Walt Disney World Visitors: How to Plan Ahead and Pack The Right Essentials

by | Apr 4, 2023 | WDW Blog

With just a few essential items, you can turn any day at Disney World into a great one. Don’t forget to bring along these essentials, which will help you make the most of your theme park visit any time of the year.

Your first trip to Walt Disney World is booked, complete with hotel reservations and advance dining reservations, and you’ve thoroughly researched how to use Disney Genie and Genie+ to make the most of your stay. Now, all that’s left to do is pack your bags, and hop in the car (or on a plane) to head to the most magical place on Earth. But what, exactly, should you bring into the theme parks? Packing for Walt Disney World can be overwhelming, even if you’re just visiting for a day – but all you really need are a few essentials to make the trip comfortable and fun!

Florida’s blend of heat and humidity, plus the occasional need for sunglasses and an umbrella at the same time, may leave you feeling a little overwhelmed or even stumped. After all, you don’t want to be caught unprepared if you’re planning to spend the entire day in the parks from rope drop to fireworks. At the same time, if you bring too much, you run the risk of achy shoulders (and a grumpy attitude) from lugging your pack around. So, what’s the solution? We’ve compiled a list of non-negotiables that will afford you that extra shot of pixie dust, so you can have the most magical day ever.

Choose the Perfect Park Tote

Disney World Essentials to Pack Backpack

Photo courtesy of Disney

First things first: You definitely need a bag at Walt Disney World. But what kind of bag should you bring? A small backpack is a safe bet, as it’ll provide you with a little more wiggle room than your standard purse or fanny pack. Don’t go too big, though, or you’ll wind up packing more than you need, thereby losing the benefit of comfort.

Use this as an opportunity to show off your Disney style by selecting a Loungefly Mini Backpack that matches your outfit. This Rose Gold Minnie Mouse Sequin bag, for example, pairs adorably with these darling ears

Or, if you want to treat yourself, this Disney Sketch Backpack by Dooney & Bourke is the perfect size, and it will snag you compliments long after your trip has ended. And, while this Mickey Mouse and Friends Backpack by COACH is definitely a splurge, you will find yourself incorporating it into your wardrobe well beyond the theme parks. 

To that end, if you typically carry a larger, zip-around wallet, you may want to consider leaving that in your hotel room, opting instead for a smaller card-holder, like this one by Disney X Kate Spade New York. This will save real estate for other must-haves you need to stash in your bag, which we’ll get to in a minute. Oh, and if you’re a coffee lover, don’t forget to bring any unused Starbucks gift cards – the Starbucks cafes across Walt Disney World accept these forms of payment. 

Now that you’ve got the perfect bag, let’s get into what, exactly, to pack. 

Be Prepared for Magic, Rain or Shine

As we mentioned, Walt Disney World is unique in that it’s prone to a wide variety of weather conditions, sometimes within a single hour. So, be prepared to protect yourself from sunshine and storms both. A leisurely stroll through EPCOT’s World Showcase can quickly turn into a sprint for cover should you get stuck in a summer downpour. You’ll see swarms of Guests avoiding the rain in shops like Germany’s Die Weihnachts Ecke. Avoid this fate by bringing your own small umbrella like this DAVEK MINI, which spans only about 7 inches when it’s folded in your backpack. 

If you tend to run on the cooler side, you may want to consider bringing a light sweater, too. It should be thin enough to either roll into your bag or tie around your waist. While you’ll sweat in the summer heat, you may find yourself a bit chilly while inside cooler attractions like Mickey’s PhilharMagic.  

Regardless of the day’s forecast, however, sunscreen is an absolute must! Slather some on before you leave the hotel room, ensuring to apply SPF to the scalp if you’re not wearing a hat, as well as the tops of the ears. Incorporate sun protection into your makeup routine as well, with this Shimmershade Illuminating Cream Eyeshadow that comes with SPF 30 or this CC+ Cream that is SPF 50+

You’ll want to leave the big sunscreen tubes in the room, though, and opt instead for smaller, travel-sizes for reapplication throughout the day. We think this Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion is a great choice – not only is it SPF 50, but you can buy a bottle as small as 1 fluid ounce.

For the face, there are several options when it comes to sunscreen reapplication, regardless of whether or not you’re wearing makeup. You could opt for a facial mist like this one from Supergoop! or this one by Kate Somerville. Both products are advertised as a way to smudge-proof your makeup and both come in travel-sizes small enough to throw in your bag.

Or, if you tend to run on the oily side and prefer a powder to mattify your skin, it doesn’t get easier than Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush on Shield Glow. The brush is included!  

Stay Refreshed

Disney World Essentials to Pack Water Bottle

Photo courtesy of Disney

You simply cannot enter Walt Disney World without a water bottle, which can be refilled at various spots throughout the park. Bring an insulated cooler with a strap for easy access to hydration, all day long. Bonus points for snagging this adorable Chewbacca Bottle Cooler, which can be worn across the body. 

Water isn’t just for sipping when you’re thirsty, though. You can also use it to cool down when the weather warms up. Spritz yourself with Avene’s Thermal Spring Water for an instant pick-me-up as the day wears on. Buy the 1.6 fluid ounce bottle so you can store this easily in your bag.   

Avoid Hanger

Just because you booked lunch and dinner reservations doesn’t mean you won’t get hungry as you zigzag across the park. Sure, there are plenty of snack options at Disney, but if you want to save a few bucks, consider bringing a couple of protein-packed snacks in your bag. You are allowed to bring food into the park (so long as it doesn’t smell or require refrigeration), so why not pack a Peanut Butter RXBAR or a squeeze pouch of cashew butter?

Stay Charged

And last but certainly not least, you’ll need a couple of items to ensure you stay fully charged, both energetically and electronically. 

We cannot overstate the importance of bringing a small bottle of ibuprofen in your bag. Between the crowds, the walking, and the heat, you don’t want to be without this versatile medication. It can offer relief should you get a headache, sore feet, or general aches and pains as you walk thousands of steps across the theme parks. It is possible to find pain relievers inside the parks, but you’ll have to seek out a Cast Member to do so. 

And you absolutely have to bring a portable phone charger with you, as you won’t be able to use Disney Genie or Disney Genie+ without your phone! You can either pack a charging cable alone or a cable and battery pack; bringing both ensures you have a charging solution on you no matter how far you might be from electrical outlets.

Beyond this, though, try not to worry about leaving anything out. The amazing Cast Members around the park will guide you toward any missing items you may have forgotten. Above all, bring your energy for a great day at Walt Disney World!

For more vacation planning tips and insight, work with an experienced travel agent! The agents at Destinations to Travel can help you plan your next Walt Disney World visit with ease so you’re prepared for anything. Just click below!

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Posts by Jess Richardson

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Jess is a writer, yoga instructor, and self-expression mentor with a deep love of all things Walt Disney World. She lives just a short drive from Cinderella's Castle, but she spends most of her Disney days in EPCOT, where she loves strolling through World Showcase and time traveling aboard Spaceship Earth. She has worked for the Orlando Sentinel newspaper and taught creative writing to adults of all ages. You can follow more of her work at @the_jesslauren!
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Authored by
Jess Richardson

Jess is a writer, yoga instructor, and self-expression mentor with a deep love of all things Walt Disney World. She lives just a short drive from Cinderella's Castle, but she spends most of her Disney days in EPCOT, where she loves strolling through World Showcase and time traveling aboard Spaceship Earth. She has worked for the Orlando Sentinel newspaper and taught creative writing to adults of all ages. You can follow more of her work at @the_jesslauren!
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