Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Disney with Kids - What to bring

Now that you've decided when you're going to Disney and where you're going to be staying, what should you bring with you from home (besides clothes, of course)? How much is too much?

Well, most of that will be determined by how you're getting to Disney. Are you driving (more space for stuff) or flying (less space for stuff)? Also, consider the age of your children. Will you need to pack a diaper bag, baby food, etc? Have you thought about each child carrying a fanny pack or small backpack? We let both children choose what kind of bag they wanted to carry. We felt like they should help carry their own stuff in the parks.

You can see all of our bags in this pic from 2009. The Princess and I carried purses that crossed our bodies, Mr. Lego loved his fanny pack, and Charles used a shoulder bag with a long strap he could adjust and wear across his body.

 Here's what each child carried:

Small flashlight - for dark rides that might scare them. Even though our kids didn't use them, they felt like they could if they needed to which greatly reduced their fear of dark rides. We found some on a string they could hang around their necks so they were accessible at all times.

Ear plugs - some rides are really, really loud. If your child is easily freaked out by a lot of noise, these are invaluable! We learned this the hard way. Definitely came in handy during the fireworks.

The Princess waiting in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (2007)

Rain poncho - we always buy ours in the camping section at Walmart or Target during the off season. Very, very cheap compared to what you'll have to pay in the parks if you're caught in a sudden rain shower. And it's Florida, so it's going to rain at some point during your stay.

The kids and I in the rose garden at Epcot during a little rain. Wearing a ball cap under the hood kept the rain off our faces/glasses.
 Small fan - this is invaluable when you're standing in a long line, even indoors where it might air-conditioned. Get dozens of people pressed together and it's going to get warm! In the above picture with our bags, you can see a portable fan around Mr. Lego's neck. We found those at Walmart years ago. And the Princess has a folding fan attached to her bag strap. I think she bought it in the Chinese pavilion at Epcot. And how did we attach it? Small carabiner clips!

Of course, Charles and I carried a bit more in our bags in addition to all of the above. We each had a bottle of water because although you can get a cup of free water at any counter service restaurant, Florida water has a funny taste. So we just took our own. Also, we took a camp towel that could easily fold up and was super absorbent. You'd be surprised how many rides you get on that have water in the seats. Even Pirates of the Caribbean can get damp. It's nice to wipe off the seat before we sit our booties down. If you can't find one in the camping section, look for a Sham-Wow or other microfiber cloth.

You are also going to want a small first-aid kit handy. I simply used a snack-size Ziploc bag to hold a few band-aids, some Tylenol and Tums, and antibiotic cream. It's so much easier to have with you than looking around for a first aid station if you have a small cut or scrape. Also, a purse-size bottle of hand sanitizer and wet wipes are a must for sticky little hands. And speaking of Ziploc bags, tuck a few small ones in your bag to hold cameras and cell phones on water rides.

Some extras that I took along in my bag:
A small notebook to jot down memories and funny things the kids said. You'd be surprised how many details you can forget by the end of the day!
A camera and extra batteries.
Snacks like granola bars and fruit roll-ups. Chocolate stuff, not so good.
Gum - gum is not sold anywhere in the parks, per Walt Disney's own preferences. He was trying to save his maintenance staff the trouble of cleaning it up. You can bring your own, but you're out of luck if you wait until you enter the parks.
Autograph books (for characters) and fat Sharpie pens - if your kids wait in line to meet the characters, they might want an autograph. Each character has his or her own distinctive signature. So if you see Aurora in the Magic Kingdom and ask for her autograph, then meet her at Epcot later and get another autograph, the signatures will be identical. Cool, huh? Just one way of keeping the magic alive for the kids. For characters in costume like Chip and Dale, or even Mickey, fat sharpies are easier for them to use than skinny pens. Something a Cast Member told us.

Princess Aurora signs a jewelry box for the Princess during our meal at Akershus in Epcot
 Sunscreen - Charles and I both carried travel-size bottles with us. Even though I applied it liberally before we even left our room, the kids often needed another application later in the day.

We also bought our own light-up necklaces to take. After dark in the parks, vendors are everywhere selling light-up jewelry and toys and asking an arm and leg for them! We made a pre-emptive strike and bought our own like these.
Yes, we had to pay shipping, but even with shipping it was cheaper! And our kids didn't feel like they were missing out because Mom and Dad wouldn't pay $7-10 for the ones Disney was selling. If you really want to save money, just buy glo-necklaces and bracelets at the Dollar Store or Walmart. For a buck, your child can light up the night, too!

Also, take along some pennies and quarters for penny presses. This website publishes current lists of all penny press locations. This was one of our favorite things to do. It's a cheap souvenir, too!

Okay, so you know what to take into the parks with you, but is there anything you need to remember for the resort room? Yes! Take a power strip. You will need to charge your cell phone or laptop or even your camera. And there will not be enough outlets, I can guarantee you that. We actually have a power cord we bought specifically for vacations. We pack it for every trip, not just Disney.  And take your chargers for your electronics, too. For things we use so much, they are the easiest things to forget!

Every resort has laundry facilities for guests. You have to use your room card to access them. But if you're planning to wash a load of laundry or two during your stay, take your own detergent and lots of quarters. Each load of laundry requires $2 to wash and $2 to dry. I took a laundry bag too, so I'd have a way to carry the clothes from the room to the laundry area. Even though it was pricey to wash and dry clothes there, it was nice not having suitcases full of dirty to clothes to wash when we got home.

When you're packing, always bring a second pair of comfortable shoes. If your shoes get wet from rain or water rides, they might not dry out overnight in your room. So keep a spare pair for each person. Nobody likes hiking around an amusement park with soggy feet. And don't wait until the week before you leave for your trip to break the shoes in. Buy them a couple of months in advance and wear them often. You don't want to wear brand new shoes as you walk 7-10 miles every day.

If you're staying in a moderate resort, you will have a mini-fridge in your room. It's so nice to be able to keep grapes and other fruit in it for snacking. We also stopped at a Walmart before we got to Orlando and purchased milk and orange juice to drink the mornings. Value resorts don't provide mini-fridges unless you request them, and it's on a first-come, first-serve basis.

One other packing tip - you will most likely be returning home with more than you took. You're going to find all kinds of souvenirs to take home. Keep that in mind as you're packing all of the above so you have some spare room in your suitcase or vehicle for your newly acquired Disney treasures.

So, are you ready to start packing?

See my other Disney with kids posts:
When to go
Where to stay
How old should they be

And here is my Top 10 Disney Tips post, not necessarily kid-related but helpful.

Linking this post up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

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