Going to Disneyland is one of the most exciting things ever. Seriously, knowing that soon you will be immersed in the magic of Walt Disney’s famed park is something worthy of a countdown and a stomach full of butterflies. As your trip draws near, you will likely begin packing up your suitcase and deciding what to bring to Disneyland. It can be oddly daunting to pack for your first Disneyland trip; you definitely do not want to under pack and be missing important items nor do you want to end up over-packed and lugging around tons of extra unnecessary things for hours at a time. Luckily for you, we have compiled a (semi) comprehensive list of what to bring and ditch for your Disneyland trip!
The Basics: What to Bring to Disneyland
When you are packing, you are definitely able to customize your bag to suit your preferences and personal needs. That being said, there are some basic items that should be included in everyone’s bag. From safety items to personal care products, here are some of the absolute necessities for your Disneyland vacation.
- Sunblock: Please, please, please bring some sunscreen with you to Disneyland, especially if you are not from California and are coming during the Spring or Summer. The sun is pretty harsh in Cali at times, especially in the concrete based park, so even during the winter you could probably benefit from a coating of sunscreen. Sunburns can ruin any vacation and sun damage can cause permanent damage to your skin, including serious disorders like melanoma, so be sure to slather in sunblock before you start your day and top up while you are out as needed, especially if you are partaking in water rides. Do not forget some baby sunscreen for the little ones, even if they are going to be in a stroller!
- Reusable Water Bottle: Drinks in Disneyland (and any other theme park ever) are incredibly marked up pricewise. You are going to pay double or more for a single bottle of water. If you plan on drinking while in the park (and you definitely should, as staying hydrated is super important), be sure to bring a refillable water bottle along. Sure, you can bring individual bottles but those will be rather bulky to carry around and have a rather nasty environmental impact. Go green with a refillable, reusable bottle and just fill it up around the park as needed!
- Comfortable Shoes: You are going to be walking a ton while you are in the park so make sure your shoes are comfortable enough. The average person can walk up to ten or twelve miles while in Disneyland so make sure your feet are not going to be screaming at you by the end of the day.
- Umbrella and/or Ponchos: California weather is a bit unpredictable. Due to this, bring items to help you be prepared for whatever the elements throw at you. Collapsable travel sized umbrellas or plastic ponchos are great to have on hand in case of sudden rain showers (which happen frequently in California). Plus, these items take up only a small amount of space and can easily fit in a backpack or diaper bag.
- Park Documents: This one is a no brainer but totally devastating if you forget. Bring along all of your park documents. Parking passes, park entrance passes, meal validation if you have a reservation, or whatever other event tickets you may have. I’ll also throw cameras, autograph books and pens, park maps, and Disneyland pin books in this category too since they all go together in a way. Basically any paper based product you may need should be double and triple checked during the packing process.
- External Charger: If you have a cell phone or chargeable camera, an external charger is a must. Bring along one of these and keep it ready to go so when your phone is low you can just pop the cord in and get the battery back up. Mophie makes some great products including cases with built in chargers to make things even easier; low end options are great too and can be picked up at convenience stores on the fly as needed.
- First Aid Supplies: Basic first aid items in the park are quite expensive so be sure to pack them in your backpack/diaper bag/tote. Things like bandaids, liquid children’s Tylenol, pain relievers for adults, Tums, hand sanitizer, Kleenexes, Gold Bond, and other basics are great additions. Aloe vera gel might be a good idea, too, just in case someone forgets about sunscreen and gets a little crispy.
- Extra Socks: This is a weird one but hear me out. On my first trip to Disneyland we got caught in a random rain shower. As we walked through the park, our ponchos kept our bodies and heads dry but, unfortunately, I stepped in a massive puddle and soaked my socks. We had only been there a few hours at the time and for the rest of the day I was stuck wandering around in sopping wet socks, which is rather miserable. Now, my rule of thumb is to always carry an extra pair of socks or two to make sure it does not happen again. They take up hardly any space at all but will make a huge difference in the quality of your day if you are unlucky enough to step in a puddle or happen to spill something on yourself.
For the Little Ones
Packing for kids is probably one of the hardest parts of packing for Disneyland. Everyone seems to have differing opinions on what makes for a well planned diaper bag. In my opinion, less is more in a lot of ways. Here are my must haves for any diaper bag or toddler Disneyland kit.
- A Stroller: This is a big one. Do you want to carry your toddler around the park all day? Does a good time sound like lugging a diaper bag on the rides? No? Then bring a stroller. I have seen so many parents carry a whining, exhausted little one around the park halfway through the day. Please, do yourself a favor and bring a stroller along or opt to rent one from the park or one of the unaffiliated stroller rental services found nearby. You will thank me later.
- A Baby Carrier: Another biggie. A baby carrier means the difference between carrying your baby in your arms and having your hands free. Take a bit of relaxation with you; seriously a carrier offers not only freedom of movement but also a bit of peace of mind. You always know exactly where your baby is since they are literally strapped to your chest or back. No worries, no concerns, just comfort. Plus, you can use the stroller as a glorified push cart and fill it up with your bags and souvenirs.
- Snacks: If you do not want to spend a mini-fortune on Disneyland snacks (though I do recommend you try at least some of the delectable treats that can be found throughout the park), packing a selection of little one friendly snacks is a great idea. Puffs, dry cereal, applesauce pouches, fruit snacks, crackers (especially the ever popular Goldfish), Babybel cheeses, and other non-perishable treats are great, along with juice boxes and water bottles or sippy cups. Formula is welcome in the park, too, so do not feel like you have to buy the overpriced selection from the Baby Care Center, either!
- The Basics: Diapers, wipes, rash cream, extra clothes, teethers, small toys. You know the drill. Make sure you have enough of everything on hand to prevent any mishaps. If things do go haywire, you can grab most supplies in the Baby Care Center through convenient vending machines so do not stress too much! You will be fine.
- Pacifier/Toy Clips: Do you want to spend your time at Disneyland chasing after thrown toys and cleaning off soiled pacifiers? If not, pick up some pacifier and toy clips and attach everything snugly to your little one’s stroller, carrier, or clothing. This way, if they decide to throw something it will not go very far or hit the magically dirty ground! This is especially handy for sippy cups and bottles, as well, for those little ones who have not quite mastered the fine motor skills needed to hold onto their cups for a long period of time.
- iPad/Tablet: I know. Ipads and tablets are seen as a bit of an electronic pacifier but hear me out. Your little ones may not dig being in the parks all day long, especially since they cannot ride everything or participate as much as older kids. If they need to unwind a bit and are feeling overstimulated by the array of sensory experiences in the park, a little bit of tablet quiet time might do the trick. Do not feel bad if you whip out the device to help them be entertained through a particularly long dinner wait or ride line, either.
- Baby Earmuffs: This is something I would have never thought of on my own but someone recommended it to me and ever I have sworn by it. Disneyland is super loud, which can be rather upsetting to babies and toddlers alike. Baby earmuffs are comforting and easy to put on your kiddo, making them perfect for firework shows, rides, and pretty much anything else and are beyond amazing if your kid is having trouble napping while in the park. Seriously, these are worth the investment.
- Activity Books: Any type of activity book will help keep your kid entertained while waiting in line or eating. Coloring books are great, as are word searches and crosswords for older kids. My little one especially loves sticker books so we picked up a few of the reusable ones from Melissa and Doug, which she adored and treated like paper dolls. Speaking of, a set of magnetic paper dolls would be awesome too. Anything to keep their hands moving and minds occupied!
- Safety Harness: I know a lot of parents frown upon leash backpacks but if you have a rambunctious toddler, these can be a lifesaver. Disneyland is parked and with my unruly little one we absolutely needed one. She is not a fan of backpack style leashes so we opted for a pair of velcro wrist straps that are attached to a coiled bungee cord. The model we picked up locked onto her wrist with the key attached to mine, giving her freedom and me peace of mind since she could not escape from her half and was always within arms reach.
How to Safely Pack Souvenirs
When you go to Disneyland, it can be almost impossible to leave without at least one souvenir, especially if you have kids along for the trip. It may seem like a great idea to grab a snow globe or fragile magnet at the time but once you arrive home, boom, broken glass.
I am definitely not telling you to pick up those items; something special like that will be a lovely little reminder of your magical Disney adventure. Instead, let’s discuss some tips and tricks for packing up your souvenirs at the end of your trip.
- Leave room in your suitcase for potential souvenirs while packing. If your suitcase is already overstuffed when you get to the park, chances are you are going to struggle packing up more items on the way home. This, in turn, can lead to more items getting broken or damaged in transit. Leave a bit of space in your bag if you think you may want to pick up some things to bring home. It will save you a lot of headache in the long run. Some people even go so far as to pack an entire empty suitcase but this is usually a bit overkill unless you want to stock up while you are in the park.
- Do not put expensive or particularly special items in your checked luggage. There have been tons of horror stories of people having their items confiscated or stolen from their checked bags. To prevent this, keep anything you do not want broken or to go missing (realistically, you do not want anything to go missing or get broken but we are talking about big ticket items or sentimental things) in your carry on luggage so long as it complies with TSA regulations. The same goes for when you are leaving for your trip; if it is expensive or vital, carry it on. Especially medications.
- Be careful with food items. Though most food and drinks from the park are safe to bring back, some might be confiscated by TSA. A little pro-tip: be sure to pack any liquids or perishable items in plastic bags to prevent them getting all over your clothes should something spill or get gross in your luggage.
Once you have all of your important things packed up, you can use a bit of the leftover space for some things to make your Disneyland trip a little more magical. From photo props to silly extras, these additional items are not really must haves but will still be awesome additions to your luggage.
- Mickey Ears: A classic addition to any Disneyland outfit for adults and kids alike, a set of Mickey Mouse ears are the perfect finishing touch. Tons of awesome ones can be bought in the park that cater to specific Disney movies, characters, and attractions but if you want something truly special, Etsy is the way to go. Countless independent creators produce handmade, unique ears, some of which are one of a kind or customizable. These are perfect if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or other special event or if you want a specific character like Baymax, Stitch, or Jack Skellington (or pretty much anyone else, from Disney or any other franchise, including anime characters and classic Cartoon Network faves). These extra touches are super fun and allow an extra bit of customization to your Disneyland adventure.
- Matching T-shirts/Outfits: If you are going in a big group, break out the matching shirts. These are a super fun do it yourself project or something that is easily customized via Etsy or a similar retailer. A lot of business groups, classes, families, and other bigger visiting groups all do this to create a special touch for their photos. Another idea is to do “mommy, daddy, and baby” outfits, especially if it is your little one’s first Disneyland trip.
- Costumes: Though Disneyland does not allow full costumes for adults or masks for anyone, your little one can bring along a costume of their favorite characters. The Disney character actors through the park love seeing kiddos in costume and will give them a bit of a special treatment, especially if the costume matches theirs. My daughter wore a Moana dress during her trip through the park and the Moana cast member danced and laughed with her before their photo, which was super sweet! If your little one is interested, definitely let them bring along a dress up outfit; the memories associated will be amazing and you can pop it into a shadowbox after your trip!
- Autographable Stuffed Animal: This is something we did on our second Disneyland trip with our daughter. We packed a white stuffed animal and a sharpie and had cast members sign it. Our daughter was not old enough to really get into a lot of the park activities aside from getting excited to see her favorite characters but now she will have an amazing keepsake for when she is older. The bear was covered with cute signatures and we got a tiny Disneyland shirt and hat offline to add to it, too, after we got back. If you can swing something like this, I totally recommend this. It would also be a super special idea for anyone going for a special event!
- Lanyard: This one is a necessity for some but since I prefer not wearing one and ended up sticking mine in my pocket for the duration of our trip, I’ll leave it listed down here. Lanyards are great for holding your park entrance pass and other documents and work quite well as a pin holder if you are into collecting and trading pins with the cast members. We found some with fabric backed pouches that we were able to put patches on for our daughter with her name and some of her favorite characters which we felt was a nice (if not incredibly cheesy) touch.
Questions and Answers
1. Are there any items you cannot bring into Disneyland?
There are actually a lot of things that cannot be brought into the park. Aside from obvious things like outside alcohol, any type of drugs, firearms, knives, and other dangerous objects, Disneyland actually bans quite a few other things, some of which might surprise you. Wagons, glass containers, ice chests, suitcases, folding chairs, full costumes for adults, masks for anyone, skateboards, wrapped gifts, and an entire list of other everyday items can be found on the Disneyland site banned item list.
Some odd entries include selfie sticks due to them constantly causing issues on rides due to patrons trying to take selfies while riding and dropping them, creating a potential health hazard, and cremated remains due to people dumping the ashes off of rides, which obviously creates not only a health hazard but is also rude since a staff member has to sweep the dust up and toss it into a bin (No, they do not leave ashes on the Haunted Mansion ride; anything thrown out is cleaned up by a cast member and disposed of).
2. Can you bring in prepared food?
Sure! You can bring a reasonable amount of prepared food items into the park. Security will not allow you to bring in an entire loaf of bread and sandwich making supplies or anything that needs to be heated but small packed lunches are okay, as are snacks and formula. Baby food also gets a pass, too, as do drinks that are non-alcoholic and not in glass containers.
3. Can you bring medications into the park?
Yes, you can, within reason. Please notify a security member at the gate upon entry and make sure your medications are in their proper prescription container. Do not just pour your medicine into a bag or pill divider, as the park officials have no way of knowing what they are and may have to turn you away. Epi-pens, diabetic supplies, and oxygen tanks are also allowed; just notify someone at the gate so they know ahead of time what you are bringing in. If you are suspected of misusing any medication or sharing anything within the park, you will likely be kicked out and the police may be called so make sure you obey all laws and regulations regarding your medications to prevent any issues.
4. Can I bring a portable crib into the park?
No. Disneyland does not permit portable cribs or Pack n Plays to be brought into the park due to them presenting a fall hazard and the fact that they take up a considerable amount of space. Not only is it a potential accident waiting to happen, it is also a bit inconsiderate since these are larger items, especially if you plan on setting it up in the shared Baby Care Center space, which is rather small. Stick to your stroller, carrier, or infant car seat to give your little one a place to rest; it will likely work just fine when they need a break!
5. Does Disneyland check bags before allowing you to enter the park?
Yes. Make sure all items in your backpack, diaper bag, stroller, and other carrier methods are within the park regulations to prevent any hold ups on your entry. Items that are not permitted may cause you to be turned away or confiscated. All guests must pass a metal detector and bags are screened through an x-ray upon entry to the park to prevent banned items being brought in.