A trip to Disney is an exhilarating whirlwind that carries you into a land where make believe and magic still exist. It takes a lot of hard work and planning especially when traveling with children, but you can prevent some of the obstacles that may pop up and maybe even save a meltdown or two. Disney can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers, so being prepared is not only important but crucial to the success of your trip. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Items to occupy your children on the plane or car ride there
We surprised my two children on our first trip to Disney. While that surprise reveal gave us wonderful memories, it didn’t leave us much time to prepare the kids for the upcoming trip. My three year old got a little overwhelmed in the time it took us to travel to the airport and board our plane.
Luckily, when a temper tantrum was threatening to unleash I pulled out his backpack I had packed just for the plane ride. He had plenty of new coloring pages and sticker books to capture his attention and save the day. Our flight was just under two hours so we didn’t need too much to keep the kids occupied and what the kids didn’t get around to playing with got used on the flight back home.
Here are a few items that worked for us:
- Melissa and Doug Sticker books
- New coloring books (Disney themed is even better)
- Small pack of crayons
- Disney word search book
- Ipad or tablet with headphones
- Neck pillow
- A few favorite toys
What to wear at Disney
We went to Disney in the middle of July and it was H-O-T. If you travel during milder months like December through February, you may want to bring some sweatshirts, pants, or long sleeve shirts as well. But keep in mind, even in those cooler months the days can still get hot.
The most important piece of attire to me (and what I spent the most money on prior to going) was our shoes. I knew we were in for a lot of walking and I did not want my hurting feet to keep us from having as much fun as possible. Luckily, I did research on what footwear to buy and I’m glad I did because we clocked in an average of 20,000 steps per day.
I’d recommend taking two pairs of shoes if possible. I wore my Brooks running shoes the first two days to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. I already owned these and they were nice and broken in. We did a lot of walking those two days. While my feet never really hurt- just a little sore at the end of the day- I did end up with a blister on the bottom of one toe on each foot. After the second day, I switched over to Teva sandals. Due to the different fit of these sandals, my blisters never bothered me one bit. Teva sandals are meant to be hiking sandals so they boast some qualities that are important to hikers such as comfort and the ability to dry quickly. Another popular sandal along the same style of Tevas is the Chacos brand. Tevas run a little cheaper so that’s why I ended up going with them.
My husband wore his Adidas Cloudfoam Pure tennis shoes and he never had a bit of problem with his feet. He also is not particularly active so I was worried his feet would really be killing him but they never did. He had researched the best pair of shoes to wear beforehand and was happy to learn he already owned a pair of these shoes that he kept seeing being recommended.
For my kids, I packed both a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of sandals. My son’s tennis shoes were Nike and my daughters were Fila. Neither complained about their feet at all. My son had a pair of these Croc sandals as well and my daughter had a pair of Tevas like me.
Everyone loves to have the cute Disney shirts and family photos with everyone matching. One word of warning, especially during the hot months, is to stay away from cotton if at all possible. You are going to be hot and sweaty. You are going to get wet on water rides like Splash Mountain and the Kali River Rapids. Dri-fit shirt material works great for keeping you cool and also dries quickly.
And don’t forget about your undergarments as well. Moisture wicking sports bras, socks, and underwear of the same material can help greatly. Wearing lighter colored clothing will also help with staying cool.
Comfortable is the name of the game here. Whatever you wear, make sure it fits well and doesn’t ride up where it shouldn’t. We survived in athletic shorts all week. They dried quickly and had a comfy waistband. Leggings, yoga pants, or other athletic pants would be handy for the cooler months.
Other Honorable Mentions
- Pack at least two swimsuits per person. We found personally we enjoyed jumping in the pool after a long hot day at the park. Having two suits on hand ensures that you always have a dry suit to swim in. Don’t worry about packing beach towels. Your hotel will have several carts located throughout the pool area with towels to use.
- Bring a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt per family member. Early mornings and late evenings at the parks can be chilly depending on when you go. They also come in handy for dinners inside air conditioning, especially if you’re sunburnt.
- Don’t forget your sunglasses, hat or sun visor as a way to keep the sun out of your eyes.
Essentials for inside the parks.
The heat, the crowds, the waiting… the frustration of Disney can get to even the most patient person. If you are traveling with small children, these following items are a necessity in my opinion.
First and foremost, you need a lightweight backpack to store all your park supplies. Make sure it’s comfortable to carry and is big enough to store everything you need.
A lifesaver for us were our cooling towels and stroller fans. The fans we brought with us were operated by rechargeable batteries that we recharged nightly. They had a great battery life and lasted for most of the day. We were able to clip them on the stroller and angle them towards our kids’ faces. They worked great for keeping our kiddos cool during their catnaps in the stroller.
Cooling towels also worked wonders for our moods. We used them all day long, all week. You simply get them wet and then snap them to activate the cooling mechanism and wrap around your neck to help cool down.
Some more must-haves for your trip are ponchos and a raincover for your stroller. It rains a lot in Florida and it is not uncommon for pop up showers to happen daily. A raincover can be thrown over the stroller to help keep all your items (and kids!) dry when the rain starts. Nothing’s worse than trying to get a grumpy toddler to climb back into a stroller that’s soaking wet.
Disposable ponchos for each family member is a good idea as well. When the rainshower is over, you can stash your ponchos in a Ziploc bag to help keep other items in your backpack dry. Then, when you get back to your room you can hang them out to dry overnight.
A good pair of stroller hooks can help you stay nice and organized while at the parks. I didn’t use any this past trip and I wish I would have after seeing other parents with them on their strollers. It’s a handy way to store refillable water bottles, cooling towels, fanny packs, or backpacks for easy access.
Speaking of water bottles, make sure you bring one refillable bottle per member of your family. Ice water is free at most quick service locations if you go up and ask for some. We used insulated cups to help keep everyone’s water nice and cold.
Make sure you have a stroller tag on your stroller for easy identification. There will be a million strollers just like yours at Disney. Having a tag hanging on your stroller will help ensure your stroller doesn’t get accidentally taken and can have your phone number listed so that it can be quickly returned to you.
Disney World is an experience everyone should have at least once (hopefully more) in a lifetime. The joy on your children’s faces, the wonderment in their eyes, and the quality family time creates memories that will last a lifetime. By putting in a little time beforehand, you help pave the way for your most magical Disney trip yet!