Wave Your Magic Wand: Packing Do's and Don'ts for Disney World
"My feet hurt!" "I'm too hot!" "My costume is itchy!" Hearing these complaints over and over might make the "it's a small world" song sound fresh by comparison. A day at Disney World should and can be a pleasure for every member of your family—provided you're all comfortable. Until Cinderella's animal friends arrive to get you and your kids dressed in the morning, making sure everyone has the right clothing is up to you.
Wear: a Costume (13 and Under)
Get some extra use out of those $60 Han Solo and Leia costumes by letting your kids wear them to Disney World (only if they want to, of course). Kids 13 and younger are allowed to dress as characters for a day at Disney. They can even wear masks if they want, provided their entire faces aren't covered, and their eyes are visible. Minimize the accessories you bring, though, because you'll probably be the one toting light sabers and fairy wands around in your bag.
Bring a change of clothing for any costumed kids, in case the novelty wears off and they want to wear regular clothes again.
Don't Wear: a Costume (14 and Over)
Technically, guests 14 and older are allowed to dress as characters, but they're subject to stricter rules. Costumes can't reach the ground, capes can't fall below the waist and masks aren't allowed at all. If you want to do a family group costume, stick with a T-shirt and hat that suits the theme.
Wear: Walking Shoes
Broken-in, supportive and comfortable walking shoes are probably the single most important clothing item for all Disney-goers over the age of 3. Wearing comfortable shoes isn't as important for kids young enough to ride in a stroller, but do dress them in shoes that will stay put. If your toddler kicks off a flip-flop in Adventureland, you may not realize it until you reach Liberty Square, and by then you'll never find it.
Every member of your group should wear shoes that stay securely on their feet and that are comfortable enough to withstand hours of walking and standing. Nix wearing new shoes or dress shoes, even if they perfectly accentuate a costume. Wear synthetic socks under sneakers to prevent blisters.
Wear: Weather-Appropriate Layers
Orlando is usually somewhere between mildly warm and blazingly hot, so cold-weather clothing is almost never necessary. But Disney days are long, usually starting early in the morning and end late at night. Unless you're visiting in summer, those times can be cold, especially for your kids' little bodies.
Look at the forecast to decide between shorts and long pants, and think about whether each member of your group tends to run cold or hot. Even on a hot day, you'll spend a lot of time in air-conditioned rides, so someone who tends to feel cold might be most comfortable in long pants. Choose pants of thin, synthetic fabric.
On top, layer two or three shirts. Start with a tank top or T-shirt, top it with a long-sleeved button-down shirt or T-shirt and bring or wear a hooded sweatshirt or rain jacket. Brief rainstorms are common in Orlando, so you might also want to pick up cheap plastic ponchos to stash in your bag.
Don't Wear: Jeans
It's rarely cold enough at Disney World to necessitate the warmth and weight of jeans, and they'll dry slowly if you get drenched on Splash Mountain. If you opt to wear shorts, you may be comfortable in jean shorts. But if you can avoid wearing denim to Disney World, do.
Wear: A Backpack
Plan to be the Keeper of the Stuff all day at Disney World. Someone has to keep track of everyone's souvenirs, sweatshirts, water bottles and sunglasses, and that role will probably fall to you. Choose a backpack with padded straps and lots of pockets. Stow valuables in zippered interior pockets.
Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.