Tips for packing for a Disneyland vacation

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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.
** Sunscreen.
** 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.


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9 Replies to “Tips for packing for a Disneyland vacation”

  1. One thing that we noticed is that Disneyland is not as heavily air conditioned as Disney World. We went in July prepared with sweatshirts for indoors and were sweltering the entire time! We took a ride on the monorail to cool down….only to find it had windows that opened and no air! The indoor restaurants at Downtown Disney were cooler, but it was hard finding some relief in the parks.

  2. LOL – I’m a similar packer! I also pack a small “medicine chest” in my suitcase – most of the meds/first aid items we might need. the insect repellant, anti-itch gel, and benedryl have been used often!

    something to consider – depending on how close the hotel is…you might not need the extra clothes in the backpacks. seriously, that’s how close some of them are. you could set your itinerary so that you hit all the water rides in both parks one morning, and then head back to the hotel at lunchtime & change into the dry ones.

    speaking of itineraries… find a touring plan to help you plan your day as well. that was one of the best things we did!

    KRISTIN: Thanks, Jaime! Your advice has been spot-on throughout our planning!

  3. Being a Cali native and now a South Florida transplant, I have lots of Disneyland and WDW experience. Although Cali is cooler, August is still very warm but with lower humidity. Keep it lightweight with a light sweater for evenings. It never rains and they are on a major drought. Anaheim is not the greatest city and it is not nicely presented as is WDW but Disneyland is the original and just as wonderful!

    KRISTIN: Thanks much, Jen!

  4. Kristin, You can also try VONS for grocery delivery. All the refrigerated stuff gets stored at Bell Services if you are not in your room. We used them last Expo for milk, water, cereal, etc. This Expo, we have a car, so I haven’t decided yet whether to still use VONS. It was very efficient and I didn’t have to hunt for what I exactly wanted.

  5. I am so glad I read this post! I am preparing for a trip to disney world this fall and I have pretty much everything on my list as you do but I forgot one thing! the dish soap! lol. I remembered it last time we went, don’t know how it slipped my mind this time! thanks!

  6. There is actually a Target super close to Disneyland and a lot of Good Neighbor hotels depending on where you are staying. It is located across from the Anaheim Marriott/ Joe’s Crab Shack/ Bucca Di Beppo. Which means it is close via ART or Taxi.

  7. Both World of Color and Fantasmic use FastPass; you will not be permitted to enter the area without your FP showing with color zone you are in. Just an FYI.

    KRISTIN: Thanks, Sharon. They do use FastPasses, but those tickets are not linked to the rest of the FastPass system. That means you can have a FP for WOC or Fantasmic! AND one for an attraction.

  8. Make a list of everything you will need weeks before your trip and write down things you will need as you remember them.Then when you pack use your list and cross off each item as you pack.This way you won’t forget anything.And if you wear glasses bring a spare pair. You never know if they will break or get lost.

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