Walt Disney World – touted as the most magical place on earth, but what do you pack for your very first Disney vacation?
Over 10 years ago we had our very first Walt Disney Vacation. I was in a stable job, and my youngest son was about 3, but I didn’t want to wait much longer since the other kids were getting older. I had no one to advise me on what I needed to pack, and all I had in my arsenal was what my Walt Disney World travel agent told me. My hotel, ride to and from the airport to our hotel, dining plan, and park tickets were all taken care of, so all I had to do was pack for my trip. What do you pack for your first Disney vacation? Well, after visiting almost every year since then, sometimes twice a year, or like we did in 2016, 3 times a year, I think I have a reasonably good grip on what you should pack and what you should leave at home.
Whether you’re heading to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you want to pack casual clothing. Shorts, tees or even skirts. Also, pack comfortable shoes! This is NOT the time to break in new shoes, you’re going to be on your feet and quite possibly walking for hours. While Florida and California don’t necessarily get snow, it can sometimes get cool so pack a light sweater as well. Now be wary of the too torn, cut off shorts, etc. While Disney doesn’t have a dress code per se, it’s a family park, and not everyone wants to see your goodies.
No matter what time of the year you go to any of the Disney parks, and no matter which Disney park you go to, always walk with sunscreen. Disney, especially in the summer is no laughing matter. The sun can literally burn and peel your skin. You also want your sunglasses to protect your eyes, and of course, you’re going to want to look cool too.
Hand Sanitizer/Baby Wipes
You’re going to need them. Finding somewhere to wash your hands after eating one of those yummy Mickey Bars isn’t always easy or convenient. You’re also going to be waiting in line, touching the seats, rails, etc., of the rides that you are going on. Remember, hundreds of people did that before you, and you have no idea how many of them had a cough/cold/runny nose. Sanitizer and baby wipes are your friends!
A Mini First Aid Kit
This could be as simple as a Ziploc bag filled with essentials such as band-aid, antiseptic wipes, and Tylenol, for those pesky headaches. After being in a park for hours, and Disney is no quiet place, sometimes you can end up with a headache and having Tylenol at hand could be your lifesaver.
If you are going to Walt Disney World in Florida, then walk with your mosquito spray. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, then one will be provided for you. With the threat of Zika still present in Central Florida, it’s a good idea to be prepared.
While you can certainly buy these at the parks, if you prefer to save some money, I would suggest walking with your own. They are super lightweight so won’t take up much room in your luggage. Our very first visit was met with lots of rain, and we ended up buying Disney Parks themed ponchos while at the park. They also come in handy if you don’t want to get wet on rides such as Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, or Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom.
Camera, Cell Phone & Portable Chargers
You’re going to want a way to commemorate all those memories and the easiest and quickest way to do so, is to use your cell phone. It’s a great way to keep in touch with the other members of your party as well if you decide to go separate ways to experience the park on your own. A lightweight camera is also a good idea, and while you may want to walk with your DSLR, think about the weight. However, with your constant photo taking, posting on social media, keeping in touch with the other members of your party, checking to see the wait times for rides and your FastPasses, your battery can die pretty quickly. Finding somewhere to charge your cell phone is almost next to impossible, so I suggest walking with a portable charger. The one I carry is the Under One Sky Pom Pom Charger that I picked up at Nordstrom a few months back. It is super lightweight and doubles as a bag charm, but you can find cheap portable chargers almost anywhere.
Reusable Water Bottles
Did you know that Disney allows you to bring food into the park? Snacks and items that don’t need heating up can be brought into Disney parks. However, I’ve found having a reusable water bottle invaluable. The price for a bottle of water isn’t what you see in your local supermarket, and there are quite a few places for you to refill when you need a drink.
Autograph Book and Pens
Since this is your very first trip, you’re going to want to meet all the characters that you can meet. The fun part of meeting them is also getting their autographs. While you can buy specialized Disney themed autograph books at the theme parks, you can also buy them online so you’re ready when you get there. Retractable pens or sharpies are best to use, because there’s no chance of a cover to lose.
If you’re staying at a Disney World Resort hotel then you would have received a MagicBand. Even if you’re not staying at a Disney World Resort hotel I would suggest purchasing a MagicBand in advance along with your tickets. You then have the option of selecting your FastPass rides before getting to the park, as soon as 30 days in advance with just your ticket, or 60 days if you have a Disney World Resort hotel reservation. MagicBands are also convenient because you wear them as you would a watch and they are easily accessible, whereas paper tickets can sometimes get lost easily in your bag or fall out of your pocket. You also don’t want to spend time waiting in line purchasing tickets when you could have been in the park having fun already.
Now where do you keep all those things that I mentioned, that you’ll want to have with you in the park? A handy dandy backpack! If you’re an adult I suggest a crossbody bag, but if you have children with you, a backpack is a lot easier to carry and a lot more convenient. Take the weight off your shoulders and put them on your back!
I hope I was able to help you in your planning of your very first Disney vacation. You’re going to the most magical place on earth and I want you to be happy in the knowledge that you haven’t forgotten anything. Have a stress free vacation!