Disney resorts were invented to be the happiest places on earth and our packing list advice is designed with everything you’ll need to have a good time when you go.
Theme park resorts like Disneyland present special challenges for packing, as the most important items are likely to be carried around all day to make sure you’re comfortable. You’ll generally be out in warm weather but also likely to get wet. You’ll also be standing up and walking around a lot, so you need to take care of your feet. We’ve listed our suggestions for staying comfortable in the happiest place on earth.
See our Vacation Checklist For Families for general advice.
Preparing For A Disney Resort Vacation
It’s worth organizing a few things well in advance to make sure your trip goes smoothly. Gather these things together in a lanyard or folder, so you know how to find everything when it’s time to leave.
- Tickets – Buy tickets directly from Disney or a legitimate agency working in association with Disney. There is a huge black market in fake tickets and any eBay bargains that look too good to be true, usually are. If you stick to official outlets, you’ll be able to upgrade and exchange if you need to.
- Also, if you take photos or scans of your tickets when they arrive, you can use the barcode to get replacement tickets if they go missing.
- ID – Although you may not need a form of ID, Disney still recommends you carry something like a passport or driving licence with you when you come to the parks. There may be an issue with your tickets and you sometimes need to verify your identity if you pay for something with a credit card.
- Flights – If you plan to fly, you’ll get a better deal if you book your tickets about three months before you intend to travel. Find the best prices with Skyscanner or an equivalent flight comparison site. Print copies of all tickets and keep them together with your other travel documents.
- Accommodation – If you decide not to book official Disney accommodation within the park, you may be able to reduce costs on your vacation. As with flights, the cost of hotels fluctuates, but prices are likely to be cheaper if you book around three months in advance. Booking.com will show you the full range of options around the park and the range of prices available.
- Travel Insurance – Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
- Face mask – COVID is still very active in many countries and you may be required to wear an SFP2 facemask on the plane and in some indoor spaces. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser when you travel.
- Cash And Cards – It’s normal these days to pay for most things at a Disney resort with a MagicBand, which automatically charges your personal account. However, it still makes sense to bring a backup card and some cash. The latter can be useful for small gratuities and some people just prefer to pay for things in the more traditional way. You can also use Disney gift cards.
- Document Scans – In addition to keeping all your Disney resort documentation together in the same place, it’s strongly recommended that you keep digital copies of everything. Use your phone to take photos or scans of all your important travel documents, cards, and ID, then store them in an online account like Gmail or Dropbox. You will then have easy access to copies if you lose anything. Also keep a list of emergency contacts at banks and other agencies, such as your insurance, with any account or policy numbers.
What To Pack For A Disney Resort Vacation
Before we dive into the specifics of what to pack, there are a few general principals to help you pack for a Disney resort.
- Only pack clothes and shoes that are comfortable to wear. You’ll be walking a lot and waiting in line.
- Bring layers that are light to carry around and non-bulky in your day bag but will keep you warm when things get chilly.
- Pack waterproof ponchos or long, light waterproof jackets that will protect your against water rides and sudden downpours. Similarly, make sure you have clothes that will dry quickly and waterproof shoes, and carry spare socks in your bag pack.
- Hotels will generally have a hair dryer and basic toiletries, but you can bring your own if you have a preference. Restrict these to single items shared among everyone, rather than bringing an individual brand each.
- You can pick up most things you need once you arrive, but you’ll generally need to leave the resort, which may be inconvenient.
There are a few things to leave behind:
- Selfie sticks are not allowed in the park!
- You can bring snacks and drinks in but no meals.
- Don’t bring umbrellas into the park.
- Be sure to read Disney’s comprehensive list of dress rules and restrictions.
Luggage For A Disney Resort Vacation
It’s a good idea to think of theme park luggage in two separate phases. First, you need to get all your packing to your hotel. Then, you’ll need to plan for carrying around all the useful items to make the day-to-day experience of the park as comfortable as possible.
- Suitcase – Get a set of high-quality suitcases and make sure you have enough space for the whole family, with some extra space for souvenirs.
- Wash Bag – A well-built and waterproof wash bag is essential for managing bathroom items. The Magictodoor travel kit is well-made and inexpensive.
- Travel Cubes – A set of travel cubes really does make packing and finding items much easier. You can group clothes into different cubes and quickly find just your socks or t-shirts, without having to unpack everything. Get different colors to tell them apart.
- Day Bag – A day bag is probably the most essential item for a theme-park vacation. Get something waterproof with sturdy straps and zips, and lots of pockets and compartments for all the items you’ll need. You’ll want easy access for stashing any items you pick up thru the day. It’s a good idea to carry an extra foldable bag as well.
- Ziplock Bags – You can subdivide your day bag items into ziplock bags to keep them dry and easier to organize.
- Travel Billfold – A good quality travel billfold keeps tickets, cash, and credit cards secure. The Lewis N. Clark RFID Security Wallet is large enough for all your essentials, but comfortable enough to carry around beneath your shirt.
What Clothes To Pack For A Disney Resort
Disney resorts have a family-friendly dress code with some very specific rules. You are advised not to wear very loose-fitting clothing, you cannot have bare feet, and nobody over 14 is allowed to wear a costume. If you are dressed ‘inappropriately’, you will not be allowed in. This means, you cannot have offensive images or language on clothing or tattoos, or display too much of your body.
On the other hand, it’s fun to bring some Disney-themed clothing and get into the spirit of the place.
Your packing obviously needs to reflect on the season and local weather, especially if the summer is very hot or winter cold and very wet. See our Vacation Packing List For Hot Weather and Vacation Packing List For Cold Weather for more advice on the most appropriate season.
Here are some items to consider, regardless of the season:
- Footwear – Don’t be tempted to pack anything except the most comfortable shoes you can find. And make sure they are fully waterproof. There’s nothing worse than squelching around all day in soggy footwear. See what men’s walking shoes and women’s footwear are on offer at Amazon, or consider some breathable, lightweight Keen CNX hiking shoes. Make sure sneakers are well-ventilated to guard against blisters, heat rashes, and smelliness.
- Bring at least one change of socks in your day pack in case the ones you’re wearing get wet.
- Pack comfortable and quick-drying clothes. Under Armor t-shirts are light and designed to stay dry. Lightweight shorts, pants, or skirts with sturdy zipper pockets on shorts will keep valuables safe when you’re walking around the park. Under Armor underwear is also great for keeping cool and will help stop chafing if you’re walking around a lot.
- It’s easy to get mucky at a theme park, so pack darker colors that will hide dirt.
- Rain Jacket – If you’re going anywhere near the water rides, you’ll need a simple rain poncho or a good quality rain jacket if the weather looks like rain. For hot weather, consider a lightweight ‘cag in a bag’.
- Blankets – Make sure everybody has a thin but warm blanket to stay warm if it gets chilly and you’re standing around in a queue for a ride. Extra layers like sweatshirts can help with this but tend to be bulkier.
- Accessories – A decent pair of shades are essential to protect your eyes from harmful rays. Amazon has quality sunglasses at reasonable prices. A hat or cap will need to do double duty: keeping you cool and protecting your head and neck from the sun, but also keeping you dry. Make sure you get something that fits snugly and remember to take it off during rides.
- Swimwear – Chances are you’ll be too busy with other things to go swimming. So make the decision before you go and have a definite schedule. If you do plan time in the pool, bring a couple of pairs of bikinis, boardshorts and the like, so you can leave one set to rinse out.
Health And Grooming Items To Pack For A Disney Resort Vacation
As with luggage, it’s a good idea to break health items down into what you’ll pack for the hotel and what you need to carry to stay comfortable in the resort itself.
The hotel will have a basic set of toiletries, such as soap and shower gel, but you may still wish to bring your own. In most cases, it makes sense to share these items rather than bringing individual items for everyone.
- Dental Care – Obviously, you’ll want a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Ear Plugs – Disneyland can be loud, with fireworks going off after your bedtime, so ear plugs are the best way to ensure a good night’s rest. Moldex ear plugs are excellent and very cheap.
- Eye Shades – Similarly, light pollution is probably less of a problem, but effective eye shades will help you get to sleep if it is.
Pack your day bag with the following (and see Other Items below):
- Refillable Water Bottle – You can bring these into the park and get refills anywhere that serves beverages. The Nalgene OTF is an excellent choice. Bring one each so you can stay hydrated thru the day!
- First Aid Kit – Bring a basic first aid kit, with some Band-Aids for blisters, tweezers and nail scissors, and basic pain killers and tablets for an upset stomach.
- Sunscreen – Make sure you apply plenty of sunscreen during the day. We recommend Neutrogena SPF 45 Drytouch Sunscreen, which is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
- Handheld Fan – As you’ll be queuing a lot, you may end up standing around in the heat quite a bit. A small handheld fan is a good way to keep cool.
- Chapstick – A good Chapstick like Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Balm will help you avoid sore lips after a day out in the sun.
- Moisturizer – Using a good moisturizer like CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream and something similar on your hands will give you a small boost if you find your energy is lagging.
- KY Jelly – Rubbing KY Jelly or similar on vulnerable areas will help combat chafing if your clothes are rubbing against your skin.
- Blister Balm – Similarly, something like blister balm can help if you have painful feet.
- Tissues – Tissues are vital in a variety of little disasters, so keep a pack in easy reach. Hand sanitizer is also handy, and probably some wet wipes.
- Snacks – You can’t bring full meals into the park, but keep a quick source of energy with you, such as protein bars.
- Breath Freshener – Pack some mints or chewing gum to help keep your mouth fresh.
- Medicine – Make sure you keep any prescribed medication with you.
- See our Vacation Packing Checklist For Families for suggestions about packing items like nappies, changing pads, and strollers if you’re bringing babies to a Disney resort.
- Tampons and Pads – If relevant, don’t forget to bring a supply of feminine hygiene products. This is something you won’t want to get caught out on and have ruin your day.
Electronic Devices To Pack For A Disney Resort
As you’ll be more than occupied for most of your visit, you won’t need to bring a lot of electronic devices with you. There are, however, a few essentials to keep in mind:
- iPad or Android Tablet – You’ll want to make sure everybody is happy en route to the resort. A tablet can offer unlimited entertainment if you load it up with audiobooks, movies, TV shows, games, music, and more from Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play before you travel. Kids don’t always want to share the same screen, especially if they’re tired and want to disappear into their own world for a while, so you may want to get a cheap device for everyone.
- Power Strip – Hotels don’t always provide enough power outlets, so it can be useful to bring a power strip with you if you have a number of things that need recharging. Get one with some USB ports on.
- Power Bank – As you’d expect, Disney has excellent cell phone apps for both iPhone and Android that allow you to check wait times, menus, and skip lines, so keeping your phone juiced up is important to help you find your way around. Your battery will drain faster, especially if you’re taking lots of photos, so a power bank with lots of capacity is essential. Don’t forget your charging cable!
- Waterproof Pouch – Protect your cell phone from damage during water rides with a waterproof pouch. The Lewis N. Clark Waterproof Multi Purpose Pouch is a good low-cost choice that’s big enough to fit most cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras.
- Camera – Despite the excellent image quality of most cell phones these days, there are still reasons to consider a standalone camera. I’d recommend the Canon Powershot range which are compact, easy to use and pretty cheap. Or consider a GoPro. This tiny, rugged, waterproof camera could be perfect for filming on rides without getting damaged. Bring plenty of memory cards to store all the images. These can be flaky, so change them regularly and backup images as soon as possible.
It’s common to bring Disney trading pins, which you can buy in advance, as well as some pennies and quarters to get pressed. Here are a few more fun suggestions for you day pack, in addition to the health items listed above:
- Mouse Ears – Kids will really enjoy dressing up in Mickey Mouse ears or other accessories.
- Autograph Book – A big part of the Disney experience is meeting Goofy and the other characters, so don’t forget to bring an autograph book and some pens. You can get a nice Disney-branded one for the full effect.
- Glow Sticks – Help light up the park after dark with some glow sticks. You can buy these at the resort but you’ll save money if you get them in advance.