15 Essential Things to bring to Disneyland for park survival
In continuing with my Disneyland theme, I felt as a veteran Disneyland attendee I owed it to anyone that would listen to provide you with some super essential things that you'll want to pack for your trip. Maybe you've been there and realized (too late) that there were some things you could really use. Of maybe you've never been there yet and are thinking of going. Either way, if you've read my post Tips for a successful Disneyland Trip you'll know that when I go to Disneyland I mean business.
So with that being said, here are my 15 ABSOLUTE essential things to have before you go. There are a lot of things to bring in your suitcase for the trip, so this is not an exhaustive list for your entire vacation. I'm talking about park survival here.
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I created some fun printable planning worksheets to plan your next Disneyland trip. You can grab yours here and start planning!
Something for chafing: possibly the most essential thing!
I mentioned this briefly in the other post and several of my family members later said I didn't give it enough attention, and in retrospect, they are right. This is important. Especially for men. If you'd rather the men in your party weren't walking around the park like they'd just gotten off a horse, you really need to put some forethought into this. My husband might kill me for saying so, but I'm pretty sure he's an expert. He always packs two COMPLETELY ESSENTIAL things:
- Gold Bond. You can even buy them in these snazzy little travel size containers so if you're flying they can go in your carry-on. We own about 10 of these little puppies.
- This miracle anti-chafing cream is what he SWEARS by! I'm not quite sure how he stumbled upon it, but he swears it was a gift direct from heaven. (They have a version for women too, but I haven't tried it. If someone would like to give it a go, please do and let me know how it works)
You won't need to take this into the park with you (well, unless you want to) but you'll sure be glad you've got it in the hotel room when you get back.
A Good Bag/Purse
My goal when it comes to a bag or purse to take into the park is to have it be only as big as it needs to be to carry what I need without being so small I am constantly fighting to get things in and out of it. I know a lot of people bring backpacks, but that's just not for me.
I've tried fanny packs and all kinds of purses and most of them were good, but still lacking. That is, until I found this one This is the absolute bomb! I bought it at the Scrapbook Expo on a fluke and had no idea how great it would be. My phone fits in the front zippered pocket, and I love having a place for a water bottle. There was actually more room in here than I even needed, but it was nice to have it not so tightly packed.
Your phone and a battery pack
Your phone is probably also your camera. And your phone is probably also your MaxPass. Having it with you and having it charged are definitely essential. We got these dual power packs recently and they are AWESOME. They are small, so they fit in either a small purse or your pocket. My husband and I both have one, which is pretty cool. You can pack the dock in your suitcase and then put them on the dock overnight to charge each night.
Socks and shoes meant for hiking
I know I mentioned this in my other post, but it's so important I have to add it to this list too. We're talking about a serious amount of walking here. You might think you're okay wearing flip flops because they're your go-to shoes for summer, and maybe you feel like you've walked a lot in them and never had a problem. The last time I was at Disneyland, I logged more than 72,000 steps (about 36 MILES) in three days. That is an insane amount of walking! Even if you CAN do it, I'm pretty sure every podiatrist on the planet would tell you not to. My best advice:
- ave TWO pairs of comfortable shoes. Changing your shoes mid-day can make a world of difference! If you want sandals, don't do flip flops. Pick something you would go hiking in like these Chacos
- Have good sweat wicking socks. If your feet are sloshing around in pools of sweat, blisters are inevitable. I swear by Smartwool socks. My sister and I both bought them and still have the same pairs years later. If you take care of them, they will last a long time (I still have mine from 2008!) Plus they are soft and cozy.
Something waterproof to put your phone in
We have always packed zip top bags for this purpose. If you're planning to do Grizzly River Run or Splash Mountain, you'll want a way to protect your electronics. Make sure you bring something big enough for the battery pack, your phone and any other electronic item you need to protect (I usually remove my fitbit also) If you want to be more official, you could get a waterproof pouch I seem them all over the park, but I haven't bought one because I haven't found one that fits my phone. If you decide to give it a whirl, make sure you get one that works for your specific phone!
The food is expensive enough in the park without buying drinks, and you can get a free cup of water from any food place in the park. If you like plain water, that's great. I happen to think the water at Disneyland is a little nasty myself, so I always bring Mio. It's tiny and fits nicely in my purse, tastes great, and of course I get the ones with the caffeine kick too. Crystal Light drink mixes would be a good alternative too, but I like Mio better because it doesn't matter what size water cup I have, I can just use a little.
(On that note, when we first get to Anaheim, my husband always heads over to the drugstore and buys a case of water to put in the fridge. Much cheaper than buying bottled water in the park, and I'm always dying of thirst when we get back to the room at night.)
A rain poncho
This might not seem like one of those essential things, but if it starts to rain you'll be glad you bought one at home for a buck rather than suddenly need one and have to pay $10 for it. Just sayin'
I have a story about rain ponchos: Bringing a rain poncho into the park to wear on Grizzly River Run is not a good idea. My sisters and I did that. Biggest. Mistake. Ever. We felt like turkeys in a roasting bag, in an oven, baking at about 1000 degrees. You sit in that raft, spinning in circles, sweating from every pore as you roast yourself alive and I'm pretty sure you've entered the 7th circle of hell. The ride ends and you're begging to go back under that waterfall just to bring your body temperature back down to normal. Stay off the ride if you don't want to be drenched. Not worth it. Not fun. In any way.
Stain Remover Stick
Spills are inevitable, especially if you're with kids. Carrying a stain stick will relieve you of the anxiety of watching your kid walk around with a red splotch on their clothes and wondering if you'll ever get it out. This isn't exactly vital, but if you're weird about stains it's pretty important.
This is especially important if you're bringing kids to the park. Have you ever noticed how kids have to run their hands along every single surface they pass? Standing in line? Play with the chain (the WHOLE chain, be sure to touch every link). Sitting on a bench? Slide your butt and hands along the whole bench. Walking along a fence? Be sure you touch it at every post. If you're too far away, that's okay! Just move two feet to the left/right and put yourself in prime touching-everything position. It's super gross. I saw a kid standing in line at Star Tours rubbing his entire face all over the handrail. He definitely had taken touching every surface to a whole new level.
That means if they're touching everything, hand sanitizer may be one of the most essential things you can bring. You need it anyway, because everything you touch out of necessity has been touched by every single kid in the park. There aren't enough bathrooms in the world for dealing with that.
There's nothing quite like the knot created in long hair after after zooming around the track on Radiator Springs Racers. Another personal favorite is when you get to the screen to see the in-ride picture and you look like Cousin It with your hair all over your face. Plan to pin your hair up at least while you're on some of the fast rides.
If you are worried about sunburning the part in your hair (and you probably should be) then a great way to protect it is with these awesome headbands. You wear them thin or spread them out, and if they get wet they will dry really fast. Another alternative are these headbands and the nice thing about these headbands is they have an adjustable strap, so they can fit kids, teens or adults, however, they don't spread as wide to cover the whole top of your head.
My husband bought the world's best hat right in the park and paid a pretty penny for it. He's what you might call hair challenged, and head protection is essential for him! We found a nearly identical hat on Amazon that goes a long way to protect not only his head but also his face from sunburn.
Travel sized sunscreen
Depending on where you're hanging out in the park, this may be more essential for you than it is for me. However, I still carry one because other members of my family always need it. In lieu of dragging your giant bottle into the park, get a small one. It might say it's just for faces, but that doesn't really matter.
Sunglasses may not seem like an essential thing, but they will definitely make the day more pleasant if you have them.
Travel container with pain meds
I have a small container that has four sections, so I carry four different types of meds with me into the park. One of them is gas relief. Other than that, bring what you think you'll need. Remember, you're going back to the hotel eventually, so you don't need to pack around any more than you need in one day. The goal (at least for me) is to keep everything I carry in my purse.
Park Tickets and ID
This one is obvious. But you'd be surprised how many people drive 7 hours only to remember they left their wallet and park tickets at home. Wait, did I just admit we did that? The park tickets are definitely the most essential things you can bring!
Things I don't Bring
I know there are a lot of people that would disagree with me, so this is strictly my opinion. You'll have to make your own decisions based on your family and what they need.
I leave the hotel in the morning with one water bottle that is tucked in the pocket of my purse and that's it. Water is free from any food stand in the park--just go ask. There are also a plethora of drinking fountains everywhere. Hauling a bunch of water is just not necessary.
When my kids were young, we brought a backpack with snacks in it. I bought these little individual bags of Whales (think Goldfish crackers but bigger). When we opened them, it was nothing but whale dust. I ended up going to the McDonald's fries stand and buying everyone some fries (sorry, the fry stands are gone). That was the last time I hauled snacks into the park. We leave for lunch and go back to the hotel, so there is no real reason everyone needs to be snacking all the time. Especially after having run their hands all over every surface in the park. Yuck.
We did the backpack thing many moons ago and my husband had to carry it all day. I have since looked back and wondered why we did it. Obviously if you're hauling around a bunch of little kids, you may need more than what can fit in a small purse, but think minimalism. It inhibits your ability to ride rides, it makes your back all sweaty and tired, and you probably wont even look at 75% of what's in there all day.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against babies. I'm just saying I would never bring one. We have a general rule for our family, and now that my kids are adults and plan to one day take kids of their own, they've all said they will stick with the rule. If you can't walk on your own and use the toilet, it's a no-go. This definitely isn't a rule that works for everyone and I know a lot of people take babies
So there you have it!
I hope you are ready to plan a trip! Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth if you ask me, but just be sure you've packed all these essential things to make it the best trip ever!