In four days, my family and I head to Walt Disney World! This is our first trip there as a family and to say we’re beyond excited is the understatement of all time.
Right now, it’s time to think about packing for the trip. Yeah, this isn’t necessarily the fun part but it’s a BIG deal. So big, in fact, that no one Dad can help with good ideas and that’s why you get TWO Disney Dads in today’s story!
For this post, I’m teaming up with my fellow Disney Parents’ Panel member, Chad from The Diary of a Disney Dad.
We are here to share our tricks and tips for packing for your family’s trip to Walt Disney World, especially when toddlers and young kids are involved.
You’ll get two trains of thought today. My family is going to fly to Disney World and Chad drives there with his family.
I’m flying with my wife, our 5-year-old, 3-year-old and our baby.
Chad: We have an 8, 5, and 2 years old sons, and we have been driving to Disney 2 or 3 times a year since my middle child was 2 years old.
For those of you flying, like my family is, you have to keep in mind the cost of checked and carry-on baggage with your airline. Do the research. Can you fit everything in the carry-ons? Do you need a size that has to get checked?
You never know what weather you’ll get in November. 84 and swimming during the day while it drops to 55 at night and you need hoodies and hats. Of course, there’s the constant fear of rain, too. That’s a lot to pack for.
For our November DADventure, we’re doing a backpack for everyone, our double stroller and a carry-on suitcase and one large checked bag. I just couldn’t see myself trying to get down the aisle of the plane with me, my wife, three little kids, 4 backpacks and 2 suitcases.
Chad: Space is essential for us in our van, as we still take 2 strollers. Our oldest has Cerebral Palsy, so we have a special needs wheelchair/stroller for him, then a double stroller for the younger two. Yes, we still make our 5-year-old ride in the stroller, as it helps in keeping him from getting overtired.
We have a large Duffle Bag that we pack the boy’s entire trips worth of clothing in it. The clothes are still small enough we can be more compact with packing them all in one bag. The reason for that is, you still have to bring other items in other bags.
Pool Bag – all swimwear, swim diapers, sunscreen, sandals, swim gear. No need to bring towels as Disney resort pools have complimentary towels you can use.
Diaper bag (really suitcase) – Need diapers, wipes, and night time pull-ups for most toddlers and youngsters. We also pack all the pajamas in our diaper bag.
Disney helps a lot when it comes to the baggage, especially if you take Mickey’s Magical Express from the airport. They mail you luggage stickers for your checked bags a few weeks before you leave. They also mail you collectible luggage tags, with your Magic Bands, to put on everything else too.
When you drop off your bags with the baggage crew at your airport, it will be loaded on to your plane, taken off your plane in Orlando by the Disney folks (you don’t have to wait at baggage claim) and transported to your hotel. Later on in the day it will be waiting for you at your resort!
Speaking of the airport, part of the flying will be long-term parking and waiting in the airport. Add a few hours on either side of your departure and return. Part of our load in the carry-on backpacks are some snacks and activities to occupy the kids during all the “hurry up and wait” moments of the trip.
Chad: We have a 10.5 hour drive, 12 with stops to plan for. Anyone with toddlers knows that driving 12 hours with young ones is going to get difficult. We let each boy pack a backpack with their favorite toys, books, and stuffed animals to help with the ride. We also have found some awesome surprise car ride packs we have made from Pinterest. We are lucky enough that our van has a DVD player, so we bring all the Disney movies to watch to prep for the week! Lastly, and this may be most important is SNACKS!!!! My boys will be the happiest if they can snack the whole ride.
Don’t forget about the trip home, either – be sure to leave room for souvenirs. Be sure to keep the space you have left in your luggage in mind when shopping – you can’t bring home a new droid you built at Droid Depot if you don’t have room in your suitcase to do so!
Our carry-on will also have outfits for the day we arrive. We land in Orlando at 8am. The room won’t be ready till 3:00pm (ish). SO, we have a lot of time to fill in the parks. We need to be sure to have diapers, wipes, Magic Bands and everything else we’ll need for that first day in the park. Can’t put that stuff in the checked baggage.
A tip that I hear a lot is to Amazon Prime yourself things you don’t want to waste space packing. You can send yourself snacks, diapers and more to have waiting for you at your resort.
Here is Keith and Chad’s List of things you CANNOT forget to pack.
If flying, have in your carry-on cause you CANNOT lose these things.
Your phone (use this for photos and the My Disney Experience App in the parks. A back up charger (don’t want to miss afternoon photos, do you?). Change of clothes/diapers. Sunscreen (sunburn can ruin a vacation quickly!). Wallet with money/credit cards. Your kids’ favorite animal or blanket. If you get to the room for a rest or in the evening and your luggage isn’t there yet, or you FORGOT them – it’s going to be a VERY VERY long night and week.
Once you’re in the parks, what do you pack to bring with you to the park each day? Great question! Our Disney Parents’ Panel answered that very question in yesterday’s Top 10 Tuesday post.
What are your tips for packing with the kids? What item do you NEVER go to Walt Disney World without? Hit the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going!
Thanks to Chad for his help on this story and to YOU for reading.
See you at Disney!