PACK THE PERFECT DAY BAG FOR DISNEY WORLD
You’ve booked the flights, reserved a hotel room, and planned your itinerary down to the second.
You’re all set for your perfect Disney vacation, but you just have one more hurdle to overcome before enjoying a day at the parks: packing your day pack for a day at Disney World.
Honestly, this can be a little stressful. Even if you’re staying on property, it’s a huge time suck to travel to and from your hotel if you forgot something, and you’ll lose precious time at the parks. You want to make sure you’re prepared so everyone can enjoy their day with a minimum of whining and complaining. (You paid a lot of money for this trip, after all! Everyone BETTER be enjoying themselves!)
Since we’re Florida residents, we’re often in and out of Disney for one day. We live over an hour and a half away from the parks, so when I pack my day pack for Disney World, there’s no turning back if I forget something. Buying food and necessities inside the park is EXPENSIVE, so I’ve learned the art of packing the perfect Disney day bag.
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WHAT KIND OF BAG SHOULD I USE FOR DISNEY WORLD?
The kind of bag you use for Disney World entirely depends on your situation. You’ll want to choose between a cross-body bag or a backpack.
IF YOU’RE BRINGING A STROLLER
If you’re bringing a stroller, you might consider a bag or backpack that stays on the stroller while you’re on rides. This bag will carry diapers, wipes, snacks, sunscreen…basically anything you don’t need to lug onto rides that no one would want to steal. You should then have a second, smaller backpack or cross-body bag to carry your valuables: money, ID, phone, camera, park tickets, etc.
I also bring a soft-sided cooler and hang that over the stroller handle or put it under the stroller.
This is the crossbody camera bag I use when I have my DSLR with me. It fit my nice camera and has pockets for a cell phone with slots for cash, cards, and ID. It’s small enough that I can stuff it into my larger backpack, then take it out to go on rides.
If you don’t have a big camera with you and just want a VERY minimalist, VERY tiny crossbody bag for just your phone, ticket, ID, and money, you need THIS. This little wallet bag has served me very well during my travels and is super affordable.
IF YOU’RE NOT BRINGING A STROLLER
If you’re not bringing a stroller, that means your kids are probably a little older. In this case I would advise that everyone gets their own small backpack with a water bottle, snacks, and their essentials. My family (I have 5 sisters) went once when I was in high school, once when I was in college, and my mom had us each carry a drawstring backpack.
WHAT SHOULD I PUT IN MY DAY PACK FOR DISNEY WORLD?
All right. Let’s get to the nitty gritty of what to actually put in your cute little bags. (Or large functional bags. Whatever works).
I like to go through the following categories when I’m packing my bag for a day at the parks.
ID - you’ll need your ID to get your tickets or if you’re planning on buying any alcoholic beverages and have .a baby face like me. We’re Florida residents, so we always need to show our Florida drivers license to get our discounted tickets, too.
Park Tickets - If this is the first day of your trip, you’ll need to pick up your tickets at the park. If you already have your tickets, double, nay, triple check that they’re in your bag/wallet.
Money - I like to carry a few bucks in cash with me for popcorn refills or for tipping if you’re staying at the hotels. Otherwise I just make sure to have my credit card along. If you’re staying on-property, you might be able to skip this altogether by having credit card connected to your MagicBands!
Park Map - You’ll be able to get these for free at the park, but if you’re doing some planning ahead of time you might consider printing one off and writing things down, circling important spots, etc.
Phone - obviously. Who’s not carrying their phone with them at all times?
Phone charger and portable charger - There are spots around the parks where you can plug in your charger and hang out while you juice up your phone. If you’re not into waiting around, make sure to have your portable charger with you and ready to go. All that scrolling on social media, taking pictures and videos, posting Instagram Stories, and using the My Disney Experience app really eats up battery life on your phone.
Waterproof phone pouch - If you’re planning on going on water rides and want to be extra safe, make sure you have one of these with you. I think a Ziploc bag would also do the trick.
Camera - our phones have incredible cameras on them, but sometimes you want the crispest, clearest, best pictures possible from your Disney trip. I’m saving up for a smaller mirrorless camera like this, but for now I have my trusty DSLR with me.
Instax - my college-age sister has one of these, and brought it along on our most recent trip to Disney World. The kids loved using it to get pictures with the characters, which they taped into their autograph books right next to the signature. It was such a fun idea!
SNACKS TO BRING TO DISNEY WORLD
Healthy & portable snacks - almost everything you find to eat in the Disney parks is either super expensive, fairly unhealthy, or both. I have no problem with enjoying junk food on vacation, but there does come a point where if you don’t feed your kids or yourself some nutritious food, everyone feels the effects and gets CRABBY. We like to pack:
PB & J sandwiches
individual baggies of pretzels or crackers
Frozen water bottle - I freeze a few water bottles the night before our trip to Disney, then use them as ice packs in our cooler. It keeps our food cool and then we have some refreshing cold water to drink later in the day.
Reusable water bottles - You can fill these up before heading into the parks, then stop at any restaurant or kiosk that has a soda fountain for a free cup of ice water. Ask for a few cups, then pour that water into your water bottle and you’re set for the next couple hours.
Popcorn bucket - If you haven’t already, purchase a souvenir popcorn bucket to bring to the parks every time you go. Refills are $2 and go a long way toward keeping kids happy while walking around the parks. The handle unhooks so you can strap it onto your stroller or backpack.
BABY AND TODDLER GEAR FOR DISNEY WORLD
Diapers & wipes - Put a day’s worth of diapers and wipes into a gallon sized plastic bag. It makes it a lot easier to pull out of your backpack if one parent has to dash off for an emergency diaper change.
Extra wipes - I like to take a half-empty bag of wipes to keep within easy reach for face and hand messes. Do not underestimate the Florida heat. Everything melts and ends up all over your children when they eat.
Changing mat - whether you’re changing a baby on the changing table in the restroom or you’ve got an emergency situation you need to take care of before you can reach a bathroom, it helps to have a mat for sanitary purposes. Just pick a lightweight one.
Pull-Ups or Extra Underwear - if you’ve got a potty training or recently potty trained child, don’t forget extra pull-ups or underwear. For that matter, don’t forget an extra pair of shorts. Accidents happen, especially when you consider the excitement of the day and all the lines you’ll be waiting in.
Hand sanitizer - I don’t need to explain why you need this with babies. Just get one that clips on your bag or stroller for easy access.
Wet bag - for dirty diapers or clothes if you have nowhere else to stash them. A plastic bag will work in a pinch.
Baby food - if you’re traveling to Disney with a baby, don’t forget the baby food (I suggest those handy-dandy pouches) unless you want to be tearing up your food into tiny bits for your pint-sized human the entire meal while they shriek for more.
Milk - it’s certainly available in the parks, just a bit more expensive. Or maybe you have breastmilk or formula you need to keep cold. Bring your cooler, and don’t forget a gallon size plastic bag to refill with ice at any kiosk to keep your milk cold.
Stroller - it’s optional, but if you have young children with you, I can’t understand why you would want to go without it. It’s a place for naps, storage for your gear, shade, home base all in one. Consider buying fans that clip onto stroller to keep your little ones cool.
Baby carrier - Even if you’re already bringing the stroller, I suggest also having the baby carrier along for waiting in long lines. We like the Lillebaby Airflow Complete. Read all about why here.
Hat - don’t forget sun hats to protect baby’s skin in the hot Florida sun!
Muslin blanket - these lightweight blankets are perfect for snuggling for naps, spreading out to sit on during parades, an impromptu breastfeeding cover, or a makeshift burp cloth.
Sunscreen - don’t forget to reapply every couple hours. The Florida sun is STRONG.
Rain jacket - depending on the time of year and projected weather, you might consider lightweight waterproof jackets. If you want to power through the rain, lines are usually shorter and the parks get less crowded for a bit.
Waterproof stroller cover - to protect your kids and your stuff in case of a sudden downpour.
Pain relievers - I always seem to get a headache from rides and not drinking enough water.
Band-aids - everyone is walking a lot. Be prepared for blisters or unexpected injuries.
Tissues - because kids.
Mouse ears or mouse ear hats
Dress-up clothes for the kids - if they want to look like their favorite character when they meet them
Marker or pen for autographs
Pins - if you’re into Disney pin trading
FOR THE KIDS
Small sticker or activity book - the kids can work on these while waiting in line. Check the dollar store or the dollar spot at Target!
Noise-canceling headphones - We need this for my middle child. He’s extra sensitive to noise, and will have a meltdown on loud shows and rides.
Glow sticks - not only are these fun for kids to wave around during nighttime shows and fireworks, but they may come in handy for kids who are afraid of dark shows and rides.
DISNEY DAY BAG PACKING TIPS
ORGANIZING YOUR BAG
I’ve done quite a few Disney trips where I’m either alone with my kids or with my sisters and/or parents. It’s nice to have the extra hands, but ultimately I’m the one in charge of packing, carrying, and distributing everything my kids need.
This means I’ve had to learn to organize my bag ruthlessly. I find gallon-sized Ziploc bags help to keep everything separated by category and easy to pull out of the bag at a moment’s notice.
Make sure the things you’ll need most often are within easy reach in side or front pockets.
SECURITY AT DISNEY WORLD
Remember that you’ll be going through security before you enter the park, so don’t make the same mistake I did by setting EVERYTHING up on the stroller only to have it all moved around and inspected by security before you enter the park.
Have everything organized in your bag, have your bag, cooler, purse unzipped and ready to be inspected. You can keep your stroller unfolded, but it helps if there’s nothing in the basket underneath because they have to check that part too.
Once you get past security, pull off to the side and set up your stroller how you’ll want it for the day. I keep sunscreen, water, and my map on the stroller caddy. The backpack goes in the stroller basket, and I wear my camera and tiny purse across my body.
BE PREPARED, BE FLEXIBLE, HAVE FUN!
You can follow your checklist and be as prepared as possible and still discover that you “should have brought” something else you didn’t think of. That’s ok. Remember you’re at Disney to enjoy each other’s company and to have a good time. Try to be flexible and go with the flow, even if you forgot something.
FURTHER READING FOR PLANNING A TRIP TO DISNEY WORLD:
…and many more Disney posts all found here!