Planning a Disney vacation with kids can be overwhelming. There is so much to see, do, eat…and pack!
I’ve been to Disneyland hundreds of times. I’ve visited in every sort of weather, from torrential downpours to 100 degree heat. Sometimes we are at Disneyland for less than an hour… and sometimes we do 16 hour days. I’ve also been to Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. So I’m pretty experienced at packing for just about any type of Disney trip.
I’m sharing tips and my Disney Packing List of items you need to take into the park. The packing list covers all the basics so you can relax and have fun knowing you haven’t forgotten anything.
Disney Outfits for the family are a fun way to capture the vacation. Our friends at Maune Legacy have compiled outfit ideas that include comfortable clothing items and shoes in full Disney style!
If you have a child under five, you’ll want to take a stroller to Disney. Park rentals are expensive and awkward to deal with. Occasionally I don’t take a stroller, if I am only with my four year old, and only for a couple hours. But otherwise, it’s useful for holding your backpack, if nothing else.
A long day at Disney will leave even my 10 year old begging for a stroller turn, so you will definitely want one with younger kids. We have a sturdy lightweight stroller for regular use. If we’re taking the kids late at night for a special event, we use a double stroller – the City Mini Double Baby Jogger – so multiple kids can sleep or rest. Wagons are not allowed.
A carrier is a must for baby. You can contain a toddler in line where a stroller is not allowed, take a napping baby on rides without disturbing, and keep your hands free for eating churros. It also helps if an older child wants a turn in the stroller.
I use a Baby Bjorn for young babies, and a pouch sling for older infants and toddlers. Many rides such as Mad Tea Party, King Arthur’s Carousel, it’s a small world, and Casey Jr. Circus Train let you wear the baby while riding. Perfect for naps! I share my tips for breastfeeding an infant at amusement parks using a pouch sling.
You’re going to want a backpack or bag to carry your stuff. This is the place to store everything mentioned below. Stuff it full, and leave it on the stroller while you wait in line for rides and watch shows, so you don’t have to haul it around.
We are currently using reusable Disney character totes instead of a backpack. They’re fun, and easy to hook onto the stroller handles.
To allow you to leave your backpack on the stroller, you have to have a separate bag with your valuables. This is for your wallet, keys, tickets, camera, phone, and anything else you need immediately handy.
I use a small cross-body purse that has also room for an in-line snack chosen from the backpack, and some baby wipes, just in case. One of my friends uses a tiny cross-body cell phone purse just big enough for her cards, tickets, and phone.
In addition to your backpack, you may want to pack cold items in a small insulated bag. Hard ice chests of any size are not allowed in Disney parks. I have several sizes – a bag that fits into a backpack, and a bigger tote if we are bringing lunch for the whole family. I like to use frozen Capri Sun as ice packs and let the kids drink them on the way home to cool off.
I have never had an issue with a stroller at Disneyland (out of hundreds of visits), but it does happen. If you’re worried about it, look into a simple stroller lock to keep your stroller in place. You may not lock your stroller to Disney property, but you can use a lock to secure the wheels, or your bag to the stroller, which may deter theft.
Stroller hooks come in handy to hang bags or water bottles. Use this type of hook if your stroller has two separate handles, or this carabiner type hook if your stroller has a bar handle.
A blanket may seem like an odd thing to pack for Disney, but it’s invaluable. You can use it for stroller shade, a nursing cover, to snuggle up tired kids at the end of the night, or to help save seats for parade. I usually bring an Aden and Anais muslin blanket for the first three uses, and a heavier fleece blanket if we plan to see a parade or outdoor show.
Disney offers an amazing variety of world-famous snacks, but they are expensive! If you’re bringing kids, you don’t want to pay $4.50 every time someone says “I’m hungry!” Pack your own favorite snacks in your backpack instead. Some of our favorites are baggies of pretzel sticks, containers of fresh vegetables or cut up fruit, fruit snacks, applesauce squeezes and bags of chips. I’ve found that waiting in line gives a container of vegetables a captive audience of hungry kids; it almost always gets all eaten.
Bear with me here. Lollipops are a parent’s best friend at Disney. They’re easy to stash in your valuables bag and instantly quell tantrums, miraculously perk up tired legs, and keep kids holding out that last five minutes in line. Buy some cheap Dum Dums lollipops or buy a bag of Goofy’s Candy Co Mickey pops to take with you. The best place to purchase the Mickey pops at the park is at the Candy Palace on Main Street. They are a much better deal than the bunches of Mickey lollipops also sold there, or the enormous round lollipops.
If you have a little one on baby food, bring your own. It is available for sale at the Disney parks’ Baby Care Centers, but it isn’t cheap and they may not have your preferred flavors. My 18 month old is still addicted to squeezes and I always bring plenty.
Don’t forget to hydrate! You can get free cups of ice water at any counter service restaurant in Disney parks, but I suggest bringing your own reusable bottle and refilling it. You can refill from any drinking fountain, or from refill stations around the park.
When most people think of visiting a Disney park, they think of sunny skies. I see a lot of sunburns around Disneyland. Don’t make your vacation uncomfortable by being one of those people. Bring sunscreen, and use it!
Whether your hat has Mickey ears on it, or not, you’ll appreciate having the sun out of your eyes. But even more so, project your kids’ faces and eyes from the Southern California or Florida sun. Purchase a Disney hat before you go, or wait to get one at the park. A hat makes a great – and useful – souvenir.
Another must for Disney in the heat is a mini fan with a water mister. We bought these for our first trip to Disney World, and they were lifesavers. Not only does a mini fan cool you off, they also entertain the kids!
On the flip side of the weather, eventually the sun will go down and even in the summer, it cools off. Keep sweatshirts and jackets for everyone stashed in the bottom of the stroller, and be prepared.
Or Seven. If there’s a chance of rain during your Disney vacation, stock up on inexpensive plastic rain ponchos. You’ll want these for yourself, your kids, your backpack, your stroller, the legs of the kid in the stroller… you get the idea.
January and February at Disneyland, and June-September at Disney World are the rainiest times. Even if it’s not rainy weather, you may want to stash a couple ponchos in your backpack to use on water rides.
As with baby food, the Disney Baby Care Centers do sell diapers, but they’ll cost you. Bring plenty and stash the extras at the bottom of the stroller.
You’ll need baby wipes not just for diaper changes, but for wiping off churro fingers and Dole Whip faces. Bring plenty and keep some in your valuables bag as well.
If you intend to play in any of the Disney splash play areas, pack a change of clothes for after, and a pair of flipflops to wear in the play area. Shoes are required.
Magic Kingdom has a Casey Jr. play area and Disney California has one in A Bug’s Land, but there are others. Depending on the ages of your kids, an all day Disney trip may require a change of clothes any way – because of accidents, food spills, water rides, and more.
If you want to collect character autographs with your kids, consider ordering an autograph book before your trip. There are more options online and you may save money.
Remember to pack a fat marker for the characters to write with, and remove the cap for them. It’s hard to sign with paws.
Stock up on glow bracelets, wands and other glow items. You’ll save $10+ over Disney park glow items. If you can hide these from your kids until time to use them, you get parenting bonus points.
Besides autograph books and glow sticks, you may wish to purchase other souvenirs outside the parks to surprise your kids. This will save you both time and money inside the park. Of course shopping in the park can be part of the Disney experience. But consider items like water bottles, jewelry, or hats that could be used during your Disney trip.
As long as you’re shopping for Disney items before your trip, look for things like small sticker books and no-spill bubbles to keep kids entertained while waiting for parades or in lines. It’s amazing what a small jar of bubbles will do for your children’s spirits, and everyone nearby.
Even more packing list advice for Disney – READ HERE.
The Quirky Globetrotter has tips to avoid these mistakes at Walt Disney World!
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