Packing for a day in Disney is an art. I find what you bring for the day can either make or break you during the day. You don’t want to pack too much, but if you don’t pack enough, it will cost you. Pack as much as you can the night before. You know your family best, so make sure to pack what you need for a 12 hour or so day in the park. For a complete itemized packing list, click here. I have a checklist for the night before and the morning of, because often you think something is packed and it’s not! Here is our list of “must haves” for the day that you may not have thought of.
Tickets and Passport
Tickets seem pretty obvious… but we are here to tell you, at LEAST one of us has had to turn back when we got to the main gates and head back to the hotel for the tickets. ID is also really important, because for multi-day tickets, they are going to want to confirm that it’s you. If you are using the Canadian Resident Discount Park Tickets (they go on sale around November to February, and are about 25% off the ticketed price), you need your passport. Funny story, our youngest sister got to the gates only to realize they needed their passport (it was hidden in the fine print). In my defense, it didn’t say it ANYWHERE on our actual tickets, but in the email we originally received. She didn’t even have her drivers license on her, so back they went. Fast forward to my last trip. Literally, I kept reminding everyone that we absolutely had to have our passports on the first day. Guess who forgot the passports? 🙋🙋🙋 There was a slight mix up, and my husband was asking where his glasses were, and I was telling him where our passports were… we didn’t end up having to go back to the hotel, because we had our ID on us, and they were gracious enough to let us in. However, if you would like to purchase an alcoholic beverage in the park (only available in Disney’s California Adventure Park) and you are Canadian, you must have either a Nexus card or your passport to do so. A BC drivers license will not do.
For the amount of walking you do on a Disney day, no matter how comfortable you think your shoes are, trust us, you will need these. I like the Blister Bandages a lot because they cushion the blister and protects it from further irritation. They also stay on well in the heat and water if your feet get wet on rides. I like the Moleskin for areas on my feet that are highly susceptible to blisters. I like to put them on the back of my heels in the beginning of the day to help keep my feet blister free. I slip the Band-Aids in my wallet so that I know where they are, and I’m basically guaranteed to always have them on me.
Tylenol & Ibuprofen (including Children’s)
I like to keep these on hand for anything from throbbing feet to headaches to fevers and everything in between. We sometimes will take a Tylenol and an Ibuprofen at dinner just to help with the aches from walking all day. Helps us get through the rest of the night. If you or any of your children are susceptible to motion sickness, I would recommend Gravol as well. Ginger Gravol is nice because it helps with the nausea without making you sleepy if you take it in the daytime. My husband has allergies, so we always pack some allergy medication. And when I say always, I actually mean we often end up buying it from Target. If you are in the parks and don’t have these on hand, First Aid in both parks have nurses on hand to administer Children’s Tylenol.
Snacks are the secret to life I’m pretty sure. They help to pass the time in line-ups, and if you need to walk to the other side of the park, that’s a great time to hand your kids a snack to eat in the stroller. We try to pack a mix of healthy and fun treats. This is also a great budget saver. Every family has their favourite snacks so make sure to pack yours. Here are our top picks for snacks (click on the titles to find them in-store):
Whether your kids are 2 or 10, these are a great snack to grab. Not to mention, anytime I can get extra veg in my kids, I do. Especially when you’re on vacation and the kids are getting more treats than they might normally. Costco often sells these or something like them at about a dollar a pack. I like to look for ones with some extra fillers like chia seeds, quinoa, rice, etc. Lovechild is a great brand that often pairs with quinoa. We fed our one year old two a day, but never had to buy him a meal.
This may seem like a weird one, but adults and kids alike are happy to munch on a handful of popcorn while in a ride line-up. Yes, it takes up a lot of room but it’s light! We usually eat snacks like this in the mid-morning to free up room in our backpacks. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of popcorn. But there is something about smelling it all day, and walking 16 km in a day that makes you want some popcorn. On the health scale, if you avoid the heavy butter options, popcorn is a solid choice that will help fill you. I was once offered $10 cash for a bag of popcorn! But since I was saving it for our kids, I of course turned it down.
Basically we love anything that comes in a “To Go” package. I wouldn’t normally spend the extra on individual packaging but it makes it oh so easy to throw in for the day. (We also love Oh Henry! Mix as a “To Go” option.) We’ve also made “Mickey Mix”… white chocolate covered almonds or raisins, pretzels, and M&M’s (the Canada mix is white and red!).
I loooooooooooove Peanut Butter To Go! With apple slices (which you can buy pre-cut or bring an apple and spread it on after each bite with a plastic knife) or pretzels or even celery sticks. I’ve even packed my apple slicer, that’s how much I love this snack. If you have a stroller it’s an easy addition. It also comes in handy if you buy caramel apples in the park. They will cut the caramel apples for you but not de-core them. Not a necessity but definitely a luxury.
My kids are 7 and 10 and I still don’t go anywhere without the wipes. I would have both the regular baby wipes and Lysol disinfecting. We often have a big pack and throw them into Ziploc bags, and then restock as needed. It seems like there’s always a sticky face, or dirty fingers, or messy stroller tray (when traveling with smaller children)… and the list goes on. As a general rule, Disneyland is very clean and well looked after, but sometimes you just need to give the table a little wipe down. Especially if your child has allergies.
You will most certainly want at LEAST one. We pack 2 for our family of 4 and refill throughout the day. You can spend a pretty penny staying hydrated in the parks. One of the things we also pack is Crystal Light. We find that they are a yummy way to keep the kids from getting dehydrated. We also like Powerade Flavour Enhancers. My rule is one bottle with no flavour, and then unlimited amounts of flavoured water after that. Works like a charm! We have also found that the water in California is VERY chlorinated. A BRITA Water Filter Bottle is another great option for filtered water in the parks. I then squeeze the newly filtered water into the other water bottles. (Quick Tip: If you are adding flavour enhancers to your water, do not add to any BRITA bottles, as it will clog their filter.) I find my system (body) to be very sensitive to the water. To avoid spending money on bottled water in the parks (usually around $4 per bottle!), I buy litres of filtered water ($1 for 1L) at Target and fill water bottles in the hotel room. There are several places in the park that have filtered water. All of the restaurants have filtered water and will give you ice water upon request (even if you aren’t buying anything), which we then we pour it into our S’well Water Bottle. Yes S’well water bottles are expensive, but on a hot day having water that stays cold is a MUST. You can also get filtered ice water at Starbucks (located near the entrance of both parks and in Downtown Disney). I recently was in Anaheim in a heat wave, so we also packed Hydralyte tablets. The rule for our family on hot days in the parks is they can drink as much as they want, I don’t even worry about the flavour enhancers on these days.
Make sure to pack sunscreen for use throughout the day. A bad sunburn can most certainly ruin your day. We try and do touch-ups when we are sitting down for meals. I’m super pasty and can’t tan to save my life, so sunscreen is applied often. SPF 100. If you’re like me, believe me, you WANT sunscreen. Also bring Aloe Vera or some kind of after-sun lotion so if you do burn, you can soothe it.
Depending on how much room you have (I will have a stroller until my kid is 6 in Disney!), pack a cooler with lunch and snacks that need to stay cold (our favs are cheese sticks, carrot sticks and yogurt tubes). If you have a picky eater, or someone who is content to eat “normal” food, you can make up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the hotel for lunch.
A light sweater is nice to have because once the sun goes down, it can get a bit chilly. Also, a change of shoes (again, depends on the space you have… and remember, lockers are available in the park; see pricing here). If you wear glasses, and this one is totally up to you… we bring an eyewear strap. Here’s the thing. You can have a successful Disney trip and not lose your glasses. HOWEVER! IF you have a particularly flail-y wife, it’s something to consider. (Confession Time: I knocked my husbands ONLY pair of glasses off the ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which not only shut down the ride but also resulted in my husband not being able to see for the rest of the trip). You can also take your sunglasses/glasses off, but it’s just not as fun. Be careful not to wear it too tight, especially if you have glasses with nose pads (and especially if you haven’t changed out the nose pads for a while so they are super hard). I wore my geek strap too tight for a trip and my glasses actually cut into the side of my nose, which resulted in quite the interesting band-aid placement.
Other nice extras… not must haves, but will definitely help you out, are:
Glow Sticks for the nighttime (it gets quite dark, and this is a fun way to keep track of the kiddos without spending money on light up toys).
We also pack both a Camera and a Video Camera… I understand this is a bit old school, but I like having photos on more than just my phone.
And speaking of your phone, if you are using it for the app and photos and everything else, a Portable Charger is also very useful! (You can get them in the park, but when you have one sitting in the hotel room, this is a quick way to save a pretty penny.)
Lastly, Mickey Ears if you want them, and the Bubble Wand your toddler bought already, and a small container of Extra Bubbles. And for some kids, getting character autographs is going to be super important… so don’t forget your Autograph Book! You can often get these at the local Walmart or one of the corner stores near the park… or they are often discounted at your local Disney Store! We pack the same one each visit until they are full.
Strategically pack your stroller. The Mommy Hook is great for clipping purchases as well as water bottles to the stroller. We’ve also added to the amount of storage the stroller has by clipping a back pack to it. Our cooler is slung over the bars of the stroller.
Note the lightweight blanket to give your babe some shade. We’ve packed a change of shoes in the bottom compartment (runners for me, flip flops for my husband). I use a hiking back pack to clip on to the stroller frame for extra storage. We usually use this for sweaters and pants. This keeps the undercarriage free for everything else.
If you have babes in a stroller, bring their pajamas. We changed our son around his bedtime, that way we were able to quickly get him into bed once we got back to the hotel. This is a great tip. A day in Disney is exhausting and more often than not your kids will fall asleep in the stroller on the walk back to the hotel. Depending on your babies age, we have put them to “bed” in the stroller and then stayed in the park while they are sleeping. And just like that, you’re ready to open and close the park!
Have a magical day!
Heidi, Erica, Elisia and Danielle