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What to Pack for Disney World: 38 Essentials

SmarterTravel

When I walk down Main Street, USA in Magic Kingdom, I can’t help but smile. I’ve spent years growing up at Disney World, and that first glimpse of the castle after rope-drop never gets old. Whether this is your first trip or you’re a regular park hopper, here’s the essential Disney World packing list you need to make sure you have a magical time.

What to Pack for Disney World: Luggage

I always manage to throw in more souvenirs than I plan for when I go to Disney. Luckily I’ve outgrown stuffed animals and toys, but I always manage to find another mug I have to have, so I make sure to bring a larger suitcase than I normally would for a trip.

I’m obsessed with my Away Carry-On, which covers everything I need. But when I want to go bigger, I bring my trusty Samsonite Voltage DLX 29” Spinner.

What to Pack for Disney World: The Day Pack

I like to spend most of my days in the parks, and that means a day pack is essential. I got this monogrammed drawstring bag years ago, but when I need something bigger I grab my Mickey-themed Loungefly bag. As long as it fits snacks and a water bottle, I’m good to go.

If you’re towing kids or little ones, consider this diaper bag for heavy-duty travel.

What to Pack for Disney World: Park Essentials

  • Sunglasses: You’ll want to bring polarized shades that can handle the sunshine. I always pack my Ray-Ban Wayfarers when I travel since they go with everything, but if you want a little Disney flair, these are my favorites.
  • Hat: A baseball cap is a must in the parks. Don’t forget to take it off on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster—I’ve had to buy this embroidered cap twice.
  • Water bottle: The worst thing that can happen is getting overheated on a hot Florida day. You can fill up your reusable bottle at stations around the park or at any restaurant or counter service location.
  • Mini fan: For super hot days and long waits outside, I use this mini-fan to keep cool. I always get lots of envious looks from other people in line.
  • Snacks: Disney allows you to bring pretty much any food item except for alcohol into the parks. I hate getting hangry while waiting in line, so I always keep a few snacks on hand that hold up to the heat.
  • Extra napkins: Eating ice cream at 9:30 a.m. is one of my favorite parts of vacation, but it can get messy. I keep these in my purse just in case.
  • Reusable straws: Disney banned plastic straws a few years back, so if you’re a soda drinker, bring your own.
  • Autograph book: I love meeting characters, especially Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace for lunch. An autograph book makes for a sweet souvenir—each character has a unique signature.
  • Stroller: If you have a little one, it’s up to you whether you want to rent a stroller or bring your own. If you do bring one, make sure it’s a compact option like the Mountain Buggy Nano Stroller and that you make it your own so it stands out—a lot of strollers look the same.

What to Pack for Disney World: Shoes

  • Sneakers: Somehow I always manage to walk at least 10 miles a day when I’m at Disney (usually from snack cart to snack cart, let’s be real), so good walking shoes are essential. I can walk all day in my Keds, and they’re cute enough to go with most of my park outfits.
  • Socks: I bring cushy options that can handle crisscrossing the parks.
  • Sandals: I go for walkability over fashion with my sandals, so I like this pair from Columbia (I use them as camp shoes when I hike). Here’s the same pair for men.
  • Dressy sandals: I throw in a pair of versatile wedges I can dress up or down, depending on my dinner reservations.

What to Pack for Disney World: Jackets

  • Lightweight sweatshirt: I usually bring a sweatshirt for watching the parades and fireworks shows in the evenings. (Here’s a similar one for men.)
  • Rain gear: You’ll likely get caught in a torrential downpour for at least a few minutes every day while you’re at the parks. It doesn’t last long, but I always bring a raincoat or poncho to stuff into my backpack.

What to Pack for Disney World: Clothing

If you’re staying on property, you’ll be able to do laundry with laundromats at every resort, through their valet service, or, if you’re staying at a Disney Vacation Club Villa, with a washer and dryer in your room. Just bring:

What to Pack for Disney World: Water Parks and Pool Days

When I get tired of roller coasters, I trade them for water parks. Blizzard Beach offers ski-themed thrills and Typhoon Lagoon feels like a tropical oasis. Of course, there’s always time for poolside lounging back at the resort, too. For water-based sports, you’ll need:

  • Swimsuit: Of course! Everyone has a different style, but I go for classic and preppy J. Crew suits. (Try these tropical board shorts for men, too.)
  • Rashguard: I have really sensitive skin, so I go for a rashguard if I’m slipping and sliding on rafts and in chutes. Plus, I don’t have to constantly slather on sunscreen.
  • Water shoes: I’m fairly uncoordinated, so water shoes are my friend at water parks. But I tend to just wear my Havaianas Slim flip-flops for around the pool.
  • Sun hat: I swap my baseball cap out for a floppy straw hat that gives me enough shade to read by the pool.

What to Pack for Disney World: Toiletries

  • Sunscreen: Because it’s sunny out there.
  • Bug spray: Disney does a great job of spraying in the parks, but Florida is a swamp, so it’s never a bad idea.
  • Blotting papers: When it gets hot and humid, I pack a few of these to use right before any character photos.
  • Frizz control: The humidity wreaks havoc on my hair, so I bring this spray for mornings and evenings.
  • Motion sickness medication: Nothing ruins a roller coaster like getting motion sick. If you struggle with it, there’s plenty to do in the parks besides the rides. But it’s always good to bring just in case.
  • Bandages for blisters: Those miles add up.

What to Pack for Disney World: Gadgets

  • MagicBand: Disney runs on MagicBands. You won’t need your credit card, room key, or Fastpasses anymore: It all works with a wave of your MagicBand. It’s best to order these ahead of your trip so you’re ready when you check in.
  • Camera: Capture the magic with a digital camera. If you’d rather stay in the moment, you can also have your photos taken throughout the park, synced through your MagicBand to order and print after your trip.

What to Pack for Disney World: Accessories

  • Crossbody bag: I like to go lighter for nighttime park visits, and this Madewell purse does the trick.
  • Mickey ears: I never leave home without my ears for Disney trips. I have a flowery pair I bought for the Flower & Garden Show at EPCOT a few years back, but you can pick any number of combinations.

What Not to Pack for Disney World

The only things you won’t need? High heels or any uncomfortable shoes—you’ll be walking a lot. Second, leave the umbrellas and selfie sticks at home. The parks get super crowded, and you’re just as likely to drop them or leave them behind while getting in or out of a ride.

Overall, when packing for Disney, don’t be afraid to get whimsical. You’ll rub elbows with tourists from around the world, so you’ll see all sorts of styles. If there’s anything to learn from Disney, it’s that you make your own magic.

More from SmarterTravel:

Always in search of adventure, Kayla Voigt hails from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the start of the Boston Marathon. You can usually find her at the summit of a mountain or digging into a big bowl of pasta. Say hi on Instagram @klvoigt.

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