A family vacation to Walt Disney World comes with a lot of decisions. And if this is your one and only Disney Family vacation this can be stressful.
Should you check your luggage or should you carry on? Will you arrive too early to bring stuff to your room? Is driving a better choice than flying? How can you maximize your first day in the parks without spending an hour at the resort desk for check-in. What if you’re only staying for 4 days, how can you make the most of it?
We’ve got answers to all these questions, but lets tackle the one you can control in this moment.
What should you have in your day bag?
Believe us, there are things you will be ok lugging around the parks for a long 12 hour day and things you will have wished you left in your suitcase.
This is our quick and dirty MUST-HAVE disney vacation day bag list.
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▢ Vacation Bag: We love a good crossbody bag, but sometimes its hard to find the right kind. Melanie and I both bought this one in different designs, because it is a perfect size for a water bottle, has plenty of pockets (which means our cameras, phone and money are safe), and it is 100% washable. If you have camera gear this backpack is small enough to fit under a plane seat and lightweight enough to bring on rides. If you’re not toting the stroller around, you can arm each of the children with a lightweight drawstring bag . Just beware ones that have thin straps that will dig into little shoulders.
▢ Water Bottle: An empty water bottle can filled just about everywhere in the parks. In the hot Florida sun it’s important to stay hydrated. Take it from us, grumpiness will ensue if you’re not drinking enough. You can also always ask for a free complimentary water at any quick serve restaurant, but why when you can have one of these ?
▢ Sunscreen: While your large bottle of sunscreen is probably packed in your suitcase you can have a smaller sunscreen in your vacation bag for the first day in the parks. Per TSA you’re allowed cream or oil or spray up to 3.4oz. Be sure to buy a sample size for this first day. After that first day with the travel size we upgrade ourselves to the spray can of 100 SPF sunscreen that we tote about to the parks every day. It’s totally necessary and we recommend you do the same with the goal of reapplying at least twice throughout the day. We like banana boat sport 100spf and sun bum 70spf.
▢ Poncho: If you’re travelling in the shoulder seasons chances are you’ll catch some rain. While you should definitely check the weather before travelling to Orlando, be prepared to stash a small poncho in your bag just in case. If you’re not willing to spring for the 10 dollar poncho at the Disney gift shop, you can pay a little less for a Coleman poncho ahead of time, and they have kids sizes too.
▢ Lip Balm: You will be surprise how quickly your lips will dry out in the heat. Be sure to bring one in a squeeze tube, because if it’s hot enough the standard lip balm stick will melt.
▢ Phone: Chances are this will be attached to your hand, but do be sure to keep it safe in a pocket in your crossbody bag. Walt Disney World collects about 8000 lost phones a year.
▢ Camera: If you’ve purchased Disney Photopass and Memory Maker you won’t need to worry about seeing your vacation through the lens. But you will need to worry about finding the Disney photographers whenever you’re ready for those family photos. If you want something slightly more handheld, but really really high quality, try the FujiFilm XT-10 mirrorless camera. Easy to use and pretty good on the auto setting, you can grow with this camera as your photography skills improve.
▢ Wallet/ ID: While this is a given, here are some tips. If you carry cash make it a small amount ( like 20 bucks). Some snack carts do have credit card breakdowns, so cash is a good idea for those snack emergencies. Use one credit card for all your Disney expenses, if you attach it to your Magic Band you can set amount alerts for when you reach a spending limit with your concierge. Leave the checkbook, other credit cards, business cards, and anything else in your luggage. This not only keeps your bag light and easy to carry, but means you have some backup credit cards and your banking info safe in case something gets lost or stolen.
▢ Phone Charger: And while this is also a given you’d be surprised how many times we forget this! Be sure to make sure to have one in your day bag, there are charging stations at the Tangled bathrooms at Magic Kingdom and France at Epcot as well as other park locations.
Other Walt Disney World Tips You Should Know for your First Day
Shoes: I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to have the right shoes at Disney. We walk between 10-13 miles a day when we stay at a park all day. Yes, miles. You’ll begin to notice where your shoes rub your toes, where they rub your ankles, where they wear completely down to the concrete beneath your feet. Not pretty. If you question this, just check Pinterest for all the pins on ” How to take care of your feet at Disney” or this post from Disney Style. We like Converse high tops, or converse shorelines. High tops, or a shoe that covers the whole ankle, won’t dig in and will completely support your feet for the day, plus also allow you to wear socks. Converse also have a nice thick sole, but not as thick and heavy as Vans. Shorelines have an elastic back that can be tucked under your heel to wear as a mule, so slightly more vacation friendly. Flip flops are fine as a back up shoe to keep in your bag, but will cause issues if you walk in them all day. I live in flipflops so this was a heartbreaking discovery for me.
Vitamin C: The day before your trip and all during your trip you should be filling up with Vitamin C for two reasons ( we like Emergencee and and any gummies). 1-Vitamin C will prep your skin for the large doses of sunshine found in Florida and prevent you from burning. 2- Vitamin C will boost your immunity so you can survive that plane and car air, that new resort room, and the crowded dining halls.