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What do you really need in your Disney park bag? Do you bring a backpack? or just your wallet? Do you bring everything you could possibly need? or just buy what you need as you go? I think what goes into a Disney park bag is one of the hardest packing questions there is to answer because it’s kinda personal. I mean I don’t normally go around telling people what they should put in their purse. Do you?
The truth is I’m normally a minimalist when it comes to what goes into a day bag. Around town, I usually just grab my wallet, keys, phone, and some chapstick, and I’m good to go. I tell the kids if they can’t carry it themselves then they don’t need it, but it wasn’t always this way.
Especially when the kids were first born, I worried all the time that I would forget something they would need. So I bought a big diaper bag and filled it up! Trips to Disney made it even worse. What would two kids need for 12 hours in a theme park? It was going to be a lot of stuff! And so I brought a lot of stuff! I didn’t just have a Disney Park bag; I had multiple bags!
In the past, I’ve injured both my neck and shoulder pretty badly, and all these bags would put so much pressure on them that I could hardly move my arm by the end of the vacation! Who wants to go on vacation and come back sore?
The problem was I wasn’t prepared; I was paranoid! When I would pack my Disney park bag, I would think of every possible thing that could go wrong. Now you should prepare for some likely scenarios, but it’s unlikely that every person in your family will need a change of shoes…yes, I worried about that! But that’s not going to be you!
Less is More
Before you pack your Disney park bag, I have three questions I want you to ask yourself before putting an item in:
- What is the Worst Case Scenario? I know I just said not to prepare for the worst case scenario, but the truth is when I stopped to consider the worst case scenario, a lot of times it wasn’t that bad! For example, I’m always looking to save a few bucks at Disney so I bring snacks with us. My kids love fruit snacks, but they’re not something I buy a lot. They always come to Disney with us through. Now even in extreme circumstances, I wouldn’t let the kids have more than two between meals. So I have 2 kids X 2 Fruit Snacks X 3 times a day (if I allow them after dinner too). That’s a total of 12 Fruits Snacks. That is the most I could possibly need if everything was falling apart. Considering I use to bring a gallon size bag stuffed with them, 12 doesn’t really seem so bad!
- Am I OK with buying it? Let’s go back to bringing extra shoes. After I quit doing this, I had a pair of shoes rub my heels really bad. I’d had them for a year, but it rained all day. Something about them getting wet tore my feet up. I could hardly walk and we had to stop to buy a pair of flip-flops. They were $20 which is more than I would like to spend, but I still have those flip-flops today. It’s not worth carrying 4 people’s shoes around all day because if it happened again, I would be ok with buying them again. On the other hand, I’m likely to need a poncho at Disney. Since one in the park costs almost $10, I’m going to throw 4 Dollar Store ones in my Disney park bag and not feel bad about throwing them away at the end of the day!
- Is it something I can’t live without? We all have things we need to get through the day. For my daughter, it’s her Pooh Bear. For my husband, it’s his eczema cream. If there is something you can’t make it through a day unless you have it, bring it with you! Always weigh your well being and comfort against how hard it is to carry!
What Not to Put In Your Disney Park Bag
Disney is lenient when it comes to letting you bring stuff into the park. You can take food and drinks which a lot of other places don’t allow, but they do have a few rules to keep in mind.
This one may catch you off guard, but selfie sticks are not allowed in the Disney parks. If I had to guess, I’m thinking one too many guests got whacked with one while trying to walk. People stop for selfies everywhere and three-foot-long stick probably caused a lot of issues. Just ask another guest to take your picture and then return the favor!
Of course, any weapons or anything that can be mistaken for a weapon should be left at home. Same goes for fireworks or other explosives. Use common sense. If people are going to panic when they see you with it, don’t bring it.
You can’t bring anything in a glass container. The only exception to this is the small jars of baby food.
Anyone 14 or older cannot wear costumes at Disney. Children under 14 may, but make sure there is nothing for them to trip on or that obstructs their view. I talk more about kids costumes in What to Pack your Kids for Disney.
What to Put In Your Disney Park Bag
Now that you know what not to bring and what questions to ask before you deem something worthy of room in your bag, I’m going to tell you what should be in your Disney park bag. Whenever possible get travel sizes for these items to keep the weight down. Even if you have to bring several travel size bottles to have enough for your trip, it will make a huge difference when you’re carrying it all day.
- Magic Bands– These are your park tickets, hotel room key, and payment method all wrapped up into one. You’re gonna want to make sure you have these! I left mine in my resort room once and it was not a happy moment. To prevent that from happening, hook magic bands to your bag’s strap if you take them off at the hotel.
- Phones, Cameras, and Portable Chargers- You’ll want to capture your memories so be sure to bring your phone or camera. If you opt for a camera, consider a neck strap to keep it handy. You’ll also need your phone for the My Disney Experience App to check wait times, order food, and book Fastpasses. Since all that can take a toll on your battery, bring a couple portable chargers to keep your phone going for as long as you do. If you get in a pinch, there are fuel rod stations in the parks, but not many so I don’t depend on them.
- Touring Plan- Be sure to bring your plan for the day. I like to print out our itinerary so it can be easily referenced, passed around, and saves my phone battery. If you need help making a touring plan go here.
- Wallet– Even though your Magic Band can do all things for you, I like to bring my wallet so that I have an ID, credit cards, and cash just in case. Take the time to clean out all those extra cards you won’t need like membership or library cards. It will slim down your wallet for the day.
- Sun Protection & Hydration- You’re going to be outside all day long so be sure to pack things to protect yourself. Sunscreen is a must. Even on a cloudy day, reapply often! I prefer a spray-on sunscreen because it’s fast and easy to apply on the go. Sunglasses, a hat, and SPF lip balm will also help. And don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated. A reusable water bottle will keep you hydrated and save you a ton of money! If you’re worried about getting tired of water, bring some flavorings to mix things up.
- Snacks- Nothing makes a family argue faster than being hungry! Prevent that and save yourself a little money by bringing some snacks with you. Choose individually packaged snacks to make it easier to munch on the go. Things like granola bars, trail mix, pretzels, and fruit snacks will pep you up without weighing you down. Don’t go overboard though. Ask yourself how much you really need per person and keep it to a minimum.
- Hygiene- You’ll be touching things that thousands of other people have touched. Make sure you pack a hand sanitizer to use before meals and periodically throughout the day to prevent illness. Consider throwing in a small package of baby wipes or wet naps even if you don’t have small kids. They can be used to wipe tables, faces, hands, or melted ice cream if your Dole Whip melts faster than you can eat it!
- Stroller Markers- Disney World has designated stroller parking areas. If you’re gone for a while, cast members may move your stroller to make room for others. Ever forgot where you parked your car? Yea its like that. To help us find them faster, we bought bright red strollers and hook these huggable Disney friends on the handles to help them stand out. Some people use signs, scarfs, and other items for the same reason.
- Stroller Leashes- For some reason, kids love to throw things from a moving stroller. It’s the best game in the world. I can’t tell you how many people have come running after me with something my kids dropped. Now we hook sippy cups, stuffed animals, and other things onto the stroller with these leashes. No more lost items!
- Stroller Covers- Rain showers can break out at any time in Florida. Your kiddos may not be impressed if their stroller is soaked. You can either buy a stroller rain cover to prevent this or use a dollar store poncho and some clothespins. I use the poncho so I can just throw it away and not have to deal with a wet piece of plastic.
- Baby Carrier- Even if you have a stroller, you’ll want a baby carrier for standing in lines or when they want to be held when they’re tired. For newborns and crawlers, I used a ring sling. For toddlers and up, I used a baby backpack. My daughter needed one at the parks until she was 2, but that’s going to vary child to child. If you have a kid who needs to be carried a lot, a carrier will save your arms and leave your hands free for other things.
- Baby Food Supplies- Every park has a Baby Care Center where you can feed, change, or rest with your child in some quiet and air conditioning. They also have supplies for purchases if you’ve forgotten something. Because of this, I only bring 1-2 bottles and wash them at the Baby Care Center as needed. You’ll also want to buy pre-proportion formula before you go or do it yourself in one of these containers.
- Diapering Needs- As a general rule of thumb, bring the number of diapers you would normally go through plus two. If you get desperate, you can buy some at the Baby Care Center. If your child has been potty-trained for less than a year, bring an extra change of clothes and some pull-ups. Something as big as a Disney vacation can really mess up potty-training.
- Medicines- Of course, if you have any prescription medicines, bring those with you. Other medicines you may want to bring are motion sickness, allergy, heartburn, and pain relievers (adult & child). To avoid bringing a bottle of each of these, divide pills into a pill case that has a spot for each day of the week. Be sure to label well!
- First Aid Supplies- To deal with minor scrapes, I pack a couple of band-aids and a piece of moleskin in case someone starts to develop a blister. If you need something you don’t have, there are First Aid Centers located at the front of every park.
- Ziploc Bags- I pack everything listed above in Ziploc bags. Since they’re clear, I can find everything easily. Plus, it protects all my stuff from water. I always bring a few extra to store wet clothes, leftover food, and anything I may need to keep safe and organized along the way.
- Rain Jackets/Ponchos- This one really depends on how comfortable you are with getting wet. It doesn’t bother me a lot, but I usually take rain jackets with me. I like them more than ponchos because they also help if it gets cool at night. Ponchos have the advantage of being disposable though. So it’s really up to you.
- Entertainment- You may be wondering how your kids will do in line or waiting for shows. Some easy entertainment options include glow sticks, bubble blowers, and Hidden Mickey books. Always be courteous of other guests while using these items. Another option is the Disney Plan App that has games that can only be played in the lines at Disney World!
Disney Park Bag Tips
Here are just a couple of tips to take your packing game up to the next level!
Supply Bag & Line Bag
If you are taking a stroller or don’t mind paying for a locker, pack two bags. One bigger one to hold the majority of your stuff and one small one such as a crossbody to hold valuables and a few snacks. Refill from the big bag a couple of times a day!
Give each kid a small bag, such as a fanny pack or mini backpack to hold a few snacks. They can munch when they want without having to ask every time they want something. You could also place a disposable camera, glow sticks, or other small toys in it as well.
Putting It All Together
This may seem like a long list to fit in your Disney park bag and I guess it kind of is. Here’s the thing— except for the baby stuff, everything on here will fit in a small backpack. Even the rain jackets, I roll and stick on one side and fit everything else in around them. Just look for travel sizes and lightweight jackets.
To get this as an easy Checklist, download the Packing for Disney Printable. If you’re just coming in now, head to the first post in this series to learn how to choose outfits that are right for every day of your vacation!
Did I miss something you think is a must-have for a Disney park bag? Let me know in the comments!