You’ve probably been planning your Disney vacation for months. You have every detail of your trip planned out – your hotel, your dining reservations, your fast passes – it’s all ready to go for the most magical vacation ever!
You have probably also been saving and budgeting for months to make this vacation happen. You have everything packed – your bathing suits, your matching shirts, your custom ears – but here are five items to bring with you that can easily be forgotten. Having these on hand can make things easier, and can save you some money (and stress) when you get to the parks!
- Snacks and Water
Disney allows you to bring food and (non-alcoholic) beverages into the park. Of course, you have to get your token Disney snacks – a churro, turkey leg, Dole whip, and Mickey Bar (just to name a few) – but having a few snacks on hand will stop you from spending too much money on food.
Granola and Breakfast Bars are wonderful to bring with you. My absolute favorite food to bring with me are Go Picnic Ready to Eat Meals. These are complete meals in a box that don’t have to be refrigerated! Pack the contents into plastic baggies so you don’t have to pack the bulky box. You can have a picnic on the hub lawn or eat the contents throughout the day as snacks.
If you are driving to Walt Disney World, it is great to bring bottled water and other beverages on the trip. The cost of beverages can add up really quickly! If you are flying, there are companies in the Orlando area that deliver groceries to the resort so you may want to take advantage. Also, you can pack a water bottle and fill it up at the various water fountains around the park.
- Sunscreen/Bug Spray
The sun in Florida is very strong year round. It is good to have sunscreen on hand with you, even if it is going to be cloudy or cold out. Remember to reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours to avoid a sunburn. Apply more often if you are going to be swimming! Also, don’t forget to bring or purchase a hat to help keep your face protected.
Florida mosquitoes are vicious. They are out all year round, and before you know it, you have been bitten many many times. Due to the number of diseases that mosquitoes can carry, Disney now provides their guests with free bug repellant. So if you happen to forget to bring some or forget it in your room, just ask any cast member for assistance!
If you are traveling to Disney between October and April, you want to bring at least a lightweight jacket with you. Although it may be warm during the day, the temperatures can drop at night, especially if you are just sitting and waiting for the stage show or fireworks. This can really help out your wallet since jackets and sweatshirts are some of the higher priced items in the theme park stores!
Central Florida weather is a bit unpredictable. Rain can come through at any time, especially in the summer. The parks take advantage of this by selling umbrellas, ponchos, and rain jackets at a marked up price. Before heading to Disney, make sure to stop by Walmart or Target and pick up 1-2 ponchos for each person. These stores also sell small umbrellas that fold up and can easily fit in your backpack or purse. Also, by having these on hand, you don’t need to get soaked running towards the gift store to get a poncho!
Everyone loves to bring home magical souvenirs from their trip to Disney World! Every time I walk into a gift shop, I find 2-3 MORE things I would love to purchase. If you have young children, they will want to buy EVERYTHING! Therefore, buy some Disney items at the Dollar Tree or the Target dollar section to bring with you. Each morning, you can put out a new item for your children, which can help keep shopping to a minimum.
Here are two inexpensive and fun souvenirs that you can collect around the parks and resorts:
Pin Trading: This is fun for children of all ages! You will notice that cast members wear lanyards or a pin holder with different pins on them. These pins are for guests to trade with them. The great part is that the cast member HAS to trade with you, no matter how ugly or weird your pin is. The only time they will not trade is if you have a pin that they already have on your lanyard. This is great because you can buy a bunch of pins for cheap (check eBay) and trade them for the ones that you want! Be on the lookout for pins to complete your sets and the Hidden Mickey pins that only cast members have!
Pressed Pennies: All over the parks and resorts, there are pressed penny machines with different designs based on their location. It costs $0.51 to press a penny – you must have two quarters and a penny. The design is going to be pressed on the penny that you put in the machine, so it helps if they are new and shiny! I would suggest either collecting up shiny pennies for your trip (enlist your kids’ help!) or go to the bank and ask them if they have a roll of new pennies. There are many websites that show you the location of each of the machines. Disney even sells books that you can put your pressed pennies inside!
Autograph Book: Don’t forget to bring an autograph book with you! You can buy them at the parks but you will save money if you bring your own. You can use any notebook and decorate it! My favorite thing is to use a notebook so that I can later rip out the page and put it into a scrapbook or photo album next to my picture with the character! There are also non-traditional items that you can use for signatures such as t-shirts (you cannot be wearing it when the character signs), tote bags, photo mats, or a baseball cap. I saw one family with a book of all Disney characters and they had the character sign on their page. I thought that was a really neat idea.
Glow sticks: When the sun goes down at Disney World, all the carts come out with amazing glowing ears, necklaces, and toys. Children flock to them because they are bright and flashy. If you are on a stricter budget, pick up some glow sticks or flashing necklaces at the Dollar Tree or Michael’s and bring them with you. This will hopefully keep your kids occupied and distract them from the pretty lights of the Disney carts!
Having these items before you go to Disney will help alleviate some of the stress of having to track down these items once you are in the parks! Remember that things will probably not go EXACTLY as planned during your vacation, but roll with the punches, let yourself be a kid again, and enjoy your time at the Happiest Place on Earth!