Planning to hit up Walt Disney World with your baby and preschooler? Curious as to what you'll need in the park every day and what you can leave behind? Well, I just got back from a week long trip to Disney World with my husband, 3 year old daughter and infant son and I can totally help you! I'll clue you in on the items that we were SO grateful to bring with us every day, to the ones we liked having just in case, and which ones you can just leave behind (either at home or in the hotel). And as an extra bonus? EVERYTHING can be bought on Amazon TODAY (and don't forget to click through and become an Amazon Prime member with free two day shipping!):
// this post is written from my experience exclusively breastfeeding my baby and having my daughter 99% potty trained – if your child is bottle feed, you pump, you're in the middle of potty training, or your child has allergies or special needs, then your essentials will be different. //
Stuff To Take
Baby Carrier: I asked about this in a mom group prior to going and the resounding answer that I got was to take an Ergo 360 carrier to the parks and not a sling or wrap. And you know what? Those moms were right. It was INVALUABLE during our trip and I'm kicking myself that I didn't have one for when Melanie was little. Since my little guy loves to be held and that just wasn't possible every second of our long days at the parks, I was so grateful to have this option. Being able to securely carry him and still have my arms free to help my daughter (and at times, carry her, too), was the best. I also loved the pouches in the front which let me carry maps, my phone, and sunglasses plus, the carrier had a fabric “hood” that snapped into place and covered Finn's delicate baby skinned head.
Stroller: The Disney ones suck. This is just me being honest. They are huge and made of a hard plastic and everyone who has ever used them hates them. Plus, they are not made for babies. If you'll be heading to the park, just bring your own (and if you don't have one, now's a great time to buy one). Yes, even if you have older kids! I loved being able to store stuff in the compartment underneath (instead of schlepping everything), the baby loved having a dedicated place to sleep when he didn't want to be in my arms, and Melanie loved being able to sit down whenever she wanted (which was often because… OMG the walking!). It is a bit of a hassle to transport them on the trams and buses but still, in my opinion, 100% worth it. We use this sit ‘n stand model and really like it.
Crossbody Water Resistant Bag: I have had my bag since my first visit to WDW with my husband (then boyfriend) in 2007 and it's still perfect for the parks. Crossbody bags are ideal for Disney because they allow you to easily move around and access the bag as needed. Water resistance is a great thing to keep in mind since there are so many fountains, splash pads, pools, and rides with water. Sure, your bag probably will never get soaked but carrying one that at least somewhat prevents the contains from getting wet is a good thing. This one, from Timbuk 2, is small enough to carry around comfortably and filled with lots of pockets and compartments.
Ponchos: Florida is known for it's sudden downpours so be prepared. I picked up a handful of these cheap ones (I actually packed one per person, per day) and popped them in my bag every day we went to the park. We got hit with a couple of rain spells a few days and it was awesome to be able to pull out the ponchos and put them on or drape them on the stroller. I loved having a bunch of the cheap ones because, at the end of the day, I'd just toss 'em and forget 'em. No trying to dry them off or putting back on damp ones. Just use each one for the day, then toss, and have a new one tomorrow.
Sunscreen: A must. I do not care what ethnicity or age you are… and neither does the sun. And don't give me this “overcast” crap either. The sun does not care. Lube up before you leave for the parks and bring a tube so you can reapply at least twice more during the day. If you'll be hitting up the water parks or swimming pools then get the waterproof kind. We used this one from The Honest Company and it was fantastic.
Hats: Either sun hats or baseball caps are awesome at the parks. They keep the sun off your skin and out of your eyes. I prefer a baseball cap because you can unsnap it and attach it to your bag as needed (a lot of the rides are not hat wearing friendly). Here's some cute Disney themed hats!
Cell Phones/Tablets: A cell phone is like, indispensable at the parks. Download the app (here for Apple and here for Android) and USE IT. It'll track your Fast Pass times, wait times for attractions, where the bathrooms are, park hours, parade routes and times, and so, so much more. I think I had that app open constantly and we used it A LOT. It's completely free so use it. Also, phones are handy for texting or calling your people when you get separated and… selfies (very important). I also brought along Melanie's tablet (in this excellent carrying case) for when we had to stand in line. I worked really hard to only have us in line for 25 minutes or less but sometimes, best laid plans, y'all. Melanie is crap at waiting so we busted out the tablet when she would start to melt down. It's also an excellent way to make new friends since everyone standing in line would watch whatever she was watching on her tablet.
Snacks: Yes, you can bring your own snacks into the parks. We did buy some in park (the ice cream Mickey ear bars are BANK) but my daughter is an eater so I would bring a sandwich size Ziploc bag of fruit snacks and fruit pouches for whenever we needed them. Sometimes, you're stuck in line and sometimes, you just don't wanna pay the prices. I brought a couple of boxes from home in our luggage and would fill the bag each day as needed.
Wet/Dry Bags: My kid still has accidents – particularly when she's distracted or have too much fun. So, potty accidents were definitely going to happen while at Disney World and I came prepared. Every day, I would pack a wet/dry bag with some panties and shorts (my wet/dry bag has a separate wet bag compartment for “peepee accident clothes”). Very handy. If you don't want the bags – use gallon Ziploc bags.
Diapers/Wipes: For Finn. I packed a travel pouch of wipes and 3-4 diapers a day but you do whatever your baby needs. Every bathroom at Disney is equipped with multiple trash cans and at least one changing table. You can also buy extras at certain stores.
Magic Bands: These are shipped free to you if you're staying on property (you can also buy them). SO USEFUL. Everything can be linked to your bands and really eliminate the need for hauling a bunch of extra stuff. Your park tickets, Fast Passes, and credit card are linked in (with a passcode so your kid can't charge stuff without you knowing and a finger print scan to get into the parks). It was insanely easy to do things since we did not have to dig out wallets and cards (your bands also work as your room key at the resorts). The bands are waterproof and fit my daughter's teeny wrist and even my (large) husband's super chunk wrist. Plus, you get to pick the color and they personalize it with your name! If that's not enough for you, you can find even more ways to personalize them here.
Swaddle Blankets: I love these ones and packed 5 in our luggage for the trip. I used them for towels, blankets, to wipe faces, and even once as a changing table pad. Super versatile, super lightweight, and super useful. They even make Disney themed ones!
Water Bottles: Bring the refillable kind or the disposable ones but seriously, DO NOT shell out for in park bottles of water because they are OMG expensive. Just toss a few under the stroller and refill at water fountains as needed. Disney themed ones are a cute touch!
Hair Elastics: I packed 2-3 every day and USED THEM. Florida is humid, y'all, and both Melanie and I needed to get our freaking hair up off our necks nearly every single moment we were in the parks. I prefer these for me and these for Melanie since they don't tangle in our fine hair.
Infant Medicine: Sometimes, your baby will pick up a little bug from traveling or be teething while you're at Disney. Be prepared and bring a bottle of baby's medicine plus a syringe (just in case). If you think your older kid might need some, too, then pack both.
A Kid Leash: Full stop, I am 100% pro kid leash. Melanie is a runner and I do not care what you think – I leash the crap out her. If you buy the kind with a backpack then you can even have your kid schlep their own stuff. Otherwise, the leash was attached to her or under the stroller. We use this one and Melanie loves it.
Stuff To Have In The Car Or At The Hotel
Jackets: Unless it's actually cold and you're shivering – skip it. Jackets are bulky and just take up extra room.
Toys: Every day, my kid tried to bring her stuffed animals and every day, I let her pick two and then leave them in the car (all but one day when she met Mickey Mouse and I got AMAZING photos of her handing her beloved Mickey doll to him). Seriously, there is so much to see and do – just leave behind the toys and the stress of possibly losing them.
Extra Water Bottles: We bought a case of water bottles and kept them in the back of the car. I'd just pull out 3-4 each day for each park (and stashed them in the stroller). This freed up space in our hotel room and in our stroller but still saved us roughly $5,000 by not buying water in the park.
Your Wallet: If you have Magic Bands, everything can be bought using them. Leave the wallet (and cash) in the car (or better yet, locked in the hotel safe). Unless you're exclusively using cash or need your ID to pick up your passes – leave it in the car. It will be more of a hassle then it's worth.
Car Seats: I brought Finn's infant seat because it clipped into the stroller and he wasn't big enough for the stroller's seat but we left Melanie's in the car. Our stroller is a sit ‘n stand model and she was perfectly happy to walk with her leash on or sit and rest.
Stuff To Skip
Changing Pad: Skip it completely or use a swaddle blanket. I just used a wipe to clean up before and after and didn't stress out about it.
Autograph Book and Pen: My kid wasn't old enough to care about this at all so I skipped it. Just eliminated the hassle and expense completely. If your kid isn't into it – why bother?
Your Fancy Camera: Okay, if you're SUPER INTO CAMERAS then schlep it but otherwise… skip it hard. I signed us up for the Memory Makers package and brought my cell phone – best. choice. ever. It was worth every penny not to have to try and juggle a big ass camera + two kids. Just use the app to find photographers and get all the pictures taken you can. They are free to download.
Make-Up And Hair Products: Okay, if you're a make-up or hair person and you need them to feel your best then bring them. Otherwise, SKIIIIIIIP IIIIIIIT. Life is too short, y'all. I just put on waterproof mascara and concealer every morning before leaving our hotel and stopped stressing about it from that moment on. It was less stuff for me to carry and less stuff for me to worry about while caring for two kids during bathroom stops.
Selfie Sticks: They are not allowed inside the parks so just leave them at home.
Adult/Teen Costumes: Anyone over the age of 14 is not allowed to wear a costume within the parks. This is a hard and fast rule (with no exceptions even for those with disabilities or special needs). You will be removed from the parks if you are wearing one.
Toys That Look Like Weapons: Anything that even remotely resembles a weapon will be removed from your person at security. That includes lightsaber toys.
Do you have anything to add (or subtract) from my Walt Disney World essentials? Be sure to visit Amazon to buy everything you'll need for you trip and become a Prime member so you can get free two day shipping!