Essentials for a Disney trip
Embarking on your first trip to Disney is SO exciting but often sparks questions about what one should take or wear. Frequently, I get the generic question, "What do we need to take?" I also get more specific questions about footwear and other attire, too. I'll share what I have learned over the course of many trips to Disney both with my family and in a small adults only group.
Footwear: 2 pair of good running or walking shoes and some BandAids or moleskin in case you develop blisters. You will do a lot of walking and standing each day. If you're going to have more than one day in the parks, I find that having a different pair of shoes for the second day is helpful so that your feet get a break of some kind. Also, if one pair gets wet, you've got a back up. Some people seem to think flip flops are the obvious choice for walking miles and miles each day and having your feet dangle in the air on rides, but I prefer to limit my flip flop wear to the pool or around the resort. The key is comfort, though, and being ready for lots of walking and standing.
Rain gear: Take some cheap fold-up rain ponchos for everyone in your group. It rains often in Florida, and I usually recommend staying in the park when it starts to rain in spite of the mass exodus from the park. During and right after the rain is a wonderful time to enjoy light crowds and short lines. Even if you join the throngs of people fleeing the park in the rain, you will still want to stay as dry as possible. If you forget to bring ponchos from home, don't worry, because the shops in the parks will have them. But Target usually has some really inexpensive rain ponchos in the camping section, and you will probably save a bit of money by taking your own along.
Sunscreen, etc: Yes. Take good sunscreen, and slather yourself in it every day. Hats are not a bad idea as long as you can secure them when you go on rides. I have never needed bug spray at Disney and don't even think to take it with me.
Bags or purses: Crossbody purse or small backpack. I started wearing a crossbody purse to Disney parks almost a decade ago and wondered why I had never thought of it before. While your credit card number should be loaded onto your MagicBand (unless you are staying off property and have card-style park passes), it's good to have your ID, insurance cards, hand sanitizer, small snacks, poncho, and other essentials on you. You can stick your phone in there, any small purchases or a bottle of water. My husband likes to take a small backpack, and we also take snacks like granola bars, beef jerky, and trail mix into the parks so we can be more flexible about when/where we eat. It's all about the rides with us.
Strollers: You can take your own stroller into the parks as long as it is no bigger than 31" wide and 52" long. You can also rent strollers when you get there. No wagons are allowed.
If you're going during the pandemic, obviously you'll need your masks, too. No gaiters allowed at Disney . . . you must wear a mask that fits around your ears.
One final note about MagicBands if you are staying off property and have card-style passes: I do recommend that you buy some MagicBands and transfer your passes to them. Having the band on your wrist is so much easier than keeping up with that little card. If you don't have bands before you get to the parks, you can always buy them in one of the shops and transfer your passes to them on the spot. If you do choose to hang on to those cards instead of using MagicBands, though, I would suggest keeping it in a lanyard around your neck that can be tucked inside your shirt on rides. (I'm a cruise nerd, so I love my lanyards.) If you're staying on property, you will automatically receive MagicBands, so this step won't be needed.
Whatever you choose to take or leave at home, you can bet that anything you need is available at Disney shops and resorts. Hopefully these tips will help you optimize your packing and your trip! Don't forget to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to plan your next Disney vacation.