(Article last updated: April 13, 2016)
You're prepping for a trip and remembering all of the basic items to pack, but what items should you include for your park touring bag? And what do you do with your bag when you're on a ride?
I have some ideas for what to pack and how to handle your bags when you're in the parks.
Let's get started...
I'm not a minimalist packer. I like to be prepared and have all of my stuff with me.
I always take a backpack into Disney theme parks because I like having all of the things I could need available to me at all times. I used to even have a separate packing list just for my park bag because there were so many little items that I didn't want to forget.
Disney allows you to bring your bags on all rides so you don't need to worry about what to do with it while you ride (however, Universal provides free lockers that they require you to use at many of their rides which means an extra stop going in and out of those rides and it's kind of a pain).
Here are the items I usually pack...
Now, let's break down some of the items.
In this article
Heat, rain and sun are huge factors on most Disney World trips. During some months, chilly morning/evening temps could also be an issue.
To deal with that, I'd suggest packing:
- Ponchos and/or an umbrella. Ponchos are more convenient and can easily cover up you, your bag and a stroller (if they're big enough). I bought ours at Disney World and just keep packing them to take back each trip.
- Spray misters. When it's hot, something to keep you cool can come in really handy. If it's not summertime where you live, you might want to order these online or they're available to buy at Disney World.
- Sunglasses. I'd also recommend a sunglass strap, just in case.
- Light jacket - recommended for mornings/evenings for people traveling October - March
On every trip, I've made use of several of these things:
- Mini-first aid kit - you can make your own little kit with some Band-Aids, itch/burn cream, ibuprofen, etc. There are also first aid stations in the parks with some of these items available.
- Anti-bacterial gel
- Wet wipes
- Bug spray (although bug bites are relatively rare at Disney World)
Many or most people rely on gadgets for their trip, especially since so many of the details are managed through the app.
Don't forget to pack:
- Cell phone - read more about how to get your phone ready for a Disney World trip
- An external battery charger with charging cords - phone batteries drain so, so quickly at Disney World so bring an external charger, just in case. This is an affordable, powerful, and well-reviewed option on Amazon.
- Fitness band - you'll be shocked at how many miles you walk each day
Park touring items
Without these, you won't make it very far in the parks. Some items to remember:
- Park maps - you can pick these up at the park if you don't have any of your own ahead of time, such as the maps that are available to WDW Prep Members
- MagicBands/park tickets - On-site guests will likely use their MagicBands. Off-site guests will use their park tickets, unless they choose to purchase MagicBands at Disney World
- Lanyards - for off-site guests who will need to regularly use their park tickets and credit cards, I'd suggest a lanyard for easy access
- Bitbelts - I started using these after losing my MagicBand during a trip. WDW Prep readers get a 15% discount when using the code "wdwprepschool" at checkout on the Bitbelt site. I recommend the wider bands for the regular-sized MagicBands and the junior bands for children who will be using the inside of the MagicBand (not sure what size your child will be wearing? Wait until you receive your MagicBands and then order Bitbelts that fit).
- Credit card - although you can charge things to MagicBands, I always bring a little cash and a credit card just in case
- Photo ID
- Autograph book - you could also bring other items to autograph, such as a photo mat or pillow case
- Autograph pen - the characters prefer larger pens or Sharpies (bonus points for retractable Sharpies which are a really good option).
Entertainment for kids
Although I hope that you won't end up waiting much, it's always helpful to have things for kids to do while waiting for the parks to open, in line at an attraction or for food to arrive.
- Games - deck of cards or game apps work well
- Bubbles - I carry little, party-sized bottles to blow while waiting. Kids around you enjoy it as well since they can try popping the bubbles your kids' blow
- Coins for pressing - cheapest souvenir ever and it's fun for kids to look for machines. The containers pictured are ones I created out of pill bottles because the mini-M&M containers are often way too big for us.
- Glow sticks - fun to use at night. I usually pick some up at a dollar store and bring extras to hand out to othe kids who are waiting for a parade or nighttime show to begin.
Make sure you stay hydrated and have some snacks handy for between meals. I usually pack:
- Bottled water - I used to carry 1 around per family member but that got too heavy so now I carry one and refill it in the fountains or in restaurants.
- Snacks - I like bringing fruit, granola bars and whatever we're having for breakfast on-the-go that day
- Gum - not sold at Disney World so bring it with you if you'd like some during your trip
Some other things I'd suggest:
- Towel - used to wipe off a seat, sit on during parades, etc. I usually just grab one from our hotel room.
- Spare outfit for kids - my son wouldn't wear wet clothes when he was little so if you think your child may play in the Epcot fountains, in the water area in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, or get wet on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids, you might want to pack a dry, spare set of clothes
- Extra Ziplocs - never know what you might want to keep dry or extra storage so I just always have extras in my backpack
Of course, if you don't want to take a full-sized backpack into the parks, you could cross things off this list and fit your stuff into a cinch-style backpack or purse.
What other items would you put into your park bag?