The Ultimate Disney World Packing List

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Contemporary hotel at Walt Disney World near Magic Kingdom
Photo by Grace Hoyos

No matter if you’re a first time Walt Disney World traveler or a seasoned Disney veteran, a solid packing list helps prevent forgetting needed items. My parents have been going to Disney for over 25 years, and they still make a list every time they travel!

With that in mind, we want to provide you with our top items that should make your packing list when you’re headed to Walt Disney World.


The Ultimate Walt Disney World Packing List

Phone or Tablet

If you’re like me, you might want to spend less time on your phone while on vacation, not more.

However, with many of the planning, reservations, and food features on the My Disney Experience app, you’re going to need some sort of personal device.

Even a laptop isn’t enough – the new Genie features don’t work unless you’re in the mobile app. That makes your personal device the first thing that goes on any Disney World packing list.

Portable Phone Charger

With the need for a device, having a portable charger makes a huge difference when you’re in the parks.

The Disney Wi-Fi network, while mostly reliable, occasionally gets overwhelmed by the volume of guests. When that happens, you have to depend on your own cell service and data, which often drains the battery.

If you don’t want to spend money in the parks for a charging stick, getting a battery bank (that holds a greater charge for the same price) can help.

Watertight Phone Case

One more thing about the phone. If you want to be able to keep your phone or other valuables with you at all times, you might want to invest in a watertight phone case. Most are hard cases or pouches on lanyards, although there are some good fanny pack options as well that are touchscreen capable.

This might seem like a weird item for your Disney World packing list. However, these are great for waterparks or water rides.

They protect your phone and allow you to still access what you need at any time. I know people who particularly like to have these when floating on the lazy river in a water park!

Zipper Wallet/ID Case

While I do still carry a purse or backpack in Disney, it’s nice to have the option to take the essentials and put them all in one small pocket-sized place. This is especially true when you’re walking around a resort or Disney Springs without kids for once and you don’t want to have to carry a ton of stuff. It’s something I always have on my Disney World packing list!

Put the key card (if you have one), Disney Visa, and any other cards all in the same spot, and you’ll always know where they are. Having everything in the same ID case also means you can easily transfer the things you need from bag to bag. I personally like mine from Vera Bradley, but you can find others, and of varying sizes, on Amazon.

Membership Cards & Gift Cards

Speaking of cards, if you have any specific membership cards or Disney gift cards, make sure you bring them.

Annual pass members have their own special card, as do Disney Vacation Club Members.

Landry’s members also will need their cards to get discounts at Rainforest Café and the Yak & Yeti.

Through Disney Visa, we get Disney rewards dollars, which has its own card.

Finally, those Disney gift cards can majorly offset costs, or can be a budgeting strategy. These definitely need to make your Disney World packing list.

MagicBands

Even though Disney is phasing out complimentary MagicBands, my experience has been that MagicBands still have more features than the digital tickets or the Apple Watch capabilities.

Your MagicBand serves as a room key, allowing you both into your resort room and back into the resort area (through the auto-magic bars at the guard gates).

At the moment, the digital tickets don’t have that function. MagicBands are also waterproof, meaning you can wear them in the pool or at a waterpark, still keeping all your charging functions and other features. In those moments, it’s more convenient than carrying your phone.

Clothes…For ALL Weathers

Even in the summer, Florida’s weather is unpredictable.

I’ve needed jeans and a light jacket in the summer, my winter coat in January, and shorts in the winter. I’ve gotten soaked (by rain or a ride) and needed dry socks, shorts, and underwear in my backpack. Basically, if your suitcase isn’t full to bursting, you didn’t pack enough.

If you only want to pack the exact clothes you need for each day, I understand. Particularly if you’re flying.

However, just be prepared to spend a bit extra on clothes in the parks if you get caught in a pinch. Every member of my family has a pair of Disney socks purchased on a rainy park day.

Themed Outfits

Speaking of clothes, many people like to have themed outfits that go with each day of their Disney vacation.

Whether you’re going full-blown Disney bounding or just want to wear your Animal Kingdom t-shirt the day you’re in the park, separating your clothes by day helps to not forget those items.

I have a Galaxy’s Edge shirt to wear in Hollywood Studios, and Lion King apparel for my son for the Animal Kingdom, and special shirts we made for the Magic Kingdom.

Planning those outfits can also streamline your packing for those looking to pack less.

Mickey Ears, Minnie Ears, Park Hats, Etc.

To go with our themed outfits, we don’t want to forget our special headgear! I have Minnie ears that match each of my themed days, as well as some for days just hanging around property.

If you’re someone who bought one of those huge Goofy-head ball cap-style hats or a Jack Sparrow pirate hat (complete with dreads), this is the time. This is the place. Bring it, wear it, get your money’s worth.

A Nice Outfit

This only really applies if you’re doing a nice dining experience or having family photos taken, but it’s still worth mentioning. You want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately for certain dining experiences, as places like Jiko and Yachtsman Steakhouse have a minimum dress requirement. Also, who doesn’t like the chance to dress up for once?

Poncho or Raincoat

Please. I implore you. Don’t blow off this tip.

Honestly, this is near the top of my mom’s packing list!

No matter the time of year, it will most likely rain while you’re in Walt Disney World. When it doesn’t you’ll be glad you had the poncho. Just this summer, I didn’t think about getting ponchos ahead of time, and guess who had to pay park prices for a generic Disney World poncho? Yup, me.

Learn from my arrogance. Pack the poncho or get a raincoat. Especially if you have littles, you want something that will fit. Even the child poncho is too big for someone under age eight – I saw some creative toga-style wrapping this summer. Get a raincoat, bring it to the parks, and prevent the grumpy children.

Bathing Suit

Even if you’re going to Disney World in the winter, make sure you’ve got your suit.

Most days, it will get warm enough to at least sit in the hot tub, if nothing else. Some winter days get well into the 80s in Orlando, so you’ll be glad for the bathing suit.

It’s also nice to have bathing suits if you want to ride a water attraction, even if it’s under your other clothes.

Flip-flops or Water Shoes

You won’t believe the people who just walk barefoot from their resort room down to the pool. This is absolutely foolish. I’m sorry if you’re one of those people, but it really isn’t smart. In the summers, the sidewalks and pool decks are like lava, and you’re likely to literally burn your feet. If you’re walking a ways through the resort, you don’t know what could possibly be on the floors, in the carpet, or on the grounds. You run the risk of slipping on slick floors, cutting your feet, or causing general injury.

This is all aside from the waterparks, where water shoes keep you from dealing with the rough paths and scorching temperatures all day. Even if you have to take your shoes off and hold them on the rides, it’s worth it to protect your feet. When you’re walking ten miles the next day around the Magic Kingdom, you’ll be glad you listened.

Park Shoes – Tennis Shoes (and Socks!)

Please – wear tennis shoes in the parks. Your heels, wedges, and sandals look cute, but your blisters won’t at the end of the day.

You do so much walking during a Disney park day that you can reach well over 20,000 steps before your day is done. I don’t know a person alive who won’t be suffering after 20,000 steps in uncomfortable footwear.

Also, wear socks with your tennis shoes. I refer you to the earlier point about blisters.

Camera (and its Charger)

While smart phone might make cameras seem superfluous, having a nice camera with which to take pictures is a good idea.

You may not want to take it into the parks and risk damage, but when you’re just walking around Disney property you can get some truly stunning photos. My mom always likes to bring her camera along, just to practice her photography skills.

Laptop (and Charger)

For all that certain functions of the My Disney Experience app only work on your phone, there are other planning features that work better on the computer.

Having your computer, even as a just in case measure, helps you to change plans swiftly and efficiently.

Also, as a writer, I can get my thoughts and feelings out about my vacation right away. Blogging and digital journaling are a great way to remember the vacation.

Stamps

Are you planning to send a postcard while you’re in Disney? You’re going to need stamps. Simple thing – but it’s the simplest things that are the easiest to forget.

Three Bags

There are three types of bags I like to have on a Disney trip – a ditty bag, laundry bag, and reusable grocery bags.

A ditty bag is specially made for wet items, like bathing suits, and can go inside another bag while prevent your other items from getting wet. These are nice for waterparks, with the threat of rain, or even to store frozen water bottles that might leak condensation inside your backpack. My favorites are the ones from Vera Bradley, but you can easily find something similar elsewhere.

Laundry bags are a great way to not have to wash all your clothes when you get home. Disney has some available if you ask at the front desk, or you bring your own cloth bag. If you aren’t going to do laundry on vacation, the least you can do is not have to do extra laundry at home by making your clean clothes dirty.

Reusable grocery bags have unlimited uses for storage and transportation of items, particularly if you’re driving. It’s also nice if you’re staying off-property to have your own grocery bags when you go to the store.

Collapsible Duffel

A fourth bag you might like to have is a collapsible duffel bag. This is only necessary if you know you’re going to be bringing home a lot of souvenirs. You could also kill two birds with one stone and make this your laundry bag, completely keeping the dirty clothes out of the suitcase. Those I know who use this item plan to bring home new clothes, the refill mugs, plushies, and other Disney items. Having a small item to pack that turns into another place to store your things is a blessing in the long run.

The Final Bag – The Park Backpack

Under no circumstances should you discount a good theme park backpack. While some of mine have come from Disney, for years my parents used the same purple Jansport backpack that was the Backpack. You could hear the capital B and everything. It was sturdy, reliable, held all our needs, and was a park essential. We had water, snacks, ponchos, and all sorts of other items in there. It held our hats and sunglasses while on the rides, protected our purchases, and many other uses.

Many people like to use their Disney Loungefly backpacks, and those can work provided you’re only holding your own gear. In my opinion, they aren’t big enough to store everything I want on a park day. Those are better for a jaunt to Disney Springs or exploring a resort. You want your park backpack to withstand the elements and take a beating, so make sure you have something sturdy.

Poolside Entertainment

I like to lounge next to the pool at a resort – for about ten minutes. After that, I’m looking for something to do. If I want to avoid playing on my phone, I need to bring a book or some other activity with me. These are still relaxing, which is the point, but packing the item is still necessary.

If you are a parent of a toddler, and that toddler is on vacation with you, bless. Your poolside entertainment will be more like small toys, ball, or even sink toys for the pool. When my little dude is at the pool, he’s in the pool, so my poolside entertainment options are pretty slim. However, he does still like to have some toys to play with (but not pool floats, those are not allowed in Disney pools).

Snacks

Speaking of toddlers and pools, don’t forget to bring some of your own snacks. Not just for when you take a break at the pool, but for in the parks as well. Having your own food (that you know everyone in your group eats) goes a long way to prevent meltdowns. This also cuts into your food spending, which can get out of hand quickly. We always had a small breakfast (that we brought ourselves), a few protein-packed snacks throughout the day, and a bigger meal out in the evening. This helped my parents budget for the food, and make sure we didn’t overeat.

Pack of Cards & Games

You’ll be surprised at the downtime you might have while on a Disney vacation. Bringing board games, packs of cards, or other family fun can fill empty evenings or handle rainy weather. While the rooms have TVs, sometimes it’s nice not to stare at the screen and actually have fun together.

Sound Machine (and Other Sleep Needs)

Whether you have littles or you’re just a light sleeper, bring whatever you need to make sure everyone gets a good night’s rest. If that means a sound machine, weighted blanket, the right stuffed animals, so be it. If you aren’t getting the right amount of rest, you’re going to be miserable during the long, hot park days.

Extra Blankets

Speaking of which, as Disney has moved away from the traditional comforters, sometimes the bedding can be a bit lighter than you’re used to having at home. With that in mind, you may want to bring some of your own blankets – the AC in Florida is no joke. Again, if you’re not sleeping, you’re going to regret it.

You can always ask for extra blankets from the front desk as well, if you’re worried about how much you’re taking on an airplane. If you’re driving, pile it in!


What Not to Pack for Disney World

Towels

Unless you or your kiddos are extremely particular, you have no need of bath towels at all. You only need pool towels if you’re going to the waterparks and you don’t want to have to pay to rent. Disney provides all your bath towels in their resort rooms, and pool towels at their pools. Even most places off-site do the same, just be sure to check their websites ahead of time to be sure.

Pool Floats

As I mentioned before, if you’re staying on Disney property, you can’t have inflatable pool floats in the pools. The only floaties you can use are Coast Guard approved vests, which Disney provides at all their pools. You can bring your own fitted vest or puddlejumper, but you don’t have to since they are onsite.

Of course, the most important thing you want to pack is your Disney self! Remember, you’re headed on vacation to have fun – try not to stress, and happy packing.


Grace Hoyos, Staff Writer

Grace is a life-long lover of all things Disney, particularly the parks at Walt Disney World. She is also an avid Disney Cruise Line enthusiast who regularly dreams of the white sands of Castaway Cay. Grace loves the fact that her Disney trips give her time to spend with her family, enjoy incredible food, and try new experiences.

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