Packing Do's and Don'ts for the Happiest Place on Earth
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Orlando you go! It's hard not to have a good time at Disney World. Even the grumpiest of adults tend to give in to the joy that permeates the parks. But there's one thing potentially standing between you and a perfect vacation, and that's your suitcase. Wearing the wrong stuff and forgetting essentials can make you uncomfortable from start to finish, and if its your kids who aren't comfy, expect the whining to be louder than the laughter. Bring these must-haves to set yourselves up for a wonderful vacation.
Pack: Tons of Layers
It's aaaaall about layers at Disney World. Even in winter, the days can be warm. In summer, Orlando can be blazing hot. But rain is frequent, and mornings and evenings can be cold—plus, many Disney World rides and buildings are air conditioned.
Pack at least one pair of pants per family member, or more if you'll be visiting between autumn and spring. Bring a few pairs of shorts each, plus a selection of short-sleeved shirts and at least one long-sleeved shirt each. Everyone also needs a warm sweatshirt or rain jacket with a hood. If your hotel has a pool, bring bathing suits too.
Leave: Fancy Dress
If your kids fancy themselves Disney princesses or superheroes, they may want to rock a costume at Disney World. That's allowed, as long as they're under 14 and they don't wear masks that cover their eyes or carry weapons that look realistic. (Disney discourages guests 14 and older from wearing full costumes, although they can wear costume elements like waist-length capes and themed T-shirts. Masks aren't allowed.)
However, for the most part, none of you will need to dress up unless you're planning to celebrate a special occasion, such as attending holiday religious services or a wedding while in town.
Pack: Comfortable Shoes
This point can't be stressed too strongly: don't wear brand-new shoes to Disney World. Don't let your kids do it either. Every pair of shoes that you pack should be worn in and fit comfortably even over a pair of socks. Make kids try shoes on the week before you go to make sure they haven't outgrown their sneakers.
Every one of you should bring durable walking shoes that you can comfortably wear for 12 hours. Pack sandals too, for hanging out at the hotel pool or the water park. You probably won't need more than those two pairs. Bring synthetic socks, not cotton. They're better for blister prevention.
Pack: Toiletries and Medical Supplies
Your hotel will probably provide the basics like shampoo and soap. Pack water-resistant sunscreen, aloe vera in case of sunburn and a first aid kit including pain relievers. Make sure to bring petroleum jelly to prevent blisters on pressure areas, as well as padded bandages to apply to any blisters that do form.
Bring an adequate supply of any medications that your family members need, as well as any vitamins that you regularly take. Be careful to pack and store these items where children can't access them.
Don't forget contact lenses and solution if you need them, plus sunglasses for every member of your group.
Leave: Recreational Wheels
Scooters, skateboards, wagons and shoes with built-in wheels are all against Disney rules. Leave them at home.
Pack: Snacks and Toys
The typical Disney World day is long, hot and involves standing in a lot of lines. Keep kids happy by stashing plenty of portable activities in your bag. Bring magnetic blocks, books or handheld games—anything that kids can use while standing up.
Disney allows guests to bring food and drinks into the parks, which is great for those times when hunger strikes while you're waiting in line. Pack a water bottle for each of you, and bring non-perishable snacks like energy bars. Or save suitcase space by picking these up at a convenience store once you reach Orlando.
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.