Updated on March 18, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
I know Disney World like the back of my hand and have really great insider tips for all types of visitors. I’ve been there in every season: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Summers in Disney World are hot and rainy and can be brutal if you’re not properly prepared, and winters can be surprisingly cold.
Having the right gear can take your trip from disaster to magic! I’ve also included what to wear at Disney and what NOT to bring.
What to Pack for Disney – 17 Essentials
A neck wallet is an essential item for Disney to ensure your valuables are safe even when you’re going 60 mph on a roller coaster! The idea behind these pouches is to keep your items tucked away discreetly and securely, and they’re very effective! I wear one and tuck it under my shirt or jacket to minimize the risk of pickpocketing, and to make sure that I don’t drop or otherwise lose my valuables (including my phone!) while I’m Disney-ing with my family.
2. Chilly Pad
One of the lesser-known facts about Disney parks (and really most amusement parks) is that they can be incredibly hot even when the weather isn’t blistering. The combination of reflective surfaces concentrating the sun, pavement and blacktop paths soaking in the heat, and very little shade can really cause some intense temperatures. This chilly pad can be carried around and worn to keep you cooler for longer! It’s easy to use, easy to store when not in use, and works really well. I highly recommend bringing one – just wet it in a sink or drinking fountain, squeeze excess water out, and enjoy the pleasant chill!
3. Handheld Fan
Getting overheated on a fun-packed and busy family trip can ruin your entire day, and keep you from taking part in certain activities. I always recommend bringing a personal fan with you to help keep yourself and your kid(s) plenty cool in the theme-park heat. I love this one – it’s compact and hand-held but kicks out a great breeze. It’ll keep you cool when you need it, and can be stored in your daybag when you don’t.
Okay, this is a seriously non-negotiable item for me when going to places like Disney. When you bring items onto rides like Splash Mountain, you’ll have to store them on the (wet) floorboard of the ride car, where they’ll get wet with the water from the ride! Protect them with this water-resistant backpack. It’s actually described as the “perfect backpack for any Disney trip” because of its great waterproof coating and sleek, compact, but high-volume design. Plus it folds up into its own tiny storage pouch when not in use so it won’t take up much space when packing.
Staying organized while with your family at Disney is essential for the enjoyment of all. These cubes make it easy to know exactly where everyone’s belongings are because you can keep all t-shirts in one cube and all pants in another etc. They also have an index card holder on the back so you can write what’s in each cube. If you’re going as family we recommend getting a different color set per family member and you’ll never be confused of where everyone’s things are again. A TOTAL GAME CHANGER!
Carrying a refillable water bottle with you is always a good idea when you’re at Disney or any similar park. They charge out the wazoo for bottled drinks, but if you bring your own water bottle and simply fill it at drinking fountains you’ll be set for the day and have extra cash to spend on more enjoyable things. I personally like to have the filter in my water bottle to be extra sure that the water is clean and clear enough for my family and me.
This portable charger is a favorite in my family. It’s compact – about the size of a tube of lipstick – and still holds several charges before it needs to be plugged in to power back up. It can recharge your phone, camera, and other small electronics while you’re on the go since it uses standard USB cables, and it can do its job while tucked safely inside your daybag!
It’s funny, but the way that the weather is around Disney World makes it hard to predict when it’s going to rain and it rains A LOT. Storms can pop up out of nowhere and leave you soggy for the rest of the day if you’re unprepared. Carrying around a windproof travel umbrella (or two) is a great way to be prepared no matter when the rains come. This one also comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
9. Blister Balm
I try to bring blister prevention with me whenever I know I’m going to be doing a lot of walking, even if I’m walking in trusted shoes. Excessive walking is hard enough on my feet, I don’t need blisters adding to that and ruining my day! This balm is fantastic – it glides on smoothly, stays on for a long time, and protects my feet from the friction that causes blisters.
Some of the most fun parts of any Disney park experience are the parades. They’re colorful, entertaining for all age groups, and a great way to see all of your family’s favorite characters. Because they can last a while and I prefer to find a great viewing spot before parades start, I always bring a comfortable blanket to sit on while we wait. This one is very compact when folded, so you can easily carry it with you or store it in a rented locker until parade time.
I am so sold on this phone case. I love that it’s waterproof, dust/dirt proof and shock-resistant. I also love that I can seal my phone inside and still have access to the touchscreen and the camera so I can get pictures on rides and at attractions without the worry. The fact that it’s super-affordable makes it a no-brainer!
12. Glow Sticks
Glow sticks are a necessity if you’ll be staying after dark for any park festivities. Trust me: if you’re going to bring your kids to a nighttime parade or show, everyone seems to have them. The park sells them at exorbitant prices, but you can always bring in your own and save a TON of money! That way you can be the kids’ hero without breaking the bank.
We found out the hard way that walking around Disney in soggy shoes is horribly uncomfortable. My solution was to wear these fantastic mesh shoes! They’re built like sneakers so they’re very comfortable and supportive for walking around the park all day, but they’re also made of breathable mesh which allows both air and water to flow through them. Water doesn’t get trapped inside, so you don’t have to slosh around in wet shoes after riding Splash Mountain!
I can’t stress enough the danger that water poses to your non-waterproof electronics. Even with a water-resistant backpack it’s likely that your camera will be exposed to water at some point, especially if you’re planning on taking any pictures! Bring a waterproof camera to capture those memories without the worry of water damage.
The heat and activity combined can leave you feeling sticky and stinky. Instead of just dealing with it or trying to clean up with paper towels in the public bathroom (hey, we’ve all been there), try these lovely deodorant wipes. They can be carried with you for on-the-go use. They’re also safe and gentle, and will leave you feeling much cleaner and nicer-smelling.
16. Sun Hat
Especially if you have fair skin, a good sun hat can be a lifesaver on warm sunny days. It’s always good to stick a sun hat on the little ones so that they don’t overheat and so that the sun doesn’t get in their eyes. This one is inexpensive and comes in all sizes.
17. Stroller Clips
These stroller clips are a must-have for anyone traveling with kids. They’ll keep all of your loose items attached to the stroller or cart that you’re using. This makes life so much easier when little ones are trying their hardest to scatter blankies, sippy cups, toys, etc. to the four winds while you’re navigating Disney! Even your purse, camera, daybag, and other heavier items can be secured with these sturdy clips.
Other packing list items for Disney World
Disney Autograph Book
Baby Travel Gear
Adults and Kids Sunglasses
Waterproof Waist Pouch
Tide To-Go Pen
SPF Lip Balm
What to wear at Disney
It can get very hot in the park, so pack a lot of lightweight clothing items – shorts and tank tops should do the trick for most travelers. If you’re going in the winter, dress in layers. Long-sleeved shirts and jeans or leggings are perfect!
You may also want to bring or wear a swimsuit and swimsuit cover-up if you’ll be visiting the water park or riding a lot of water rides. Walking around in soggy clothing is miserable, and a swimsuit cover-up will alleviate this problem since it dries quickly and stays comfortable while wet. Along these same lines, mesh water shoes that you can also comfortably walk around in all day may be the best shoe option for those who will go on any water rides at all. Wet shoes are miserable and can cause blisters, so quick-dry water shoes will save you a lot of discomfort.
What NOT to bring to Disney World
2) DON’T PACK Uncomfortable Shoes – A day at Disney involves a lot of walking. Ditch the sandals or trendy boots and opt for sneakers, tennis shoes, or Crocs.
3) DON’T BRING Drones – Drones are also not allowed. Although it might be tempting to capture the awesomeness of Disney World with a bird’s eye view video, drones can be dangerous with the rides and crowds in the park.
5) DON’T PACK Shoes with Wheels – No heelies allowed here! Accidents are bound to happen when you mix kids, roller skates, and big crowds.
6) DON’T BRING Wagons – Unfortunately you cannot bring wagons into the park. If you have little kids who might not be able to walk for very long, bring a carrier.
7) DON’T TAKE Other Restricted Items – Here is an official list of restricted items in Disney World
FAQs about Disney Vacations
- What shoes would be best for children who are not used to walking around all day?
- Can I bring in food and beverages into Disney parks?
- Will there be lockers available in the park?
- What are the best Disney movies to watch before trip?
- Should I stay in a Disney park hotel? Or is it better to stay at an off-park hotel?
- Can you leave and re-enter Disney parks in the same day?
- Is foreign currency exchange available at Disney?
- Can I use my own wheelchair at Disney parks? Of course! Everybody has different needs, so your personal wheelchair is welcome at Disney parks. If you do not have your own wheelchair, the park has some that you can use, but they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- What kinds of non-ride and non-show attractions are there?
The best option is to have them wear these enclosed mesh water shoes which are also comfortable for walking and will dry quickly. They are fairly easy to put on and take off, but kids can’t easily kick them off while riding or being carried. Crocs that fit well are also a good option. They’re breathable, comfortable, and easy to slip on and off if you think you’ll need to be able to do so.
Disney World offers lockers that are available for a (somewhat pricey) fee. You can rent a key-operated locker that you can access all day for a one-time fee. A $5 refundable deposit is also required for each locker key.
We have a great resource on the best Disney movies of all time. In this list, you will find timeless Disney classics but also more recent blockbusters. We recommend researching the parks that you’ll be visiting to see what movies inspired each attraction. Truthfully, there is nothing better than watching a few of the greatest Disney films to inspire the whole family for your upcoming trip!
Some people choose to seek reprieve from the heat by taking a lunch or hotel pool break during the hottest hours of the day. Those folks often come back in to the parks to enjoy the afternoon and evening festivities, such as the parades and fireworks. If you do this, don’t forget your glow sticks! They’re pricey in the park.
If you’re looking for something to do in between or instead of rides and shows, look no further than Tom Sawyer Island, The Pirates League, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. There are so many things to do that don’t involve riding rides or seeing shows, but these three are especially fun for all ages.
There’s also the Swiss Family Treehouse if a bit of light staircase-climbing and treehouse exploring are on the agenda! Take a look at more Disney World attractions here.