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What to Pack for a Disney Trip

You’ve booked the magical trip. You’ve planned all the things. Now….what to pack for a Disney Trip?

In this blog we’re covering all of our must have items and how to efficiently plan what to pack for your Disney Trip.  We’ll be discussing:

  1. How to create a packing plan 
  2. Our foolproof way to plan your outfits
  3. What to pack for a theme park day
  4. When to start packing and how to stay on track
Disney World | Disneyland | Disney Trip | Disney Packing | Disney Trip Packing | Packing Tips | How to Pack | Packing Disney | Disney Packing Needs | Disney Planning

Some of the links in this Blog are Affiliate Links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I may receive an Affiliate Commission at no extra cost to you.  This is my way to bring awesome partners to you!  All opinions remain my own.

How to Create a Packing Plan

If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile now you know we start all of our planning with intentions, it’s the foundational tool for our entire process and packing is no different. For more on Setting Intentions read Blog #3.

With any good plan we need a grounding point to start. Before I start any packing plans I start with planning creating a plan for my trip by day that aligns with our intentions.  We go into how to start planning a Disney Trip in depth in Blog # 16, but we’ll cover a few key points here in this blog to get started packing.

Before starting your packing plan you’ll want to determine these X key trip details:

  1. Set Intentions – An Intention is a thing intended; an aim or a plan. It’s quite simply, a thing you want to achieve on your Disney trip.  These intentions will shape the what you do on your trip, for example, what parks you visit and when.
  1. List Your Must Do’s – we all have non-negotiable things we want to do on our trip, this will be important to understand so you can start building a schedule that aligns with your intentions.  If Cheeseburger Eggrolls are a must do snack, then you’ll need to make sure you plan a day in Magic Kingdom for example.  
  1. Align Your Schedule – Once you know what you want to accomplish on your trip you can then start determining your daily schedule.  Once your schedule is aligned and set, you can start planning out what you’ll need each day.

Our foolproof way to plan your outfits

Once you have a plan in place you can start planning out what you’ll need for your trip.

Since plans can be fluid and change I like looking at my outfits and packing needs from a bird’s eye perspective.  This allows me to see my schedule and my outfits all in one place so I can efficiently plan both.

Enter our Calendar Template.

A planning tool like no other, this spreadsheet was created while planning our own trips and fine tuned over several Disney trip planning experiences over 5 years.

It’s the go-to tool I use to help clients plan out their trips too.

The Calendar Template features 3 tabs to streamline your schedules, outfits and packing needs.

Exclusive for booking and 1:1 planning clients, this tool gives you a snapshot of your entire trip.

If you’re like me and you match your outfit (and ears) to your park or activities, this allows you to do just that!  Learn more about 1:1 planning with a free discovery Call From Beyond.

Checkout the below video for a more indepth look at the Calendar Template and how I use it to plan our trips and client trips.  

What to Pack for a Disney Trip: theme park day

Beyond all the outfit and ear planning, I also pack some key things for our Theme Park days.

I did a full blog detailing my Disney World Theme Park Must Haves that includes Theme Park Gear and Hot Weather Essentials.  You can also click here for my Amazon shopping list that includes many of the items featured in the blog.

Not only are the contents important, but also the type of bag.

With so much walking happening while in Disney it’s important to use a bag that is supportive for several hours of wear, my go to is a backpack or crossbody bag.

Some key things to consider when choosing your park bag:

  1. Type of bag – be sure it provides even support for long term wear, we recommend backpacks, crossbody bags or fanny packs if you don’t have a lot to bring.
  2. Outer Pockets – this is key!  Staying hydrated is so important and we always bring refillable bottles so it’s a must for our bags to have outer pockets to hold them.  If they don’t, check out this awesome water bottle bag from Mickey and Mandy here.
  3. Interior Pockets – while not a necessity, this definitely helps with organizing your bag, especially with younger kids.  Keeping things separated, organized and within reach for a quick spill or diaper change is a must.  I love using bags with multiple pockets or sections for easy use and simplicity.
  4. Material – you’ll want to be sure to choose a waterproof fabric, especially in Disney World.  It’s very common for afternoon thunderstorms to come raging without a moment’s notice so you’ll want to be sure your bag keeps your items inside dry.
  5. Accessories – a bag with zippers, clips and handles provides a lot of options for clipping things onto your bag and keeps your hands free.  I love using Mommy Hook, either on a backpack or stroller, to clip souvenir purchases, water bottles or cooling towels to.

When to start packing and how to stay on track

When to start packing always creates a lot of conversation in our planning community

Happy Haunts Plan Disney.  It’s definitely a personal and personality fueled decision.

As a planner nerd, I am planning months out and I typically start planning 2-3 months in advance of my trip – I know you think I’m nuts HA!

Since most of our “Disney Gear” is just that, I can start packing or at least setting things aside far in advance because we won’t be using it otherwise.  We were going so often from 2017-2019 that I actually left our park bags packed for ease.

Some time frames to consider for when to start packing are:

  1. 6 Months – this is a great time to be setting up your packing plans.  Start setting ideas in motion so you know if you need to make any purchases to fulfill your park needs, outfit ideas or budget for them.
  2. 2-3 Months – while you may not physically be packing this far in advance like me, this is a great time frame to be finalizing your packing plans.  At this point, you should at least know what you want to bring and be making purchases as necessary.  Many small shops have turn around times of 4-6 weeks so being sure you place those orders early is important.  Worst case though, order that item and send it to your Disney Resort!
  3. One Month – this is when most people will start the actual process of planning based on polls I’ve taken both in the Planning Community and on Instagram.  This is when you’ll want to start setting your items aside or even starting to fill your suitcase.
  4. One Week – this is when the main packing happens, when you take those piles you’ve organized and get your bag filled and ready to go.  Sometimes this is when I may make a few last minute updates or changes, but for the most part my bag is getting packed up and ready for our departure.
  5. One Day – the last minute packing is what makes me most anxious.  I am always certain I’ll forget something, and typically I do, but luckily there’s usually several options to grab anything I might need during my travels or while in Disney.  Those last minute items like deodorant, medication or toothbrushes are always detailed on my packing grid awaiting to be crossed off before final departure.  The packing grid is the 3rd tab in the Calendar Template and has saved my countless anxiety attacks for forgetting something.

When it comes to repacking for our return trip, it’s a bit more haphazard because we often need things up until the day or morning before we depart.  One thing I always do is leave a suitcase accessible to add out dirty clothes as we’re done with them.  This ensures I am repacking our things every day, saving time and reducing stress for the end of our trip.

Another thing I absolutely love doing is bringing old or almost empty toiletries on our trip so we can just throw them away vs repack them.  Some of the items I often do this with are PJs, socks, undergarments, toothpaste and brushes, face wash, lotions and other toiletries that are used regularly.

For more on setting intentions read Blog #3: Setting Intentions

If you missed the previous blogs in this series, tap How to Plan Series to get started!

Still deciding when to go?  Grab the free When to Go to Disney World Guide which takes you through 3 Simple Steps to choose your best time to go.

You can also get a free Travel Quote from me!

“Never judge things by their appearance, event carpet bags” – Mary Poppins


Greetings Foolish Mortals!

I’m Melissa, a self professed Disnerd and Ultimate Planner!   After taking my family on their first trip in October 2016, I found a passion for helping friends and family plan their trips.

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