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Posted by on Oct 29, 2012

Packing the PERFECT Walt Disney World Backpack

Author: Disney Diva

Let’s face it. There are essentials that you are going to NEED to take into Walt Disney World parks!!

Packing the right bag will be save you time, money and potentially head off a melt-down or two.

I’ve already talked to you about the importance of the FAST PASS POUCH, so I will leave out having a pouch for your tickets/money/fast passes since you should have it around your neck and not in your backpack. SmileIf you have no idea what this is then READ IT HERE!

So WHAT does the PERFECT Walt Disney World Backpack contain? I thought you’d never ask.

1. A good sized backpack with only a few zippers. (maybe even two backpacks depending on family size). Every time you go into a park you have to get your bags checked. This means unzipping every single zipper in any purse, fanny pack, or camera case you have. This can be a pain.

My husband and I actually disagree on the zipper amount. I carry a backpack that has a ton of little pouches and packets, because I like to be able to find what I am looking for quickly. He doesn’t like having to unzip and zip at each park’s check-point. It doesn’t bother me because I’m unzipping zippers while waiting in line to get my bags checked then just throw it in the stroller and re-zip it once I get in the park. So I guess it really depends on whether its going to bother you or not. Either way it needs to be able to fit plenty of things in it. Lands End makes many quality and inexpensive backpacks.

2. Suntan lotion. Forgetting suntan lotion can make your trip to Disney World absolutely miserable. Regardless of what time of the year you make your trip odds are you are going to need sunscreen. The American Cancer Society recommends that everybody wear lotion with at least 30+ SPF! You will especially need this if your little ones are in strollers as their legs are usually exposed. Don’t forget the top of your head, neck, and ears. If you can find a small bottle of suntan lotion that will clip onto your backpack I recommend it. You can find suntan lotion at any of the parks, but its OVERPRICED! So don’t forget it!

3. Sunglasses. Everyone in the family will appreciate their own pair of sunglasses. It’s usually nice and sunny at Disney World and the sidewalk and concrete can be reflective. Squinting all day can bring on quite a headache. Again, you can find sunglasses in the park, but they will cost you a pretty penny. Don’t bring your most expensive sunglasses!! Go to the dollar store and buy a few pairs. Sunglasses can fly off your face riding rides and you don’t want it to be your Ray Bans!

4. Anti-bacterial gel/ Hand sanitizer. I am not really a germ-a-phobe, BUT this is Disney World. Land of a million kiddies and parents who have booked their vacation well in advance and will take their child whether the child is sick or not!! To me just washing after using the bathroom is not enough. Every time you hold on to a bar on a ride, or touch one of the bars in a queue (which your children will do no matter now often you tell them not to), many many people have touched that exact same spot. So whenever it crosses my mind, and especially before we have any kind of snack or drink, we all rinse off with some anti-bacterial gel. Again, if you can find one that can clip on the outside of the backpack you will use it more often. They have some hand-sanitizer stations around the parks, but you have to look for them.

5. Wet-wipes. Again, this helps with germs and just the general amount of sticky stuff just lurking around Disney World waiting to jump onto your kids hands. The classic mickey ears ice creams bars are delicious enough to get all over you! You never know when wet wipes will come in handy. You can get cheap hard or soft packs. They just need to be wallet size so they don’t take up too much space.

6. Ponchos. “Pop up showers”, which are short rain showers that go as quickly as they come, are common in Orlando. A poncho can really come in handy. You can one at Target or Wal-Mart for around .99 cents that are packaged tightly and are relatively flat. We get the disposable ones because they’re just a pain to keep up with so we just throw them away. You can also buy one in the park for about $7.00 PER PONCHO and they will be very similar to the ones under a dollar. Trust me, stock up on these and bring one per family member in your backpack daily.

7. Lip balm. The sun can do a number on your lips, as can the wind from the rollercoasters! You want to bring the lip balm with you instead of buy it in the park to save some money.

8. Autograph book and large pens/sharpies. Whether you buy an autograph book or you make your own (like I tell you how to do in THIS post), any family with children will want to get Mickey’s autograph. Make sure you bring your autograph books/clipboards daily and a fat pen or sharpie (the characters have a hard time holding on to thin pens/pencils).

9. Water Bottles/Juice Boxes/snacks. Children get the “I wants” pretty bad at Disney World. Sometimes they will beg for a snack or drink when they’re not really hungry, they just like the way it looks. And this can get very expensive for a family. This is why you should pack a few juice boxes (like capri suns) and some granola bars, fruit or fruit snacks so that when they say “I’m hungry/thirsty” you can pull something out of your bag and say “well if you are that hungry/thirsty you can have this”. If you have a freezer in your hotel room/house let me suggest you put a few 16oz water bottles into the freezer at night and let them thaw over the course of the day. The diva family also buys some individual water-flavoring packets/ kool-aid packets and re-fill our bottles at water fountains during the day. We are pretty particular about how our water tastes, so the flavor packets help mask anything in the water you don’t like tasting.

10. Charged Cell Phones. I honestly do not know how people got around Disney World before cell phones. The ability to split up your group for short periods of time and find one another with ease is invaluable. If you have a smart phone there are apps out there that help you keep track of attraction line times which is just AWESOME! WHEN you go home for your afternoon rest (like the Disney Diva has told you a million times) then make sure you re-charge your phone.

11. Digital Camera, Memory Cards and Batteries. Moments happen so quickly at Disney World! You don’t want to miss them. Letting your batteries run down can cost you a lot of precious memories as well as money at the gift shop. I spend most of my time in queues looking through pictures and deleting the ones that aren’t any good. We download all our pictures into our laptop each evening just to make sure we have plenty of room on our memory card, but if you’re not bringing a computer you need to make sure you have a memory card that can hold 500+ photographs. You can buy memory cards and batteries in the park, but it will cost you A LOT.

OPTIONAL add ins: (you can find many money-savers at THIS post)
12. Glow sticks. Each evening, as families wait for the parade and/or fireworks to begin, WDW cast members roll out large carts full of every kind of light up toy you can think of. This can catch your WALLET off guard if you’re not prepared. Instead, bring a few glow sticks/glow necklaces with you. We normally buy them on sale after Halloween and bring a few of them to save some money.

13. Spray bottles. The Diva Family is from the deep South. We KNOW what heat and humidity feels like, and even WE bring a spray bottle/spray fan with us during summer months. You will find these spray fans for sale all over the parks for usually $12-$15 We bought ours for $5. at Wal-Mart. Its nice to have a little fan with us when its really hot and be able to mist some cooler water on our faces. When our children were younger we brought clip-on fans for their strollers to help with the heat. You will save some money buying ahead of time.

14. Light jacket/ sweatshirt/ windbreaker Some rides do get a little chilly. Sometimes you get rained on and then you’re frozen. Sweatshirts are a FORTUNE in the park! I’ve paid for them 3x now simply because I didn’t want to pack them in a bag, only to end up having to pack them anyway when we were leaving AND spend a lot of money. Last April there was a cold snap and we had to go buy ALL new clothes at an outlet (we were off property that trip) because we had nothing but our normal shorts and Disney Sweatshirts, so always plan ahead. Southern weather is often unpredictable.

You also need to learn to be patient with all of those people who did NOT read this post and have packed their entire LIVES inside of their backpack that day! Ashley at Disney Done Right offers some excellent tips about not being “THAT GUY” in her post HERE.

If you’d like a PRINTABLE packing list that includes items from this list click HERE.
Happy Packing!

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Kristin is the founder and co-director of Tips from the Disney Diva & Devos. She started writing the blog when she realized there were many people going to Disney World and having a miserable time, and it was all from a lack of planning. She knew that she could help and has assembled the finest writing team she can find !

22 Comments

  1. I know this is a little late to the post, but…
    If you have a digital camera battery die or memory cards get filled on your trip, you can fix these cheaply and easily in the parks.
    Each park has a camera battery charging counter in the store that sell camera supplies, you drop off the battery and come back in 45-60 mins…a fully charged battery AND it’s FREE! At the same place, you can get your pic transfered from your memory card to a cd for about $10.

  2. Isabel that is VERY helpful info! Thank you!!

  3. Great tips!! Can’t wait for my trip! In prep for mya Dec .2012 trip, I bought a battery pack from amazon for $50 to charge smart phones and ipods and i LOVE THIS THING! About the size of deck of cards with some weight to it. Now I can use these amusement park apps and not worry!

  4. Hello, What a great site I have found many helpful hints on here. I have my first trip to DW in November and was thinking of taking the bag I take on zoo trips here, it is a small luggage bag with wheels and is easy to pull around, would you recommend this, and where do the backpacks/bags go while you are on the rides?
    Angie
    akilgore1@butlercc.edu

  5. They don’t let you take bags with wheels into the parks.

  6. Thanks for the packing list. I always feel like i’m leaving something behind.

  7. The ponchos sold in the parks are very durable, much better quality than dollar store ones. Also, if the Disney ponchos rip, they will replace it for free.

  8. I hate taking a backpack. I really miss the days when we needed a stroller. Such an easy way to carry stuff.

  9. I have a question! I have heard that the park has recently stopped allowing straws into the park, like the type found attached to juice boxes. Have you heard this? It would be easy to bring simple little bottles of juice, but I know my two year old will remain much calmer if he has a straw.

  10. Thank you for this list. This will certainly lessen the trouble of having to list down the things that need to be packed. I have to say, for a somewhat ‘obsessive-compulsive’ type like me; I have to always bring along hand sanitizers in my bag. These things are a life saver. Again, thank you for this post. Please keep on sharing!

  11. I believe the “no straw” rule is only for Animal Kingdom because they are hazardous to the animals.

  12. Where can you find that adorable Mickey print backpack!?!

  13. Thank you so much for this list! I’m taking a trip to Disney World in a month and have been worrying about what is essential to take into the park.

  14. You just cant take hard sided coolers into the parks or straws into animal kingdom :)

  15. What are the specific rules with regards to food and drink? Is there a limit on amount of water bottles? Can I make my own sandwiches or cracker snacks for the kids…or does it have to be in store sealed packaging?

  16. You can take as much as you can handle. The problem is where are you going to PUT IT? You can absolutely make your own sandwiches or crackers and bring it however you’d like. However there are no hard sided coolers and I’ve read before some issues with coolers with wheels.

  17. I always take a hand towel into parks with me for hands and faces after getting wet in rides and spray areas.

  18. good ideas, thanks!

  19. Thanks for the backpack list. It’s nice to see that the things that I have been bringing are good choices!

  20. There’s also the obvious essentials – band aids, pkt of tissues and Panadole.

  21. Are you allowed to carry/wear a backpack on all of the rides?

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