When you’re a kid, the greatest thing about going to Disney World is not having to worry about your own needs as a guest there. Of course, you don’t realize this at the time, but later in life you learn to appreciate it. Just like most vacations you take to the beach or mountains, or wherever your family decided to wander, your chaperone has “all the things” ready for you. “All the things” can include items like sunscreen, towels, beach toys, bug spray, water bottles, personal fans, bandaids, the list could go on and on. You might feel overwhelmed just thinking about it if you have now become the chaperone, but fear not! Today, I am here to help you be a little more prepared to rock your Disney parks vacation.
It’s a wonder that parents don’t have a wagon full of things every time they leave the house with their kids, even just one kid. I know my own car is ridiculous when we go on vacation and we just have one dog (we spoil our sweet baby Tango girl). When I started going to Disney as an adult, I learned some things over the years (the hard way) to help me be more prepared for a day in the parks. In return, I became much more thankful for all the parental units out there (you guys are the bomb.com). Below are my top things I wish I knew before I went to Disney World as an adult and I hope you find them helpful. Lets get started.
1. Comfortable Clothes:
One thing to keep in mind for full park days at Disney is that you can walk upwards of 5 miles or more in one day. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s just one long workout. This is why I recommend wearing very comfortable clothes, typically ones you can sweat in. I essentially wear things I would work out in. This is when moisture wicking materials can be your best friend. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Disney graphic tees as much as the next person but I make sure to wear comfortable pants or shorts with workout undergarments (you might want to bring an extra shirt if you wear cotton in the summer too).
Flexible apparel is comfortable and you won’t feel like you’re having to constantly adjust your clothing all day. Getting in and out of an attraction like Space Mountain can be a work-out in itself between stuffing your bags somewhere secure and rolling out of it once the ride is over (Ya’ll, it’s quite a sight to watch people get in and out of this ride and I feel their pain because I am one of those people. Wave if you see me, or just take pics). I have to admit, I don’t see how all these girls wearing super short jean shorts around the park do it without the chafe of a lifetime, but I digress. My advice is just to be comfortable; it’s more fun!
Let’s talk about footwear. We’ve already talked about how much walking you will be doing (or speed walking), and you have to take care of your feet. They are the only ones you’ve got, after all! You don’t want to be caught wearing “flippy floppies” that will make your dogs bark till the cows come home. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! After a long day in the parks, there is nothing worse than coming back to your resort, or wherever you are laying your head that trip, and feeling the throbbing of sore legs, joints, and feet. It’s even worse, knowing you will be doing it all over again the next day, and the next.
Comfortable tennis shoes or whatever works best for your body is crucial. Maybe you don’t have some super cute shoes that match each outfit you are going to wear but trust me, you will thank me later. Strappy sandals with no support or with heels (yes, I’ve seen girls wearing heels ya’ll, Lord help em), will not support your body or joints for the duration of your stay. Keep it simple and comfortable. Trust me, nobody is really looking at your feet anyway (unless you are in heels and I’m sorry to say I am probably judging you, lol).
3. Gift Cards:
If you are like us, we don’t like to carry our full wallets in the parks because we aren’t going to be needing half the things in them. Even worse, if they get lost or stolen, we are in for a much bigger headache. The answer to this is to use Disney gift cards. You can purchase Disney gift cards at numerous places, a lot are even discounted, and load them all online onto one card using Disneygiftcards.com. The best part is that Disney will keep track of your amounts online in case your card gets stolen there. They will also issue a new one if you lose it or if it’s stolen. Another option is to load your credit card info onto your Magicband and use that to tap and pay if you don’t want to have your credit card with you in the parks.
We love using the gift cards because it’s pre-paid and much less to keep up with. We also use RFID blocking cards to keep anyone from being able to scan our information through our bags (we have had credit card info compromised a few times and my husband had his identity stolen once already so we are a little over the top with the security). Crazy as we may be, we think Disney gift cards are the way to go. For some money-saving tips check out Jen’s article HERE!
Guys, did you know that Disney allows you to bring your own snacks in the parks? Genius, I know. So keep this in mind. Sometimes we will have a big character breakfast in the parks and won’t eat again until dinner but we want a little snack in between (you know what I mean?). We make sure to pack some small, but compact, snack to nibble on so that yours truly doesn’t get hangry. This is also great if you are trying to save a little money and don’t want to buy snacks in the park.
I must admit, Disney popcorn is our favorite, super cheap snack (you can read all about it HERE!), but we understand getting our penny pinch on. If you have small children that need snacks in between meals, a bag of pretzels or Goldfish will do the trick and you won’t have to sneak them in. If you want some further info on how to save money on food at Disney, check out Jen’s article HERE!
5. Water Bottles:
Disney also allows you to bring in your own water bottles! If you’ve ever spent time in Florida at Disney World, then you know the water there is not ideal to drink (sorry, Florida). It’s a smell we know pretty well and it’s just, well, different. For us, we prefer to have ice cold water, filtered if we can, for those long days of walking or simply sweating in the parks. The best way to do this is to bring in your own water bottle and get it refilled at any quick service location.
My favorite spot to get refills is actually Starbucks. I used to work at Starbucks and was told that all the water there is actually triple filtered to ensure their beverages taste the same no matter what location you walk into (little free fact for ya). Because you will be walking around so much and sometimes sweating a good bit, you must stay hydrated. Drinking soda and drinks of that sort can actually dehydrate you, so please drink lots of water! Again, you don’t have to sneak your bottle in, so bring in what you need for you and your family to stay hydrated and healthy.
6. Go Left:
Something I learned in my later years is that most people go to the right when they first walk into the park, especially Magic Kingdom. Naturally, the advice is to start your park day by going to the left. This might only really work if you start your park day on an early note but it’s still great advice. Using MK as advice, we love heading to the left first to get all of our favorite rides done (Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion etc…) and FastPassing other big rides for later. To read up more on park strategy and FastPasses you can go HERE!
7. Plan out your food:
Last but certainly not least, plan out your food! Planning out your food can be a huge time saver in the game we call Disney parks. We all know the age old dilemma between loved ones that starts out with “What do you want to eat for dinner?” It’s one of my pet peeves to go through this with a group of people (flashbacks to high school and college and me getting frustrated as all get out), and planning out where you want to eat can save everyone the hassle.
Take a look at Disney park restaurants and menus before your trip to get ideas of where you want to eat while there (the My Disney Experience app can help with that). You can even make reservations 180 days in advance for table service meals. Decide where you want to eat and make a note for yourself for each park you will visit. Something that we here at ZADD Crew Media find to be super helpful is the ZADD Crew Must Do: Food Motivated Edition list. This list is stacked with Disney veteran recommendations if you need some help. Check out Jen’s story HERE as well on how you can save money with Tables In Wonderland.
I hope these small tidbits help you in planning your next Disney vacation. If learning from my mistakes can make the magic go a little further, then I feel I have done my job. Happy planning everyone!