Walt Disney World Essentials

I have taken over 10+ trips to Disney in my life – multiple as a kid, young adult, and now as a parent with two kids.  I have to say it was quite different being responsible for two kids instead of experiencing the magic as a kid yourself. You are extremely aware of all the stresses that go into a Disney vacation. There is the heat, crowds, and the inevitable cranky children. It isn’t always the perfect picture they paint in the commercials. That being said, for all Disney trips, I start planning early to make sure I have my Disney World essentials to make our vacation as stress free as possible.

Here are my must-have items for heading to the park:

1. Unofficial Guide to Disney

Every year the publishers come out with a new version of this guide book and it is always the first thing I buy when planning a Disney trip. It tells you about every single ride and restaurant, but more importantly it provides suggested tour plans. We adjust these to fit our needs, but the book provides multiple plans based on if you have small children or teens and if you have just one or multiple days to visit. By having a plan, you avoid wasting time deciding what ride you want to do or where you want to eat. The book suggests that you always arrive for rope drop (park opening) to avoid the longest lines. I have done this since I was little and I have to say it is the only way to do Disney and maximize your time in the park, especially during the peak crowd time. Now, I wouldn’t bring this book into the park (it is fairly large), but having a plan is definitely a must.

2. Stroller

When our son was three, we took him on his first trip to Disney and I debated if we should bring a stroller for him. At his age, he was walking nearly everywhere and never really used a stroller. This however was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! If you have a child under the age of five, I 100% recommend using a stroller. at Disney, you walk an average of 10-12 miles per day. Little toddler legs just can’t handle that amount of walking.

The added benefit of taking a stroller is that it provides an easy place for kids to relax and get out of the sun. My stepson would take naps in his stroller which prevented us from having to go back to the room in the middle of the day. It also makes navigating through crowds so much easier since it is easy to keep track of where kids are. Strollers also provide an immense amount of extra space that I actually miss now that my kids are older. Strollers make it easy to carry all your other items like snacks or ponchos.

The GB Pockit Stroller is amazing if you are flying and need a compact way to store it in the overhead bins. For a more affordable option, try the Baby Trend Rocket Lightweight Stroller. It is quick to set up and breakdown, which makes it easy for getting on and off the trams at Disney. It has a small pouch included where you can keep your water and snacks. It comes with a shade to keep sun out and allows you to slightly recline it for daytime napping. It also had a small compartment underneath for keeping a small backpack of essentials.

Hot Tip: Strollers have to park outside of each ride. Tie a a bright ribbon to your stroller to make it easy to find in the sea of strollers.

3. Fanny pack

I remember the days of fanny packs and know that they aren’t exactly the coolest fashion accessory. That being said, having a fanny pack is awesome! I always travel with this one from Everest and it works great for everything I need to have on me at all times. It has a clip for your keys and three large pockets. It holds my cell phone, a small wallet, sunglasses, park map, hand sanitizer, portable fan, and my portable charger. I also carry around my stepson’s MagicBand as he is prone to lose it. This fanny pack is very easy to take on rides as you can just push it to the side and not have to put it in a locker. This fanny pack has become a staple in my travel arsenal as I proudly wear it to any theme park I go to.

4. Small backpack

The last time we went to Disney (without a stroller), my daughter carried around this backpack. This backpack is great for keeping things we might need, but not anything that I must have easily accessible. Our backpack contained water bottles, a small first aid kit, sunscreen, ponchos, and my son’s autograph book. It is surprising how much this little backpack can hold.

5. Water Bottles

The one thing that is free in Disney is water! You can ask for it anywhere in the park where they serve fountain drinks. So, rather than buy expensive water bottles, we bring our own from home. You can either go get cheap Disney themed ones from the Dollar Store or go for these collapsible ones that easily fit in your backpack or fanny pack. These are great for keeping you hydrated during the hot waits and definitely helps keep cranky children at bay.

6. Snacks

Disney is expensive; everyone knows this. One way to save on money is to pack your own snacks. I tend to buy items like goldfish or fruit snacks in bulk and then separate them into mini ziploc bags to take with us to the park each day. Snacks keep kids happy during the long lines and can help hold them over until your meal reservations. We still of course splurge on sweet treats every day, but bringing our own stops us from buying snacks multiple times during the day.

Hot Tip: You can preorder food and snacks through Amazon and get them delivered straight to your Disney resort when you arrive. Just select the time and date that you wish to have it delivered during checkout.

7. Portable fan

If you are visiting Disney during the summer, be prepared to be downright hot! The one thing that can help with this is using a portable fan. We use these fans that come in a three pack and charge via USB. They have two speed settings and last us the majority of the day. Again, anytime you can keep kids hydrated and cool, it helps keep everyone in good moods.

8. Sunscreen

Not only is it hot at Disney, but you will be in the sun for extended periods of time standing in lines. There are multiple shady areas and splashpads throughout the park as well if you need a minute out of the sun. We always apply sunscreen in the morning before we go out, but keep a travel size with us in our backpack to reapply throughout the day.

9. Portable Charger

At Disney you will heavily rely on your My Disney Experience app for things like making your Genie+ reservations, mobile meal orders, and checking wait times throughout the day. Using your phone consistently will drain your battery pretty quickly so it is important to bring a portable charger. I love these ones from iWalk because they don’t require any extra wires. This easily fits in my fanny pack and doesn’t take up too much space.

10. Ponchos

Florida is known for pop up storms that can last for a few minutes to a few hours. In order to not let it put a damper on your day, it is easy enough to pack a few ponchos in your bag. Disney sells them for about $12 each or you can get this awesome family pack of five ponchos for the same price.

11. Hat and/or Sunglasses

It is important to keep yourself shaded and protected from the sun. In addition to sunscreen, use a hat or sunglasses to keep the sun out of your face. You can find some pretty cute hats online, like this one here.

12. First Aid Kit

With all the walking around Disney, blisters can be inevitable. We tend to travel with a small first aid kit or at the very least a few bandaids. While there are first aid stations throughout the parks, having your own tiny kit can help save you from the hassle.

13. Hand Sanitizer & Masks

COVID rules have relaxed significantly at the parks but change based on current trends. The last time we went to Disney, masks were still required when we were inside waiting for rides but we did not have to wear them outside. You can check out Disney’s latest COVID rules and regulations here. Nevertheless, it is a good thing to pack a few in your bag just in case. We like these simple masks which were comfortable enough to last all day. You can also get some fun Disney themed masks.

14. Good Pair of Sneakers

As I mentioned before, you will be walking 10-12 miles every day. Whatever you do, do NOT wear flip flops! I am constantly shocked when I see people doing this in the parks and have no clue how their feet don’t hurt. While you might want to put together the perfect Disney outfit, make sure you have well supported shoes. I personally love my Brooks Ghost shoes which offer just the right amount of support. You can check out your local running store though to see what type of shoe they might recommend for your unique foot.

15. MagicBands

These used to be included when you booked your Disney package, but they no longer are. These can be linked with your My Disney Experience app to use as your room key, stored credit card information, park tickets, and Genie+ passes. While it is unfortunate these aren’t included anymore, it does mean that you can find some pretty cool ones online like this one.

Everyone’s backpack is going to have different stuff, but hopefully this is a good start for you. Let me know what your Disney essentials are in the comments below!

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