’re on the subject of packing- Packing Cubes. I could never pack for the kids without packing cubes. I roll everything in their own cube and can fit at least four extra outfits in because of how compact they end up. Bonus points- rather than fully unpacking, I keep the clothes they haven’t worn yet inside their packing cubes in a drawer to keep track and keep them neat and tidy.
What You Don’t Need:
Your Own Stroller. We love our double stroller but haven’t used it since I had two babies. We’re a bit past that phase and I knew Keogena (4) wouldn’t be comfortable in our stroller but would totally need to be pushed at times. My friend who went just a month before me told me she rented through Kingdom Strollers and after a minute of research, I found they’re personally recommended by Disney World. We went with the Mini GT Double stroller and it was the number one MVP of our trip. It was an absolute breeze to break down (one step) which is crucial when you have to do it quickly and often with the bus system. Your stroller has to be park compliant so if you do decide to bring your own stroller, make sure it fits the bill! Also, make sure it comes with the rain cover because in Orlando, you’re almost guaranteed to need it.
Heels. I mean, to each their own but it’s a no for me.
A Book. Again, maybe this is your chance to catch up on all your reading but for me personally, I didn’t find much “down time” and even when the kids were asleep and the day was done, I could hardly keep my eyes open long enough to shower let alone crack open my novel. You know you best but again, it was a no for me.
Whew! You made it! I hope you found this helpful. I have much more Disney content to come but for now, there is plenty to chew on (and a whole lot of “add to cart.”