Mom’s Disney Gear List for Families with Kids | The List You Wish You Read First
Preparation is the key to fun! Well at least for me. I crave a good plan and love knowing we have the gear to get us through the parks from Rope Drop to A Kiss Goodnight.
Preparing to travel to Disney World with kids can be a daunting task. There are numerous sites with differing plans of attack.
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Some say “go with the flow, kids are unpredictable”; some say “plan only a few things, the kids will dictate everything else.” Both of which don’t sound like fun or how our family travels.
Our advice is to read some of these and find a family with similar travel style or maybe find one you can make #vacaygoals. You are the expert on what your family style is.
Our family likes a plan so we know where to go and when. We like having some comfort items with us. We also like good food and some built-in rest time so we can appreciate just how special these experiences are.
When planning our first visit with just one 5 year old, the plan was simpler. Anticipating the needs of one kid to a place we had only been to once before without children was doable, but it still required some planning.
Fast forward to the next visit to the most magical place on earth and we needed a whole new plan for 3 young (ages 6, 2 and 6 months) kids.
What to take with you into the parks.
Don’t forget to check out Dad’s Must have Disney Gear.
If your kids are under the age of 8… I recommend a stroller/rolling command center. I know it sounds ridiculous that your 7 or 8 year old might need a stroller. Let me explain. We have 3 kids, only one of which is still stroller age, and barely. At 9, 6, and 4 years old — we still benefit from having this rolling command center.
We have tried a few different ones – we have done it with two single strollers for one trip, a sit and stand stroller on another trip and our favorite the side-by-side double stroller. Bring your own or rent one from one the authorized Disney stroller rental companies. We love Kingdom Strollers.
Just make sure you are bringing a Disney approved stroller — read about that here. No Red Rider Wagons. You do not want to rent a stroller from the parks. This will take precious park time as they are first-come, first-serve on the day of your visit, and they are uncomfortable.
A Baby Jogger – City Mini Double Stroller with Parent Console serves many purposes. Obviously, little ones need a place to sleep and a safe place to be in a crowd. It also gives the whole family a place to store essentials (water and extra clothes) and non-essentials (bubble wands). I love having a place for things that isn’t attached to my body. You end up carrying kids on your shoulders and picking them up to see over the rails, etc.; so traveling light is essential to your overall comfort.
We load up the stroller with a few add-ons that hold all the stuff. If I had seen our stroller before kids, I would have scoffed at the ridiculous parents who brought all that “Stuff”. Now when I see someone with a rolling command center in the parks… I smile and give a nod of acknowledgment that they know what we know… it’s all essential.
Clip on Fan for the Stroller – These things saved us so much money! The Stroller fans at the parks are $30 a piece. We have one for each stroller seat. They are battery operated. We run them 12 hours a day for 6 days straight without changing the giant C batteries required. People offered us $50 for them while in the parks. These fans allowed our kiddos to nap comfortably in the stroller while it was 90 degrees outside without overheating.
Set of 2 Carabiner Stroller Hooks are awesome! We usually bring 2-3 to clip-on bags, popcorn buckets, shopping bags, water bottles and whatever else has a loop and needs to be easily accessible.
2 Cup Holder Clip On for Strollers – we have a two cup clip on that we add for the adult cups. The stroller usually has a place for one or two and then we add an additional clip-on style one to make sure there is a place for everyone to put their cup.
Stroller Organizer – you will have some things that need a spot close but not in your bag. We like a bag like this to hold the bubble wands and bubble refills, Sunscreen spray and anything else we have collected over the day.
Universal Double Jogging Stroller Waterproof Rain Cover/Wind Shield – This one is always needed. No matter the season or the weather forecast. Besides doing the obvious and keeping the stroller and all of its contents dry. (Unless you are in a sudden downpour /monsoon and running through the hurricane force winds to get to your hotel- in which case it kept the two kids in the stroller 95% dry- win! But the underside of the stroller basket that holds our picnic blanket and extra clothes, got soaked from the wheels throwing water up as we were making this spectacular mad dash!) Great memories….
A stroller cover can also be a windbreak in the colder months. Several of our trips had a sudden cold snap that was not in the forecast when we were packing- this item comes with us either way. We will attach it at the beginning of the trip and leave it rolled up on top while not needed.
When it is rainy or windy or when you are parking your stroller for an extended period of time (i.e. table service restaurant or show) We will park the stroller and put our battery operated fans and other things in the seats, pull the shades out and unroll the rain cover. It has sporadically rained while we were inside and soaked our stroller when we forgot to do this!
Stroller shade cover – we have used clip on varieties when our stroller didn’t have an extended sunshade as a feature. This will keep the sun out of the little one’s faces as the sun moves throughout the day.
– I have my super important items in a lightweight crossbody bag or Hipster Pack for things like my phone and sunscreen, sunglasses, card carrier/wallet, tiny versions of personal and first aid items.
My husband carries a backpack (like the SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA Backpack) with similar things in it as well as our Junior Encyclopedia of Disney’s Animated Characters for autographs, snacks, sunscreen, and two waters. We also will pack some park goodies that we break out in when needed. For instance, when waiting for a show to start we grab our snacks and hand out a few stickers.
After dark, we hand out Vivii Glow Sticks & Bracelets. When in Animal Kingdom, we love Pandora at Night and use these glow in the dark face paint sticks like Moon Glow – Blacklight Neon Glitter Face Paint Stick (Glows brightly under blacklights)We don’t have a diaper bag anymore. (whoop, whoop!) We carried one for 7 years… there was a point when it felt like we would never get out of that stage. Hang on Momma! You will get there too.
On most days we also take a small backpack bag of backup items that we leave in the stroller basket once we go through a security bag check. I use a gallon size bag for each child’s’ back up clothing for the day.
Little ones get a full change of clothes, underwear, and socks. Older kids and adults get underwear and socks. You will thank me when your backside gets wet on some ride or someone overturns a drink in your direction that ends up in your lap. Your clothes will dry out eventually but those undergarments are another story.
In general, we like to wear moisture-wicking sports clothes to combat the massive amount of sweating that will happen during the warmer months.
It also has a towel, and wet ride sandals, like the Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh EVA Sandals, if needed for that park on that day.
At night, after being outside all day, you will feel the drop in temperature as the sun sets. A long sleeve shirt is enough in the summer months. A light jacket (like the Columbia Women’s Softshell Jacket) will do in late spring and early fall.
A sweatshirt or packable down puffer jacket (like the Calvin Klein Women’s Short Packable Down Jacket) is required during the winter months. I will have to do a separate post for winter essentials. You’d be surprised what all you need if traveling November through January in to Central Florida.
In sunny central Florida, a hat and sunglasses for you and your kids can be a real help. Squinting all day will result in a headache. A hat (love the Disney Women’s Minnie Mouse Washed Baseball Cap) will shield your face from the sun and save you from a painful sunburned forehead. We have all seen those tourists… Don’t be that guy, it hurts.
Insulated Mist ‘N Sip Squeeze Bottle 12 oz., Disney Licensed – Staying hydrated will be a challenge will all the sweat dripping off of you. Water is available from every quick service counter in the parks for free. Just ask.
In the summer months, Disney counter service places will have window off to one side just for handing out cups of ice water. We usually grab free water cups and then pour them into our refillable bottles for easier transport.
Water fountains are near every bathroom, it will taste “different” unless you from Florida. We tried these out last summer and loved them. They are insulated and have a squirt top with a water mist feature. This will create a super refreshing mist for your face when you are feeling like you might burst into flames.
Body Glide For Her – This will save your day! Put this on in the morning. In those places where you chafe. (hint: Thighs-especially when wearing shorts, and anywhere else you find that things are making friction.)
Trust me, even though I am writing on the internet and we don’t know each other…trust me. The day I forgot to put this on, I wanted to waddle like a sumo so my thighs didn’t bleed from rubbing each other all day.
Rain gear! – Ponchos and umbrellas. Another pre-park purchase you will be glad you made. An umbrella can also be used to make some shade while you are out in the sun. Get a Poncho thicker than the flimsy disposable ponchos that the slightest of breezes will render useless. We have used these Especially in the summer. It rains every afternoon June – August. Disney 2-Pack Family Rain Ponchos & Star Wars Darth Vader Hooded Rain Poncho & Coleman Adult EVA Poncho, Clear
Tip: Be prepared to take advantage of the lower crowds right after a rain shower. By having rain gear with you, you can wait it out and have refreshingly lower wait for rides.
Large Picnic Blanket Waterproof – At some point, you end up sitting on the curb or the sidewalk or street for that matter. A travel blanket or roll-up picnic blanket can shield you from the dirt, germs, rainwater, heat or cold that you may have to sit on. Also works as an emergency rain cover or blanket for a sleepy kid.
Magic Band – If you book your stay on site with Disney, you will receive Magic bands as part of your perks. They will be preloaded with your reservation.
You can use your Magic band on multiple trips even when you are no longer staying on site. Each magic band is unique to you and your fingerprint once you enter a park.
Mom Tip: I like to write my phone number on the inside of the band in case it is lost. Also helpful for kids who get lost.
It’s rare but I have seen it happen. A little girl just wondering around and then brought to the front of the store with a cast member and several security guards asking her questions she didn’t yet know the answers to. To put your mind at ease, they were able to reunite the little girl and her parents. It made me have a talk with my own kids. They were upset by seeing this play out in front of them. I used it as a teaching moment. They knew from the tears my eyes it was important and they all remembered what I told them. “There is a phone number on your magic band, tell them to call me.”
Phone – tip: put it in low power mode before you start the day-
Download the My Disney Experience app.
Tip: Save your my Disney experience app reservations and Fp plans as the home screen for the day.
This is also the only way I take pictures.
Wallet – clean it out- you don’t need your Sams or Costco card on your person while at Disney. Bring your photo Id, hard ticket (in case you lose your magic band), two forms of preferred payment for the trip- we like to use our Chase Disney card, it’s themed and earns us points for next time.
Quarters and shiny pennies – We like the little press penny machines. You insert two quarters and one penny, crank the lever and it rolls out your penny with a magical Disney design on it.
You can find them in all the parks and resorts at Disney World and Disney Springs. This souvenir is cheap and tiny. All 3 of my kids can do one and the whole experience cost us $1.53.
Another souvenir experience our kids really get into is Pin Trading. You can buy special souvenir pins at the parks, but those are not the ones you wanna trade. Keep those. A better deal is to find a “lot of trader pins” on eBay to trade with.
Some people get all bent of shape about counterfeits. If you can tell the difference by looking at it it is a terrible counterfeit, don’t buy it. A vast majority of pin lots have some counterfeits, so do the cast member lanyards and pin boards you are trading with. There isn’t any monetary difference in the trader pins we are talking about here. I wouldn’t worry about it unless you are paying big money for limited edition or retired pins for your serious collection.
The simple pin trading experience is fun for us and gives our kids something to collect and get new items without buying bulky new expensive items in the store. I keep two traders in my tiny bag.
A quick way to derail your magical day is a scraped knee that needs attention. A cute bandaid and some “cream” as my kiddos say will get you back on track quicker than locating the First Aid station that is near the park entrance.
TYLENOL Extra Strength Pain Reliever Caplets, Travel Size – There are fifteen reasons why one might get a headache while on vacation. Maybe the noise, lack of sleep, long days, dehydration, booze, budget, you name it. Have a little baggie or travel tube of pain reliever pills and any other medicine you take daily.
Ziploc baggies – This one is so multi-purpose! We bring a whole box on our trip. Each day I make sure I have two extra in my tiny bag. can put your phone or camera in one to keep it from getting rained on. They are great for leftovers from a restaurant or half-eaten Mickey pretzel, cookie, a snack that the kids didn’t finish. Baggies are also great for wet socks or undies that needed changing.
Sharpie – for putting names on things like those baggies, bubble wands, swords, cups, mickey straws- so no one is fighting over whose stuff to belongs to whom. Also handy for those Character meet and greet autographs.
Clutch ‘N’ Clean Wipes Refillable Travel – parents can agree this a must have. I like having these in my bag and attached to the stroller, in the backpack and in the bag of extras that we leave in the bottom of the stroller. Sticky hands, sweaty faces, chocolate smiles, macaroni shirt- Not a problem when you have baby wipes.
PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel Travel Sized Bottles is essential for germ-free snacking. All those railings and handles and buckles and lap bars, eww. If it’s handy enough you will use it every time. Keep this close so you can feel good about those hands in the popcorn bucket. I get a little crazy and use a baby wipe first for dirt on hands then use sanitizer for the germs.
Napkin – grab two sets while getting that churro. One for now and one for later. Who knows what you will need a napkin for.
Sun Bum Premium Sunscreen Face Stick – I love this little sunBum Stick for faces, shoulders, ears, necks, tops of the knees while sitting in the stroller. It’s silky smooth and doesn’t pull their skin. It smells good and works great.
Lip balm like Sun Bum SPF30 Balm for chapped or burnt lips
Tiny brush, hair ties, and a bobby pin. – Your hair will need a touch-up. These things come in handy for you and your kids. Windswept hair is one thing…. Park hair is another. I want to like my picture with the Mouse, prep accordingly.
Baby nail clippers like the Nuby Baby Care Nail Clippers – a pair of scissors is going to be questionable at security as well as hard to carry around, but nail clippers. You can clip a hangnail that your little one is complaining about during the show and can’t sit or stop talking about it until you take care of it. You can also clip the tag out of a shirt, take the tag off an item, open toy packaging. It is your swiss army knife without being a knife.
There you have it. I take every single one of these things with me into the parks every time. We seldom have to buy something we need or forgot. I like to be prepared. I have more fun that way. Don’t forget to check out Dad’s Must have Disney Gear.
Do you have a park must have that has saved you? Comment below, and let us know if you love any of these things or have something that is on your must-have list!
Other items people ask us about taking:
Do I need to bring in bug repellent? Disney works very hard to keep the mosquitos away.
Can I bring in a knife? No, it will be confiscated.
Can I take a cooler in? A hard-sided cooler, no. A soft-sided cooler, yes.
Can I take in a selfie stick? No, they are banned.
Can I take in a fold-up chair? That would be helpful, but no.
A pull wagon? No, although sometimes we do so see them. But those people are always miserable as there just isn’t enough room for that style setup.
Can I take in a hoverboard? or Segway? Lol, a weird question to get but nope to both.