I will admit that one of the huge perks that helped me fall in love with living in Florida was the ready, easy access to all things Disney. When we moved two summers ago we researched the available annual pass options at Walt Disney World and within a few months of becoming Florida residents, we were Premium Annual Pass holders (yeah, we went “all in” lol).
We enjoy the flexibility of spontaneous visits and the low pressure to see and do everything when we’re at any given park. If we miss a fast pass or a parade or it starts pouring rain we can easily change plans and the kids understand that they can always catch their favorite ride or see their favorite show at any other time.
When we first moved to Florida our youngest was just turning two and park visits required a fair amount of preparation. I quickly developed a basic list of items that I always had packed in a crossbody bag or back pack. I developed this list through trial and error, with a few near disasters in the mix :-). Here is my Day Pack list (in no particular order of importance):
1) ponchos (from target)- Everyone knows Florida for its sunshine and warm temperatures. Until I became a resident of the state of Florida I did not realize how wet this state is. It seems, throughout the year, that rain showers occur sporadically and sometimes without warning. When planning for a day outdoors it is wise to have rain protection in the form of an umbrella or poncho, just in case. Ponchos are convenient because they pack easily and have multiple purposes; besides rain cover we’ve used our ponchos to cover the curb we sit on when watching parades, to cover my daughter’s stroller, and even to protect us when riding a particularly wet ride like Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids. Ponchos are available at every park at almost every gift shop but you can easily get good quality ponchos at Target or even the dollar store for a fraction of the price.
2) snacks- My kids are grazers. On a morning when we’re headed out to a Disney park, they will probably not eat a full breakfast because of excitement which means they’ll be asking for a snack or something to drink shortly after we arrive at the park. They’re getting better, as they get older, but I’ve found it always helps to have my own stash of their favorite snacks with me when we head out for the day. Disney allows most food products into their parks so I’ve never had problems bringing a variety of food items with me. This also helps us save money because we’re not wasting $$ on snacks all over the park, which everyone knows are very overpriced. I still haven’t found a way to bring my own popsicles though; those Olaf strawberry lemonade bars are a weakness for all of us 🙂
3) change of clothes for kids/diapers/pullups- On our early visits to Disney I had to pack a lot more for my youngest daughter; she was potty training at the time so we always packed an extra pull up, wipes and a full change of clothes. Now that she’s older I still pack an extra change of clothes for her, particularly if we’re out for a full day at a park. Between popsicle accidents (those Mickey ice cream popsicles are just as disastrous on clothes as they are yummy) and the occasional potty fail, having an extra clean pair of shorts and a tee shirt can literally save the day! As my daughter got older, I stopped carrying clothes with me for awhile but after one particularly catastrophic accident while out for the day I returned to my old packing habit. It is also a good idea, depending on the season, to pack a light jacket or sweater for each member of your party, just in case of temperature changes.
4) sunscreen- The blessing of living in the sunshine state is that, well, the sun loves our state. Very, VERY much. And if you’re not careful you (and your kids) will end up more than sun-kissed. Shortly after we had moved down south, I became aware of the brutality of the Florida sun. Though your day at an amusement park may be partially in doors and on rides, you always want to be prepared for your time outdoors and pack enough sunscreen for your entire family.
5) hand sanitizer/wipes- I’m far from a germophobe but I’ve seen all manner of grossness on our park visits from kids and adults alike. I always make sure I have a bottle of hand sanitizer in my bag as well as wet wipes. The wipes come in handy for everything from minor spills to sticky post-popscicle fingers.
6) phone charger- Even if you’re not planning to Instagram your whole day or trying to keep up with emails for work, it is likely that on a full day in any given park your phone battery will need a charge. There are charging stations distributed throughout the parks (you can find these noted on park maps) but these areas can become congested, particularly on busy park days. That is why I’ve begun to carry a small phone charger in my bag at all times.
7) first aid kit/ emergency medicine- There are places in each park where you can find emergency medical care with friendly, competent staff and a wide variety of OTC meds. But it will cost you time and, potentially, money. Once my little one fell and skinned her knee badly while we were at Hollywood Studios; we literally had to walk across the entire park to the main First Aid center near the entrance, all the while she was screeching in pain and miserable. All she needed was a swipe with an antiseptic wipe and a bandaid. If I had carried my usual first aid kit I would have been able to treat her on the spot. I recommend carrying a small travel first aid kit along with basic painkillers and any other meds that you may need.
8) misting fans from target- I used to chuckle at the jokers who spend $20 on these huge Disney spray bottles you can find in any park. One day in August (we usually avoid visiting parks during this month) we were standing in a lake of fire and my youngest was whining, I was literally melting and those big blue spray bottles sitting in a large bucket of ice were looking mighty nice. We bought one and now it has a permanent place in our park bag. We also picked up cheaper, smaller versions at Target which we pack when we are traveling with the entire family so everyone has one.
9) glow sticks and wands from dollar store- If you plan to be in the park past sunset I think these are an important item to include in your park bag. You can find them for sale all over the park but they are (of course) overpriced. You can easily stock up before leaving home or find them in a dollar store here in Orlando. They are a lot of fun and come in a variety of colors and shapes. The kids will love them but they’re also helpful as markers for your family at nighttime. You can coordinate colors to help you keep an eye on your group and or attach them to your stroller to help you find it at nighttime if you’ve parked it somewhere.
10) the My Disney Experience App (on your smartphone or device)- The planning app by Disney is the best I have used (in comparison to the other amusement parks in the area). This app has everything you’ll need to plan a day a Disney park! You can access the Fast Pass + system, make dining reservations, find characters for photo ops, note show times and parade times, and more. You can pick up paper maps and show schedules at the park entrance but these end up being cumbersome and easy to lose. Take my advice: download the app the moment you decide to spend some time at Walt Disney World. It’s invaluable.
These are just a few items that I find super helpful and pretty much necessary when I spend a day at an amusement park. Are there any items you would definitely add to your day pack or any ideas for packing for your family on a day out? If you are considering planning a trip to Walt Disney World I’d love to assist you as your travel consultant! You can find out more details on planning your magical Disney vacation and contact me here!