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Confession Time! I ABSOLUTELY hate packing. I never knew what to pack for Disney, and so I fell into a frustrating pattern:
- Decide this time would be different!
- Start packing early to avoid stress
- Realize I suddenly hated all my clothes
- Text my mom and friend to complain that I hated all my clothes
- Give up and leave my bedroom a disaster because I pulled out all my clothes and packed NOTHING!
- Remember the night before I leave that I hadn’t packed and quickly throw a few things in a suitcase and hope I had everything (which I never did)
Sound familiar to you? Please tell me I’m not the only one! Many people have “what to pack for Disney” lists, but this one is different. I’m not going to give you “10 things I always bring to Disney” or vague items like “outfits”… like seriously, what kind of outfits!
Knowing What to Pack for Disney
I want to take the stress out of packing. Packing for Disney is less about specific items and more about understanding what you will be doing. If you’re not really sure what you’re doing on your trip, head over to my Disney Vacation Planning Series and when you get to Step 9: Packing come back here.
Because here’s the secret…I pack different things on every trip to Disney.
Sure I have some stuff I bring with me every time, but a lot of it changes. That’s why my packing system isn’t based on how many outfits I need, but what I need the outfits for. Here’s the difference:
I need 7 outfits because I’ll be gone for 7 days. Oh, I got that new skirt last week. I’ll take that and I love that polka dot shirt. Perfect that’s two outfits already! Oh, wait the shirt is long sleeved…That’s ok it will be cool in the evening.
And can I really get on and off the ride in a skirt? I’m sure it will be fine! Uh oh! I forgot about travel days! And am I going to want to change before we head to Disney Springs for the evening? I’ll take it all just in case.
Here’s what you’re going to end up with in this scenario–a hot mess! You will have enough clothes, but at least some of them won’t be suitable for what you’re doing. You’ll be digging through you’re bag each morning trying to decide what to wear. And if you’re like me, you’re suitcase will be a mess!
I am going to be gone for 7 days. On day 1 we will be traveling. Jeans, a simple t-shirt, and slide on shoes will be best for airport security. On day 2 we are relaxing at the resort before going to a Halloween party.
I will need a sundress to slip on over my bathing suit, and my costume for the party. This is the perfect time to use that new sunhat I got!
Do you see the difference? In the 2nd scenario, you know exactly what you need. It comes down to choosing the specific items, and chances are you probably have limited items that fit your needs. That makes your choices much easier. When you change your mindset, packing becomes much easier.
Packing for Disney Guidelines
Now that we’ve got you’re new packing system down. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what you’re going to pack. I promised you this wouldn’t be a “pack 5 outfits” list.
So instead I’m going to go through the different situations you might find yourself in (aka park days, Disney Springs, resort days, etc.) and share what types of clothing work best for each one. Here’s what to pack for Disney park days:
Walking Around the Park
When it comes to Park Days, cool and comfortable is the name of the game! This is not the time to try out new shoes or put fashion above comfort. Go for tried and true favorites, and if you do get new shoes or clothes, take the time to break them in before your trip.
I see a lot of people at Disney in athletic wear, and it is a great choice to stay cool and comfortable. But I’m not the sporty type so I prefer to keep it casual with some Disney inspirations.
I usually go for shorts and a Disney t-shirt, but depending on the time of year, I’ve also done jeans, leggings, and sweaters. Consider packing a lightweight rain jacket in your bag.
The key here is to dress in layers no matter what items you choose. Choose shirts that won’t show sweat or stretch out if they get wet. For pants, something that dries quickly is great in case you get caught in the rain or go on Splash Mountain.
Shoes are a make it or break it item when it comes to packing. I personally love crocs, but not the ugly kind. Shaun will only wear the ugly kind of Croc to the parks, but they have Mickey on them so I give him a pass.
My current pairs are Croc gladiator sandals and Croc canvas slip-ons. They keep my feet happy all day! Other common choices are running shoes and TEVA sandals.
Regardless of which shoes you choose, you want a pair that stays on your feet, cushions your soles all day, and doesn’t rub even when wet. Take any shoes for a test drive. Wear them hiking, on a marathon shopping trip, or to a local amusement park. If you can’t be comfortable in them for at least 8 hours, it’s time to try a different pair.
I have a small Disney bag obsession…let’s not discuss how many I own. But most of my Disney bags do not make the cut for the park. They must be big enough to fit a rain jacket, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, and other smaller items to get me through the day, but can’t be so big that it doesn’t comfortably fit on a ride.
A park bag should also be hands-free like a backpack or crossbody. You’ll get tired quickly if you have to hold onto a bag all day, and even shoulder bags can be cumbersome after a few hours.
My favorite park bag is a small backpack. It’s easy to carry, big enough for everything I need without weighing me down, and on a lot of rides, I don’t have to take it off.
Even if you have a stroller to leave the majority of your stuff on, consider taking a small crossbody wallet to hold cards, IDs, and other items you wouldn’t want to leave unattended.
As you tour the parks, you will see people with Mickey Ears on. I love to add a pair of Mickey Ears to my outfits. Although I’m the first to admit, they rarely stay on all day because I start to get a headache from them. Shaun usually wears a baseball cap to help keep the sun off his face. One must-have accessory is sunglasses.
You will want to keep your accessories to a minimum. Sure! They look super cute, but when you get hot or wet they may become more of a nuisance than they’re worth.
Chillin’ at the Resort
Resort days are much more casual and easier to plan for. Chances are you’re going to spend the majority of your time relaxing by the pool. It’s perfectly ok to wear these options on multiple days to save room in your luggage.
A bathing suit is a must on a Florida vacation. The type of bathing suit doesn’t really matter. Just choose the one you are comfortable in. If you plan on going back and forth to the pool a lot, you may want to think about packing a second suit so you don’t have to try to get into a wet one.
You’re going to want some sort of cover up for your bathing suit. It can be a bit of walk to the pool from your room depending on where you’re staying. Also, most of the food will be inside in the air conditioning, as well as the gift shops. I prefer a light sundress to throw on over my bathing suit. While Shaun packs a swim shirt to avoid that wet, stretched-out, t-shirt feeling.
Once again you’re going to want to go with easy-on, easy-off here too. Sandals and flip flops are great for walking back and forth to the pool. Shaun once again has his trusty Crocs on these days. Pick shoes that will do good when wet and won’t have you slippin’ and slidin’ all over the pool deck.
Keep accessories on these days to a minimum. Disney provides towels at all its pools so leave those at home, especially if you’re flying. I like a big sunhat to keep my face shaded while lounging by the pool. Once again don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses!
Visiting Disney Springs or Other Resorts
Here is your opportunity to wear that new dress you’ve been dying to debut. I usually dress up a little when we’re headed to Disney Springs or hopping around the resorts. These are the days were having nicer dinners and strolling through stores. Here’s what to pack for Disney Springs or Resort Hopping:
While I like to dress up, I still want to have a touch of Disney on these days. That’s where Disneybounding comes in! Disneybounding is wearing a Disney character’s color-scheme and accessories, but with modern clothing.
For example, if I wanted to Disneybound as Mickey, I would wear a black shirt, red skirt, white belt, and yellow shoes. I might find a Mickey glove necklace to finish it off. If you search Disneybound on Pinterest, hundreds of ideas will come up, but don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it.
Even though you won’t be outside as much on these days, the Florida heat can get to you quickly! So keep clothes lightweight and consider taking a light sweater if switching between heat and air conditioning gets to you.
It’s fine to wear a cute pair of sandals or flats to walk around Disney Spring, but you may want to leave the heels at home since you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking. I like a cute pair of sandals for these days, but I still opt for Croc sandals to be comfy.
Likewise, this is the time to break out the accessories, especially if you’re going the Disneybound route. Mickey Ears are totally acceptable when shopping or even at a nice meal. Avoid things like scarfs to keep cool. I still suggest keeping bags lightweight and hands-free when possible. After all, you’ll need to be able to carry all those shopping bags.
Travel To and From Disney
When deciding what to pack for Disney, don’t forget the travel days. Travel outfits should always be comfy and layered. Airport temperatures can be unpredictable or you may be driving from one climate to another. Keep everything as simple and streamlined as possible to avoid any hiccups.
Here are my goals for travel clothes–can be changed up to accommodate any temperature, comfy enough to sit in for long periods of time, and looks put together. I don’t like looking frumpy when I travel; I find being put together puts me in a better mindset.
For me, this means things like a t-shirt dress and leggings or loose jeans and a nice t-shirt. I bring a light sweater that can be thrown in my carry on or tied around my waist. Scarfs are great accessories for travel days.
Avoid things like pajamas and baggy sweatpants. You’ll find you get treated better when you take the time to look put together even if you’re still casual. Try to avoid belts, chunky metal accessories, and heavy coats to make security easier.
Whether I’m driving or flying, I like shoes that are easy to slip on and off. I tend to take my shoes off on long drives and have to take them off for security. I don’t usually do sandals just because I don’t want to walk on the airport floor barefoot. Toms, Vans, and Sperrys are nice choices because they can be worn with no-show socks and don’t have to be untied.
Airlines will have size restrictions for your bags, and they vary between airlines. Be sure to check these to avoid extra fees. Taking your park bag as your carry-on helps save space and keeps your hands free at the airport for tickets and IDs. Be sure to keep those in a pocket you can easily get to!
Packing for Disney Tips
I have a few extra tips for packing your suitcase. These will help you once you are on vacation to stay organized.
I used to throw everything in the suitcase as I went, but I found a little preparation before my trip saved me a big headache later.
Pack by Day, Not by Category
Heres where packing by what you’re doing comes together. Pack each outfit together instead of packing a pile of shirts, a pile of pants, and so on.
For each outfit, I make a stack of the pants, shirt, undergarments, and accessories I’ll need for that outfit. If I need to wear a piece of clothing more than once, I put it with the first outfit, and then set it aside until I need it again.
By doing this, I avoid getting to the end of the week and only having one clean shirt and one clean pair of pants that don’t match each other because I forgot what outfits I had packed. Plus, when I’m getting ready, it’s easy to just grab a stack of clothes and go!
Like I said above, pack your accessories with the outfit you’re going to wear it with. I put them all in a sandwich size plastic baggie to keep them together. If you have a necklace you’re afraid will tangle, put the chain through a plastic straw before putting in the bag.
Keep Shoes and Sweaters to a Minimum
Nothing takes up more room in a suitcase than shoes and sweaters! Find 2 pairs of shoes that can be used for every outfit. For me, this is a pair of gold sandals and a pair of black canvas slip-ons. Same goes for sweaters! Take one cardigan and one hoodie that can be thrown over anything.
Whew! That’s it! You now know what to pack for Disney. To see what to else you will need to pack, check out the rest of this packing series:
Tell me down in the comments what you’re biggest packing challenge is!