When we pack for Walt Disney World or Disneyland, we make a check-list of what we need to bring for the trip. We’re sure most of you also have similar lists, and probably 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 Disney, 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 2013 updates include a few products we’ve yet to try and one we wouldn’t be caught dead using–but we note the few things that we have not actually tested ourselves.
For the food and consumables, to avoid adding weight to our luggage (we have a page devoted solely to choosing the right luggage, so check that out if you need new bags) 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 $25 is free with Amazon.com. One tip for this is that you need to specify when ordering that you want your order in “as few shipments as possible.” A few Disney resort-hotels charge a small “package fee” when you pick up the package. This $2 or so fee isn’t much for one package, but could really add up if Amazon ships each little toiletry separately!
With all of that said, let’s get to the lists, grouped by category.
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. We were skeptical of these at first, but now they’re a must-pack for us. They are cheap and convenient, and are perfect for unbearably hot days in Walt Disney World or Disneyland!
“Lipstick Size” External Phone Battery Pack/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; this very small backup will get you through the day and doesn’t take up much space. Another small option with double the juice is this backup.
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.
Photography Stuff - 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 Camera Buying Guide for photography suggestions.
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. We know a couple people who swear by these. We’re including it on the list because 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!
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.
Plug-in Yankee Candle Scent - It may sound hokey, but if we have space in our suitcase, we bring a new Yankee Candle plug-in to give a “scent” to the trip. When we return home, we forever associate that scent with our Disney trip. Room spray also would work, but we no longer recommend actual candles. Our favorite YC scents are Sun & Sand for Summer trips and Holiday Bayberry for Christmas trips…just in case you care!
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.
Body Glide - Since making the original list, many others have recommended this product to us as the best way to combat chaffing. We have not used it.
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. (Although it pales in comparison to the homemade jerky you’ll find at a flea market or swap meet!)
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee - If you don’t like atrocious coffee, you best bring your own to Disney, or plan on stopping at Kona Cafe every day. Joffrey’s Coffee and the new Starbucks in-park locations will likely improve things, but packing your own is still cheaper. Few people realize Disney restaurants provide free cups of hot water, making Starbucks VIA a great alternative to buying coffee in-park.
Gatorade G2 Powder Packs - Hawaiian Punch also makes a good fruit punch packet, but the “health” benefits of Gatorade are a bit better. Get free cups of water from a Disney counter service restaurant.
Clif Bar Energy Bars - An excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamins, Clif Bars are the perfect compliment to jerky if looking for another great snack!
Brita 24-Ounce Water Filter Bottle - The taste of the water at Walt Disney World leaves something to be desired. If you want regular ‘ole water, and want it to taste palatable, make sure to pick up a couple of these before your trip! A potentially great alternative to this (that we have yet to try) is a space-saving collapsible water bottle.
Ponchos!!! - If you don’t want to spend $250 on ponchos (okay, slight exaggeration) at Disney every time an afternoon shower begins, stop at Wal-Mart and grab some ponchos from the sporting goods section for ~$.99 each. These ponchos are also great for water-based attractions (well, with the exception of the water slides at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and World of Color. The last time we went to Wal-Mart to grab these, they didn’t have them. They’re about $.50 more expensive (for 4) at Amazon, but still considerably cheaper than in the parks. Stock up on these before your trip.
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 this page dedicated to her dress-buying tips.
Hats – Another perennial favorite of Sarah’s, big floppy sun hats are great for shading you from those harmful Florida and California rays.
Travel Umbrellas - Sarah and I each received “Totes” mini umbrellas a couple of Christmases ago, and they’ve held up wonderfully. We often forget to take them to the parks, but when we do remember to take them, we prefer them to ponchos (which are always in our bags). I have no clue whether this is the exact model we own.
800-Fill Down Coats - This is obviously a seasonal recommendation. If you’re traveling in the winter months, we highly recommend packing an 800-fill down coat. We recommend 800-fill over 600-fill because 800 is a higher quality of down, and compresses far better. The advantage of down over fleece is that it’s warmer (no synthetic is as warm as down) and takes up much less space. An 800-fill down coat takes up barely any room in a suitcase. Sarah wears a Patagonia Down Sweater and I wear a Marmot Zeus Jacket, both of which are pricey but are very high quality and backed by great companies. I recently wore my Zeus on a winter expedition to Yosemite National Park, and I was never cold. If it can handle real winter weather, it can handle Florida “winter” weather. If you’re looking for some cheaper options, check out the 800-fill down coats on SierraTradingPost, which is an off-season/overstock outdoor retailer with inexpensive and low stock inventory that changes frequently.
Mountain Hardwear Windproof Fleece Hat - Fair warning–this hat isn’t even remotely stylish, but it has an internal windproof layer, meaning it will keep you warm in any weather. I wear this on winter hikes, and it’s my favorite hat I’ve ever owned.
Handwarmers - Another seasonal recommendation, these handwarmers are cheap and excellent when you’re waiting around for a parade or fireworks, and a great “filler” item on SierraTradingPost.com.
Agloves Touchscreen Gloves - Another item that isn’t the epitome of stylishness, but these gloves will keep your hands warm while allowing you to use your touch-screen smartphones. Perfect for use in mild winter conditions.
Dr. Scholl’s 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.
Crocs Classic Sandal – Crocs are quite possibly the most divisive piece of attire to come along in years. I think regular Crocs are hideous and would never wear them, but Sarah thinks the comfort outweighs the way they look–plus they are a great way to incorporate Disney (if you purchase the in-park Mickey or Pirates ones) into your attire!
Merrell Sandals – When wearing dresses, Merrell sandals are typically Sarah’s footwear of choice, as they look slightly better than Crocs. Comfortable yet very expensive for sandals, you can occasionally find good deals on these at DSW.
Saucony Shoes – Saucony doesn’t spend insane amount of money advertising like the major shoe brands, but instead invests in footwear technology. The result shows, as Saucony shoes are great value-for-money. The benefit for Disney is that most Saucony shoes have “Hydrator” technology that wicks away water. Great for especially wet rides aboard Splash Mountain. I have three pairs of Saucony shoes, and my favorite is the Saucony ProGrid Shoe. I’ve worn this pair of shoes everyday we’ve been in Disneyland or Walt Disney World from 2011 through 2013, and they’re great.
Moisture Wicking Socks – Moisture wicking socks are really hit-or-miss in quality, so it’s best to head to your local Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx and feel a few pairs. We’ve had good luck with Wigwam Cool-Lite Socks and Puma socks. Despite the price, they’re definitely worth having (for wet rides on Splash Mountain…who wants soggy feet the rest of the day?!).
Water Shoes – If you’re hitting the water parks or plan on spending significant time at the pool during your trip, water shoes are a good idea. These are great, high-quality water shoes that will last a while, but if you’re looking for a “one-time use” shoe that you can throw away after your day at the water-park, you might try Wal-Mart instead.
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 anything else for that matter–just click the links here to get to Amazon and navigate to any items you might need for your trip), we would greatly appreciate it if you use the links in this post to make your purchase. It benefits the site and help us to keep providing you with useful content!
For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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What unique items do you recommend packing for a Disney trip? Share some of your favorites in the comments!