Even though we’ve been to Disney many times, each time is a little bit different as the kids get older, and that means I’m reworking our packing list each trip. This is not my favorite part of vacationing. However, it’s SO necessary to prepare for a trip like Disney if you want to really be able to relax and enjoy yourself while you are there. So, I’ve created a bit of a question and answer on all the packing questions I’ve googled in the past.
Will I need a carseat?
We always stay on property at Disney (in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel) which means we always get to take advantage of some Disney extras which are so worth it. Once you’re on Disney property, you can get to all the parks / other resorts via bus, boat or walking so it’s in your best interest to avoid cars if possible if you have young kids that need carseats. The most awesome service offered by Disney is Magical Express. Magical Express is a service for to/from the airport (assuming you are going to/from your resort). Before your trip, Disney sends you some luggage tags which you put on your checked bags. You then check them as normal, but when you get to Orlando, you don’t have to pick them up at luggage claim. Instead you go straight to the Magical Express bus, and take a bus (with your carry-on luggage) from the airport to your hotel. The bus takes longer than a taxi, but the biggest perk with young kids is…NO carseats required. Once you’re ready to leave Disney, you can check your luggage with a skycap at the hotel (and leave it with them). You then hop back on the bus and go through security as normal with your carry-on luggage. You won’t see your checked bags again until you get to your home airport. It’s awesome, and has definitely streamlined our travel.
What stroller should I bring?
If you have one kid, definitely bring the stroller your kid is most comfortable in and you are most comfortable collapsing. If you are looking for a recommendation, buy a City Mini. I cannot recommend that stroller enough. It is so easy to collapse, and fully reclines, can hold diaper bags, allows kids to nap in the stroller (absolutely necessity in the parks), and has a huge sun shade which is really nice in the Florida sun (especially if you have bald children like we did!). Just needing a stroller for a one-time visit? You can rent from Orlando Stroller Rentals and guess what – they rent the City Mini. In fact, we have the exact same color stroller as the rentals, so we’ve put a luggage tag on the stroller so we can find it in the stroller parking! It’s much cheaper to rent one of these for the week than to rent them in the parks – and the park strollers are definitely a last resort (hard plastic, no sun shade).
If you have two kids, then it gets trickier, obviously depending on age and temperament. We went a few months ago with our 1 year old (not walking) and 3 year old. We debated for so long on whether to bring the Double Bob stroller or whether to take two separate strollers. In the end we ended up taking the City Mini and we purchased a Maclaren Volo umbrella stroller because we wanted it to last for many years of trips. It was the right decision for us. We decided that collapsing the Double Bob and then hauling it on the bus rides would have been too much for me in any scenario, and definitely too much for one person with both kids. Having the two strollers allowed one parent to take a kid back to the room, or to another ride. Our 3 year old spent most of the time walking, so it was nice to have a super light stroller which we could collapse and put on our back or just push around empty. Since he is potty trained, we didn’t even need the diaper bag on the umbrella stroller. When the kids were tired, we would put the sleepy one in the City Mini and pull down the sunshade for prime naptime.
Do I need to bring a travel crib?
All the rooms we’ve stayed in have a pack ‘n’ play in the room, which is super easy. But check the room description just in case.
What about a high chair?
Disney is, of course, very kid friendly so nearly every restaurant had high chairs. If we did a “quick service” and there were no high chairs (looking at you EPCOT England Fish ‘n’ Chips), we’d just feed the baby while strapped in the stroller. Not the cleanest option, but it works, and that’s what wipes are for.
Most of our recent trips have been as part of the Disney Vacation Club so we stay in the villas, and typically with both kids, we’ve chosen a one bedroom so we can close the door when the kids go to bed and continue to chat and watch TV. Those rooms all have a high chair which is very convenient for breakfast in the room and dinner some nights. If you have a young baby, and you aren’t staying in that type of room, you could try this travel high chair. We used it a few times with Nolan and it worked pretty well.
I have dirty kids. Do I really need to pack two changes of clothes for every day? Is there laundry?
In the one bedroom villas, you actually have a washer / dryer in room which is so so awesome. It’s not the best, but it is functional and means we don’t pack as much, as we usually do a round of laundry about midway through the trip (or more frequently if there’s an accident). If you’re in a normal room, I believe there’s always a facility in the hotel that takes coins, so depending on your dedication, you could make use of that. We’ve used it in the past during a kid’s naptime in the room.
Should I bring toys? How will I entertain them in the room?
Other than the toys you bring on the plane, I’d say bring one or two bedtime books and that’s it. We find that our kids aren’t interested in their old toys on vacation, and you’re rarely in the room anyway unless everyone is exhausted. Oh and speaking of sleeping – don’t forget bedtime “friends” and familiar blankets – they can make the transition so much easier! If you are in the room more, there’s this great “toy” called Disney Junior available on the TV. If you are staying in the Villas, there’s always a place you can check out movies (kid-friendly and more PG13) for the DVD player in your room, and usually another lobby-type area with crayons. Nice perk!
What about diapers and wipes? Water? Milk?
Diapers, wipes, and really any food / drinks at Disney are expensive, but available. Since we typically go for a week, and we stay in a place with a full kitchen, we go grocery shopping on day 1 or 2. We bring enough diapers for a few days, and some packets of oatmeal to get through Day 1 breakfast (nothing worse than having your kid wake up at 5am starving and have no food available). We then go to the grocery store using a borrowed car of a wonderful family member to get milk, water, breakfast food, sandwich stuff, and snacks. However if you didn’t have that luxury, there is a grocery delivery service which is cheaper than the market stores and reasonable on some items. We haven’t tried it, but would definitely consider it if we didn’t have a car (or didn’t want to take the 2-3 hours out of our vacation).
What do you think – did I miss anything? What questions do you have about traveling with young kids to Disney?