Whether you are a frequent visitor to Disney World or if you are planning your first magical visit, I hope you will find this Packing Tip helpful.
Up on the top shelf of my closet, I have what I refer to as my Disney Trunk. The contents of this oversized plastic bin have been very important to me over our last eleven years of traveling to Walt Disney World, as it keeps all of our necessities in one place, which makes packing time easy.
I am happy to share with you the list of reusable items I keep inside. Since we are a family of 5, you might guess that there are five of each item inside the box:
We each have a backpack made of lightweight but strong polypropylene with a drawstring closure and straps. They weigh less than an ounce when empty and are 15” high by 13” wide. Each person carries one loaded with the items below which are needed for a day in the parks.
Insulated Lunch Bags
When we are penny-pinching (like when gas is near $4.00 a gallon, for instance) and when we are not taking advantage of a free dining offer, we pack our lunch in the mornings on the days we will eat in the parks. We usually pack a juice box, sandwich, bag of chips, fruit, snacks such as nuts, fruit rollups, etc. and maybe even a surprise special treat that I pull out in the morning. Whenever everyone decides they are ready to eat lunch, we can pick a couple of benches and people-watch while we have our lunch. An alternative would be to rent a locker and put all the lunchbags in it and then go to the front of the park when you are ready, but we like to just stop and drop.
You can use a delivery service like Garden Grocer for all your shopping needs!
We have lanyards to use during Extra Magic Hours (EMH), which is a special privilege for all Disney resort guests. Our lanyards each have a top-seal card holder attached for our key to the world (room key) which you must show at each ride during EMH. This saves us the time and trouble of taking out our key at each ride. We have even graduated to extra special ones with blinking lights so I always know where my family is if we accidentally get separated during nighttime EMH.
I purchase these at my local Dollar store a few weeks before our trip but always have extras in the box because we have been blessed with great weather during most of our trips. They are sold two for $1.00 and I usually buy 2 packs for each person. Since most of the time, we may have to use only 1, or at the most 2, we usually have some left over. We keep 2 ponchos in each backpack – one just in case the other breaks.
We use ziptop bags for a couple of reasons and every day we place two in each backpack. One holds our cell phone, camera and anything else we want to keep dry. The second is carried as an extra to put a wet poncho in, if necessary. We can also use the spare if we have any leftover chocolate anything from a meal so we can take it with us for a snack later. If you know me, you know I NEVER waste anything chocolate.
Cell phone pouches
Every person in my family has a cell phone, which I am sure you can understand since my kids range in age from 17 to 25. They can easily get dropped and broken if carried loose in a backpack, so each person has a soft cover pouch. These pouches keep them from getting damaged hopping onto and off of rides all day. The only time we use these pouches is at Disney World so when we return home they get put right back into the trunk.
We have a carabiner with a water bottle holder ring for each person. Each of us carries a bottle of water in addition to the drink in our lunch kit. We refill them throughout the day with the FREE ice water Disney offers to every guest at the quick service locations at any of the parks. We hook the carabiner to the drawstring cord at the top of our backpack.
I always take a spray can of air freshener with us. I am sure you can understand why. Five people (3 males and 2 females) sharing one bathroom — need I say more? Since we are there for only ten days, we usually have enough in the can for the next visit. I replenish this item as needed.
I have an over-the-door shoe organizer I like to use for the bathroom. The organizer has 6 rows of 4 “shoe” slots each. So, for five of us, each person gets a row. That is 4 large slots each to use for our personal bathroom necessities: deodorant, toothbrush, hair gel, hairspray, makeup, face cleanser, etc. It has been very handy to keep us organized since the resort bathroom areas are usually not equipped to handle such a large number of items and, especially, since I don’t want anyone to have to live out of a suitcase for 10 days. The rows are assigned by height, so my youngest at 6’3” gets the top row and so on down to the next to the bottom row. I use the bottom row for other items such as bandaids, pain and fever reducer, lotion, etc.
I always take a powerstrip with us on the trip. We have 5 cell phones, Ipods, and other electronic devices to charge and there never seems to be enough plugs in the room. Having a powerstrip with many plug-in slots has been a lifesaver for us. We never leave home without it.
Waterproof Map Holder
If you have read my other posts, you have probably gathered that I am old school. I have a smartphone and I really love it but I still like doing things on paper. I prepare a one-page, color-coded Excel spreadsheet for every trip which has my itinerary, ADR confirmation numbers, park times, parade times, fireworks schedule, etc. on the one sheet. When I fold it in thirds horizontally it is the perfect size to fit into my waterproof map holder. Now, when I am having a blast on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids, or if I am stuck in the rain, I know that my trip bible is safe and sound and protected from the elements.
Body Glide/Monistat Soothing Care
These products are used to prevent and combat chafing (like on the inner thigh area). When my kids were young I went ahead and put it on them to keep them from having any discomfort from walking all day, getting wet on rides then taking a while to dry out, etc. We now take them just as a precaution but if we need it, we have it.
Germ-X, sunscreen, lipbalm
We have been carrying Germ-X with us for years, long before Disney installed the antibacterial soap dispensers. We still each carry one out of habit, as well as necessity. I know it is not necessary since the Disney installation but I am a moderate germaphobe so I will not even go there. I also keep sunscreen in my backpack as well as a lipbalm for each person, just in case.
It sounds hilarious that I still carry lipbalm for each of the kids, especially when I think of my oldest son who now has his own mortgage, but the thing is that we can’t turn off “the mom thing” and I have been doing it this way for so long that it’s just natural. Believe me, I don’t pack their suitcases for them and I don’t hold their hand on the way to the bus stop (even though I would really like to).
Keeping all of these reusable items organized and in one place throughout the year keeps me from having to fumble around for them when our time finally arrives to go back to Walt Disney World. About five weeks before the trip, I take out the box to see what needs to be replenished.
We have been very thankful for the Free Dining offer, because that means we can go to the parks without having to pack a lunch and sometimes we don’t even need to take the backpacks at all. Free Dining makes everything easy. Come on Disney, make the offer – pretty please!
During the times when free dining is not offered though, we really watch our budget and these items have saved us time, trouble and lots of money. Hope you enjoyed these tips! Share your own tips with us as well!
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