If you’re planning a trip to Disney, it’s important to pack everything you need to make it a magical vacation.
What to Pack for Disney
Packing for Disney is similar to packing for most vacations, but there are a few key tricks that can help you save money on your Disney vacation.
My family has been going to Disney World my entire life, and these are the money-savings items you should never forget to pack.
Here’s a list of what we’ll be discussing:
Buying groceries can save you a ton of money because you won’t be dining out for every meal. It works whether you’re staying at a hotel or in a condo with a full kitchen.
If you’re staying at a hotel, ask if you can reserve a room with a mini-fridge and a microwave so you can be more flexible with the variety of the groceries you purchase.
One of the best ways to save money is to bring a soft-sided cooler for your group’s meals into the park. Coolers must follow Disney’s bag restrictions and must not contain dry ice or loose ice cubes.
If you don’t want to buy a lot of groceries, at least bring snacks to avoid paying for the expensive treats at Disney. Plus, stopping for food puts you in yet another line and prevents you from enjoying all of the activities you want to do in the park.
The most important thing to bring on a Disney vacation is a pair of good, broken-in walking shoes! From waiting in line to walking across the park to make a dinner reservation, you will be on your feet a lot.
This may sound silly if you’re going to a Disney park during the summer, but this is an important tip! Indoor shows, transportation and restaurants inside the park can get cold so you almost always need a light jacket to stay comfortable.
Buy Disney-themed items before you go because prices on the Disney property are high! Shop for clearance items from the Disney store online and wait until the trip to give them to your family (and yourself). My mom followed this trick to add a little extra magic to our experience.
You can also find Disney clothing and toys at retailers like Walmart, Target, Kohl’s and dollar stores, so look for sales and discount items there, too.
If you want something made especially for you or your travel companions, search for custom Disney-themed items on Etsy. There are shops that will make anything from ears to cups to clothes for you. With any of these purchases, make sure you place your order far enough in advance so your package gets to you before your trip.
Still want to purchase something in the park? Set your spending limit ahead of time to stay on track.
Grab a light-up toy or two if you have children to enhance the experience of an evening parade. Disney cast members roll around carts full of light-up toys, and I bet your kid will want one. To avoid tantrums and high price tags, buy light-up items in advance and give them to your kids when the sun goes down. For a cheaper option, just bring glow sticks!
These tricks can save you money and help spread out the cost so you don’t overspend on vacation.
If you’re bringing young children to Disney, strollers are an important consideration. You may not be able to bring your regular stroller because not all strollers are Disney park-approved!
Umbrella strollers are cheap and Disney-approved, so using one you already own or purchasing one in advance are great options. You can even order it and have it shipped right to your hotel.
You can also rent from a third-party company with Disney-approved strollers. Third-party companies offer less expensive alternatives to Disney rentals and often have discount codes that make the rental even cheaper.
You should not rent a stroller from Disney unless you absolutely have to! They’re expensive, the seats are hard plastic and you can’t take them out of the park — that means when you’re traveling to your hotel or park-hopping, you have to transfer your child out of the stroller every time.
Regardless of whether you rent or bring a stroller, make sure to bring some sort of stroller sign with your family’s name on it! There are tons of strollers around Disney and many of them look the same.
Special Considerations: Flying vs. Driving to Disney
There are some differences when figuring out how to pack for Disney depending on how you are getting there. Each comes with its own costs, so it’s important to compare prices ahead of time to see what works for you and your family.
There’s a cost for just about everything on a plane. Here are a few fees to consider before you book your flight:
- Plane tickets
- Baggage fees (carry-ons and checked bags)
- Transportation to and from the airport
Learn more about how to pack for a five-day trip in just a carry-on bag here.
If you are planning to check a bag and there are fees, consider doubling up with your travel companion to split a bag and the fee! You can also check fares on Southwest because the carrier flies to Orlando and offers two free checked bags per passenger.
Are you planning to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort? Take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express. This free service transports you from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to your hotel and back at the end of your stay.
The best part is that you don’t have to worry about claiming your checked bags when you arrive. They deliver your checked baggage directly to your hotel room for you. My family has used this service every time we’ve flown to go to Disney and it hasn’t failed us yet.
You will need to reserve your spot in advance and read all of the instructions Disney provides about Magical Express.
If you’re driving, there are plenty of costs to keep in mind, too. You might be paying for:
- Potential repairs
- Parking (hotel and Disney parks)
Driving long distances is expensive as well. You’ll probably need to fill up several times, plus you’re putting wear and tear on your car. There’s also the possibility that you could break down and be put behind schedule.
Driving does give you more flexibility when it comes to packing, especially if you have a bigger car. You can bring all the bags you can fit, along with strollers, all the liquids you want, and coolers full of food and beverages.
Packing for your Disney vacation should add another layer of excitement, not stress!
Follow our special tips so that you can focus on your family instead of sweating the small stuff so that you can have a magical vacation.