I am an Orlando Disney vacation veteran. My family and I have had Walt Disney World annual passes for more than a decade, and we have experienced much, if not most, of what the resort has to offer in the parks, restaurants and hotels. Plus, we have sailed on three of Disney Cruise Line’s ships. We have traveled with babies, kids and now almost-teens, as well as with our extended families. I’m pretty confident that I know what to pack for both types of Disney vacations, and it’s rare that I forget something we need, as my husband will attest when he’s dragging our many suitcases everywhere.
But I feel like a novice Disney traveler now that I’m preparing to pack for our first trip to Disneyland and D23 in August. I have to figure out what we will need in an unfamiliar hotel room and theme parks for an extended stay. And it’s a lot of stuff for four people!
I have never been to Anaheim, but from what I can tell, the weather this time of the year is just slightly cooler than Orlando during the day. The real differences are the lack of daily afternoon thunderstorms and temperatures that can dip into the 60s at night. So, for my family, when it comes to packing clothes for the trip, we will stick to mostly shorts and throw in a few hoodies or jackets for the nights. As with any trip, we each will bring a couple nice outfits in case we have unexpected opportunities where shorts are not appropriate. Of course, swim suits, pajamas and the like will also go with us. Perhaps the most important items will be comfortable, supportive shoes, and we each have those purchased and broken in. I don’t expect to have time to do laundry, so I will need to pack enough outfits to get us through 10 days of travel.
The part that brings out the list-maker in me is not the clothes but all the odds and ends we might need during our stay. First, we are going to stay at a Good Neighbor hotel within walking distance of Disneyland, so we are not renting a car. Because of the lack of transportation and nearby grocery or big-box stores, I had to determine how we would get breakfast foods, snacks and drinks to the hotel.
I’ve decided that we will use the Prime Pantry service at Amazon.com, which will be a first for us, and have everything shipped to the hotel ahead of time. Prime members – or even those using the free one-month trial membership – can order grocery and household items and have them delivered for a flat rate. Each Amazon box holds 45 pounds -- or four cubic feet of household products -- and costs $5.99 to ship. As you add things to your shopping cart, the website updates how much room you have left. The advantage of using this system, of course, is that you can ship heavy things, such as my beloved Diet Coke, at a reasonable cost. If you don’t plan to order heavy items, you also could use Amazon’s free shipping for orders of $35 or more. Most hotels will hold your packages for at least a week prior to your arrival. (Make sure you put “Hold for Your Name” in the second line of the shipping address.)
Next, here are the other things for the room that I plan to bring to make our stay a bit more comfortable:
** Nightlight so we can find our way in the dark if we get up at night. (I always forget this one!)
** Electrical power strips to charge all the electronic devices each night.
** Ziploc baggies of different sizes. I can’t live without these on a trip, and I take multiple boxes.
** Sample-size laundry detergent and a stain-remover product for emergencies.
** Dish soap pads for cleaning mugs and water bottles.
** Baby wipes for sticky hands and Chlorox wipes for surfaces.
** Scissors. (Make sure to pack these in your suitcase because they are not allowed in airplane carry-ons.)
For our backpacks that we will carry into the parks and at D23:
** Refillable water bottles with filters. These can be filled at water fountains, and counter-service restaurants at Disneyland give free cups of iced tap water.
** Portable batteries and charging cords for our phones and other devices.
** Autograph books and pens, each in separate plastic bags to keep them clean and dry.
** Glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets from the Dollar Store or Target Dollar Spot.
** Band-Aids and moleskin tape for cuts and blisters.
** Blanket or sheet to help save our space for Fantasmic! and World of Color, which are shows that do not have permanent seating.
** Extra clothes to change into after water rides, if we don’t plan to go back to the hotel.
** Rain ponchos in case it rains, but mostly to keep us or our belongings dry on the water rides.
No one has ever accused me of being a light packer, but I prefer the security of knowing I have most everything I need on my vacation and knowing that I won’t have to spend a small fortune once I get to my destination on items I forgot. If you have packing tips, I’d love to hear them! Please share your thoughts in the comments.
For advice about planning a trip to “The Happiest Place On Earth,” please read my recent newsletter feature. It covers topics such as selecting a hotel, making advanced dining reservations, buying theme-park tickets and using them efficiently.