Monday, February 24, 2014

Disney World Series Part 1: Packing List

Our families spent the last week of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 at the most magical place on earth--Disney World!

Since our return, it has been a whirlwind of getting the kids back into their school schedule, getting our lives back on track, unexpected new car purchases for both our families, and LOTS of snow days, that it has taken us almost 2 months to put together this series about our trip. Despite the long wait, we hope that this will be a helpful series for all who plan to make a trip to Disney World.

This is what you can look forward to in our Disney World Series:
Part 1: Packing List
Part 2: Navigating Tips
Part 3: Ride and Show Reviews by Kingdom 
           A) Magic Kingdom
           B) Animal Kingdom
           C) Hollywood Studios
           D) Epcot
Part 4: Recap

A quick note before we start, the children in our group were aged 2 to 5, so many of our tips and observations will be most appropriate for this age range.

Now let's get to it, here is our recommended Packing List (obviously this is not every single thing you need to bring):

1) Stroller For Each Child--one of the best advice we received before going to Disney World was to make sure we had a stroller for each child. The days will be long and the kids will get tired and most likely nap at some point. So it very nice to have a place for them to do so. It is also nice to help carry things like food and water since those things can get heavy. That being said, make sure the stroller is relatively light weight, since there will be times where you need to pack it up and carry it, so you don't want to be lugging around a huge stroller.

2) Pack Lunch and Lots of Snacks--park tickets aside, the thing you will be spending the most money on is food at Disney World. So it is definitely recommended that you pack at least your lunch and lots of snacks. If you are able to, go ahead and pack dinner too since you will most likely be spending all day at the parks. And as parents of little children know, they will need snacks. So pack lots to keep the kids fueled throughout the day. There are also water fountains in the park, so go ahead and bring water bottles that you could refill while you are there.
There is a size restriction to the coolers that are allowed in the parks, so make sure you check Disney's site for those dimensions.

3) Make Your Own Autograph Books--one of the fun experiences about Disney is that children get to meet their favorite characters, get a picture taken with them, and have them sign their autograph books. But honestly, most lines are pretty long for these character meets, especially if they are popular, so you probably won't meet too many. So why spend over $10 for an autograph book when you could have a DIY version that is just as cute. Both Eva and I just bought inexpensive notebooks and decorated them for our kids.

E2/3's autograph book being signed by Marie
 4) Ponchos/Raincoats--being in Florida, you can expect some rain while you are there, so it is always a good idea to pack ponchos are some lightweight rain gear for everyone in your group. Great place to look for these are Walmart or Target. Didn't get to pick some up before your trip? No worries! There is a Walmart and Target close to the park that you could easily pick some up. And honestly, the kid size ponchos at the park are not too expensive, they are about $8 which is what you would pay for a decent poncho elsewhere.
Going along with the ponchos, it is a good idea to have a couple of large trash bags or umbrellas. These could be used to cover your strollers while they are parked. And yes, you will be parking your strollers quite a bit.
Zi with Mickey and wearing one of the extra kid ponchos =)
5) Disney Merchandise--no matter how hard you try to avoid it, kids will want to buy something from the many many stores at the park. If your child has a character or princess that they are really fond of then it is a good idea to purchase some merchandise ahead of time from Walmart, Target or maybe even a consignment sale. It will most likely be cheaper than getting it at the parks.
Based on personal observation, the items that are seriously over priced at the park are the clothing (t-shirts, hoodies), dress up clothing (especially the princess dresses), and large soft toys.

6) Backpack and/or Messenger Bag--with kids to keep track of and all the things you need to pack, it is a good idea to have a bag that can carry many items and keep your hands free. Both of our families had at least 1 backpack. Zi also had a messenger bag with multiple compartments which made it easier to keep track of items, like park tickets, photo passes, pens, autograph books, and hand sanitizer.

7) Glow sticks--one of the things that really catches children's attention are all the glowing toys that Disney pushes once the sun goes down. So the best way to combat your child's urge to throw a tantrum because they just got to have one is to bring some of your own glow sticks. They are much more affordable from a dollar store or places like Five Below.

Got something to add to our list? Please feel free to share in comments!



  1. I am looking forward to this know I love me some Disney World. Good tip about the glow sticks, we are definitely bringing those next time. Did you guys drive down? Stayed off-property? We flew and stayed at one of the resorts when we went in October, but planning to drive down next time.

    1. Check out tomorrow's post :) We stayed off property at a time share that was about 10 mins away.

  2. Can't wait for the rest of the series. We plan to go to Disney....some time much later :). So cool you got to go together. I bet it took more than a little coordination to make that happen. Did any family bring a double stroller? I think Joyce (above) bought a cheap-o stroller once there and then just left it there since it was cheaper than the baggage fee on a plane. I loooooove your tip to bring your own merchandise & glow sticks! Seriously, genius. Glowsticks are like 20/$1 at Michaels so definitely bring your own!

    1. Zi brought 2 double strollers for the 4 kids. Actually found 2 Maclaren ones off of Craigslist. They are nice and compact, has a sunshades, baskets under the seats, pockets on the back of the seats, and the seats recline for naps. Since we drove it was easy to iust bring them with us.

    2. We actually bought two car seats in Hawaii because they were cheap and less hassle to bring our own for the long flight. They were also cheaper to buy than to rent from the car rental company. For Disney, we took our tandem with us. One kid could nap, but not both.