Prepping for a Disney trip at The Dollar Tree

I once had a friend who said she had never been inside a dollar store. I'm not even sure how we stayed friends.

OK, some of the dollar stores are a little dirty. A little trashy.

But have you been to The Dollar Tree? It's like the Neiman Marcus of the dollar stores. They're usually clean, organized and they have lots of great stuff to pick up before your Disney World trip.

I recently visited and here's what I found...

One of their newest items is these Disney sandwich bags.

Super cute to put some snacks into or maybe some crayons to throw into a backpack for the plane. There's a space to write on the bag ("personalize your bag" the box says) and they come in 3 different varieties.

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This is what the bags look like...

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Then we have glow stick palooza over here.

I buy a LOT of these and give some out along the Magic Kingdom parade route in the evening. They don't cost much but kids love them. Buying glow toys at Disney World costs about a bajillion times as much (rough estimate).

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When you're looking for some things to put into the kids' backpacks to keep them busy, here are some fun ideas for things you might include...

Disney-themed yo-yos, tops, paddle balls, stamps...

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I bet you can't guess what these are...

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2 headed crayons...

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Chalkboards and paddle balls. People on the plane would LOVE it if you were paddle balling in your seat I bet...

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Even more glow sticks. Is this where people shop before going to a rave?

Are raves still a thing?

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Pop up hampers. They fold flat in your suitcase but then they, uhhh, pop up. Great way to collect dirty clothes in your room and stay organized.

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When I created the gigantic packing list, I had some people suggest that these should be on it for hanging up wet things to dry....

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And, of course, rain ponchos for the daily rains and riding Kali River Rapids...

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Brightly colored bandanas to tie onto your rental stroller to make it stand out in the sea of strollers...

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Liquid soap for your hotel room since only bar soap is provided.

Many people asked why I put this on the packing list. Bar soap doesn't work well when you wear contacts, plus you can use liquid soap for washing dishes, swimsuits in the sink, etc.

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A Disney-themed nightlight for little ones (and me) who like having a light on....

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Movie theater-sized boxes of candy. Fun to put in a backpack to enjoy on the trip to Disney World...

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And then there's the magic towels which expand into small washcloth-ish towels. Available in lots of characters...

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And pick up some classy ocean-themed home decor while you're at it.

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Or not.

Dollar Tree also sells even more Disney stuff online. You can have it shipped for cheap plus you can have stuff sent to the store closest to you for free.

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Jennifer

Walmart has an even better deal now on glow sticks. Instead of the 5 packs at DT, you can get a 40 pack for $5. I recently bought a set for my 8 year old’s Star Wars birthday party.

Leslie

Great ideas! 🙂

Jordan

I have read this post over the months/years since you first posted it and I crack up every time. “Are raves still a thing?”

Thanks for the help!

Ziplock baggies for your phone (not to get wet), leftover food, snacks, wet undergarments.
A towel to dry the seat (Fantasmic, Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids) or a spot saver for a parade.
Cheap luggage tags for your park bag (just in case you lose it or you don’t use the American Traveler ones Disney sends you!)

Loring

Hey there! Take it from someone who live an hour-ish from The House of Mouse – there are great deals to be had OUTSIDE of the parks. My faves are Walmart and Walgreens, but even the Publix supermarkets nearby have a great Disney section. I found the cutest pajamas at one! Oh, and Publix is a really good supermarket here in FL.

We found Star Wars rain ponchos at Walgreens, I think, and they were cheap. Kid sized, but plain ones for adults.

A good thing to know at all the parks: Any restaurant or kiosk that gives drinks in cups will give you a cup of ice water free. I take little packets of lemonade or whatever to add. Their water actually tastes decent, though. You can bring your own cup with a lid. And for mom and dad – Epcot has a STARBUCKS not too far inside. The other kiosks sell Geoffrey’s coffee, which is roasted in Tampa. Really good.

MY FAVORITE DISNEY TIP: You can bring a cooler!! Yup. We bring a medium sized cooler (I have a super cool collapsible one from 31 with my name on it). We rent a locker, throw in our cooler and our sweaters if it’s fall or winter, and go about our day until time for the parade. We go back to Main Street or the parade route at whatever park, and get our cooler. We park ourselves on the curb pretty early (butt space is at a premium) and eat our lunch while we wait. That way we only purchase snacks (gotta have a Mickey ice cream bar or a Dole Whip!) or one meal – generally quick serve unless it’s a special occasion. Remember, we live close, so we go often, but try to be frugal (Passholders).

We kinda do the same for the fireworks or night time shows. We get ourselves a funnel cake (to share) or if we missed dinner, some yummy Epcot Fish and Chips (get quick serve – it’s the same as inside) and find a spot to watch. We LOVE Illuminations, by the way.

And – no offense – if you have small children, do yourself- and all of us – a favor. Go back to the hotel in the hottest part of the day and take a nap and a swim. Your kids will be much happier if you decide to stay late for fireworks.

Hope this helps!

Crystal

How does flying with glow sticks work? Do they have to be checked? Or be in your liquids bag in your carry on?

i always bring a mesh pop-up hamper on my trips. I have one that has big handles and pockets (for my soap!) that doubles as my laundry basket. Toss your dirty clothes in (then they don’t make your clean clothes gross) and when you have enough for a load, drag it to the machine. I love it! It also means I can pack less and save baggage fees.

Jodi Ashby

Wow! Great list! I was already planning on making a Dollar Tree run for our trip but there are some great ideas in here that I wouldn’t have thought to get. Thanks Shannon! Love your podcast and website!

Beth

So funny story — took this list to the dollar store last night in preparation for our trip. I was at the dollar tree I think. They said they haven’t sold rain ponchos for years!! Any idea where else cheap to buy them?

Julie Gonzalez

Rain ponchos are $.98 in the camping section of Walmart.

Beth

Thanks for the quick reply! I was actually at the Dollar Tree, and they did not stock any ponchos. I tried their website too, and you have to order a case to ship to store, and they now only have single packs available. I’ll have to find another place to buy. Target has emergency poncho’s for $1.42 each. I just like to bring cheap multi-packs with us on trips like this!

Julie

Don’t know if anyone added this or not. We are going to Disney on fall break. This is a once in a lifetime trip so I want to make it extra special. I am buying disney things ahead of time (tee shirts, stuffed animals, candy, toys, beach towels, etc) and each day when we leave for the park I’m having my step mom “sneak” into our room at put out special stuff for my boys to find when we get back to our room in the afternoon. They will each have a little card with a different character on them saying things like ” thanks for visiting disney ” and their names. It is an awesome surprise for them, plus it may not be so hard getting them to leave the park at the end of the day because they will want to see if they have a surprise. Not to mention it will cost a lot less then suvieniers and I can purchase them throughout the yr on sale not cutting into disney money. I’m even having her put out a surprise before we get there since they will arrive first.

Isabel

My parents did this for us on our first trip to Disney World as a whole family, is was so much fun to go home late at night and see “Mickey” left us a surprise. A huge hit for us was 18″ plush Disney character dolls, even for the boys. Also Disney Keychains with Disney pins(you can buy in any park), you can trade them with any cast members whenever, and it was super fun.

Kristin R

The glow sticks/jewelry are awesome! I got more than enough for our group of 15 for one night plus glow wands for three nights for the three 6 yos that are going for the price of ONE of the glowing spinning things that they sell in the parks. Bonus: they had Disney & Marvel character glow wands! Many of the packages have more than one necklace or bracelet in them, so it’s even more bang for your buck. You can cover each arm in glow bracelets for the cost of one item in the park.

And just a head’s up, the Dollar Tree website seems to only let you buy cases of items, not singles.

We leave in 20 days for our Disney trip. It is our daughter’s first trip and we are so excited. Thank you for the purchase list!

Grace Kruger

oh my gosh i’m not even an adult and i’ve been obsessively stalking your page for days now to make sure i don’t forget anything for the trip were taking in June 🙂 thank you so much!! my slight OCD was soothed by your extensive lists and tricks

Shannon, you are hilarious, and I feel pretty sure we are destined to be friends someday. Thanks for the awesome tips! Mwah!

GingerJ

I brought a bunch of the ponchos and the cheapo gloves when we went in February one year. My hubby just rolled his eyes, as the weather was usually pretty good then. Well, our first 2 days were rainy, cold, & miserable and my cheapo gloves and DT ponchos saved the day!

One thing though: those ponchos are very flimsy. If you’re very careful, you can re-use them the same day (put the wet side in when you fold ’em), but it’s best to have enough for each day if you have room.

Amanda Z

Great idea about rain gear for each day. I don’t want to carry around wet things all day and take a chance of other things getting wet like cameras and cell phones. Thanks for the tip.

Virgil Rivers

Every time, before going to Disneyland or Disney World we stop somewhere Dollar Tree, especially to buy a bunch of glow sticks. °o°

Sam

I always pack these pop up hampers where ever we go even if its just a weekend trip. It’s nice to keep some order in your snug little hotel rooms.

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