Last week the family and I took our first trip to Disneyland! Planner that I am, I did a A LOT of research before we left.
I’m not the type of vacationer to get super hung up on schedules and plans once we’re there, but I also don’t want to waste any time looking stuff up or figuring things out when we could be taking in a show or screaming our heads off on the kids’ favorite ride. Plus, there’s enough waiting around at Disneyland as it is, no need to test the kids’ patience any more than we have to, right?
One of the things I found most helpful in my planning were lists of items to buy before you set foot on the plane. Because, yes, Disneyland is magical but it can also be a few other things like hot, boring, and expensive if you’re not careful.
But not for you, cause I got you covered. Here are…
The 13 things you should always bring with you to The Happiest Place on Earth.
First things first, Orange County can get pretty damn hot year round- you gotta come ready for the sun. Get these magical towels wet with water of any temperature (that’s right, it doesn’t even have to be cold) and drape them over your kids’ (and your own) neck to stay cool for hours.
It was 90 degrees the first day of our trip (in January!) and I was so incredibly glad I had these with us to help keep everyone comfy.
Along with doing your best not to overheat, you also need to be vigilant with the sunscreen. Like most moms, I love the ease of a spray sunscreen over the tube variety; so much easier when applying and reapplying in line.
I do try to avoid the aerosol variety, though. They’re not good for your kiddos’ lungs and they don’t travel well on planes.
This mineral-based sunscreen from Babyganics fits the bill perfectly. It provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and is free of PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances and nano-particles to boot.
#3 – Spray Hand Sanitizer
It was the peak of a nasty flu season while we were there so I tried to remember to sanitize everybody multiple times a day.
Again, the spray option is so much more tidy than a traditional tube and this brand claims to be the world’s first and only all-day skin protectant.
#4 – A Stroller (Preferably a Sit n’ Stand)
Since you do need to pack a good amount of stuff into Disneyland (and because it’s awesome that they let you bring your own food and drink into the park), I HIGHLY recommend bringing a stroller to easily lug it all around.
This is true even if your kids are above stroller age– trust me, your shoulders and back will thank you by Day 2.
If you have multiple kids and one of them is still stroller age, I also really, really recommend a Sit n’ Stand. We got ours before a different trip when my oldest kids were 2- and 3-years-old and it was a total Godsend.
The beauty here is that it allows one kid to sit in the front, like a normal stroller, and another to either sit on a small bench seat or stand behind them.
It’s not as cumbersome as traditional double strollers and it allows both bigger and smaller kids to easily hop on and off at will, with very little fuss.
On this trip, our 7-year-old walked a lot but it was also really nice for her to have the option to hop on with the 3-year-old when she was tired at the end of the day, or if we wanted to get somewhere quickly.
#5 – Novelty Toys for the Lines
Even at the slowest time of year with a Ph.D. level mastery of the Fast Pass/Max Pass system, you’re inevitably going to be waiting around some of the time. Aside from the ride lines, there’s also the security line to get into the park, tram lines, and waiting around for performances and nighttime shows.
Hitting up the Dollar Store and Target for a mini-collection of small and novel toys was one of the smartest things I did for our trip.
Major favorites amongst my kids included:
• Heat-sensitive, color-changing silly putty
• Disney themed yo-yos from the Dollar Store (These were HUGE- who knew?)
• Wikki Stix
• Sparkle tattoo pens and stencil set
• Travel-size “Where’s Waldo” Book
• Disney Mad Libs
Helpful hint #1: Don’t tell your kids you have these goodies and don’t break them out all at once. Bring a different variety to the parks each day and keep them in your purse in line to reveal when you sense mutiny is on the horizon.
Helpful hint #2: Jokes also do wonders keeping kids occupied and lifting the mood. Plus, they’re free! We went thematic and looked up Disney or Pixar Knock-Knock jokes on our phones whenever there was a lull.
#6 – Sharpies
Our 3-year-old is a runner! Thankfully, we didn’t have any issues at the park but, to be safe, we started each day by writing our phone number on his arm with a sharpie.
We had so many people coming up to us at the park telling us what a good idea they thought it was.
#7 – Dum Dums
It’s amazing how many times I solved an impending crisis simply by reaching into my bag and doling out a tiny sucker to each kid.
They’re super portable, a pretty small dose of sugar as treats go, and endlessly satisfying. Plus, they take a little bit of time to suck on. STOCK UP. You won’t be sorry.
You’ll want to leave your food, water, sunscreen, etc. in your parked stroller while you’re in line but you’ll also want to be able to have the stuff mentioned above on-hand. That’s where a light weight cross body bag you can keep on you at all times comes in super handy.
I got this one from Target and it always held our park tickets and fast passes, my phone, the Where’s Waldo travel book, a few toys for the line, Dum Dums, and that spray hand sanitizer.
I know we’re all used to being the family pack mule by now but, remember, you don’t have to keep everything in your bag. I bought this kid-sized fanny pack on Amazon for under $5 and had my daughter wear it in line.
She filled the front pocket with Rainbow Loom bands that she used to make bracelets using finger weaving. The back pocket held a few emergency granola bars and yogurt-covered raisin boxes that could be shared with all.
This makes such a better momento for the characters to sign than a blank autograph book. Plus, it’s alphabetized so it’s super easy to find the each character’s page. (You’ll want to keep those Sharpies around for this too.)
#11 – Dollar Store Food Containers
We packed sandwiches for the kids every day to save money on eating out. Because a non-squished sammy is always an easier sell to the kiddos, I went ahead and invested in a few hard plastic food containers like these. I found mine at the Dollar Store, though, and was even able to score a Disney Princess Themed set.
#12 – Re-Usable Water Bottles
Just like sunscreen, water is a must to have with you at all times and it’s so much more economical to bring your own bottles than to buy them in the park.
I scored a set of three reusable bottles like at the Dollar Store and we just kept refilling them at water fountains throughout the day.
If I had found them before our trip, I probably would have gone with these, though, due to how easy they are to pack
You will use your phone a lot more at the park than you would normally. First, by constantly checking on things like line wait times and character locations on the Disneyland app.
Secondly, by letting kids watch stuff while waiting in line or waiting for older siblings to finish a ride they’re not big enough for.
The last thing you want to do is run out of juice before your day is through. Definitely invest in one (or two) of these slim battery chargers and keep it in your bag at all times.
That’s it! Hope this list helps with your planning and that you have a fabulous vacation.
P.S. Honorable mentions to the list include this family pack of ponchos for wet rides, certain seating spots during the World of Color show, and unexpected rain.
Also, glow stick accessories! if you’re planning on attending any of the night time shows- SO MUCH cheaper than buying them in the park.
And, finally, this super cute and comfy girls’ Disney dress for only 10 bucks.
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