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I've been to Disney World over 25 times: My ultimate packing list for families to avoid any rookie mistakes

Disney 2024 packing list: 13 things you should bring for bad weather, little kids and long lines.

woman wearing rain poncho with water bottle, sunscreen, walking shoes, protein bars at disney world, I have been to Disney World over 25 times, these are the 13 things I always bring (Photos via Sarah DiMuro, Getty Images & Amazon).
I have been to Disney World over 25 times, these are the 13 things I always bring (Photos via Sarah DiMuro, Getty Images & Amazon).

To say I'm a Disney World fan would be an understatement. I've been to the "most magical place on earth" over 25 times. When I had a dating column for a Conde Nast publication years ago, I made sure to have one of my blind dates in Magic Kingdom on Big Thunder Mountain. The date may not have led to anything serious, but we still had a blast on the "Wildest Ride in the Wilderness." From my first visit at age nine to the most recent trip in my 40s a few weeks back, I still get excited walking down Magic Kingdom's Main Street or catching a glimpse of the big ball (i.e. the Spaceship E40's ride) in Epcot. However, even in Disney, things can quickly go sideways if you aren't adequately prepared, especially when the weather and your young children aren't cooperating. Here are 13 items I never head into Disney World without; each one has helped me navigate the more challenging moments of the Disney experience.

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It’s Florida and no matter what time of the year, there’s always a chance rain could be in the forecast. I always make sure that I pack a bunch of cheap rain ponchos so I am not stuck getting gouged on purchasing one in the park. I love this one from Amazon as you can buy a pack of 10 for the same price it would cost you to buy one in Disney World.

$19 at Amazon

For the price of admission to these parks, you want to get your money’s worth, so be prepared for a long day. Always remember to pack layers in months like February and March, where weather temperatures can really fluctuate. A light, waterproof windbreaker that takes up little space in your bag will be key for you and your kids to last the day. Also, for some indoor rides and events, putting on a layer will help everyone manage the blasting air conditioning. The one from Mountain Warehouse is great and folds up tightly for easy storage.

$40 at Amazon

As a mom of young kids, I wouldn’t dare head into Mickey’s Land without a backpack. You don’t want to pack it too heavy, or your poor back will suffer by midday, but a sporty one that can fit all the essentials and fits nicely into the seat storage compartments on roller coasters is what you need. Also, older kids should be carrying one as well. Mom isn’t your sherpa and wants to have fun in the park, too! There are fancier backpacks out there, but I like this one because it’s lightweight, and you can buy matching ones for the whole family without spending a fortune.

$37 at Amazon

I always carry a crossbody pack and a backpack in the park. I keep my phone and wallet close in my crossbody and all the other bulkier essentials in the backpack. As a mom of young kids, it's all about making life as efficient as possible. This pack is a little bigger than a standard crossbody, but I like how comfortably it rests across my chest while still fitting lots of goodies. For another stylish pick, reviewers love Lululemon's Everywhere Belt Bag.

$17 at Amazon

Staying hydrated is critical to surviving and thriving in Disney. All the parks are well equipped with water stations throughout where you can refill your reusable water bottle. I always bring an insulated one filled with ice to have cool water all day. I also don't want the water bottle sweating in my bag, so an insulated one is clutch. In the super hot summer months, most food merchants in the park offer fresh ice water to anyone who wants it, which is just what you need when the humidity is unbearable. The Koodee Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle doesn't leak and actually keeps my water cool and refreshing for hours.

$33 at Amazon

Do yourself a favour and leave the flip-flops at home. There is a ton of walking and standing around waiting in lines at Disney, and the last thing you want are blisters or achy feet. My sister swears by a pair of comfortable open-toed sandals, but not for me. I am all about a cushioned slip-on sneaker. No one ever steps on your exposed toes, and I get the arch support I love. The thick sole of the STQ Walking Shoe makes miles of walking a breeze.

$59 at Amazon

I don’t care how well you craft and plan Disney your trip; inevitably, you will spend a lot of time waiting in lines. As such, you want to keep those devices charged and ready for taking pictures or entertaining kids. I like to bring at least three power banks with me just in case we need more juice. Also, a tip we learned on our last time there: if you are carrying multiple power banks, take your power banks out of your bag and hold them when you first enter the park so the security agent sees them. It may prevent your bag from being flagged and having to step out of line, waiting to get it inspected. This two-pack of portable chargers is excellent value and charges your device quickly.

$30 at Amazon

A few years back, we went to Disney in July, and it was brutal. The one thing that helped us survive the excruciating heat was spray bottle fans. The kids loved carrying them, and we could easily refill them throughout the day. The kids also enjoyed playing with them while we waited in lines, which helped keep them distracted. I like these dinosaur-themed ones because they’re playful and easy for small hands to hold.

$34 at Amazon

Florida sun is no joke. In the super hot summer months, I found myself replying sunblock to my face and my kids' faces every hour. Having a sunblock stick like this one was critical to avoiding sunburns. Also, the kids don't mind putting it on as it's a fun stick and something you can do while waiting in line. This Babyganics one doesn't irritate their eyes and absorbs quickly. Obviously, you want to be sure to apply sunblock to your entire body, but the delicate skin of the face needs particular attention.

$10 at Amazon

Disney is a mecca of merchandise and your kids are going to want it all. In order to curb their temptation, I suggest purchasing a few treasures before entering the park. We always order a bunch of Mickey ears so everyone can don a pair, and if they lose them, it’s not the end of the world. Trust me, this will save you a lot of tears, and anything you don’t have to buy in the park itself is a win for your pocketbook. 

$19 at Amazon

The Disney experience is more of a marathon than a sprint, and you need to make sure you and your kids have the energy to keep going. Of course, we always pack sandwiches and snacks, but one of the best items to have on hand is energy bars with a good source of protein. It will keep kids satisfied while in the epic lines and hold them over between meals. It also helps keep me from those hangry moments that a lack of sustenance can bring on. Simply Protein bars are my absolute fave. Low in sugar and high in flavour, I couldn't imagine making it through a day in Disney without a few in my bag.

$22 at Amazon

Lollipops are magic when managing the Magic Kingdom. They help curb outbursts, bring kids together, and take a bit of time to consume. I honestly don't think our family could have survived the three-hour line for Epcot's "Frozen" ride without them. It doesn't even matter which kind you have; kids will love them, and parents will love the peace they bring. My kids enjoy the "Amazon's Choice" Chupa Chups ones, and every flavour seems to be a hit.

$9 for a container of 60 pops at Amazon

Some people might not know this, but you cannot purchase chewing gum in any Disney park. They don't sell it (it's Disney's way of reducing the chances of finding any stuck on benches and buildings). I need gum, especially when waiting in long lines. So, if you're heading into Disney, be sure to stock up. I'm a huge fan of the aspartame-free, Xylitol-sweetened Pur brand.

$5 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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