I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times, so I'm a bit of an expert now.
When I pack for a trip, I always bring rain gear, comfortable shoes, and my Minnie Mouse ears.
But I don't think you'll need to make room in your suitcase for extra snacks or pool towels.
After going to Disney World over 40 times, I've become quite the packing professional.
As a travel planner at Marvelous Mouse Travels, specializing in Disney destinations, I'm often asked about the most important items to pack for a trip to the parks.
Read on for the essentials I always bring, and the things you can leave at home.
It will rain, so you'll be happier if you bring a sturdy poncho
If you've spent any time in the Orlando area, you know it will most likely rain during your Disney trip.
But don't let that stop your fun. Throw on a poncho and hit the parks.
You can also wear a poncho if you don't want to get wet on rides like Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids.
You're going to want a small but roomy bag for the parks
I've tried out every kind of bag you can imagine when visiting the parks. My biggest advice is to bring something small that fits your main essentials.
My husband's favorite is a cross-body bag, and I love a small backpack, purse, or fanny pack.
You want something that's easy to take on and off quickly, small enough to take on rides, and roomy enough that you're not cramming your phone and necessities in.
Travel-sized sunscreen and hand sanitizer are easier to carry around the parks
When you head to the parks, you want to travel light. I raid the travel section of my local store before every trip to make sure I have the basics: sunscreen, hand sanitizer, aloe-vera gel, sanitizing wipes, mini first-aid kit, pain relievers, and tissues.
I use all of these items every trip, but the regular-sized versions are too big and heavy to lug around the parks.
Disney gear and Minnie ears are nonnegotiable items
It's not a Disney trip without the quintessential Mickey or Minnie ears.
At this point, I have plenty to choose from based on different seasons, holidays, and moods. My favorites are the rose-gold Minnie ears, but I've been eyeing the Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World ones for a while.
I also pack one of my many Disney T-shirts for every day at the parks. We always get one special matching family shirt for each trip, as well.
I make sure to have my Disney jewelry, including my Pandora bracelet and Mickey earrings, packed safely away, too.
You'll need to use your phone a lot at Disney World, so portable chargers are lifesavers
So much of my planning throughout the day requires the use of the My Disney Experience App and the mobile Disney Genie services. By mid-morning, I often realize my battery is almost depleted.
A heavy-duty but compact battery pack is a must, especially for those who like to open and close down the parks.
You don't want to miss getting that next lightning-lane reservation or perfect photo opportunity.
I can't do a park day without super comfortable and waterproof shoes
Going to Disney involves a ton of walking — many days I log over 10 miles. Also, because of frequent rain and water rides, my shoes can often get wet.
I bring comfortable, fast-drying shoes to ensure my experience isn't ruined by blisters or sore feet.
My husband always wears his Keen sandals, and I switch between my Sanuks and Tevas.
I always pack stamps so we can send postcards from Magic Kingdom
My family has made it a tradition to send a letter or postcard to someone back home from inside the parks.
You can always bring souvenir postcards to the front desk of your resort. But it's more fun to put it in one of the four mailboxes on Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom.
Disney gift cards make it easy to budget in the parks
You can pay for almost everything at Disney World with Disney gift cards, including dining, merchandise, and resort charges.
Many external retailers offer small discounts when you purchase them, so this is a great way to save a little money on your vacation.
To curb excess spending, we give each of our kids a gift card at the beginning of the trip for souvenirs.
On the other hand, I never pack dress clothes for a Disney vacation
Outside of Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian Resort, none of the Disney dining locations expect more than casual dress.
I love this aspect of Disney World because it means there are wonderful dining options with upscale food that are still family-friendly.
My husband and I usually throw one nicer casual outfit in our suitcase if we decide we want to get a little fancy. But, generally, our dress clothes get left in the closet at home.
You don't need to bring your own pool towels or life jackets if you're staying on the property
My clients often ask me if they need to bring life jackets or towels for their children to enjoy the hotel pools.
Luckily, all the Disney resorts provide these items, so you can save the space in your suitcase and leave them at home.
It's tempting to pack all your own snacks, but it's easier to stock up when you arrive
It's nice to have a few quick snacks on hand in the hotel room or in your park bag, but don't waste space in your suitcase. You can have groceries delivered to your Disney resort.
Most national delivery services are available, or Garden Grocer is a local option. These deliveries can be picked up in the lobby from bell services or luggage assistance at no charge.
But if you want them delivered straight to your room, you'll be charged a $6 fee.
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