My Walt Disney World Vacation Essentials

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We've visited the Walt Disney World resort six times now as a family.  (This past November was my 11th trip, if you count the ones when I was growing up.)  Over the years, I've learned there are a few essentials that I need to make sure I bring with me every time we visit.  Some of these depends on if you're going with kids, but the majority of these should apply to anyone who visits Walt Disney World.  They're not listed in any particular order -- just in the order that I thought of them!

1.  Ponchos
Wearing our ponchos in Epcot (Nov '14)
We've visited Disney World in the Spring, Summer and Fall.  Every time we've gone, it has rained at least once during our stay.  Sometimes, there were short bursts of rain in the afternoon.  Other times, it rained almost the entire day.  The weather can be unpredictable.  The forecast might call for thunderstorms and you never see a drop.  Other times, the rain just comes out of nowhere!  I remember visiting with my family when I was in college and it would rain every single day around 4 pm.  My parents would joke that Disney was turning the rain on to get guests to buy ponchos and umbrellas!

We've learned to pack ponchos with us on our park days.  They're not that big or heavy and we always have a bag or backpack with us anyway.  You can buy ponchos like the ones we're wearing in the picture above in the parks or from  They have Adult and Child sizes.  They're pretty durable.  If they do rip, I've heard they will replace them.  I haven't yet tried this out, though.

You can also buy them in the camping section at stores like Target and Walmart.

2.  External battery source

New Trent iTorch charging my iPhone 5
Most everyone brings a cell phone to the parks.  And with Disney's new My Disney Experience, you could be using your phone all day to check FastPasses and wait times and keeping track of reservations.  Add to that taking pictures and video and possibly posting to social media, your battery could be run down by the afternoon!

I bought a portable charger a few years ago, after reading several people recommending one in a Disney chat that I follow.  After charging it overnight, I would use it to charge my iPhone 5 and my husband's iPhone 4 while we were in the parks.  It worked well and wasn't too big to carry around.  I didn't have to hunt for an outlet and I could keep everything charging in my bag.

There are now several portable chargers that you can buy that are a lot smaller than the New Trent iTorch that I've been using.  No matter which one you end up getting, I definitely recommend bringing one along.  They're great for other occasions, too.  I've used them on road trips, at conferences, and anywhere that I thought I wouldn't be near an outlet.

3.  A stroller

This is for those who have kids.  Even if your child doesn't use a stroller at home, they could benefit from using one at Disney World.  There's a lot of walking involved.  Even I get tired after a long day at the park!  Plus, strollers are great for holding things.

In the past, we would only bring a single stroller for the youngest child.  But, sometimes, even the older ones would get tired and need to be carried.  Some nights, we'd be carrying a sleeping child and have one asleep in the stroller.  The walk from Main Street in Magic Kingdom to the ferry to our parking space at TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center) can be rough while carrying a five-year-old!

This past November, we brought along a double stroller (City Mini Double).  Our one-year-old and four-year-old would ride in it.  Though, sometimes, we'd have the baby in our Ergo and let our seven-year-old ride in the stroller when his legs got tired.  He's still under 50 pounds and our stroller holds up to 100 pounds total.  It did make the stroller kind of heavy to push, but it gave my 7-year-old the break he needed.  When we would leave the park at night, we'd have our four and seven year old boys in the stroller asleep and the baby in the Ergo.

The Disney parks do have strollers for rent in the front of the park.  Though, I prefer to bring our own.  You can't take the Disney strollers out of the park and if my kids are asleep, it's nice to be able to keep them in the stroller all the way up to the car.  You can also rent a stroller from companies like Kingdom Strollers, Orlando Stroller Rentals and Magic Strollers.  A lot of these companies will drop off and pick up the stroller from your resort and will even include accessories like a parent console and rain cover.  They usually offer the same kind of stroller that we use -- the Baby Jogger City Mini. It's really easy to fold and maneuvers well in crowds.

4.  Autograph books

Getting an autograph from Duffy at Epcot
One of the fun parts about going to Disney World is getting to meet your favorite characters.  There are character meet-and-greets throughout each park.  Bringing along an autograph book makes for a great souvenir.  Plus, if your child is shy like my kids.  Autograph books give them a way to interact with the characters.

Official Disney autograph books can be bought in the parks, resorts and on  I like to buy the ones with pages for autographs and a page to put a picture.  My kids love flipping through the books in between visits to Disney World.

You can also find unofficial autograph books all around the Orlando area.  We've bought them at gift shops on I-4 and in Kissimmee.  I've also bought some on eBay and Etsy.  You can even make your own!

Be sure to bring something the characters can grip easily.  I like to use retractable Sharpies.  It's easy for characters to click open and close and thicker than a regular pen.  They come in assorted colors.  Just make sure not to use green.  It can be hard to get off character's costumes.  (Affiliate link below for the Sharpies that I buy.)

5.  A crossbody bag/backpack

Wearing my Baggallini crossbody and pushing the stroller in Magic Kingdom.
I usually bring a lot of things with me into the Disney parks, so I like to have a bag.  I usually wear a crossbody bag, while my husband wears a backpack.  I use a Baggallini that I found at TJ Maxx.  It's comfortable, holds a lot and easy to bring on rides.  I use it to carry around my kids' autograph books and Sharpies, park maps (souvenirs), my iPhone, my Trent charger, charging cables, wallet, lip balm, and snacks.  Plus, there's room to throw in any other random things that I end up having to carry around.

My husband carries a backpack that he puts diapers and wipes for the baby in, more snacks, our first aid kit, and extra clothes for the kids.  He usually wears cargo shorts or pants to hold his wallet, keys and phone.

I also carry around a camera bag that holds my camcorder, big digital camera and extra SD cards.

6.  Comfortable walking shoes

There is a lot of walking at Disney World.  I've gotten my fair share of blisters from wearing the wrong shoes to the parks.  I've worn sneakers, flip flops, Keen-type shoes (though they were Dr. Scholl's brand) and sandals.  I think the most comfortable shoe I've worn so far are the Skechers Go Walk 2 shoes that I wore this past November.

They're just like the shoe above (affiliate link), except in grey.  They're so light and really cushion my step.  Usually, by the end of the day, the bottoms of my feet hurt in pretty much any shoe that I wear.  But, not with these.  They surprisingly kept my feet comfortable and warm, too!  It was pretty cold when we went down in November, with some temps only in the 40's at night.

Others swear by Keens and Teva Mush flip flops.  I haven't had a chance to try them and not sure I will.  I love my Go Walk shoes!

It's also a good idea to pack more than one pair of shoes to wear to the parks.  One year we went, it rained so hard, several areas in Animal Kingdom were flooded.  It took a couple days for my kids' shoes to dry out.  Bring newspaper to stuff in wet shoes!

Those, are my top essentials.  Of course, there are a lot of other things that I make sure to pack (can't forget sunscreen!).  But, that would be way too much to post here.  Unless you're interested in seeing my Master Packing List.  If so, leave me a comment and I'll share!

Did I leave anything out?  What do you make sure to bring?

DISCLOSURE:  This is not a sponsored post.  It may contain affiliate links.  These will be noted.


  1. How fun!!! I think I'll try and get a stroller...for me...if we ever go. Then I'll make our son push me around!! ha/ha Looks like you had a fun time!

    1. Ha! I just with my husband sometimes that I need to be pushed around in the stroller!

  2. Wow - it rained every time you went. I can't stand when it rains when I am on vacation. I visited Tampa once, and it was rainy and dark, gloomy and dreary for 90% of the time we were there. That is so smart to bring an external battery pack. I need to do that whenever I travel period. Also, I've learned the hard way that sensible shoes are a must. Almost broke my ankle on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and have worn flip flops every time I visited since.

    1. Yes it wasn't every day rain though. And it didn't always rain the entire day. So, that was good. On the days it does rain, the park usually clears out and wait times for the rides go down after that.

  3. These are great tips. Bring a bottle for water as the water to but there is pricey.

    1. Yes, so true! And you can get free ice water from the Quick Service restaurants in the park!

  4. When we went to Disney World last year, we had ponchos packed in our suitcase to bring along but watched the weather the day before and no rain was int he forecast. Unfortunately, a severe storm popped up while we were there and we thought we would make it out of the park before it got there and found out my husband dropped the keys to the rental car and someone turned them in but they couldn't be found at either lost & found. Turned out the first lost & found didn't "really" look and we ended up getting soaked trying to run back & forth between places & the car. Due to the system in the car the rental company was able to unlock it remotely for us, so at least the kids & I could get out out of the pouring rain, even though we were soaked and put on some dry stuff we had sitting in the car. It was a great day there until the whole rain & key episode. Wish we would have brought the ponchos with us.

    1. Yes, after getting soaked at Sea World one year, we've learned to always bring our ponchos with us! Glad you had a good trip despite the rain!

  5. This is so appropriate as I'm headed there in 3 weeks! Thanks for the heads-up. I can't wait!!!