What to pack for a Disney vacation


Or rather, what not to pack.

When planning on a Disney vacation, most people (first timers) over-pack and forget the fact that:

1) Airlines charge you for your checked baggage.

2) Airlines charge you for over-weight checked baggage.

3) Some airline charge you for carry-on luggage.

4) Airlines aren’t charging for breathing air at the time that I’ve published this article. This is however, is subject to change.

The best thing for you to do, is to pack lightly and consolidate. Basically, pack smarter.

And Disney really helps you in that department.

You don’t need to bring shampoo, conditioner or soap. Those are refilled daily in your room. Need more? Call down to the front desk and they will have you bring some. As for their shampoo, I have no clue as to what it is, but it’s magic on my hair.

You also don’t need to bring a beach towel. Okay, so let me be clear on this one. IF you are staying at a moderate or deluxe resort, towels are available AT your resort pool. If you’re staying at a value hotel, this is a hit or miss. Always bring a towel with you (if you’re staying at a value) from your room. You can always get more towels from Mousekeeping, but it’s very unlikely that you will find them at the pool. There have been rare occasions that they have been there, but it’s more in the off-season and I’d rather you not take the chance.

Laundry facilities are on site in each hotel, and TIDE (oh, how I love thee) is available in the quarter dispensers. I don’t have the prices for these, but make sure you bring quarters with you if you plan on doing laundry. Actually, on second thought, even if you don’t plan on laundry, it’s good to have an accident back-up.

Worried about all the souvenirs? Don’t be. You can ship from almost any resort on property (we usually use the business center in the Contemporary) and Disney has all the supplies you need. There is no up charge on any of this as well, so rest assured that you’re not paying more than you would at home.

Okay, so what to bring…

Sunscreen. You’ll pay an arm and leg- and maybe your first-born child at Disney. Bringing it with you will cut down on the cost significantly.

Sunglasses. It’s Florida. They don’t call it the “Sunshine State” for nothing.

Backpack. To carry your sunscreen and glasses.

Gum. The airport, stores and Disney Resorts do not sell gum. If you like it, you need to bring it.

Clothes. Duh. But only enough for the days you’ll actually be there- and one extra outfit. Wear the clothes on the plane that you’d like to have on for the whole day. In other words, don’t do a bunch of costume changes. Now, if you’re planning on having an ADR (advance dining reservation) at Victoria and Albert’s- you’ll need a little black dress or a suit. Check out your ADRs and make sure none of your reservations have a dress code. Disney will not let you into the restaurant if you don’t meet their criteria, and you don’t want to be turned away because you’re in park-wear.Oh- and don’t forget pajamas. I always take a shower before I get into mine, so I can get an extra night or two out of them so I can pack less.

Costumes. Buy them from Wal-Mart, Amazon or the Disney Store and bring them with you. Roll the costumes up and place them inside of a gallon-sized Ziploc Bag squeezing out all the air before you close it completely. It lays flat, and takes up very little space in your luggage (and the glitter stays put). Plus you’re saving quite a bit (costumes are much more expensive in the parks).

Ziploc bags. Small and Large. These are obviously multi-purpose. I carry the smaller ones with me while we’re at the parks for snacks (you don’t always finish that opened bag of pretzels) and smaller souvenirs like pins. The larger are for shoes, bathing suits, or anything you need to organize and pack away.

Packing Cubes. There are lots of Youtube videos featuring the use of packing cubes (I happen to recommend and use the Eagle Creek system-not sponsored, just love them). They save you space, time, and headache. They make it easier to organize your hotel room, since you can transfer them from your luggage to the drawers without your items actually touching the drawers.

Shoes. Bring two three pairs. That’s it. And wear the heavier ones on the plane, so they don’t count towards your luggage weight. If you’re planning on going to the pool, bring a pair of flip-flops. But make that your max. *I now say 3 pairs- 2 being athletic shoes. Switching your shoes back and forth has made a huge difference when it comes to pain at the end of the night. You’re walking 10+ miles a day. It’s important that you’re not wearing out one pair per trip.

Snacks. This one I am iffy about. We’re on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, so snacks are in our plan already. If you haven’t gotten this option, make sure you bring your own from home. It’s going to be a lot cheaper for you.

Odor eaters. There is nothing worse than coming back to your hotel room after a long day, kick off you tennis shoes, only to knock out your whole family by the stench. So throw them in your bag. Trust me. You’ll thank me.

And the obvious- toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, medicine etc…

Body Glide. I’ve heard this one from so many people, but haven’t used it myself. It’s supposed to be used on your inner thighs and prevents chafing. You can get it from sport supply stores.

Now people that want to save on souvenirs-

Head to your local Target dollar section, craft or dollar store and pick up as many Disney items you can. Throw those in your carry-on and as soon as your kiddo asks for something, pull that out instead.

Distraction on a dime!

And I’m sure I’ve forgotten something on here, but at least it’s a good run down. If you can think of anything, please add it in the comments!

*Like this post? Check out my instructions on How to Pack Disney Princess Costumes!

* Interested in booking your own Disney vacation? Let me help! I am a Disney College of Knowledge Graduate and would love to help you plan your dream vacation! Head to or shoot me an email at katie(at)DisVacations(dot)com for your free personalized quote today (my services are always free to my clients, so there’s another way to save)!

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