Wondering what to pack for Disney World or Disneyland? This post covers unique items that’ll improve your vacation, not a check-list of basics. For 2016, we’ve added some fun new gadgets, plus other items you never knew you needed. When packing, we do follow a simple check-list, but most of you probably have similar lists, so you don’t need a reminder to bring toothpaste and deodorant.
Instead, here’s our list of less obvious items that we bring with us to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the international parks (like Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris!), which you may want to consider adding to your own checklists. We change our packing list regularly based upon feedback and suggestions we receive in the comments on this list (thanks!), as we like to try new and useful travel products that will improve our trips.
Our 2016 ‘what to pack for Disney’ updates include a few new products that we’ve found have made our trips easier and has saved us money. Note that this list is not tailored towards any specific season, so check out our Winter Packing Tips for Disney post for more specific insight on what to take on your trip if you’re visiting from November through February.
For the food and consumables, to avoid adding weight to our luggage (we have a page devoted solely to choosing the right luggage) that might cause us to have to pay baggage fees, we often place an order with Amazon.com prior to our trip, and have the items shipped to our Disney resort. (In Address Line 2, specify your arrival date.) Shipping on orders over $35 is free with Amazon.com.
With all of that said, let’s get to the Disney packing lists. Hopefully this ‘Unique Disney Packing List’ makes your trips better, too…
Gear & Stuff
Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad – By far the most popular item on this list, Chilly Pads use some sort of space-age science material (or witchcraft?) to simultaneously be “cool and dry.” After getting wet (and being wrung out), the towel becomes cooler than the outside air, providing cooling relief without the wet mess. When it stops cooling, re-wet the towel and wring it out. Viola, cold again. This is the #1 item on this list for good reason, as they are perfect for unbearably hot days in Walt Disney World or Disneyland!
Compact External Charger – Poor reception in the parks and the need to check wait times, planning apps, or share photos via social media can be a drain on your battery. We use 3 different external batteries, depending upon how much juice we will need. All are pictured below, lying on a Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad, so you can get an idea as to sizes…
- Anker “Pocket Sized” Battery – This is smaller than an iPhone and is approximately 2 full phone charges. On our visual below, this is the top charger. This is best if you want something light and compact for your pocket.
- KMASHI “King Sized” Battery – For about the same cost as the Anker, this is double the capacity, giving you around 4 full phone charges. As you can see, it’s about the size of an iPhone. It’s heavier and bulkier, but that doesn’t matter much if you’re tossing it in a backpack.
HOTE DEAL: As of May 17, 2016 you can get a larger size than the “King Sized” KMASHI battery for $12.50 by clicking here and entering coupon code KMAS1991 at checkout. That’s almost $40 off the full price on Amazon!
- Aukey “Brady Bunch Sized” Battery – This is the bottom battery on the graphic, and it’s slightly larger than an iPhone 6. With a whopping 8 full charges, this will get an entire family (or one very social teenager) through a day in the park. You can also use this for an iPad or other device (I charge my camera with it). This charger offers the best bang for your buck.
10-Pack of Ponchos – If you don’t want to spend $250 on ponchos (slight exaggeration) at Disney over the course of your vacation, we recommend taking a 10-pack of ponchos (or more) for your group. They’re small (one is actually “hidden” in the photo above!) and easy to throw in a backpack. There’s also a 4-pack if you think you won’t need 10. Chances are, there will be afternoon showers during your trip. These ponchos are also great for water-based attractions.
If you want something higher quality and more versatile, this <$20 Frogg Toggs Rain Suit is great. You might get some odd looks in your rain pants, but you’ll be the one laughing when you’re dry following the afternoon Florida monsoon, while everyone around you has soaked shorts. Get the yellow color for added style so you really stick out in the crowd! 😉
Travel Hand Sanitizer – Yes, the Disney parks are magical, but they are not magically germ-free. In reality, every surface has been touched by countless other hands (and if it’s a stop kids can reach–mouthes!). We like these because they are ‘summer scented’ travel sanitizer that we only use at Walt Disney World, so now the scent of “Ocean Kiss” is mentally associated with Walt Disney World!
Parade Blanket – We’re calling this a “parade blanket” because it’s a great alternative to sitting on the ground while you wait for parades at Disney, but we actually learned about this thanks to living by the beach and needing something better than towels. This has weighted corners, is pocket-size, and puncture-resistant. It’s also water-resistant, so you can use it as a poncho in a pinch. It’s really versatile, so you’ll be using it in lots of places outside of Disney.
Grid-It Organizer – The concept behind this is great, and it works wonders for organizing your suitcase, assuming you have a lot of little trinkets (chargers, batteries, cameras, etc.) like us. If you don’t, or if you don’t have items sized appropriately for it, it’s just one more piece of clutter.
Packing Cubes – We are sort of split on this one. I like packing cubes for organizing my clothes (especially for longer trips), Pictured above are my cubes, but if I were to do it again, I’d buy this set of 4 instead. I love the ones I have, but the 4-piece set would work perfectly in a carry-on size suitcase. I usually only use 2 of my 3 piece set, because an odd number is just…odd. This is a great way to keep your suitcases organized, so it doesn’t look like a tornado went through your hotel room when you unpack.
Compression Bags – Instead of packing cubes, Sarah prefers space-saving compression bags as she thinks packing cubes are inefficient and take up extra space (I disagree–they’re so thin that you don’t notice them). Which works better for you will be a matter of personal preference, so we thought we’d present both options.
HOT DEAL: This set of 10 compression bags is on sale for $19.99 (as of May 20, 2016). If you need more bags, that’s an insane deal. We just stocked up!
Discounted Disney Pins – This one isn’t so much a practical thing to pack as a money-saving one. If you’ve read our Disney Pin Trading Tips post, you know that pin trading is a fun, albeit expensive thing to do in the parks. However, by buying pins before your trip online, you can pay ~$1 per pin instead of $8-10. Highly recommended!
Collapsible Water Bottle with Purifier – This came out in early 2016, and we’ve been using it for the last several visits to Disneyland. We tested it on our least favorite drinking fountain in Disneyland (is it weird that we have a least favorite?) and it passed with flying colors, removing the funky taste and providing water that was actually refreshing and clean. For us, the space-saving design makes it a better travel alternative to the Brita filter water bottles we previously used. Those are still good (and cheaper), but this takes up way less space. (Note that there are two versions of this bottle–make sure to get the one with the purifier!)
Yankee Candle Room Spray – It may sound hokey, but if we have space in our suitcase, we bring a new Yankee Candle spray to give a “scent” to the trip. When we return home, we forever associate that scent with our Disney trip. Spiced Pumpkin is great for fall, and at Christmas, we actually prefer these Christmas ScentSicles–hang a few around the room, and it’s like having a freshly cut tree in there!
Mini USB Power Strip – Not only can this power strip charge standard items, but it has 2 USB charging slots and is super-compact and cordless! With all of the electronics we have charging in the room at the same time, a power strip is quite useful. If you only need USB ports, this is a great travel-sized alternative.
Amazon Fire TV Stick – Unfortunately, television stations are really limited in the Walt Disney World resort hotels. As WiFi speeds are improving, we’ve found the Fire TV, Roku, and Chromecast sticks to perform surprisingly well (our favorite is the Fire TV, but all will work). This pocket-sized stick now travels with us everywhere, and is compatible with all televisions in on-property resort rooms, and enables you to watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, ESPN, CNN, and hundreds of other channels.
Photography Gear – Only mentioned here because we know a lot of people visit us looking for camera suggestions…if that describes you, you’re on the wrong page! Check out our Ultimate Disney Parks Photography Guide for photography tips and tricks, plus camera suggestions. Oh, and while it’s not technically a piece of photo gear, one thing I recommend for photographers is a head lamp. Don’t laugh…it’s really useful, albeit extremely dorky. It’s actually a good option for non-photographers, too, but in fewer circumstances. I use this Energizer 7 LED Headlamp.
Body Glide – Since making the original list, many others have recommended this product to us as the best way to combat chaffing. I started using it when I began runDisney events, and now it’s a staple on my runDisney Marathon Packing List!
Shout Wipes – Shout Wipes, Tide pens, anything that can clean up stains. I’m an expert at making messes, and these stain treaters are lifesavers.
Downy Wrinkle Releaser – Clothes packed in suitcases can get wrinkled and no one likes ironing. A much better solution than letting wrinkled clothes “air de-wrinkle,” like I do when I forget to pack this.
Over-the-Door Organizer – If you hate a cluttered hotel room, this is perfect for putting over the bathroom door to organize. Throw in everything from Pop Tarts to park maps to toiletries so everything is in one easy-to-find location.
Neck Wallet – For those who fear being pick-pocketed or just don’t like carrying a wallet in your pocket, the neck wallet is for you. It also contains an RFID blocker. We see a lot of people wearing lanyards and fanny packs in the parks…and this is a step up from both of those things. (That is, unless you buy this rad “space kittens” fanny pack!)
Clothing & Footwear
Moleskin Padding Roll – Okay, so Moleskin isn’t footwear, per se, but after a couple days in the parks, it might as well be! This stuff works miracles, and can save your feet significant discomfort and pain. Four rolls of it may seem like overkill, but think again.
UltraSlim Travel Umbrella – Not only is this travel umbrella “UltraSlim,” but it is windproof and has a lifetime guarantee. We have ruined so a few umbrellas that have been caught by gusts of wind at Walt Disney World (Epcot under Spaceship Earth always seems to be their downfall), so this actually is important.
Crocs Classic Sandal – If you don’t care about style, Crocs are your best option for staying comfortable when walking around the parks. Don’t forget the Mickey Mouse Crocs for kids!
SPF Sun Hat – Sarah has 4 (no joke!) different colors of this same cheap and fashionable sun hat, and wears them in the parks to keep the sun off of her face, and to stay cool. They are breathable and lightweight. The only downside is their large size, which makes them difficult to pack (we recommend carrying them on).
OluKai Ohana Sandal – Sarah has–I kid you not–three different pairs of these (because apparently they need to match your outfit?). Fashionable sandals that perfectly combine comfort and cuteness, and provide enough comfort so your feet won’t hurt after logging miles in the parks.
RYKA Hydro Sport Shoe – Definitely not the coolest looking shoes, but these are great for summer and fall, when afternoon rain showers are quite common. They dry quickly and are very breathable, but with the support and comfort of “regular” tennis shoes. Men should try the Teva Churn.
Moisture Wicking Socks – In order to get the most out of hydro shoes, you need quick drying socks, too. Again, these are totally worth having, and if you don’t believe us now, you will after a day of soggy feet following a ride on Splash Mountain.
Water Shoes – The RYKA’s above are great for this, but if you want a cheaper option for the water parks, dedicated water shoes are a great purchase. Not just because they’re good for the water, but because they will keep your bare feet from being burned on the hot pavement. These are great, high-quality water shoes that will last a while.
Dresses – If you’ve ever viewed one of our trip reports, it’s no secret that Sarah likes dresses. Based on the emails we’ve received, she’s not the only female who does. Check out her What to Wear to Disney page dedicated to where she shops and ideas for finding cute outfits that are also practical for those humid days in the parks. She also has Tips for Accessorizing for Disney, to give your normal outfits cute ‘dashes of Disney.’
Caffeine Mints – Each one of these mints has about as much caffeine as coffee or an energy drink, so they will give you the energy to get through evening Extra Magic Hours, but won’t give you coffee breath or make you have to run to the restroom while in line for Toy Story Mania. Win-win!
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee – Joffrey’s Coffee and the new Starbucks in-park locations improved coffee in the parks, but packing your own is still much cheaper. Disney restaurants provide free cups of hot water, making Starbucks VIA a great alternative to buying coffee in-park.
Clif Bar Energy Bars – An excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamins, Clif Bars are a nice, healthy snack for between trips to Aloha Isle. Feel a little less guilty about having 3 Dole Whips per day by balancing with these.
Beef Jerky – High in protein, flavor, and awesomeness, bags of beef jerky are the perfect snack to bring to the parks. I am a self-proclaimed beef jerky expert-extraordinaire, and I prefer Jack Link’s Teriyaki Jerky out of mainstream brands.
As far as less-ordinary things go, at least, the less ordinary things that would be useful to others, this is about it for us. What about you? Are there any interesting things you pack that might make the rest of us say, “why didn’t we think of that?!” If so, share them in the comments. We hope this guide helps you better-prepare for Disney! If you are considering a purchase of any of these items or any other supplies for your vacation, we would greatly appreciate it if you use the links to Amazon in this post to make your purchase. It benefits the site, doesn’t cost you anything, and help us to keep providing you with useful content.
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What unique items do you recommend packing for a Disney trip? Any questions about any of the items on this list? We love hearing from readers, so please share some of your favorite items for travel, or any other thoughts or questions you have, in the comments!