What to pack for an organized trip to Walt Disney World

The following is the second of three in a series on organizing a vacation to Walt Disney World. You may find some of the tips can be applied to other vacation destinations.

Different people vary in their personal preferences when it comes to packing for vacations. While some people prefer to pack lightly and do laundry midway through a trip, others would rather pack enough clothing to get them through the entire vacation without ever having to wear any garment more than once. Some people bring their own preferred brands of toiletries while others are perfectly content to use the shampoo, conditioner, and soap provided by hotels.

Rather than trying to provide an exhaustive checklist of everything a person might want to take along for general travel, I want to instead focus on a few specific recommendations for packing that are particular to visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. Irrespective of what your general approach to travel packing might entail, following these recommendations should help make your visit more enjoyable.

Clothing

Temperatures in Orlando can fluctuate dramatically throughout the day during the winter months. If you are planning your trip during that time of the year, you will definitely want to pack clothing that will allow you to dress in layers.

During the summer, it rains very frequently in Orlando. We have been on weeklong trips in which it has rained every day for at least some short period of time. We always carry individual disposable rain ponchos in our pockets. They are far less expensive than the rain gear sold inside the parks and are much easier to carry than an umbrella. They can usually be stuffed back in the plastic bags they come in and reused at least a few times each.

Purses and camera bags can be a hassle on rides. We prefer either hiking style lumbar packs (they twist easily around your torso) or clothing with enough pockets to securely carry smartphones, cameras, ponchos, sunscreen, wallets, sunglasses, and park passes.

If you would prefer to opt for clothing with plenty of pocket-space, consider garments from Scottevest. We’ve reviewed their products in the past and (as you can see from the photo below) we always pack them when we travel–particularly to Walt Disney World.

SCOTTEVEST in EPCOT

Erin and I have 18 pockets total in the three garments we are wearing in the above photo, from our most recent trip:

  • The Cabana Shirt (in Tomato Red) has 7 pockets.
  • The SeV Walking Shorts (in Burlap) have 8 pockets, several of which are very deep, and do an excellent job of keeping personal belongings secure on rides. They’re an excellent option if you don’t like the look of cargo shorts.
  • The Phoebe Dress (in Bold, which most normal people would just call Black) is knee length and has 3 pockets with zippers.

Everything we need is in our pockets and we still don’t look like we’re dressed for bass fishing. (Erin would like to add she has on a pair of biking shorts under the dress and strongly recommends them, especially on the rides.) The best thing about wearing clothing that can house all of your items in zippered pockets instead of carrying a backpack or other kind of bag with you is that you get to avoid the bag check security line and instead head straight to the park entrance.

Footwear

You will doing a considerable amount of walking every day during your visit to Walt Disney World, so you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes. If the weather forecast calls for any significant amount of rain, consider either wearing sandals or putting a spare pair of socks in your pocket before you leave the hotel for any of the parks. You don’t want to spend the rest of your day walking miles through the parks with wet socks, even after it has stopped raining.

Hat, Sunscreen, and Sunglasses

Even if the forecast calls for cloudy weather, make sure you have adequate sun protection when visiting the parks. You can buy sunscreen at the parks, but it’s far less expensive if you bring it along. We’ve found it is best to not pack white shirts and pants for these trips because many brands of sunscreen will stain white clothing.

Anti-Bacterial Gel

You don’t need to have a Howard Hughes-level of mysophobia to recognize that an amusement park full of children is like a giant petri dish. We all carry the small travel-sized containers of Purell. Wet wipes also come in handy. We also have been known to carry a few eye glass wipes since by mid-day we’ve touched our glasses with sunscreen laden fingers too many times to count.

Ear Plugs for Children

Disney puts on phenomenal fireworks shows just about every night. If your child is particularly sensitive to loud noises, then you’ll want to consider packing child-sized earplugs. They can be the difference between leaving the park for the day on a high note or in the midst of a meltdown. (Bonus tip: WDW is filled with automatically flushing toilets. If your preschooler isn’t a fan, a piece of painters tape over the sensor works wonders. Five or six pre-cut strips on an index card takes up very little space in your wallet and makes life a whole lot easier.)

13 Comments for “What to pack for an organized trip to Walt Disney World”

  1. posted by SCOTTEVEST on

    Thanks for the great article! Awesome tips, let’s go to DISNEYWORLD!

  2. posted by Viv on

    Thanks for the idea about earplugs. We are going to Disneyland with a 6 year old friend and I’ve passed the tip on to his mom.

  3. posted by Eliza Jones on

    I’ve been to Disney parks a lot, and what I’ve found to be the most useful is a cross-body purse. I bought one from thirty-one two years ago when we went to Disney, and I kept running into other women at the park carrying the same purse, and we had all bought them specifically for the trip. These were really useful because they lie flat against your body, but you can fit a water bottle inside. I could also tie my windbreaker onto the strap rather than carry it.

  4. posted by nmw on

    I don’t like carrying any bags/backpacks when I go to WDW mainly because I hate going through bag check. If I can’t carry it in my pocket or hooked to my belt loop, it doesn’t come with me. It also makes it easier when you’re on the rides, because some of the rides won’t have a place for you to store your bag and there aren’t convenient lockers next to the rides either.

    I don’t bother carrying water bottles either, anywhere they serve fountain drinks, they’ll give you a cup of water for free.

  5. posted by danielle on

    I love that you can’t even tell you guys have stuff in those pockets in the photo! That’s pretty cool.

  6. posted by Rebekka on

    The other thing to note about not carrying a bag is that it gets you into Disneyworld much, much faster as you can go through the no bags queue and avoid the massive line to get your bags checked – head start on rides in the morning before the lines build up!

  7. posted by Rebekka on

    Oh, I wasn’t reading very carefully was I!

  8. posted by Liane on

    I would love a detailed list of what you have in all those pockets in the photo. I am unable to fill a Scott eVest with everything I need and not look like a Sherpa. You look like you have nothing in your pockets. What do you actually have in there in the photo?

  9. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    Exactly what PJ mentions: smartphones, camera (PJ has a small one, I didn’t bring a second one), ponchos, sunscreen (I’ve got a tube in that left thigh pocket, PJ doesn’t have any on him), wallets, and park passes. I’ve also got a few wet wipes in a zip-top bag in the back pocket and PJ has a small thing of sanitizing gel. My son had his epi-pen in a hip pack this year, so I didn’t have to carry his stuff for him — win!

  10. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    Oh, and I’m also carrying band-aids.

  11. posted by aleisha on

    We just returned from WDW a couple of days ago – wonderful fun. We tried the extra sock thing but our shoes were SOAKED from the rain and so a fresh pair of socks didn’t make much diff. So, the next day we packed our flip flops in our bag (bag check, yes… but only took about an extra 5-10 minutes per day); when it started to rain, we put on flip flops so our socks and shoes wouldn’t get wet. Switched to socks and sneakers once rain was gone. Several people we saw said they wish they would’ve done this. We also packed this chafing stick (made by band-aid, found on band-aid aisle by blister band-aids… looks like a mini deoderant). My husband had chafing issues from where his shorts and undies got wet (even w/ poncho) and his thighs started to chafe (and for the record, he’s super fit… but if you are overweight, keep in mind too — wearing a dress would be a BAD idea unless you have something under it like bike shorts to prevent chafing). Also, ziploc bags for random stuff like wet ponchos in-between showers, melty candy, etc. Most important: pack a good attitude. I can’t tell you how many meltdowns (adults and kids) we overheard. Just go with the flow and prepare for crowds, lines, heat, etc. It is magical and fabulous even with all that stuff!

    Not packing, but a tip: we gave our 8-year-old daughter a budget for the whole trip. She had to use it for any souvenirs she wanted. We also told her we’d only pay for one “junky” snack per day. This helped so much because she knew how much she had and could decide what/where to spend it without continually asking us for stuff.

  12. posted by Maria on

    Clothing wise, when we go to Disney, we coordinate colors. It’s so much easier to find your spouse/children/anyone in your party when you automatically know what color they have on (The same one you do!!)
    This year we also packed all of our outfits in space saver bags by day. This included shorts, underwear, socks, and shirts. Was nice to pull out the bags and say, well here’s Monday’s stuff, and here’s Wednesday. Also nice to re-pack the worn clothing in and then lets more room when going home if you have souvenirs.

    We try to pack 2 shirts for every 1 pair of shorts to stretch things out that way. We also have a packing list that we pull out for every trip (which includes toiletries, first aid, snacks, etc) and we sit down right after each trip and tweak it.

    We have a 1 year old so a stroller is still needed, which we bring from home. Obviously we have to go through bag check, but we make that go quicker by already having any bags we are carrying opened for the security office to search through. They are grateful, as well as the people behind you, to not have to wait until you drag things up on the table, then unzip them, then……

    I also simplified the diaper bag by just having a ziplock bag with 3 diapers, a thin pack of wipes, a tube of rash cream which slid nicely into the strollers back pocket, and didn’t have to be hauled out to check since it was in a clear bag. I also brought only a small blanket for nursing which folded up easily in the basket underneath the stroller.

    (Since we take the Amtrak Auto Train and have our own car every trip, we are able to take more than the average WDW visitor who flies in.)

  13. posted by finula on

    Nice Post!

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