Hey! You’re going to Disney! Are you beyond excited? I’m beyond excited for you! It’s my absolute most favorite place to travel to in the whole world. It might have something to do with growing up as a Disney kid, spending many of summers park hopping, or just the fact that no two trips are ever the same. Whatever the case may be, I am always looking forward to my next Walt Disney World trip!
As I’m sure you’re well aware, the costs of a Walt Disney World vacation can add up quickly. From food, to hotels, to parks, to souvenirs and everything in between there are so many expenses. To help you not clean out your bank account on a single vacation, there are a few things you can do to help save some money. One of the most cost-effective tips I have is to purchase items you know you are going to need in the parks ahead of time. Like before you leave home.
If you forget to purchase any of these essential items, don’t fret, most items can still be purchased in the parks. However, if you can, be sure to load up and set yourself up for a successful trip. Here are my suggestions for what to purchase before you leave home and bring to your Walt Disney World trip.
Your ponchos don’t have to be fancy. They can be relatively inexpensive ones from Amazon, or even better, the dollar store. The smaller they fold up, the better! You don’t want them taking up too much room in your park bag, but you do want to have them on you.
Ponchos are first on the list because they are often overlooked. You might be aware that it rains often in Florida. Even with that being said, you probably figure you’ll just jump out of the rain into a store or on a ride. This is a possibility, and I’ve done it plenty of times to avoid the mid-afternoon downpour. However, you’re not going to want to be stuck inside of a building for long. It’s hard to predict how long the rains will last and you want to be prepared to continue your day at the park.
I know because once we were stuck inside of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe for 45 minutes. Trust me, no one need as many ornaments as we could have bought while stand around. Why were we stuck, you ask? Wouldn’t we know better to bring along ponchos? Well, we did have ponchos. For 3 of the 4 of us. We forgot a stroller cover…
If you’re like us, you like to travel light when you head into the parks. With that being said, there are still essentials we need to bring with us. Even with a stroller to set items down upon, we have found that a backpack is a must. Having something to throw on one or two shoulders and leave our hands free makes life. A simple draw string backpack does the trick if you’re flying solo and only have a handful of items. If you have a whole family, a sturdier backpack is going to be a necessity.
Florida is one of the sunniest overall states in the United States of America. For those of us flocking from less sunny places (I see you, Michigan), those beautiful rays of sunshine wreak havoc on one’s skin. Be sure to bring along some sunscreen. Yes, even if you do have a ‘base tan’ going. Trust me, it’s no match for the Florida sunshine.
When we travel we are pretty big fans of the sunscreen travel packets. It’s nice to be able to bring a small portion of sunscreen with us to the parks instead of a huge bottle. Sunscreen bottles aren’t huge, but the weight does add up. Instead we stick to using these small packets for each day at the parks.
4. Comfortable Shoes
Good shoes are essential to enjoying your time at Walt Disney World. I recommend bringing along a pair that are comfortable and broken in, but most of all supportive. Once you find that perfect pair, bring along another pair of the same caliber to rotate. You never know when you might have a pair that gets soaked. Those Florida rains can sneak up on you! Or watch out if you ride Kali River Rapids!
Better to have a backup. If you don’t bring comfortable shoes, odds are you might be tempted to buy a brand new pair of shoes at the parks or at Disney Springs. You’ll definitely be able to find some cute shoes, especially at Disney Springs, but odds are they won’t be broken-in. Uncomfortable, not broken-in shoes are the worst on vacation!
5. Mickey Ears
Ah, Mickey ears. How I love thee! Being a Michigan girl who doesn’t get to pop into the parks every week, I might have a few more ears than is necessary. But, guess what? I don’t care. I love me some Mickey ears.
The Disney parks definitely sell lots of super cute ears. As a matter of fact, I personally have two pairs from the parks. Beyond the park’s selection, tons of super creative individuals make ears and sell them online at sites such as Etsy. Some of the craftsmanship of some of the ears out there is amazing.
6. Reusable Water Bottle
Back in Michigan I carry around a water bottle all the time. A 64oz water bottle! You probably won’t need a water bottle that large, but I definitely recommend carrying one around to help you to stay hydrated. If you get stuck, any of the quick service locations will give you a free glass of ice water in the Disney parks. However, I definitely prefer to have a water bottle on me at all times. It helps me to drink more water throughout the day and acts as a buffer to the hot weather. Having one with a filter, like this one, is a great option too if you aren’t a fan of how the Florida tap water tastes.
7. Hand Sanitizer
Ah, germs. Little kids love them! My kids are especially good at sniffing out all the great little bugs. They even bring them home to share with us!
Our first line of defense is good hand hygiene. There are tons of bathrooms around the parks, but you never know when you’ll have a snack attack sneak up. Before consuming anything we try to get our hands clean (try being the optimal word…). Hand sanitizer is a lifesaver as it helps us to clean our hands (as long as there is no visible dirt!). Having a bunch of little ones we can slip into bags, pockets and stroller cup holders makes it easy to grab at all times.
8. Sanitizing Wipes
Along the line of hand sanitizer, we like to bring along a package of sanitizing wipes. Disney does a great job of cleaning their rooms (and if there is ever a problem, just give MouseKeeping a call!). However, it’s nice to have sanitizing wipes on hand. The main things we use these for are wiping down the pack-and-play, wiping down counters, and strollers. Somehow things seem to get super sticky as our trip progresses. I have absolutely no clue how that happens…
9. Stroller Fan
If my then one year old could talk, he would have been singing high praises of his stroller fan. Heck, if I was a little smaller, I would have been chillin’ in the stroller singing high praises on his stroller fan too. Though it is small, it is mighty and super appreciated on those hot days in Florida.
There are several different models of stroller fans. Some seem to hold up to repeat use (and little hands grabbing them) better than others. My son was obsessed with his stroller fan. So much so he somehow broke it. Just be sure to test out which ever one you bring along before your trip. You don’t want to end up with a broken stroller fan in 90 degree weather!
10. Portable Cell Phone Charger
If you are on the Disney app while at the parks or using your phone at all while exploring, odds are you’re going to drain the power on your phone. There are various spots you can charge your phone in the Disney parks, but most require that you head to a certain location. What happens when your phone is at 2% and you’re in line for ‘Flight of Passage’.
The Standby line…
On a peak crowd day…
You’re going to be super thankful that you thought ahead and bought yourself a portable cell phone charger. Just make sure it’s at full power before you leave your resort in the morning!
11. Stroller Cover
Did you read my first suggestion? You know that if you get stuck in a downpour with your ponchos, but forget your stroller cover, you’re still going to be stuck inside. You’re going to want a stroller cover, one that is breathable so you don’t create a little greenhouse for your little one.
12. Bubble Toys
Bubbles and bubble toys are like a siren call to little kids. You know how I know? We are the proud owners of a Mickey Mouse bubble wand. While it is super cute (and it does change colors!), it probably wasn’t the best parks purchase.
Thinking about getting a bubble wand? Don’t plan to buy it in the parks. Instead, bring along a bubble wand that you purchased at home. If your kids don’t care much about Mickey, this is the route to go. A simple (non-battery operated!) bubble wand will do the trick. Even better if you’re driving down you won’t have to worry about getting bubbles all over your luggage. Store the bubbles in a separate bag away from clothing and food and you’re good to go!
If you go the battery operated route, just be sure to stay away the bubble guns. Disney is pretty strict on not allowing toy weapons, including bubble guns, into the parks. You’d hate to bring along a bubble gun, have a pretty excited kiddo, and then not be able to bring it into the parks.
Okay, truth be told, your kids will love this if you purchase the Mickey wand in the parks. Even though I suggested you should buy ahead of time, it really is super cute.
13. Glow in the Dark Toys and Jewelry
If you plan to stay into the night at any of the Disney parks, or even if you visit during a time of year when the sun sets at 4pm (gah, why so dark, so early??), you’re going to want to bring along glow in the dark toys and jewelry. Disney will have several carts floating around the main walk ways once the ‘lights’ go down, but the prices will be up there. If your kids just want something simple, purchasing ahead of time will save you some money. Just be sure to stay away from all the shiny Disney carts selling the glow-in-the-dark items.
The best place to buy inexpensive glow-in-the-dark items? Your local dollar store!
Gum is not sold anywhere on Walt Disney World property. It has been said that Walt Disney was on a mission to keep the parks nice and clean (hence all the garbage cans!). Gum was and is just seen as something that can ‘dirty’ up the parks.
If you know you’re going to need gum for your trip, be sure to plan ahead! It’s better to buy ahead of time and in bulk instead of arriving to Disney without any. You don’t want to have to make a Uber trip just for a pack of gum. Also, did anyone else know that this Trident’s Layers Swedish Fish gum existed?
15. Autograph Book
Plan to meet some characters? Getting a quick autograph allows for a ‘free’ keepsake from Disney. Plus, it’s a ton of fun to interact with the characters as they sign their autograph. Some of my favorite Disney memories are of receiving autographs!
In terms of autograph books, you can go the traditional route and buy a Disney autograph book. We actually have a traditional autograph book and love it. The neat thing? Our autograph book is actually mine from when I was a little kid!
You can purchase an autograph book in the parks, but buying one ahead of time is a super simple way to save a little money. This two pack of autograph books on Amazon are super cute and functional. Be sure to bring along a couple of sharpies. Sharpies work the best for autographs!
One creative thing you could do is include pictures of your kiddos next to the characters inside the autograph book. Once you arrive back home, print out your park pictures (look motivation to print your pictures!) and affix the picture of each character next to their autograph. Be sure to leave the page next to the autograph blank if you plan to go this route.
16. Princess Dresses or Pirate Outfits
Princess dresses and pirate outfits are expensive. This is especially true if you buy the items in the parks. But, money aside, oh they are oh so, so cute!
If you know your little one will want to wear a princess outfit or a pirate outfit while in the parks, be sure to pick them up before your trip. Plus, if you plan to do a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover or a Pirate League pirate or mermaid makeover, you’ll have half the ensemble already! If you buy online be sure to check the sizing of your outfit before you leave. Nothing worse that arriving at Walt Disney World and realizing the previously purchased Belle costume won’t fit your little girl!
There ya go, 16 things to purchase before your Walt Disney World vacation. Not only will purchasing these items before hand, having them will help make you feel prepared for your trip. You won’t have to hunt around for these items in the parks or have to make a random run to the stores to obtain.
Have all that you need? Now it’s time to go enjoy your trip!