As I am getting ready to embark on my last Disney adventure of the year in a couple of days, I took a moment as I was packing to think of what exactly goes in the bag I carry with me all day long in the parks. I get the same questions time and time again and I often don’t think about it as I am a Disney veteran and it’s like second nature to me to load up a backpack and go.
As I was packing for this trip, I took is a little slower and consciously recorded what I packed and it kind of made me chuckle – wow, so prepared! When I go to horse shows with my daughter and her team, I refer to my essentials bag as the “Mommy Bag”. At Disney World, I call it my “MouseKit”. Honestly, I never regret having my MouseKit with me.
Whether you carry everything on this list or a few things that meet your needs, it really isn’t a lot extra weight to carry around. I also find the backpack frees my hands up to buy souvenirs to fill my pack too!
So, what’s in my MouseKit, you ask? Here are 15 essentials to carry in the parks – whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned veteran, you don’t want to be without some, if not all, of these items.
I personally am one who likes to travel light, but when I am in the parks, a backpack is an absolute essential for me and my family. It doesn’t have to be a giant backpack but have one that is large enough to carry your essentials throughout the day. Sharing the backpack or bag with members of your party is handy. My daughter and I usually take turns carrying the pack throughout the day, well, at least until I start filling it up with my souvenirs.
2. Magic Bands or Park Ticket Cards
I realize this is a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many people you will see at the gates who realize they left it back in their resort rooms. Having to go back to your resort to retrieve your MagicBands or Park Ticket cards is a huge waste of valuable park time. If you are using a MagicBand, it’s always a great idea to put it on as part of your getting ready ritual. It also serves as a method of purchasing throughout the parks if you have a credit card linked to it. This makes for one less thing to carry – a wallet. However, if you are over 21, make sure to take your Driver’s License for purchasing adult beverages.
3. Comfy Shoes
This I can’t stress enough – bring comfy shoes. I don’t mean go out and purchase a new pair of sweet kicks, I mean bring your favorite, most comfortable shoes you own. On our last trip, we averaged around 10 – 12 miles per day. Yes, you read that correctly – let me say it again – 10-12 MILES. You will do an incredible amount of walking and if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t happy. If flip-flops are your choice, wear a pair with a good foot bed. My personal preference is FitFlops, but Tevas, Keens and Merrills are great too – it’s all a matter of preference. If you are a socks and sneaker kind of person, I recommend a extra pair socks in case it rains or you get wet on Kali River Rapids or Splash Mountain.
Speaking of rain, the weather in Florida is completely unpredictable. As a native Floridian, we all joke “if you don’t like the weather, stick around, it will change in 20 minutes”. You never know when a downpour will strike, and while a lot of people will leave when it starts raining, we always don our ponchos and continue on with our day. Disney ponchos can be purchased in the majority of the shops in the parks for $8.00, but if you want to save a little money, you can buy them in advance of your trip at Target or Walmart.
Florida is known as the Sunshine State for a reason and it is a great idea to always good have a great pair of UV blocking sunnies on hand. Just keep in mind that on some rides, you should remove them. Over 200 pairs of sunglasses find their way to lost and found every single day, and most of them are lost on rides.
Let’s face it, a sunburn can really put a damper on your vacation. Apply a layer of sunscreen before you leave your resort and throw it in your backpack to apply often while you are in the parks. Most guests are so surprised at how quickly they will burn under the hot, Florida sun. A broad spectrum, sport sunscreen works the best and the spray types are pretty lightweight.
7. Hand Sanitzer
Disney World is a germy place and while the park maintenance does its best to keep it sanitized, it is still a cesspool for germs. Think of the tens of thousands of people ahead of you who have placed their index finger on the reader at the park entrance. I always make sure I have a small bottle of Purell in my backpack and use it multiple times throughout the day. I find the best ones are the ones that are in the holder that clip to the outside of my backpack for easy and quick access.
Whether you choose to bring a paparazzi-sized camera or use your smart phone camera, you will definitely not want to forget this item. Yes, Disney’s PhotoPass photographers are everywhere and can capture some great memories for you, but there will also be so much you will want to shoot yourself. Keep in mind that the PhotoPass Photographers will also use YOUR camera to take pictures for you so everyone is in the shot – all you have to do is ask! And, with that in mind, always make sure you have extra batteries for your camera with you.
Sure, they can be a little heavy to have in your backpack but you will be happy you have it with you. I carry a Camelbak bottle with me at all times. Not only can I refill it as often as I want, but it is also leakproof. Also, any of the quick service counters with fountain drink service will provide you with cups of ice water – again, all you have to do is ask. Bottled water in the parks is expensive and carrying your own bottle is a great way to save money.
10. Smart Phones and Chargers
Smart phones are a must for using the My Disney Experience app. This is your connection to your Disney day with your FastPasses, Dining Reservations, PhotoPass photos and park hours information. In the event a ride that you have a FastPass for, you will receive an email notification and will be able to schedule a new FastPass time for your attraction thus saving the time it would take to find a FastPass kiosk. Keep in mind that this app will burn the battery up rather quickly, so it is a good idea to keep it closed when you are not using it.
11. Sweatshirt or a Light Jacket
Unless you are visiting the parks in the dead of Florida’s blazing summer, there is a chance that you will experience cooler evenings and nights. I always recommend carrying a light jacket with you when you are visiting in November – April as the temperatures can drop and you will be putting out a lot of money to purchase a sweatshirt or jacket in the gift shops, unless of course you want them as a souvenir.
12. Ziploc Bags
If you are carrying a camera or even your cell phone, you might want to put it in a ziploc bag on rides like Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids. You really never know when you are going to get soaked on Kali and you don’t want to ruin your expensive electronics.
13. Band Aids
If you don’t heed my advice of wearing comfy shoes, chances are you are going to need band aids for blisters. While you can get a whole array of shapes and sizes of band aids at the first aid stations, it is not always convenient to trapse all the way back through the park, nor is it comfortable, to get to a band aid. Having some in your backpack is pretty handy!
If you are a person who takes daily medications, you will want to make sure to have your prescriptions in your bag. New EpiPen locations have been set up through the parks as a new convenience for guests and all of the First Aid locations also have registered nurses to administer the injections if needed. Of course, if you have your own EpiPen and require it for allergic reactions, you will definitely want to carry your own.
We all love Disney’s snacks but sometimes it just isn’t convenient to get to them, especially if you are in a stand-by line and have been for quite some time. Having snacks, like crackers, granola bars, fruit, etc., in your backpack can help stave off a little hunger quickly and it’s especially important if you have kids with you. Parents, you know quickly a meltdown can ensue when hunger sets in.
Visit www.capturing-the-magic.com for a preview of the stunning coffee table book, Capturing the Magic and purchase your copy today.
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