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So you’re visiting the most magical place on earth post-COVID closure? Here’s what should be on your Disney World packing list!
Hi, I’m 22 years old and OBSESSED with all things Disney.
And I know I’m not the only one. In March, I planned to visit the Disney World theme park for a week of magic, but COVID-19 closed the park the day before I arrived (I mean, really COVID? Way to ruin everything). Hopeful, we rescheduled for May and quickly took it back.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not an expert. I’ve been to Disney World three times, and I’ve had the opportunity to explore Disneyland in Anaheim, California twice as well. Each time I visit the theme park, I overpack. So, here’s my minimalist Disney World packing list for 2020 (and beyond) based on my experience of always—and I mean always—overpacking.
Disney World Packing List
Things you can’t leave your hotel without
Backpack (or a fanny pack!): You may be thinking, well of course, how else would I carry everything you’re listing for me? Having a lightweight backpack or fanny pack can help you keep track of everything you need for a magical day. Check out this blog post for vegan backpack options.
Hand sanitizer and face mask: Remember when I mentioned COVID up there? Yep, the magic can’t keep out the virus, especially as the park sees visitors from around the country (and usually around the world). Although hand sanitizing stations are set up around the four parks, pack your own in case one isn’t in sight and don’t forget your mask. Disney-themed face masks can be found at the park or online here.
Wallet/MagicBand: Seems kind of self-explanatory, right? But, it’s something easily forgotten. Make sure your wallet is secure, and make sure your MagicBand is connected to each person and ticket for easy entrance.
Reusable water bottle & straws: There’s plenty of food quick service and restaurants in the park, but make it easier on yourself (and the environment) with a reusable water bottle! Ice water can be found for free across the parks, and since you’ll have your water bottle, you can skip out on purchasing a rather expensive plastic water bottle. Reusable straws can also be used in each park, although paper straws are the only type in Animal Kingdom to protect the animals.
Sunscreen & sunglasses: Just like Olaf, many seem to forget (or maybe not know) the damage the sun can do, even if you’re on rides for most of the day. Parades, outside eating areas and exterior queues for rides offer ample opportunity for your fun in the sun to end in a sunburn if you don’t wear sunscreen. Protect your eyes with some sunglasses, too!
Anti-chafe balm: Hellllllooooo life saver. Disney World might as well have a subtitle: “You’re gonna hit your 10,000 steps by 10.” I mean, there’s a lot of walking. Stash some anti-chafe balm to help those aching thighs after you’ve walked around all day.
Lightweight poncho or rain jacket: Although umbrellas aren’t forbidden, it’s probably best that you forget something you have to carry and opt for a wearable rain protectant. Bring your best rain jacket (preferably one that can fold up into your backpack) or poncho so that when the inevitable Florida shower pops up, you’re ready to take cover.
Waterproof cellphone bag/large Ziploc: This waterproof bag serves two purposes: to keep your phone safe from a little rain shower (we’ve all wanted to take photos of a parade or show but it’s raining) and to keep it safe from the elements of rides like Kali River Rapids and Splash Mountain (soon to be a Princess and the Frog themed ride!). A large Ziploc bag works for this as well, and you can place your wallet and keys in a bag too for extra measure.
Extra socks: Have I mentioned it rains in Florida? Well, in case you needed to hear it one more time: it rains in Florida. Stash an extra pair of socks in your bag in case your socks get soaked to avoid walking around in socky souls.
First Aid Kit: There’s plenty of medical services at a Disney World park, but a small first aid kit in your backpack helps cover and small bangs and bruises, and medicate anyone with a sudden headache or pain.
Things you can leave at your hotel
Large bag: Really anything large should probably stay behind. 1) You really, really don’t want to lug around that much stuff all day. 2) It’s not allowed. While there’s not a size requirement for backpacks in the park, each bag is checked upon entry and a large bag means a large wait. Larger than backpack tripods, large strollers and wagons, coolers, etc. are not allowed under any circumstances.
Towel and swimsuit (unless you’re headed to the water park): Most lists suggest bringing a towel into the park. Save the space in your backpack by leaving it at the hotel room. Not only is it a large item to carry around all day that you may not use, but those Florida showers can sometimes be a God-send on the hottest days. Don’t get rid of it with a towel!
Bug spray: I’m not saying there aren’t any bugs in Disney World, but I’ve never gotten a bug bite thanks to the MAGIC of Disney: the Mosquito Surveillance Program. This magical program makes sure all mosquitos are escorted out of the park. However, even if you do think that you need some bug spray, it’s complimentary at each theme park and resort hotel.
Selfie sticks: I don’t even know a single person who still owns one of these, but this is easily one of the best pieces of equipment for travelers because sometimes you don’t have the luxury of having people around to take your picture. However, this needs to stay out of the park. Soon after their release, Disney World banned them from theme parks due to hazards on some rides.
Umbrella: Although it’s not forbidden, it’s just another thing to carry. Leave it at the hotel to use when you visit Disney Springs or any other part of the Disney world.
Things to wear for the perfect vacation
Your favorite Disney t-shirts: It’s your choice to bring some non-Disney clothing but I’m a firm believer in if you’re in Disney, you best be wearing every Disney shirt you own. I like to shop small for my Disney tees, finding sweet shops on Etsy or even making my own! There are endless t-shirt companies making endless Disney-themed tees.
Shorts: For 80% of the year, shorts are what you’ll want to be wearing. The other 20%, you probably want to wear jeans or light leggings. Shorts that are loose and breathable will help you stay cool during the day.
Dress/skirts with pockets: If you’re looking for the most breathable outfit, a dress or skirt will do the trick. And if it has pockets? WHAT a bonus! One of my favorite small businesses to support is Ambrie Clothing. They have the CUTEST prints.
Comfy shoes & socks: 10,000 steps by 10 am means you HAVE to have the best shoes. Don’t wear shoes you bought right before the trip, and don’t wear flip flops or sandals. Tennis shoes or hiking sandals will do the trick! Some vegan brands include: Vessi, Tevas, Keens, Chacos, and Tieks.
Light jacket: It’s not magic making your hairs stand up, it’s that Florida evening chill. Make sure to bring a light jacket (can also double as your rain jacket) to throw on as the sun goes down.
Dried fruits: While it’s hard to keep fruits cool while in the park, dried fruits give you the same taste without needing to be cooled! Whether it’s strawberries, bananas or oranges (or any other fruit), pack these for a light snack.
Trail mix: Trail mix can be one of the easiest snacks to bring! Make your own or buy from a local grocery store. Watch for added sugars.
Roasted chickpeas: A bite-sized snack, chickpeas are a tasty treat to stash in your bag. Make your own or purchase from the local grocery store.
Fruit and nut bars: There are plenty of vegan options for fruit and nut bars. Consider KIND bars, LaraBars, GoMarco Bars, Nature Valley or Clif Bars. Always check the label to make sure there are not any milk ingredients.
Ritz crackers: A household favorite, these crackers can be packed to snack on alone or accompanied by a dip or spread.
There are plenty of spots in the park to purchase vegan snacks. Some locations include:
Be Our Guest Restaurant
Liberty Square Market
Liberty Tree Tavern
If you’re looking to eat your way around the world in EPCOT, don’t miss this previous blog post.
Snacks to eat while in your hotel room
Whether you pack snacks from home or visit the grocery store when you arrive, stock your hotel room with some snacks to start your day off right and keep you full between parks.
For breakfast: Bring some oatmeal and fresh fruit for a warm breakfast. Most hotel rooms should be stocked with a microwave to make coffee as well. Unfrosted pop tarts and granola are an easy snack to eat in the morning on the way to the bus or car.
For lunch or dinner: Sandwiches like Uncrustables (grape jelly or strawberry jelly) and microwavable pastas are great options for lunch or dinner.
Any of the snacks you’re bringing into the park are also great to munch on while in the hotel room.
Things to bring just for fun
Pennies for pressing: One of the cheapest (I mean what can beat 51 cents) and best souvenirs from Disney World parks are pressed pennies. Find your shiniest pennies and quarters to pack in your backpack in case you run across a pressed penny machine you like. They’re located throughout each park, and sometimes at your resort hotel.
Pins for pin trading: Even if you’re not a big pin trader, buy yourself a couple pins before you arrive to trade at spots in the park. It’s so fun to see the pins that other people have collected, and you may luck into an older, vintage pin!
Autograph book: I know this list is for ~adults~ but we’re all kids at heart. Bring your autograph book so when you meet characters you can ask for their signature, too. You can also buy a picture matte and have characters sign the white matte before framing your Disney World memories!
Hidden Mickey book: Just like Disney films, the parks are FULL of hidden Mickeys. You can find Hidden Mickey books at many bookstores; here’s a link to one of my favorites.
Other items you may not want to leave at home
Tide to Go
Large bag (to bring back souvenirs)
It’s hard to think about wanting a break from the magic, but if you do, Disney World is a short day trip from Sarasota and there are plenty of other things to do within the same travel time. For a wild adventure, you can kayak with Manatees (and Wild Monkeys!) in Ocala at Silver Springs State Park.
Kylie Hubbard graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in journalism in December 2019 where she was the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beacon, and has worked with various organizations in Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee through writing, design, communications and marketing. Kylie loves sharing stories, and spending time outdoors.
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