10 Things to Pack for Your Disneyland Vacation

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I admit it. I LOVE to pack when I’m going to Disney. I don’t love to pack when I’m moving, or going on some other kind of trip, but Disney? You betcha. I start packing weeks ahead of time. That suitcase on the guest bed means I’m going to Disneyland!! Or Walt Disney World, or on a Disney Cruise – all pretty equally exciting options. Packing for Disney tends to be different than packing for most vacations. Among other things, Disney parks require huge amounts of walking for most people, and you need to be prepared!

So whether you are scrambling to pack the night before you leave or are an early packer like me, here are some things you may not have thought of to bring.

1. Two pairs of Comfortable Shoes – Proper footwear is a must. Disney does a number on your feet. I have had days at Disney where by the end of the day I was seriously trying to decide if I would be in less pain if I chopped off my feet. Throbbing is way too mild a term for what my feet were feeling. Bring well broken in, supportive, comfortable shoes. Everyone has their favorite shoes – good tennis shoes, Crocs, Reef flip flops, Birkenstocks (does anybody outside of the mountains of Colorado wear those anymore?) or even Toms. I have found what works best for me is having two different pairs. Even the best of shoes tend to rub your feet in certain spots after that much walking. Alternating shoes every day helps that tremendously. It gives your feet a rest every day since the odds are the second pair won’t rub in the exact same spot. I personally wear Croc flip flops one day and my New Balance tennis shoes the next, but any two well-broken good-support shoes should work. My feet are so much happier at the end of the day now!

2. Good Bag to Carry – I love the carefree days when I can tour the parks unencumbered by a bag, but let’s face it, those days are few and far between. Years ago, it was a diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, teething toys, and the list goes on as all parents of babies and toddlers know. Then there was the time of younger kids who required small packaged snacks on thirty minute intervals, bottled water, wipes for sticky hands, and more. Now that my kids are teenagers (bonus – they can take a turn carrying the bag!), it’s a camera bag with multiple lenses, a flash, filters, and well, if you love taking pictures, you know the drill for that one, plus a few other things mentioned below. What kind of bag will be determined by your phase of life or your needs at the time, but odds are you will want a bag of some kind. Make sure that you don’t weigh it down with anything unnecessary. A light bag in the morning may feel like it doubled in weight during the day. Make sure you bring a bag with a comfy strap because they drag you down as the day wears on too.

3. Moleskin or Band-Aids – If number one fails, you will want something to cover those blisters! Or forming blisters as the case may be. Moleskin and Band-Aids are easy to put in your backpack or camera bag and your feet will thank you that you did! If your foot is rubbing in a certain spot, these can be a lifesaver. Bring them with you, you won’t regret it. We have found the Band-Aid Advanced Blister Healing Cushions to be especially effective. Or for extra fun, make sure to pick up some Mickey Band-Aids!

4. Baggies or Ziploc Bags – We seem to find multiple uses for baggies and Ziploc bags. We use them to carry snacks, leftovers that will keep for a little while and double as snacks, extra pin backings for when one falls off the back of your child’s lanyard (in other words 7 times a day), and a myriad of other things. The sealable Ziploc bags are great to put cameras and phones in when an unexpected rain shower shows up or you’re getting on a wet ride. Baggies and Ziploc bags take up no room in your carrying bag and if you’re like us, you’ll find they come in very handy!

5. Dollar Ponchos – Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mickey ponchos that are sold all over the parks and come out in droves on a rainy day. They’re less than $10 each and if they rip, Disney will usually replace them. If we are there during a particularly rainy time, we usually end up with a few of them. But, next time, plan ahead and pick up some dollar ponchos at your local Walmart or Target. They’re not very sturdy and you won’t get more than a couple of uses out of them, but they’re lightweight enough to throw in your bag (they are about the size of a deck of cards when in their original packing) and they’re perfect for unexpected rain showers. They’ll cover you and your backpack, or your child and part of their stroller for that matter. Plus, since they only cost a dollar, you won’t feel bad about throwing them away afterwards and you don’t have to deal with where to carry a wet poncho the rest of the day.

6. Water Bottles – This is easier if you’re driving of course, but water bottles are great to have. You’ll save a small fortune in drinks. We like to freeze ours the night before. Most local hotels have refrigerators in their rooms with at least a tiny freezer inside. The bottles will feel a little heavy in your bag for the first hour or so, but when they start melting they are so refreshing and cold. And, as you continue to add water to the bottle throughout the day, you have instant cold water!

7. Photo Mailer – A photo mailer is not just for photos! It’s the perfect solution to bring home any small or flat delicate things you don’t want to be destroyed in your suitcase. If you purchase any photos in the park, you’re suddenly faced with a dilemma of how to get them home in the same condition you purchased them. If you are a scrapbooker, or maybe even have some hoarding tendencies, you may like to save the cute little napkins with Mickey on them, park maps, and other flat things. A photo mailer is good option to protect everything. Scrapbooking stores also sell paper size cases that are good for storing things in your suitcase.

8. Gum – Gum isn’t sold anywhere on Disney property! If you’re a gum chewer, bring your own! My family members are gum chewers after meals, and it’s always one of the first things to go in the suitcase.

9. Collapsible Laundry Hamper or Laundry Bag – Dollar stores and stores like Walmart and Target also sell collapsible laundry hampers. They fold completely flat and fit in the bottom of most suitcases without taking up any room. Once you’re in your room, just pop it open and let everyone in your family who is capable of picking up their own clothes, yes, I’m talking to you teenagers, know where it is. Instead of messy piles of dirty clothes all over the room, you get everything in one place. Chairs are meant for sitting on, not leaving dirty clothes on!

10. Lanyard – We always find lanyards to be fairly handy. Especially the kind with a plastic ID holder. Disneyland sells them and some travel agencies send them out, but many of us have some at home from work or a conference. The ID holder is a great, easily accessible place to keep all of your FASTPASS tickets and perhaps show off those Disney pins you’ve been collecting. We’ve also been known to stick our tickets in there, but unless your ID holder has a good seal on it, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend that. We came close to losing our tickets once when we didn’t notice they’d fallen out.

What about you? I know you’ve got some great suggestions for something that you pack for a trip to Disneyland. Let’s hear them!

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Posted on July 6, 2012

41 Responses to “10 Things to Pack for Your Disneyland Vacation”

  • You forgot sunscreen! Most of Disney World is very Sunny, and especially in Epcot it can be hard to find ANY shade. Sunscreen is an absolute must, even on cloudy days or you will end up with a horrific sunburn.

    • by David Davies on July 6, 2012, at 3:13 pm EDT

      This article is about Disneyland in California, but I think the same applies there since the sun can shine bright on the West Coast, too. Sunscreen is expensive on Disney property, so it’s good to bring it if you can. That can be tough if you’re flying and not checking bags, though.

      • by Tammy Whiting on July 6, 2012, at 5:58 pm EDT

        It is good advice for Disneyland and Disney World! You definitely need it and as David pointed out, it’s expensive on property.

    • We always include a hat for each of us in addition to our sunscreen, aloe and sunbutter.

    • Disneyland, the article is about Disneyland. Not Disney world.

      • Not only has that been pointed out several times already, but this article is now almost 2 years old. Let it go. The point still stands, you definitely need sunscreen at any of the Disney parks in the states be it east or west coast.

  • I fully support (pun, hee) alternating shoes. On my last trip my feet were aching even with my most supportive sneakers (I tour hard!). The next day I decided to wear my -very comfortable and sneaker-like- wedges. The change in angle on my foot changed where I was feeling the most pressure when walking and really helped!

    • I agree. I always wear Croc flip flops because they’re great if it rains or I want to ride a water ride… then I don’t have to walk around with wet shoes and socks all day. But I always take 2 pairs and alternate them. In addition to that, if we take a break mid day and plan to go back to the park in the evening, I’ll usually put on my Nike Shox. I used to have the foot discomfort, but now I alternate shoes so often it isn’t a problem.

  • by David Davies on July 6, 2012, at 3:29 pm EDT

    This should be self-evident, but if you bring gum, please dispose of it properly in a trash can. There is a reason that gum is not sold on Disney property: Disney wants to find as little of it as possible gumming up its equipment and buildings.

    That said, at the Anaheim parks it’s not that hard to walk to 7-Eleven and buy some if you’re desperate. If you’re in Walt Disney World for a week without a car, that’s more challenging.

  • I learned to always bring extra batteries and SD chips for my camera. I think you can get both in the park, but they are expensive. If you have a digital camera, a spare SD chip is a must. Even if you have a large one that you don’t think you can fill up, I had an SD chip go bad on me at the Miama SeaQuarium once. While I didn’t like losing the photos I had already taken (the chip was unrecoverable), the spare chip let me take new ones.

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 6, 2012, at 6:02 pm EDT

      Good advice, Jefferey. You’re right, you can get memory cards on property if you don’t mind skipping a couple of meals to pay for them. :) Spare cards are a must.
      I have searched in desperation for an extra battery for my SLR when I forgot my charger, and that could not be found. So an extra battery AND your charger should not be forgotten!

  • by Deb & Summer on July 6, 2012, at 5:03 pm EDT

    Our family also tours pretty hard and my husband keeps a ‘backpack packing list’ on his phone that he reads off every morning before we leave the hotel room. Each family member carries a lightweight backpack with comfortable straps. We keep a pair of flip flops in our backpack so if it starts to rain, we can take off our tennis shoes and socks and switch into our flip flops. Then when the rain stops we can switch back into our dry tennis shoes! We also pack a small pop-up umbrella. Works great to shield us from the sun and the rain! Lastly we pack a chilly pad. This can be used to keep your neck cool while walking around, and if you get rained on you can use it to dry off your poncho and anything else that got wet before sticking everything back in your backpack.

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 6, 2012, at 6:05 pm EDT

      I love those ideas Deb & Summer. Especially the list! When I’m rushing around trying to remember things in the morning, that is exactly what I need.
      I also love my croc flip flops in the rain. My husband thinks I’m crazy because my feet get wet. He forgets that his are getting wet too, and mine will be dry long before his!

  • For a light weight bag, I highly recommend the ChicoBag DayPack. Very light weight, has side pockets for waterbottle and sunscreen. No zippers – the top open and closes when you put on the straps – hard to explain but is great when you need to quick throw something in the bag. Also, definitely get the sternum strap for it – helps distribute the weight when it gets loaded up.

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 6, 2012, at 7:52 pm EDT

      Thanks, Tara! I am always on the lookout for the perfect bag. Right now mine are either too big or too small.

  • I actually have a packing list that I keep. One of my top items is our phone chargers!! We have iPhones and so we always take out cords with the wall charger and a car charger with us. In addition, I make sure I have the most up to date version of the Lines App on my phone, and our touring plan. :-)

    Along with sunscreen, I always ensure I take Sunbutter…this wonderful product for sunburns ( because one of us almost always gets a little sunburn), and a small travel size bottle of aloe. Sunbutter is actually sold at the Basin store wt Downtown Disney in FL and while pricey, it’s a good size container and worth every penny. I always replenish my stock when there, but it is on their website store too.

    Since we travel with 6 yr old twin boys, I always take along a ziplock bag full of Clorox wipes and dryer sheets. The wipes are great for disinfecting stuff at the hotel ( like the remote control, etc.) and I also use them in public restrooms in case the kids need to take a potty break (2) and there are no seat covers. Dryer sheets because we always stay where we have a laundry available and e do laundry while there (5 of us traveling, and with the fees they charge for suitcases on airlines now, we pack less and do laundry while there)

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 7, 2012, at 12:05 am EDT

      Great suggestions, Kim! Who could forget a touring plan and Lines? And being a fair headed freckly person, I also see some Sunbutter in my future. :)

      • Tammy – you will not be sorry. I tend to burn, but discovered this product there at the Basin store many years ago when we were there and I had gotten a bad sunburn. I purchased it, slathered it on about 3 times before going to bed that night, and it worked miracles. I wasn’t in a lot of pain the next day, and it seemed to heal my burn overnight. :-) Which is why I’m a long time fan / customer of this product. They also sell a product called “Dr. Spot” that is for laundry. It’s a bar, but works very well (and travels well) for a stain remover (I also toss it into the suitcase!)

        For us, with twins, Magical Memories begin with O3 — Organization, Organization, Organization! (Preparedness, and flexibility are also extremely helpful!!)

  • I always pack a power strip since I am traveling with iPhone, iPad, and laptop. When my late partner was renting scooters, I also packed an extension cord for the scooter charger so it could be parked out of the way, which invariably meant far from an outlet.

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 7, 2012, at 12:06 am EDT

      Power strip! I always bring one on a cruise because of the limited outlets, but really a lot of hotel rooms could use more outlets too! Good idea!

  • I have always packed a power strip, and make sure it has a surge protector in it, to protect your computer, Iphone, IPad, etc. We also travel with a night light that has an off/on switch. Since traveling with this type night light, I haven’t forgotten one, as it is always on as a reminder to turn it off and pack.

    • Cindy — A Nite light is always included in our packing too and is on my packing list. :-) It seems like hotels never have nite lites anymore.

      And again, since we travel with kiddos, one of the things I always include is a little noise machine (it’s small, portable, was stuffed inside a stuffed lamb). Because the boys always fall asleep listening to ocean waves (and have since they were babies), I always take it with us so I can keep it consistent for bedtime for them, and it helps block out the noise (seems like either the people above us or next to us are usually noisy, or else we have a room near the pool and people are swimming out in it until 11 pm or better making noise, which then makes it hard for my boys to fall asleep!) Of course, I realize though that many people who don’t travel with young children may not need this item. :-)

      • by Tammy Whiting on July 7, 2012, at 4:10 pm EDT

        A noise maker is a great suggestion as well. You never know when you’re going to be in a room that’s next to incredibly loud people that no amount of sound proofing is going to help!

        • Keep in mind that you can load an app on any smartphone that will give you a huge assortment of white noises, for free! You can play it all night, as loud or quiet as you like, while your phone is charging for the next day. Why take up space in your luggage with a noise machine when you’re already carrying one around?

          • by Tammy Whiting on July 19, 2012, at 8:23 am EDT

            Very true, smartphones have great noise maker apps these days. That willl save you room in your luggage!

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 7, 2012, at 4:08 pm EDT

      A night light is a great idea too, Cindy!

  • Tammy – perhaps someone at Touring Plans can make this into a handy dandy packing list that can be downloaded / printed as a PDF file — or also included with the Touring Plans App ?

    • by Tammy Whiting on July 7, 2012, at 4:08 pm EDT

      That’s a great idea, Kim! I’ll pass that along.

      • You know what would make it even better? A page on the site with the packing list with check boxes next to each item. Then the user can check the box for those items that are most important to them to pack for their trip. This would allow each user to personalize their packing (those who do not have children traveling may then opt out of packing for some items that may be crucial to others traveling with children — like a night light or noise machine, etc.) Once they are finished checking off their list, they can ‘submit’ it and it creates a PDF file for them to download or print. :-) (Sorry, it’s the techie, gadget guru in me, which is probably why I work in IT)

  • When I went to Disney, I remember my feet rubbing and becoming sore all over the heel.
    Moleskin is a brilliant idea to keep your shoes from rubbing. I also find sports socks really handy, too. Sports socks have a thick bottom layer that cushions your feet, and some have extra fabric to cushion your ankle, so my ankles never got as sore, either. Sports socks are good because almost all sports socks are designed to keep your feet cooler. I also have learned that by simply soaking your feet while walking may be uncomfortable, but keeps your feet cooler much longer. So, on wet rides, if your feet get wet, I’d ignore that factor so my feet stay cooler.

    I have not yet brought a backpack to Disney- I’d stuffed what I needed in a bag from a store when I got a souvenir. That is NOT the way to travel Disneyland. When hiking, I always had a drawstring backpack. I find these very helpful, because they’re lightweight, easy to move around, hard to lose items out of, and easy to take off. The drawstring bag I have has pockets in the front, so I keep important things there, like pills, kleenex, chapstick, and it’d be a great place to keep a small notebook and pens for autographs. Rain-wear, extra money, and souvenirs you’ve bought are easily stored in the larger bag-area, and you’d be able to fit anything else you could need inside. Drawstring bags can hurt your shoulders eventually, though, but different string can be a big difference, too.

    • by Tammy Whiting on April 1, 2013, at 5:19 pm EDT

      I love the idea of a drawstring bag with lots of pockets. You’re right, the strings can wear but I’m sure some are better than others.

  • Instead of a pop-up hamper, I always leave one carryon suit case unzipped and accessible (the others I hide under the bed to conserve floor space). Then everyone throws their dirty clothes in the carry-on suitcase. At some point during our Disney vacation I always end up doing laundry, and it is easy to zip up my rolling carry-on suitcase and wheel it to the laundry room. When the clean clothes come out of the dryer, I fold them and stack them neatly back in the carry on to take back to the hotel room.

  • Im going for the first time with my boys ages 7 & 9 this november. Vera bradley is coming put with Disney bags in the fall so that is a must have.for my.new backpack and im getting the boys each a fanny pack so (hopefully) momy doesnt get stuck carrying everything! Lol. They each have their own camera and a small.snack or two would be great as well.

  • Are converse considered good shoes for the park?

    • My daughter loves them! She wears them all the time. They’re a little flat for me, but if you are comfortable walking in them for long distances and they’re well broken in, you are probably fine!