Wondering what to pack for you Disney World vacation? This post provides a comprehensive packing checklist and shares unique items and packing tips that will improve your vacation. We’ve added some fun new gadgets we tested during our Spring 2017 trip, plus other items you never knew you needed.
The first part of this Disney packing list highlights the less-obvious items that we bring with us to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the international parks (like Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris). These clever items have really improved our Disney vacations, and we’d suggest you consider adding them to your bags!
The bottom of the post features our comprehensive Disney packing checklist that you can download. We use this Disney packing checklist to make sure we’ve packed all the basics, plus unique-trip improving essentials in our luggage. We update our packing list regularly based upon feedback and suggestions we receive in the comments from readers (thanks!). We love these reader ideas, as we like to try new and useful travel products that will improve our trips…
Our updated for 2017 (last update: May 19, 2017) ‘what to pack for Disney list’ includes a few new products that we found during last year’s holiday season, and ones we’ve tested and used ourselves in the parks. Everything on this list will either save you money (in the long run) or make your park experience more comfortable. 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. Likewise, our Summer Packing Tips for Disney covers May through October.
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 unique item Disney packing list, and then the packing checklist. Hopefully this ‘Unique Disney Packing List’ helps you prepare for your vacation, and makes your trips even better!
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!
10-Pack of Ponchos – The #2 item, also for good reason, will save you a ton of money. Ponchos in the parks cost $10 each, and over the course of a vacation, that can really add up. 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.
USB Wall Charger – One of our top recommendations used to be the travel power strip (below), but we have found more and more that we charge devices via USB. Whether it’s our phones, external batteries, or even cameras, many devices charge via USB nowadays. This is great because it’s very compact, with a space-saving design that makes it easy to pack.Autograph Book Substitute –
One of our friends with kids used this Junior Character Encyclopedia of Disney Characters
(pictured above), and we thought it was the most brilliant thing ever. Instead of having characters sign a blank page, have them sign this actual
book that includes info about 150+ Disney characters. They’ll read and re-read this after the trip, making it a treasured keepsake. (UPDATE:
Since we added this book to the list, we’ve heard tons
of feedback on Facebook from people who have tried–and loved–this!)
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.
- 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.
USB-Powered Fan – If you’re getting one of those external battery chargers above–and you really should–this seems like a great idea to go along with it. We “discovered” this while seeing someone at Shanghai Disneyland’s grand opening with it, and I almost tried to buy it on the spot from them…opted not to due to the whole language barrier thing. I’ve ordered it for our July trip to Walt Disney World, and cannot wait to get it. Should be really handy!
Travel Sunscreen Packets – No matter when you travel, sunscreen is an absolute necessity for a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation. If you’ve ever had a tube of sunscreen spill in your luggage or backpack (we have…many times), you know how inconvenient it can be. These individual travel packets take care of that problem, and are also much easier to put in your pocket or in a bag. They’re a perfect solution!
Pop-up Hamper – With how much money you pay for a hotel room, you probably don’t want it to look like the perfect habitat for Oscar the Grouch halfway through your trip. We’ve found the biggest issue always (ALWAYS!) is with dirty laundry, and a good way to keep this under control is by bringing a pop-up hamper. It collapses into practically nothing, making it easy to pack, and it keeps your room grouch-free. 😉
Frogg Toggs Rain Suit – If you want something higher quality, more versatile, and that will keep you totally dry, this rain is great. It’s inexpensive, and made of a really lightweight, breathable material, so you don’t get too hot (it’s made by the same company as the Chilly Pads, but out of different material). Seriously, you might think it looks silly, but after a dry afternoon with it, you’ll be asking: “why didn’t I think of this sooner?!” I love mine!
Foldable Rain Hat – A reader tipped us off to this one and I’ll admit…I’m not quite on board yet. While I’m totally willing to look crazy with my rain suit, this might be a little much. Then again, maybe it would complete “the look.” 😉
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.
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.
HOT DEAL: This set of *7* packing cubes is currently on sale for $16 (as of May 19, 2017). We’ve actually never tried this. Getting 7 cubes instead of 4 would be nice, and it looks like they can be arranged in luggage to maximize space, but I really like the set of 4 for our own needs…
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.
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 – Ever tasted drinking fountain water in Florida? It’s gross. This removes the funky taste and makes the water refreshing and clean. For us, the space-saving design makes it a great option for travel. (Update: the GoRoam bottle we use is currently unavailable on Amazon, but the one listed above is a great alternative.)
Brita Filter Water Bottles – If you don’t want to spend as much money or don’t care about the space-saving design of the collapsible bottle, this is the best option, hands down. It’s inexpensive and durable (we’ve had ours for a few years!) Plus, it makes fountain water taste great, is BPA-free, and dishwasher safe!
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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 a few pairs of these fashionable sandals that perfectly combine comfort and cuteness, and provide enough comfort so your feet won’t hurt after logging miles in the parks.
OOFOS Shock-Absorbing Sandal – Sarah needed to get a new pair of sandals last week, and bought these at the recommendation of a friend who loves the added support. She’s had these since summer, and she loves them. The sole is a bit thick, but it should be good for long days in the parks. (We’ll report back on that!)
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 EVO Water Shoes.
WetBrush Pro Detangle – This hair brush performs well with wet hair, and your hair will get wet if you’re visiting Walt Disney World. A staple of Sarah’s Disney bag.
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!
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.
Alright, as promised, here’s our Disney packing checklist, which includes a bunch of the above items, plus more common things that you won’t want to forget, too. Note that you don’t need to pack everything on this list–it covers all of the important stuff but might be more than you, personally need…
With this list, we tried to skip things that are unnecessary (like shampoo, conditioner, a first aid kit, etc.) because you can find them in your hotel room or in the parks, or because they aren’t realistically necessary for most people. There’s the temptation to over-pack (especially with all the clever ideas on this list), and that should be resisted. There’s no need for 3 suitcases per person on a weeklong trip to Walt Disney World! 😉
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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!