As any Pinner will tell you, there are about a grillion and three posts out there saying "buy this before you go to Disney!" To be honest, I got pretty caught up in all the frenetic "I gottta get this" purchasing-palooza before our visit with the main mouse.
Hopefully I can help my pals and others determine what's worth it and what falls under the "not so much" category. I'll start with the stuff I found to be awesome, useful or down right absolutely necessary.
Everyone talks about your "park bag" and what to put in it. So let's look there first. I searched and searched for park bags until I was blue as the Blue Fairy in the face. Backpacks, messenger bags, purses, etc. there are options out the wazoo - most of which are a bit on the pricey side. I wanted something special, preferably something very Mickey-fied and something I wouldn't need Aladdin's lamp to pay for it.
I stumbled on absolute perfection one day as I was strolling through Target. It is the cutest black and white Mickey Mouse diaper bag! There was also a super cute Minnie Mouse diaper bag too!! Tough choice, but I snagged up the Mickey one and am so glad I did! Not only is it adorable, but it is really roomy and has great pockets for keeping things somewhat organized during a long day in the park. The big bonus is, it's pretty water proof and kept all our stuff dry despite Splashes and spills. The strap is adjustable so it can be cross body or over the shoulder depending on your needs/prefernces. Now I never thought I would buy another diaper bag again as those days had flown a few years ago, but this was a great purchase and I am seriously thinking of buying another one to have as a backup for future Disney trips. Yes, it is that awesome!
Ponchos. We bought ponchos. We used the ponchos - once. Once in seven days. Now, we don't regret getting ponchos. Actually, we're glad we did. We are really glad we bought three good reusable ponchos and did not get a boat load of Dollar Store disposable ones. The three good ponchos will probably come in handy some other time, so we don't feel as though we wasted the money (All five dollars of it per poncho). You see, we camp a lot. We also live in Colorful Colorado where it has a tendency to rain a bunch of afternoons in the summer - almost always during a T-ball game. So yes, the ponchos will get used and loved. However, if we had bought the Dollar Store ones I would be pretty bummed. That's because I'm not a fan of a disposable life. We try to be a bit more ecologically conscious, so I would feel pretty poopy adding a bunch of ponchos to a landfill somewhere. Here's what we bought for the grownups. We bought the one at Disney World for Pax so it could be a souvenir.
Water bottle. This was an awesome purchase! It's also one of the unintentional sacrifices we had to leave for the vacation gods. It was unfortunately lost on our very last day in the parks, but it was great while we had it! This bottle has a filter in it, so it helps keep any icky taste out and any icky ickiness out. The loop hooks easily around most things and makes carrying it a breeze. You can fill up water bottles at any quick serve and there are a bunch of water fountains around. Do yourself a favor and drink a ton of water. You're walking and sweating in the hot, humid Florida climate. Stay hydrated!
Portable charger. Cool product! Was very handy when we needed it, and I'm sure this will come in even more handy on camping trips and what nots. The size is awesome! It's about the size of an iPhone. Things charge pretty quickly too. We didn't use our phones a whole bunch while in the parks, but if that's your main source of picture taking, this could really be a necessity.
Pocket Picnic Blanket. Sooooo many blogs and pins suggest having a towel or blanket or something to sit on and to mark your spot for fireworks and parades and such. So many in fact, I was absolutely insistant we buy this. Never. Used it. Not. Once. It's a cool blanket. Will probably come in handy this summer, but it is not needed in your park bag. The sidewalks/streets in Disney World are really clean. If you find a need to plop on the pavement, just plop. But most of the time, you'll be standing for fireworks and parades. I'd put this in the not so much category.
Glow sticks. The big tip I read most was to buy glow sticks and bring them in your park bag to pull out when the sun goes down, so I did. I bought em. I brought em. They were fun. It wasn't a huge necessity, but it was fun. The only time I saw anyone selling light up toys in a "persistent" manner was for Rivers of Light. Otherwise, it really wasn't a big deal. If your kids like glow sticks, then by all means pick some up. If they're a little "meh" about them, it won't be an issue. There is so much going on, your kiddo probably won't even notice. Mine didn't and we wound up bringing a bunch of glow sticks back home with us. Which is fine because we'll play with them this summer. Never a bad time with a glow stick around!
Other things you'll need/want. Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock! Lip balm, lip balm, lip balm! I would also recommend some sort of hat - preferably some mouse ears! I suggest this because I got a sunburn on the part in my hair! The sun is that intense!
Wipes and tissues are always a good idea as is a small first aid kit with plenty of band-aids for boo boos. We never really needed a stack of snacks because we had so many options with our dining plan, plus we aren't big eaters - especially when we're hot.
You'll also want some sort of autograph thing and a couple of big thick pens or markers for charcaters to sign with. We used the traditional autograph book, but if I had to do it over again I would probably bring a frame mat like this! In addition, bring a bunch of pennies and quarters for pressed penny souvenirs!!! It was one of our most favorite things to do and collect.
Speaking of collecting, trading pins are a must!!! It's a Fantasmically fun thing for kiddos to do with Castmembers as well as other kiddos. My little one met so many fast friends trading pins in line and such. We bought this lanyard/starter kit and filled it up with these pins. You don't get to choose which pins you get in the bunch, but they were all different and we had a bunch of "keepers" in our pack. There were absolutely no problems trading any of these pins in the park. They! Were! Awesome!!!!
Now on to things other than stuff for the bag!
Shirts!!! We had so much fun wearing themed shirts each day. Plus it made packing waaaaaayyy easier! If there was ever a time and place to embrace your inner Mouseketeer, this is it! Have fun! We wore Mickey shirts (can get them almost aywhere) on Magic Kingdom days, Jungle Book shirts (Redbubble) on Animal Kingdom day, Epcot shirts (Disney Store online) on Epcot day, Star Wars shirts (almost anywhere) on Hollywood Studio day and the most awesome birthday shirts on birthday day (Etsy). Pax wore this on the plane there and this on his first day at Disney (also Etsy).
Not only was it a ton of fun to all dress in similar fashion, but it made our experience more magical. Why? Well, people noticed. We got special attention and perks because of our attire. For exaple, because we were wearing all Jungle book shirts we got this special Magic Shot. The photographer loved our theme! We got special VIP entrance to rides because of the birthday shirts as well as Castmembers and Characters came to wish Pax a happy birthday during parades and such. It was so special!
We also wore Disney Vans!!! We had Mickey Mouse and Jungle Book pairs and they were awesome!!! I highly recommend wearing socks with your Vans if you're doing a whole day at the park in them. Soooooo cute and fun!!!
Since this post is getting to be a bit long, I will stop here and do a whole other blog on Memory Maker and Dining Plans. For now, happy shopping!!
And in case you haven't heard... this place.... oh my!!!
I am not a negative person and generally prefer to stray away from saying something unkind. However, in the spirit of trying to be helpful, I must let you all know about one not so groovy item purchased. It was a red Minnie Mouse shirt from Target (a place I usually adore!) The top is super cute, covers the hiney and looks perfect... until you wear it all day with a pair of white capri pants. This thing bleeds red on everything! Including my little boy's birthday present - a stuffed Perry the Platypus. This shirt = no bueno, but we had fun in spite of it!