**Note** This was originally posted in January 2013 on mustmeetmickey.com
Often, I get asked by people who are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, what should they plan to take with them to the parks? Well, truthfully, there are several different answers to this, and really they depend on you. But I have found that the best way for me to answer this question, is to tell you just what I take to the parks with me!
My first and foremost recommendation is a BOOK BAG! I have found that places like Wal-mart and Target often carry book bags all year round, for relatively low costs. I think the last one I purchased was around $14.00. I usually look for one that have multiple inside pockets, and side pockets that will easily hold a water bottle or two.
Now that you have a book bag, let me tell you just what I pack in mine.
1. Snacks! I usually bring snacks from home when we travel to Disney, something for everyone in our family. Usually things like fruit snacks, granola bars, and crackers travel the easiest, and take up little room. These will come in handy if you get caught in a long line for an attraction, or while waiting for a parade or firework show. Also, they certainly save the cost of a hunger driven impulse buy at a snack cart!
2. Water bottles! I also typically bring along a case of water, and start our pack each day with fresh bottles. We will drink on them throughout the day, and stop at a water fountain and fill them up once they’re empty. Also, did you know that you can stop in at any Quick Service restaurant and fill your water bottle for free?
3. A lunchbag that folds or collapses! This is something I recommend more for families traveling with small children. Often, young kids are hot or tired, and don’t eat all of their food at mealtimes. Many of the kid’s meals in Disney come with pre-packaged fruit or veggies. When my children were small, we had the rule that you ate the food that you couldn’t save first, and the packaged food later. If they couldn’t finish, I would simply drop the unopened food into the lunchbag, and save them for waiting-in-line-bored snacks!
4. A small wallet or coin purse! I usually like to bring a small wallet or coin purse, one that has two pockets. You can also find these relatively inexpensively at places like Wal-mart. I like ones with two pockets, so that I can keep my money/credit card in one pocket, and our family’s park passes/room keys in the other pocket. That way I am not fumbling through my money every time we need our tickets for fast passes, and I can leave all the stuff from my everyday wallet in the in-room safe, since most likely I won’t need it. **UPDATE** With the new implementation of Magic Bands, you no longer need to carry a ticket, room key or paper fast passes. However, I do still recommend scaling down a wallet for the parks with only what you need to have. Leave those grocery discount cards, restaurant rewards cards, etc. at home. Make sure you have your ID, credit cards and cash. I also carry my health insurance card and current photos of my children (just in case).
5. Ziploc bag with medicine! I like to grab a couple of doses of Tylenol or some other headache medicine, and some sort of acid reducer like Tums or Zantac. This way, if one of us gets to feeling not so great, we instantly have something to help, and don’t have to spend time finding a place in the park that sells something, or going to the Emergency Medical area of the park. I often also share the pocket where this goes with a small bottle of hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and chap stick.
6. Ponchos! – I call this one a variable item. Many Disney travelers can not leave the resort without their clear or yellow Mickey Mouse ponchos. Truth be told, my family doesn’t use them. We just seek shelter. But, if you are one that doesn’t want to get wet, and trust me, it always rains in Florida, even if only for a few minutes, then you certainly need your ponchos!
7. Camera! Even if you use Photo Pass, you’ll want your own camera at some point. Those Disney photographers just don’t see everything you see. Make sure you have it, and extra batteries! And I suggest a smaller, light weight camera, just for spacing issues.
8. Everything else! I say sunglasses, hats, ponytail holders are a must! But anything else that you think you might need. Just think about the day. Start off by saying, “If I don’t return to the room today before bedtime, I am going to need…”
One tip also for your backpack. Find a way to personalize it. This might be a bright pink bandanna that you tie to the strap, or a big promotional button that you pin to the outside. One thing we like to use is the luggage tags that we get when we book our Disney vacation. We always have an extra, so we just fill out the tag and hook it to the bag. This will help when you have to leave it behind at a loading/unloading dock for one of your favorite rides. You’ll be able to spot it right way, and likewise, others will know right away that it is not theirs!
Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!