Congratulations – you’re making your first trip to Walt Disney World! It won’t be an inexpensive venture, and it might not be the most relaxing vacation, but it will be fun and magical – if you’ve packed the right items and expectations.
1. Pack your “must‐do” plan. Use My Disney Experience before leaving home to choose FastPasses for the attractions on your list as well as to make dining reservations (at popular Table Service restaurants). Each of the Disney parks is vast and takes longer to work through than you expect – plus, you’ll want to give yourself plenty time to stare in awe at all the beautiful Disney details. Limiting your “must‐do” list is priority #1 to make sure you have time to take it all in. (When it comes to dining reservations, bring a hard copy of the confirmation Disney sent you at time of booking. Sometimes Disney’s reservation system is down, and having that written confirmation can ease your way into the restaurant.)
2. Pack a lightweight rain jacket, preferably one large enough to cover you from head-to-toe. Rain can become part of any visit to Central Florida, and even in summer you may find a jacket helpful on some indoor attractions and restaurants. If you’re going during the winter, realize that Central Florida sometimes gets chilly, especially because of the high humidity.
3. Pack inexpensive Disney costumes (princess/pirate/explorer) for your children. That will save you beaucoup bucks at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Even if you plan to take your young prince/princess to that experience, you’ll save money by having the costume purchased in advance from a discount retailer at home.
4. If you’re driving to Orlando and will have children in the car, be sure to pack Disney activity books, crayons, and stickers to keep your tykes busy. Pack Disney movies for the kids to watch from the back seat – the more familiar they are with Disney characters and story lines, the more they’ll enjoy their first WDW trip.
5. Don’t bring expectations that your small child will be mesmerized and delighted by the Disney characters. Little ones sometimes find their first encounter with a large furry creature (yes, even Mickey himself) to be intimidating. Talk about the characters during your journey, listen to your children, and be ready to roll with the punches if your little one reacts with tears and fears. This is your FIRST trip to WDW, hopefully not your last. There’s so much to see and do at WDW that skipping the character meets if your child is terrified by them, can actually free you up for more rides.
6. Pack inexpensive Disney autograph albums for your children before leaving home. Some children are so excited about filling up their albums with Disney Character autographs that they will gladly forego the Dumbo ride just to get a few minutes with Anna and Elsa (after a l‐o‐n‐g wait; be sure to get a Fast Pass+ for the meet). Sure, WDW will be happy to sell you autograph albums in the parks, but you’ll pay $$$ for them. Get them from your local discount retailer and let the kids start decorating the books during your journey.
7. Pack comfortable, broken‐in walking shoes for yourself and anyone else in your party. Also moleskin, bandaids, and a small pair of scissors so you can protect you and your loved ones from the dreaded blisters that are likely to form, even with good walking shoes. Bring your choice of over‐the‐counter headache relievers, anti‐diarrheals, sunblock and sunglasses for everyone. Baseball caps can be good added protection for skin and eyes – that Florida sun gets intense! If you’ve got prescription drugs for daily use, bring a copy of the prescription just in case you lose the bottle.
8. Pack snacks and water bottles that you’ll take into the parks each day. Even if you’ve got a dining reservation, you may find yourself getting lightheaded as you wait – a few crackers or an apple can stave off hunger. And everybody should be drinking lots of water throughout your visit.
9. Don’t pack a winter coat just because it’s winter at home – at least, don’t bring it along if you’re flying to Orlando. It will take up extra space and you might even forget it on the plane. If your car is parked at your home airport, leave winter coats in the trunk.
10. Pack homemade thank‐you notes for Mousekeeping – the best way to attract magical moments is to first bestow one on someone else. Everyone in your party can participate in decorating envelopes and writing notes to the Mousekeepers who keep your WDW hotel room clean and beautiful. Of course, a nice tip ($5/day) is a pleasant surprise as well. You may get grateful notes written to you in return, or you may come back to your room each night to find a different towel animal. Try it – this may become one of your favorite memories of your trip!
Well, Mouseketeers, that should help you pack for a fun, magical trip. M‐I‐C. . . see you real soon!
Full time HR director because I love making people happy. WDW holds a piece of my heart, so I visit as often as possible with friends I’ve made via the Mouse. (Yes, there are others like me!) I volunteer with Dreams Take Flight of Montreal, which flies children with special needs to the Magic Kingdom for one special day. Little known Disney trivia: Cinderella Castle was named for ME.