Like the other posts in this series, there will be no pictures. Unlike the other posts, this isn’t so much about the hotel as much as it is about things you might not think to bring to enjoy your vacation.
I recommend reading the Family Hotels post also as many of those suggestions would be relevant to a theme park. This post is written assuming you are staying on Disney property, so the Kitchen and VRBO information would be less relevant, but you can apply those to your specific situation as appropriate.
So, lets dive right in train of thought style.
If you have children, you will want a stroller. I recommend a stroller for children through at least age 6, which may be much older than they would normally ride in a stroller at home. But, Disney is huge and a tired, grumpy child will be no fun for the group. Plus, the place is really pretty stroller friendly and it offers a built in base for your stuff.
We usually bring our own, but we have rented the Disney strollers also. The kids found them comfortable and the double can fit three in a pinch, which is handy. Some people like to buy a balloon to mark their stroller (they tend to get moved) so it is easier to find. Our regular stroller is orange, which makes it reasonably easy to spot. But, if you have a black stroller or are using a Disney stroller it is a good idea to tie a bright scarf or such around the handle so you can quickly differentiate it.
The unfortunate second topic is germs/illness. Disney does a good job cleaning and is generally much neater than other amusement parks. But, there are still thousands of people touching everything and you probably have small children who cannot be convinced not to touch. Plus, because it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many, it is very hard to skip a day in the park even if you really should for illness. Therefore, hand sanitizer and wipes are your friend. I recommend a large supply of both and using them after every ride.
Another trick for preventing the spread of germs is to bring a sharpie to label the caps and bottles of all group drinks. This way you know exactly whose is whose and are much less likely to share germs among your group.
Disney does allow you to bring a soft sided cooler into the park, which if you are clever can store food for the entire day. Even if you do not do that, I recommend bringing a bottle of water for each person in your party (labeled with that sharpie). Most days it is hot. Even if you have the dining plan, which now has about a million snack credits, it seems wasteful to use a snack credit on a bottle of water. The exception is to get a truly cold drink, which your stroller-stored water bottles might not be by afternoon. There are grocery services which will deliver to your Disney hotel, especially if you order in advance. Ordering by the case will be much less expensive than buying single bottles from Disney.
Continuing with the weather theme, you will be outside all day so sunscreen is a must. You will want to purchase this at home and bring it as Disney sunscreen is also expensive.
Another thing to consider if you have small children is what will happen if they are separated from you. I recommend safety bracelets. These are custom printed (we put both adults cell phone numbers on them), waterproof bracelets that are pretty difficult for the child to remove on their own. Your child will probably be wearing a Magic Band (more on that later), but the bracelets will allow any adult to help them, not just a Disney staff member. This is particularly helpful in places like Tom Sawyer’s Island where staff members can be few and far between and places to get lost are many.
Now back to those Magic Bands. If you are staying on Disney property every member of your party will get one. If you are using Disney transportation from the airport, you will need them on to board the bus, so put them in your carry-on luggage. You will also need your transportation paperwork. And, do not lose your transportation paperwork as you need to present it to the driver on the return trip to the airport also. Finally, if you are using Disney transportation they will provide you with luggage tags so you do not need to claim your bags at the airport. Note, that your bags may arrive at the hotel much later than you so pack swimsuits, pajamas, or anything else you want use in the first few hours in your carry-on luggage.
A few final thoughts. I prefer to bring printed copies of our itinerary rather than rely exclusively on the app. This is especially helpful if you can’t get a signal at some point or if your phone gets low on battery. Some people also like to bring a portable charger.
So, keep all this in mind next time you pack for a Disney vacation. Hopefully it will point out some things you may not have thought of.