My husband and I love Disney World. My husband surprised me with Disney tickets for our honeymoon on our wedding day. So I didn’t get to help him with the planning for that trip, but I must say, he did pretty well. We just got back from our second trip their together, and my fifth trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. This time I was able to put my Disney knowledge to the test. We put together a “Disney Parks Bag” to take with us everyday.
What You Need For the Perfect Disney Parks Bag
1. The Bag
This is important. You want a bag that’s big enough to carry all of your things, but small enough to keep from being annoying. Really the size comes down to personal preference, but I love my bag. Its long and skinny. It has several pockets and compartments. The bag was made to be a workout bag and is made out of a waterproof material that is perfect for Florida’s random showers. I love all the pockets, some people may have an issue with them since you have to open your bags at the gate when you walk in. But that minor inconvenience at the start of the day doesn’t outweigh the connivence of finding what I need from the bag quickly. There is also water bottle pockets on both sides. (Depending on the size of your group, you may want more than one bag. Keep that in mind when planning your bag.)
2. Water Bottles
One of the best tips for the Florida heat is carrying your own water bottles. Disney World will allow you to bring in your own bottle, and they have several water fountains all over the parks. Keep in mind they DO give out full size ice waters for free at any quick service counter. But also keep in mind that most quick service counters will have lines. So if you don’t mind standing in line for free ice water, you may be able to skip carrying around a water bottle. But the ease of taking a drink from my own bottle is worth it to me. And knowing I can refill it at any time with free ice water isn’t too bad either. Other’s have suggested bringing a water bottle that has a filter because the water tastes “weird” but I don’t tend to mind. But if you are picky about your water, you may want to get a filtered water bottle. We took our Hydro Flask, which was an amazing thing to have. Hydro Flask water bottles will keep your water cold all day. That is not an exaggeration. We put ice in it in the morning and the ice hadn’t even started to melt by lunch! It stayed ice cold until we had drank every drop!
3. Water Flavoring
Another tip for saving money (and possibly fighting the so-called “weird” tasting water) at Disney, is to pack water flavoring in your bag. We packed a little bottle of Mio. But we never had to use it. We didn’t mind packing it because it took up next to no space. So throw it in if you are worried about the taste, but know it won’t get in your way if you don’t want it.
4. Snacks and a Snack Bag
One of the best money saving tips for visiting Disney, is packing your own food. Most people don’t know you can bring in your own food to the parks. Bringing in your own snacks is a great way to save money on food while you are there. But don’t skip eating at Disney all together. Disney has amazing food options that you don’t want to miss out on. So save money on the snacks, so you can experience the amazing food and character dining only DIsney has to offer! We bought a little lunch sack that folds up very small. Every day I threw a few packs of Disney Fruit Snacks, Cliff Bars, Trail Mix and Pop Tarts into the little snack bag. If we started to get hungry before dinner, we’d dig into our snack bag. It didn’t just save us money, but also saved us time!
5. First Aid Kit
Disney has a First Aid Station, and it is a very good station. Take it from someone who had a brief stay in one as a child. But it is always smart to keep a small First Aid Kit on you for minor things. Throw together the following in a small bag to keep on hand while you are visiting the parks:
- Band Aids (with Disney Characters on them of course)
- Pain Meds (Tylenol, Advil, etc.)
- Cough Drops
- Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick
- Feminine Products
- Any Additional Personal Meds
Gum isn’t sold in any of the Disney Parks, so if you’re a big gum chewer (like my recent Ranger School Grad), it’s a good idea to throw a pack or two into your bag.
This may seem obvious to some of you. But others who are stubborn about putting it on, now isn’t the time to skip the sunscreen. Getting burnt on your first day in the parks can lead to the rest of your stay being miserable. I suggest buying the small tubes or bottles and putting a fresh one in your bag everyday. I also think its wise to keep one of the small sticks of sunscreen (that look like glue sticks) in your bag for quick touch ups on your face and shoulders throughout the day. There’s nothing worse that getting “sunglass tan” or getting a weird tan from your shirt the first day that messes up the rest of your vacation pictures!
Whether it’s on your phone, a GoPro, or a DSLR, Disney is FULL of magical moments you’ll want to remember for the rest of your life. If you want to skip carrying a camera, you can always use the Memory Maker Package, which I totally recommend. It’s a great way to get EVERYONE into the picture. But the Disney Photographers won’t always be there, so even if you just use your phone. I suggest having some sort of camera with you in your bag. Just remember to leave the selfie sticks at home. They are banned from all the Disney Parks! Disney Photographers will take pictures for you on your camera if you ask, so there’s no need to break that rule!
With the ability to use the My Disney Experience App, there is really no reason to leave your phone at home! You can use the app for maps, setting your FastPasses, viewing your PhotoPass pictures and so much more. Really only one person needs their phone to use the Apps, so you can skip having the kids bring one (if they have one) so they can focus on having the time of their lives!
10. Portable Charger
With spotty service and using the My Disney Experience App and your camera frequently, you are going to drain your phone battery pretty quickly. It’s a good idea to have a portable charger on you so you can charge your phone on the go. You don’t want to miss out on last minute dinner reservations or a quick FastPass switch because your battery died! Some smaller digital cameras can be charged by portable chargers as well, so keep that in mind.
Your MagicBands are ESSENTIAL to your vacation. If they aren’t on your wrist, attach them to your bag so you don’t forget them. There isn’t really a reason to take them off since they are waterproof, but if you must, put them in your bag. For more information on the MagicBands and why I think EVERYONE should have one, click here.
12. Hand Sanitizer
Disney World is a busy place full of children who touch just about everything. It’s not a bad idea to have some hand sanitizer on you for a quick clean up before you eat. You can get little Disney Themed Hand Sanitizer keychains from Walgreens for 25 cents. Just clip it onto your bag and your ready to go.
You never know when it’s gonna rain in Florida. There’s a very good chance it will rain at least once while you are in the parks. So its a good idea to come prepared with ponchos. You can get cheap ponchos at the Dollar Store. Some people like to buy enough for everyone to have a fresh poncho everyday so they can throw away their used, wet poncho once they are done with it. We were not prepared on our first trip so we bought $10 Disney World Ponchos. But we saved them so now we have our Mickey Mouse Ponchos to use forever and ever. So the choice is yours. Just don’t forget to pack an extra poncho (or tarp) to cover your stroller if you have one!
14. Plastic Baggies
Another awesome tip for the rain, or any water rides like Splash Mountain, is to have plastic baggies. You can place anything you don’t want to get wet, like your phone, in a baggy so it will stay safe and dry.
15. Extra Socks in a Plastic Bag
Yet another amazing “rain tip” is to have extra socks in a baggy. If it rains and your socks get wet, you can take out your fresh socks, place your wet ones in the bag, and continue on with your day. There is so much walking to do at the parks, you won’t want to have wet socks!
16. A Small Sweater or Jacket
I only used mine on two of the four days we were there, but I am so glad I packed it on those days. After riding Splash Mountain in the morning, or sitting in an air conditioned restaurant for dinner, you may find yourself wanting one too!
I am so glad we took the time to put together such a detailed Parks Bag because we always had exactly what we needed. Our bag was a little big at times, but we were able to ride every ride with it without much hassle. The only real annoying part was waiting in the bag check line at the start of the day. They keep the lines moving pretty quickly, but just about everyone going in has a bag or purse of some kind, so the lines can be long. They also check EVERY BAG. So if you have bags inside your big bag, like we did, be prepared to open those as well. We took the little bags out before we got to the front of the line and I had them check two, and Zac had them check two. It got us through faster.