What to Pack: 9 Theme Park Essentials for First-Time Disney Visitors

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Disneyland Parks, Walt Disney World

If you’re a first-time visitor to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, deciding what to pack can feel overwhelming. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t skip these essentials to stay comfortable, covered, and well-hydrated!

Headed to the theme parks and not sure what to bring? For first-time visitors, the idea of spending a whole day – or even multiple days – at a Walt Disney World or Disneyland park can leave to stuffing your backpack full of items, just in case. Before you wind up with a heavy, overstuffed bag, check out our list of essential items. Here are our top items every first-time visitor needs so you can pack for your Disney day like a pro!

1. A Reusable Water Bottle

Whether you’re headed to Florida or California, odds are the theme parks are going to be sunny and warm! That’s why one of the most important items first-time visitors will want to pack is a reusable water bottle so you can stay hydrated. A day at any Disney theme park means A LOT of walking, and you can easily wind up dehydrated if you aren’t sipping water regularly. Having a water bottle handy means water is always within reach – and you don’t have to pop into a restaurant or head to a snack cart when thirst finally strikes. 

Plus, here’s a fun fact: Disney theme parks have water bottle filling stations! Here’s how to find them while you’re in Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort.

At Walt Disney World Resort:

  • Open the My Disney Experience App and search for restrooms nearby. Since water bottle filling stations are pretty new additions here, you’ll find many near newer rides and restrooms. You can search for nearby restrooms to find either filling stations or water fountains that’ll provide cooled water you can use.
  • Check out PlanDisney online before heading into the theme park for suggestions in each theme park

At Disneyland Resort:

  • Visit this link to find water bottle filling stations at Disneyland Resort
  • Use the Disneyland App, open up the map, change your category at the top (located in the center as the default “Attractions”) to “Guest Services”. Then, you can search for bottle-filling stations by clicking “Show List” on the upper right side of your screen. Keep scrolling though the list until you find “Bottle-Filling Stations”, then click the “Find on Map” option. Voila! The locations that have bottle-filling stations will be displayed.

If you’re looking for a new water bottle to bring along to the theme parks, check out ShopDisney! Here, you’ll find fun Disney themed options like a cute stainless steel Chip ‘n Dale water bottle and a sleek Mickey Mouse insulated water bottle with a handy built-in clip.

2. Sunscreen

Whether you’re walking around the parks or waiting in line for food or a ride, you’ll spend lots of time in the sun at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Keep your skin safe by applying sunscreen. You’ll want to have it on hand throughout the day for multiple applications. And even if it’s a cloudy day, you’ll want to apply a layer – vacation-altering sunburns can still happen when it’s overcast!

Accidentally forgot yours at home? No problem! Some stores at the parks and Disney hotels sell sunscreen.

3. A Hat

Speaking of sun, protect your face (and eyes!) with a cute hat. While sunscreen and sunglasses offer layers of coverage, you’ll want to make sure your face, neck, and chest are properly shaded as you get constant sun exposure throughout the day. As an added bonus, a hat is the perfect accessory for hiding hair that’s been tousled by a few coaster rides! Just remember that during some rides, Cast Members will ask you to remove anything on your head (hats, Minnie ear headbands, sunglasses, etc.) to make sure it doesn’t fall off on the ride. 

One of the best choices? Bring a Disney-themed hat that features your favorite characters or perfectly captures your personality! We like this Encanto-inspired baseball cap that reminds everyone that whatever happens, we don’t talk about Bruno! Or, you can keep it simple and opt for a theme park hat that doubles as a souvenir of your trip to Walt Disney World.

4. Sunglasses

The sun is usually always shining at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so you’ll want to keep your eyes happy and well-shaded by bringing a pair of sunglasses. If you forgot yours at home and are visiting Disneyland, Sunglass Icon at the Disneyland Resort and Sunglass Hut at Disney California Adventure are two places you can find a selection of sunglasses. If you’re without a pair at Walt Disney World, you can visit Sunglass Icon in the West Side at Disney Springs and Island Supply by Sunglass Hut at Magic Kingdom.

And don’t forget to check shops throughout the theme parks, too. Many stores sell cheap sunglasses that’ll offer shade and protection in a pinch, even if they’re not designed to last through regular daily use.

5. A Hair Tie (and a Couple of Spares!)

If you’ve got long hair, consider packing a hair tie. It will help keep your hair back and tangle-free when you go on fast rides, like Space Mountain and TRON Lightcycle / Run. Plus, if the temperature changes throughout the day, you’ll want something that can cool you down and pull your hair up.

6. Super Comfortable Shoes

A day at the parks means a day where you will definitely get all your steps in (and then some)! Make sure you choose comfortable walking shoes. Your first trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland isn’t the time to break in a brand-new pair of sneakers or opt for thin flip flops. Instead, first-time visitors will want to pack (or wear) a pair of shoes that offers support and cushioning so you can avoid sore soles, knees, ankles, and more with all of the walking you’ll be doing. 

Get the kids in your group excited for their Disney trip with a pair of adorable Disney-themed shoes like these Mickey Mouse sneakers by Adidas. Or, show off your love for a Disney classic and don a pair of Mighty Ducks sneakers from Adidas with one of these adult styles!

7. Hand Sanitizer

Let’s be honest: Crowded theme parks are full of dirt and germs! Keep your hands clean by bringing hand sanitizer so you can apply regularly after visiting high touch areas, like ride queues or shops where you’ve picked up and handled merchandise. It’s especially handy to have for on-the-go snacks like popcorn, a churro, Dole Whip, a Mickey-shaped ice cream… There are too many good handheld snacks to choose from!

8. A Roomy, Comfortable Backpack

A backpack is a great way to keep your personal belongings safe and within easy reach. You can choose a backpack in just about any size, from mini to full-size to extra large, depending on how much stuff you’re planning to carry. With multiple compartments and dual straps, you’ll have plenty of storage space and be able to keep your hands free – a detail that’s key whether you’re wrangling little ones or carrying snacks from your fave EPCOT festival booths. 

As an added bonus, a backpack is the perfect bag to carry onto rides with inversions or high speeds. Whether you’re going on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, riding Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, or hitting the Incredicoaster at California Adventure, you’ll be going fast! Some rides have pouches where you can place your bags, but if your bag is too big to fit in the pouch, or if there isn’t a pouch on the ride, you can easily zip up your backpack to make sure all your stuff stays safe. A double bonus is you can easily collect your stuff without worrying that something might’ve fallen out of your bag after the ride is over.

Haven’t owned a backpack since you went to school? Check out the Disney Loungefly collection for some seriously cute backpacks! They’re the perfect accessory for theme park days, with attraction-inspired designs like this Mickey Mouse: The Main Attraction Jungle Cruise backpack as well as classic styles like this classic allover Mickey Mouse patterned backpack.

9. A Portable Charger

You’ll be checking the park app a lot to make reservations for Genie+, place mobile orders for snacks and meals, check show times, or look at the maps to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. That means your smartphone is going to get a lot of use at all of the Disney theme parks – and if you run out of battery, you can easily find yourself without access to your tickets, Lightning Lane reservations, and ability to plan! Even if you arrive with a fully-charged phone, it’s always a good idea to have a portable charger handy as a backup.

If you don’t bring a portable charger with you, theme parks at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have places that sell FuelRods. FuelRods are basically portable chargers that you can purchase, charge your devices with, and then swap for new ones when your FuelRod runs out of charge. It’s an alternative that’s convenient, especially if you’re someone who never remembers to recharge your backup battery!

For more tips on what to pack and how to plan for first-time visitors (or frequent Disney fans!), keep reading:

5 Kid-Friendly Essentials to Pack in Your Disney Park Bag

Disney World Packing List: What to Bring Free Printable Checklist

Posts by Emily Santana

Emily has been a Disney fan all her life. Growing up, she enjoyed watching Disney shows and movies (and she still enjoys watching them today!). She also loves to visit the Parks any chance she gets. One of Emily’s favorite things to do at the parks when she’s not on rides or exploring is to go to the stores and check out all the cute merch!

Authored by
Emily Santana

Emily has been a Disney fan all her life. Growing up, she enjoyed watching Disney shows and movies (and she still enjoys watching them today!). She also loves to visit the Parks any chance she gets. One of Emily’s favorite things to do at the parks when she’s not on rides or exploring is to go to the stores and check out all the cute merch!
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