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Congrats on planning a Disney trip! Now, do you really need another Disney packing list with "t-shirt, walking shoes, band-aids" on it? No! (And you can get band-aids at first aid if you forget them.)
Rather than a full packing list, we want to get to the meat of the issue. This list is 10 things you (but really "we") always forget to pack for a Disney trip. These are ten items that, if you don't have them, you should go ahead and order them, because they're going to help make your trip even better.
One last thing before we start. Once you're within 30 days of the end of your trip, go ahead and grab a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime. Use it to save on shipping these items AND take the chance to see if their library of movies, e-books, and music can keep the kids entertained during downtime on the trip.
We're past the era of the fanny pack. Get onboard with the new, sleek alternative: the Flip Belt. For runners, the flip belt is a necessity. But as travelers, both of Disney and the world, we've found our Flip Belt invaluable. It keeps your most important items close to you without the bulk and awkwardness of the fanny pack.
Also consider: A drawstring backpack. Don't overthink it. As long as you're responsible and don't leave it at the restaurant with your wallet and passports, like we did in Shanghai, a durable drawstring bag is a great place to keep your things.
Magic Bands do not have GPS. Disney does not have a magic wand to wave and find your child if she gets lost. Luckily, if your child is found, a Magic Band has enough information for Disney to match them to you.
That said, Magic Bands easily come off. Even if it stays on, the information it linked to might not be 100% accurate. If grandma booked the trip, Disney might think to call (or worse, email) her about the lost child. Save yourself this hassle. Get your child an ID bracelet so you can immediately be contacted directly if your little one gets lost. There are cheaper, disposable versions as well.
Also consider: Unfortunately, GPS trackers still aren't super small, but we get why some parents might consider them.
Somehow, we forget to pack our portable cell phone charger every single time. Honestly, if your phone isn't dying at Walt Disney World, you aren't tapping and grabbing enough. Grabbing Fastpass+ reservations destroys phone batteries. You'll need to be charging.
Another item we always regret leaving at home. The waterproof cell phone pouch is good for making sure you phone stays dry on wet rides, but it's also great for keeping your phone near you and grabbing some pictures while you swim in your hotel pool. Always test your pouch at home (with something other than your phone), but you can trust these to work. We've swum miles (literally) with our phones in these pouches.
Also consider: Waterproof cell phone case. This is a more durable option, but the lightning cable port makes us a bit nervous (the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, though). Also worth considering, but more for beaches and adventuring than pools, is a dry bag.
No annual fee. 10% off select dining and merchandise (most merchandise at the parks). $200 statement credit for spending $500 (offer checked 4/27/2018). And somehow, we actually have forgotten this card a few times (we do have a lot of cards, to be fair). You don't need to use this card for anything other than the great perks, but it's definitely worth a spot in your wallet for those.
If you're ready to get the card, consider using our referral link here, which as of April 27, 2018 gives you a better bonus ($200 for spending $500 vs. $50 for one purchase) than the public offer.
A Mobile Entertainment System
It's really easy to make the mistake of just throwing your iPad or Amazon Kindle Fire into your bag at the last minute, figuring it will keep you entertained. But the truth is, once your flight is delayed, or your destination is hit with a day of pouring rain, you're going to notice the things you forgot. Plus, many airlines are cutting entertainment systems to save on costs.
Here's how to build your mobile entertainment system:
- iPad or Amazon Kindle Fire. The Amazon Kindle Fire is a great way to give the kids their own cheap tablet (they start at $49.99).
- A low-cost lightning cable and wall charger. Usually we try not to waste our portable charger on our iPad, saving it instead for our phones.
- Headphones. We're not headphone snobs, we stick to our Apple earbuds and try to keep an extra pair floating around as a backup.
- Headphone Splitter. The most underrated item we travel with. The splitter lets us watch on the same device (usually our one iPad), keeping our other devices free to use.
And finally, the most important part of the mobile entertainment system...CONTENT! The worst thing is popping into airplane mode and finding out you don't have any content saved! Avoid that with...
- Amazon Prime and Netflix both allow you to download some content for offline viewing.
- Amazon has a large library of Disney movies for purchase/rental. iTunes has an extensive Disney library as well, including classics like Toy Story and Mulan, as well as more recent hits like Wall-E and The Princess and the Frog. Mouse Hacking Tip: Purchase or rent the standard definition version to save some money.
And remember, you can go ahead and grab a free, 30-day trial of Amazon Prime 30 days before the end of your trip. That way you'll get free shipping and the ability to test out Amazon's content library during your trip! Amazon loves free trials, which also means
Okay, maybe you don't forget this every time. Maybe you just plan to buy it at the park. That's fine, but know that by planning ahead you can save money or choose from a wider variety of designs. You'll find stylish autograph books, princess autograph books, and traditional Disney autograph books. Be sure to get a fat pen for characters with bigger hands.
Also consider: Take it a step further and get a customized autograph book through Etsy.
Who packs books anymore?? Yes, you've got your phone. But it isn't a perfect substitute for paper products. For example, I bet you still use the park map every so often. Guidebooks are a great way to keep from being buried in your phone (and to avoid your battery dying). Pass the guidebook around at lunch to pick a dinner spot, or just to give everyone a chance to learn a little something about the park.
Also consider: We like guidebooks since they'll contain practical information, but we've also got a list of Disney and travel books we're reading this year.
You maybe don't want to carry around your waterproof pouch just for the occasional ride on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids. And either way, when you're on those rides, you're going to need to keep other things dry (cash, credit cards, ID). Grab some sandwich size ziploc bags so the whole family has one to toss their things into before hopping on the ride.
Disney parks are probably more of a resort destination for germs than for humans. Germs from kindergarten classrooms all over the world gather together and swap stories before hopping on some unsuspecting visitor and heading home with them. Yea, that's a gross visual. Get yourself some travel size hand sanitizer.
Also consider: Wet Ones. Good alternative because they'll also come in handy wiping down the occasional dirty table at Pecos Bill's.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.