This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffine. It’s a win for everyone, really.
Are you worried you’re going to forget something when you head to Disney? Have you looked up multiple Disney Packing Lists and then smooshed them together to create on Mega Packing List? Are you now overwhelmed by everything everyone says you should be carrying around the park with you all day? If that describes you, I have great news! I’m going to give you the only packing list you will ever need!
Disney packing lists tend to be one of two things. Very minimal or Way too much. There isn’t a lot in the middle. Why is this? One because you don’t need as much as you think you do. And two, people want to make their posts longer or send you to Amazon to buy more stuff. How was that for honesty?
The Dangers of Overpacking
The truth is overpacking can actually hurt you. This is a hard lesson I’ve had to lean over the years. You may say, “But isn’t a good Boy Scout always prepared for every situation?” Well let’s just face it…..ain’t none of us Boy Scouts!
Here are two things that happen when you overpack.
First, you can’t find anything. I believe backpack manufacturers are conspiring against me. No matter where I put something, it is always at the bottom of my bag when I need it. If I’ve packed enough for an overnight trip (and believe me I have) I’m going to have to take most of that stuff out to find the one thing I need.
Picture yourself on Main Street waiting for the fireworks. You are packed in like sardines and the baby needs her favorite blankie….It is the only thing standing between you and a complete meltdown…Can you grab it in a single second, thereby saving the world, or at least your vacation? Or are you going to dig around in your bag while standing way too close to complete strangers? Trying to hold onto everything you’ve pulled out while baby starts to tear up.
Want to know why I could describe that in such great detail? Because it was me at Disneyland when our daughter was one. And by the time I found the blankie she wasn’t the only one close to tears. In my mind I was prepared, but for what? In my bag, I had enough snacks for a small army, a full first aid kit, toys to keep kids entertained, even powdered milk…like Disney doesn’t sell milk! I had so much that we didn’t need that I couldn’t get to what really mattered.
Becoming a Human Luggage Cart
Second, if you try to carry all that all day you are going to wear yourself out! “But I’m bringing a stroller to put it all on!” That’s what I said too…and then I realized I had to carry it all plus the stroller and a kid when we got on and off the bus. And then I had to take it all off again to go through security! It was terrible!
When the Disney Dude was a toddler, I injured my shoulder pretty badly catching him from falling off a chair. It took me no less than 3…yes 3 trips to Disney to realize the reason that my shoulder was killing me after every trip was because I was lugging a suitcase around on my back while pushing a stroller loaded with kids and stuff everywhere we went. By the end of our vacation, I was tired and sore, rather than rested and relaxed.
The Cost of Underpacking
On the flip side of all this, if you don’t pack enough, you may find yourself spending way more money than you intended. Or especially if you have kids, some things are one of kind and cannot be bought.
The Pixie Princess has a Pooh Bear that she loves. She has never spent a night without him and I wouldn’t want to find out what that would be like. The thing is her Pooh is the exact same one you can find at any Disney Store or Park. Except she knows that none of those are hers! So we bring it with us because when she needs a nap or scrapes a knee, only the Real Pooh will work.
Even as adults we have certain things that we like or need. If you have a medical condition or food allergy, you will need to be prepared to take care of those needs because it is unlikely that Disney will be able to. Shaun has eczema on his hands and only one hand cream relieves the itching. Obviously, we bring that hand cream with us everywhere we go! Weigh the level of comfort against carrying it.
Also being underprepared can end up costing you a lot. A drink is a minimum of $3. If you have to buy one every couple of hours, that is really going to add up. They will give you a free cup of ice water, but it is a little cup. Instead, bring a reusable water bottle and ask for several cups. You can pour it into the bottle and be set for a while. As an added bonus you can bring water flavorings to add some variety to your day without buying pop!
What I’ve learned
Thankfully, you can benefit from my years of packing misadventures. Had I stopped worrying about running out of stuff and really thought about it, I could have lightened our load considerably. I finally smartened up and took inventory of what we were really using. Now I pass my wisdom on to you!
Is it Worth It?
The biggest factor in packing for Disney is being real with yourself for a moment. What is worth carrying? What are you unlikely to need so you can buy if you need to? What is going to ruin your day if you don’t have?
Do the Math
Here’s an example. My kids love fruit snacks. Like no matter what’s wrong if I break out the fruit snacks everything in life is sunshine and roses again. They are not something I keep around the house often, but because they are miracle workers, I always pack them for Disney.
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!
Worst Case Scenario
When I started considering the worst case scenario, I was able to get some perspective on what I really needed. If it’s something I only MIGHT need, and it’s reasonably priced at Disney, I’m going to skip it. For instance, I use to bring an extra pair of flip flops for everyone in the family in case someone’s shoe broke or hurt.
In all honesty, a pair at the park is around $20. Chances are I’m never going to need them because I pack dependable, comfortable shoes for everyone, and if I had to, $20 wouldn’t break the bank in an emergency.
Be Honest with Yourself
Honesty is also important if you tend to under pack. Let’s say you are the kind of person who HATES to walk around in wet clothes, but you want to go on Splash Mountain, And let’s face it, it’s gonna rain in Florida. If you hate to get wet, bringing a $ store poncho with you is a great use of space because one at the park is gonna be a whole lot more than $1.
The Balanced Packing List
Now that we’ve discussed the pitfalls of packing for Disney, Go ahead and download your packing list as part of my Disney Vacation Mini Guide. In it, I cover must-haves, might-wants, and never-brings. This packing list is the balance of everything we’ve talked about above.
If you’ve missed the beginning of this series, head here to make sure you didn’t miss any important steps in your trip planning! Step 10 will be out next week and will cover what to do the day you get there and the day you leave!
Until then, grab your packing list and leave a comment below telling me the one thing you can’t go to Disney without!