I'd been to Disney World plenty of times before we had our children. I knew what I was doing. But planning to take a small child suddenly presented me with a whole host of questions. The amount of stuff we have to take to go out for half an hour still astounds me, so how were we going to go away for two weeks, to Disney World? I did a ton of research and have now taken our young children several times, so here's some of the things we've found work really well when travelling with little ones.
What to pack for Disney World with kids: Pushchair
If your little one out grew pushchairs ages ago, you may still want to consider if you need one in the theme parks. There is a LOT of walking, often at speed, and you will see kids up to about 7 sitting in the Disney rental strollers. The Disney rentals are expensive to hire regularly, uncomfortable and you can only use them in the parks themselves, so consider either taking a cheap one with you, or renting one when you're over there. Kingdom Strollers and Magic Strollers are popular rental companies. The only caveat with renting one is that you can't use it in the airport - where you will also have long walks and waits!
Our first trip, there was no question that we needed to take a pushchair but we realised our regular pram just wasn't suitable. If you are planning on using Disney transport, you will have to collapse them when getting on the Disney buses and boats, and occasionally on the monorails if they're busy. Our travel system style, where it breaks into two parts would have been impossible.
We wanted a classic buggy and bought a Silvercross Zest, after a LOT of research. It lies completely flat (not all of this buggy-style do) which is fab for naps on the go. It is really light weight, so we can lug it on and off the buses and comes with a strap so you can stick it on your shoulder. And it caters for heavier kids (and therefore older kids) than a lot of pushchairs - up to 25kg (just under 4 stone). And while it is not cheap-as-chips, it is no where near the cost of a fancy pram, which we wouldn't have wanted to risk in the hold of a plane.
What to pack for Disney World with kids: For the plane
It's a long flight, after several hours at the airport. You're going to need some boredom breakers. Normally, we're quite strict on screen time, but we take the attitude that all things are game if it keeps them happy on the plane. So the tablet is an absolute must. I really recommend getting a free trial of DisneyLife just before you go, if you haven't got it already. You can then download some TV episodes, movies and books of the characters they are going to meet (it won't stream while in the States, so download things in advance),
But we hold out on the tablet as long as possible, as even that becomes boring after a while. Here are some of the things we've bought and loved for the plane:
- Disney eye found it cards - these are great - you look for specific items on your selection of cards, and these ones are Disney themed, so get you even more excited for your trip. Also, my 4 year old can legitimately beat me if I don't concentrate and there's not many games that you can say that with.
- Usborne activity cards - wipe clean and re-useable, with a variety of activities, these are fantastic. These are the plane version, but there are others. Their activity book is also good, but we found the cards catered for a slightly younger audience, while also being good for older kids too.
- Scratch art - a small notebook sized set of scratch cards
- We them pick out a couple of comics in the airport (and then have to secretly bin the tat that comes with them)
You might also want to get some sweets or chewy snacks, for when the plane lands.
What to pack for Disney World with kids: Clothing
It rains a lot, and heavily in Orlando, and often comes out of nowhere. You are almost certainly going to get caught in it at least once. You'll need a mac, but won't want to be carrying your kids proper raincoat everywhere with you. We like these children's ponchos - extra light, won't take up much space and easily accessible thanks to its little storage bag.
We've written before about fancy dress - take the kids' Disney dressing up clothes with you for some cute photos and great memories.
Ear protectors are a great idea for little ones, if you're planning to take them to any of the shows or fireworks. The music and fireworks are noisy and can be quite scary and these just stop it being quite so overwhelming. We have these snug ones, which are from about 6 months old, but you can also get them for babies.
Sunglasses are a must, even for very little ones. You're out in the sun all the time. Baby sunglasses should have a strap at the back to keep them on, as in my experience, they don't like them!
And not exactly clothing, but disposable bibs are fantastic for the parks. When you're eating out every meal, plus snacks and ice cream, even the wipe clean bibs can be hard to keep clean. Disposable bibs can just be chucked away each time. (I try not to use disposable too much, but make the exception here).
What to pack for Disney World with kids: In the parks
In busy season the waits are long and the last thing you want is whiny kids. More cheap boredom breakers are a good idea - hold onto these for as long as you can, and break them out when needed, in the queues or waits for the shows. The pound shop an be good for finding these, and I always also take:
- glow bands - especially good for waiting for the fireworks! Get enough and they're a great thing to share and make new friends!
- stickers - just don't let them stick them on anything they're not meant to!
Once they're old enough, we've also found a kids camera to be a great entertainer. It makes them feel grown up, they can click away for ages and we've had some surprisingly good and sweet pictures out of it! Santa bought our girls a Kidizoom Duo, which our eldest loves as she can zoom in and add filters and frames to the photos.
What to pack for Disney World with kids: Medicine
In short, take some calpol with you. You'll be able to buy kids medicines from the pharmacies, and the basics even in your hotel shop. But you can not get paracetamol is the States, which is calpol's main ingredient. The closest thing to it is probably kids tylenol - but when they're poorly, they'll want that strawberry liquid that they're used to, and you'll know what you're doing with it too. Also you won't want to go out hunting for it. I hope you bring it back unopened!
What to pack for Disney World with kids: Potty Training
If you're potty training, or recently have been, a theme park is a bit of a challenge! We've been there and we just made sure we visited the loo before nearly every ride! (Not a fun, but an essential use of time!) Or, while I'm sure it is not allowed to leave and re-enter the queue, people are pretty good about letting you back in, if you're carrying a toddler and just go with the 'excuse me, potty training' line as you make your way back through 🙂 What I found pretty strange, given its clientele, is that the Disney parks do NOT have those in-the-lid pull down toilet seats for little bottoms. We made sure we had our training seat with us and recommend it for in Disney and everywhere! Also very useful for your hotel room. And the bag-check security folks didn't bat an eye!
Our other loo-based recommendation is post-it notes! Disney are all about the auto-flush. And when you're moving around the cubicle helping a small child, you can easily set these off. Nothing is going to put off an already reluctant or nervous potty-trainer than the loo flushing while they are sitting on it. A post-it note over the sensor before you start, and remove it when you're ready to flush solves the problem!
And what not to pack!
If you're travelling with a very little one, you may want to consider have a grocery order delivered to your hotel, rather than taking everything with you. This can be for all those bulky items - nappies, wipes, formula etc. Garden Grocer is the one I've seen most commonly recommended, although full disclosure, I've not used it myself. It will deliver right to your hotel, and you pick it up from bell services. You might consider also getting milk and snacks if you're only just weaning and want specific items.
A little bit of preparation and taking your little ones to Walt Disney World will be one of the best things you do!