The Disney Parks are one of the top vacation destinations in the United States, bringing in millions of visitors every year. When you hear how much there is to do and see around the property, it’s easy to see why. After all, Walt Disney World alone has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 2 mini-golf parks, 1 massive shopping center (Disney Springs), dozens of restaurants, and over 30 resorts! In fact, I spent over 9 months at Walt Disney World and I still never got to see and do everything. Once you add in Disneyland (California) and the other Disney Parks around the world, the list gets even bigger.
Which leads us to this question: how do you pack the perfect bag for the Disney parks, when you never know what you may see or do?
It took a few weeks, but after some trial and error, I have figured out how to pack a parks bag that has all the necessities I need every time:
How to Choose the Perfect Disney Parks Bag
When choosing the perfect Disney Parks bag, I recommend choosing a small-to-medium-sized backpack (to prevent over-packing). A backpack will also evenly distribute the weight of the items across your back, rather than a purse that will pull on your shoulder or side throughout the day.
Additionally, due to the number and size of the items I recommend taking to the parks, a simple fanny pack or small side purse isn’t enough.
Backpack Features to Look For:
Thick, Adjustable Straps
While walking around the Disney Parks, I loved having a backpack with thick, adjustable straps. I didn’t have to worry about the straps digging into my shoulder from the weight of the backpack. Plus, since they were adjustable, I could change where the backpack was along the day, which helped relieve some of the stress on my back.
Small Front Pouch
A small front pouch of a backpack is perfect for storing small, but commonly used items (such as hand sanitizer, a portable charger, etc.). Storing items in this smaller pouch means that you don’t have to dig through the larger pouch constantly throughout the day, especially since these items usually fall to the bottom.
This is a harder feature to find in a backpack, but a back pouch is a great feature for the perfect Disney parks bag. Why? It separates your autograph book from the rest of your stuff, making it easy to retrieve and put away! It can also give the backpack a bit more structure, as the flat side of the autograph book will be against your back, preventing anything from moving around within the bag and poking you in the back.
Small Side Pockets
Side pockets are a great feature in a Disney parks bag. If they’re big enough, use one for a water bottle and the other for an umbrella. If they’re too small, no worries! You can still use them for some of your park items, such as a marker for character autographs.
In addition to the straps, I also recommend getting a backpack with a small handle on the top. It not only gives you an extra method to carry your backpack throughout the day, but it also gives you a place to put your carabiner clip (which I’ll describe the purpose of below).
A water resistant backpack is a must-have on any vacation, but especially for Walt Disney World in Florida due to the frequent rain. Even if the forecast calls for clear skys during your vacation, there several water rides throughout the parks. Therefore, it’s best to select a water-resistant backpack if you don’t want your stuff to get wet.
Backpack Features to Avoid:
Pull string backpacks are not something you want for your vacation to the Disney Parks. The thin straps (usually ropes) will easily dig into your shoulders due to the weight of the backpack, which isn’t comfortable for a long day at the parks.
A shapeless bag (such as a pull-string bag or a bucket bag) will make finding your stuff so much harder, as things will easily become unorganized and fall to the bottom of the bag. Even worse, the lack of structure and support will make it hard to carry throughout the day.
No Extra Zippers or Pouches
Although extra zippers and pouches make going through security a little harder (I certainly don’t recommend going overboard with them), they are so much help throughout the day as they make organizing (and therefore finding) your stuff so much easier.
What to Pack in the Perfect Disney Parks Bag:
Now that we’ve covered how to choose the perfect Disney Parks bag, it’s time to discuss the different essentials you’ll want to pack:
Reusable, Filtered Water Bottle
There are 3 reasons why you should purchase a reusable, filtered water bottle for the Disney Parks:
- Saving the Planet: It’s not new news that we’re using way too much plastic nowadays. Even more, plastic takes a long time to naturally break down, which affects the wildlife both on land and in our oceans. So take one for the team and use a reusable water bottle at the parks (and at home!).
- Water is Free: Although you have to pay for a bottle of water at any concession stands, you can get a free cup of water at any quick service or sit down restaurant across Disney property. Additionally, there are plenty of water fountains around making it easy to fill up your water bottle whenever you need to.
- Florida Water: If you’re visiting Wat Disney World in Florida, then you’ll probably taste a big difference in the water. Why? Because Florida’s water naturally has more sulfur in it, which can taste quite unusual to those who are unaccustomed to it. This is why I would either take a filtered water bottle or water-flavoring packets to the parks.
- No Lids: In an effort to get rid of more plastic, the Disney Parks no longer give out lids on their restaurant to-go cups (except for kids drinks). So if you’re planning on walking around the parks or going on rides after getting a cup of water/soda, you’ll want to pour it into a reusable bottle.
Did you know that the Disney Parks got rid of plastic straws in 2019? They now give out paper straws instead. For those of you who dislike the texture of paper straws or the taste they can give your drink as they start to disintegrate, bring some reusable straws to the parks.
Between taking photos and booking your next FastPass, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your phone while at the parks, which can quickly drain your battery. This means that another Disney Parks essential is a portable charger.
While you could order one online, I recommend buying a FuelRod (which costs $30) from one of the kiosks at the parks, Disney Springs, or a Disney resort.
- Why Buy a FuelRod:
- Unlimited “Swaps”
- i.e. Every time the FuelRod runs out of battery, you can just swap it for a new, fully-charged one (with no extra charge!).
- Includes cords for several different phone types
- This is great if you’re traveling with family members that have several different phone types. Plus, everything comes in a small, convenient case!
- Take it to other vacation destinations.
- There are FuelRod exchange kiosks all over the world, which means you can not only use it at Disney or re-charge and use it at home, but you can also exchange it for a new FuelRod at other locations!
- Unlimited “Swaps”
Whether there’s bad weather in the forecast or you just don’t want to get wet on a ride, another essential for your Disney Parks vacation is an umbrella or poncho.
An umbrella is great if you’re wanting long-term use out of it. It can help keep you and your stuff dry as you walk around the parks and is easy to pull out and put away.
Additionally, I recommend getting an umbrella with a small pouch, as the pouch will protect the rest of your stuff from getting wet after you put your umbrella away.
A poncho helps protect your entire body from getting wet, especially if it’s windy out or if you’re going on a water ride. However, a poncho is often hard to fold away and is also hard to dry, which can leave it smelly and gross. I recommend purchasing a reusable poncho for the duration of your visit to the Disney Parks, as rain can be rather sporadic throughout the day.
Walking around the parks and tired of wearing your Minnie ears? Loop part of the bow through the carabiner clip and clip them to the top handle of your backpack!
The carabiner clip makes it easy to access your ears when you’re ready to wear them again and helps ensure that they don’t become squashed in your backpack. This trick is also great if you’re going on a ride and don’t want to risk leaving them behind or having them fall out of the ride.
Snacks & Spare Plastic Bags
Small snacks help curb hunger throughout the day so you’re not constantly running to a snack stand. Instead, you can use the money saved towards souvenirs, a meal, or dessert!
Plastic bags not only help save those snack items (to be finished later), but they also help save any unfinished snacks purchased throughout the day, such as cookies or candy apples.
You can also use a plastic bag to help protect your phone on any water rides or if you’re walking in the rain.
Trading pins with other Guests and Cast Members is a Disney Parks tradition and is so much fun to take part in! I recommend taking about 5-7 pins in the park every day, but only the ones you’re interested in trading (so you don’t worry about losing any of the ones you’re keeping).
Keep them in a small pouch at the front of your backpack to make trading them easier!
You can also attach them to the outside of your backpack to display them throughout the day!
Some of my favorite character interactions have come from my autograph book. However, it was no ordinary autograph book, it was a Disney Golden Book, featuring many of the Disney characters that meet throughout the parks. It makes an awesome talking point for character meet-and-greets, as well as a souvenir that can be used once back home.
Along with your autograph book, make sure that you also have a clickable marker that the characters can autograph with! Clickable markers are easier for both you and the characters, as they don’t have to worry about the cap falling and getting lost!
Sunglasses & Hand Sanitizer
Sunglasses are an everyday essential, both at home and at the Disney Parks. After all, you’ll probably be spending hours walking around outside.
I recommend keeping sunglasses in either one of the side pouches (if the pouches are too small for a water bottle/umbrella) or in the front pocket of your backpack, for easy access.
Hand santitizer is great to carry with you and use before meals. After all, the last place you want to get sick is on vacation!
Final Thoughts on How to Choose and What to Include in the Perfect Disney Parks Backpack
A day at the Disney Parks can easily be one of the best, most memorable days of your year (and even life!). By packing these essentials, you’re sure to have everything you need for a great day at the Disney Parks.