Spending the day at any one of the Disney Parks is sure to be a great time but you need to be prepared, like Mommy-Scout prepared. Sure, you could probably buy most of the items I'm about to list at the parks. If you’ve recently stumbled upon a small fortune, say selling backwards bathrobes or cheaply made birds that hatch from plastic eggs, by all means spend your ill gotten gains. But if you have already given your children (or furry children) your life's blood then this list can save you some hard earned money and help you get the most enjoyment from your day.
Snacks/ Drinks: Did you know that you can bring food and beverages into the parks? As long as you follow the following park rules, found here, which basically states no alcohol and that Disney has the right to search your bag. Nothing ends a hangry tantrum quite like a snack hastily whipped out from your bag. Good for kids, mother- in-laws, man-child fits and Mommy meltdowns to name a few. Non-perishable Snacks are best here, fruit snacks, granola bars, goldfish crackers, graham crackers are all good choices.
Water bottle- fill these up at water fountains for FREE throughout the day. If you're feeling fancy dump in a flavor packet such as Kool Aid, Simply Lemonade, etc.
First aid/health items: Disney does offer first aid rooms at all their parks and believe me the folks who work there are fantastic! They have fixed up my sniveling kiddos in a jiffy many a time and I had to restrain myself from kissing them more than once. With that being said, you don't want to have to go on a 5 mile hike every time you need a band aid for a little cut so packing a small first aid kit is a great plan.
Hand sanitizer- for wiping away those germies that sticky little hands leave behind, no one wants to spend their vacation sick. Wet wipes- to clean off some of the grime from your own little monsters sticky little hands.
Sunscreen: This is so important I'm giving it it's own category. Don't leave home without about 10 gallons of the stuff. I don’t care that you want to get a nice vacation tan, do you want miss out on the fun because you are burned to a crisp? I didn’t think so! Wear it, wear it often. Slather those wiggly, squirming kids every chance you get!
Park Items: Magic Bands- these are the wondrous little gadgets that get you into all your dining reservations and FastPass turnstiles. You can also link a credit card to your band to make purchases with just a band swipe. Be sure to still carry a credit card and/or cash for incidentals.
Park maps- If you are a human that has map reading abilities (Not me, I couldn’t navigate my way around my own home) this will be a great help for you. Available from your hotel front desk or at every park entrance.
Autograph book and pen- to get those character signatures is a park must! It's hard to grip little pens with big furry hands so bring a thick retractable Sharpie and help your fave character out!
Electronics: Cell phone- for snapping those adorable pics and tracking down lost adults. Also great for My Disney Experience access to change fastpasses on the go. Otherwise unplug yourself, you're on vacation!!!
Camera- if you don't use your phone for pictures along with an extra memory card and batteries.
Portable cell phone battery charger- nothing is worse than a dead battery.
Ziploc bags- these are technically not an electronic item but they sure will save yours from rain, bag spills, and water rides.
Weather items: Rain poncho- these little babies can be purchased at your local sporting goods store on the cheap and save your precious park time from being rained out.
Sunglasses- you may want to leave the pricey, cool shades at home and opt for a throw down pair in case they get lost. You don’t want to spend your day squinting in the beautiful Florida sun so bring a couple pair and share with your friends.
Jacket or Sweatshirt- if your heading to the world in December, January or February, yes you may need a jacket!
Finally, entertainment for kids or kids at heart: An interactive game app- can make waiting in line go by a lot faster. I like Head's Up.
Coins- these are great to have on hand for the coin press machine. This is a great souvenir that kids just love and it's probably the cheapest one you can get away with, toss a couple quarters and pennies in a mini M&M bottle for easy locating.
Glow sticks, necklaces, or hand held toys that light up- these will save you a ton of money at the nighttime activities where vendors are calling your kids and your wallet over like the Pied piper. You can buy these at a fraction of the cost at home and your kids will love them just the same.
This list will pretty much cover you for all that comes your way. Enjoy yourself knowing that you are a rock star that can put all the other unprepared vacationers to shame. But whatever you do, do not feel the need to bring back the fanny pack for this purpose :)
Adria Wenz is an independent contractor for Fairytale Adventures Travel Agency. She specializes in family travel including Disney World, Cruising and All Inclusives. Follow her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com.