Walt Disney World is a place of magic and wonder. There are many people out there who think a trip to Walt Disney World is for kids. It is most definitely not a family-only destination. There are thousands and thousands of people who honeymoon at Disney World, have their weddings at Disney World, and take adult only trips. It's my honest opinion, having visited Disney World several times throughout my life, that visiting Disney as an adult is more fun. I know, I know, I sound crazy, but adults are more inept to the details and experiences than kids are, and it takes an adult to truly realize Disney World's full potential. Don't worry, I still firmly believe all children should go!
Walt Disney World is also a very particular destination. It's completely different from most travel experiences, thus requires a different set of planning and preparation rules. This includes packing.
Time of Year
This packing guide is dependent upon what time of year you're visiting Walt Disney World, of course. Florida ranges from warm to smoldering the majority of the year, but there are a few months with milder temperatures.
As in most of my Walt Disney World Grown Up's Guides, I like to mention the best times to go, which is when kids are in school. This leaves September through May (excluding holidays), and cuts out June-August which are the hottest months. You'll be glad for that. Don't let that fool you, however. It's hot in Florida throughout most of the year. It can reach the 90's in December. The typical "colder" months for most of the country are harder to pinpoint in Florida, because it could be 85 on Monday and 45 on Tuesday. Due to this, I'm separating by times of year, and including a list of year round items you'll need.
For the sake of this guide, I will assume a trip of six nights, seven days, and will include at least three nice dinners.
Year- Round Clothing
- Park Shoes: I stick with one or two pairs of comfortable shoes, depending on my outfits. One trip I brought a black pair and tan pair because I had a few things that the black would clash with. Another trip I brought two black pair, but ended up wearing the same pair of black Nikes every day in the parks. To prevent over packing, limit to one or two.
- Jeans/Pants/Shorts: I'm someone who re-wears bottoms unless they get dirty or sweaty. Most months at Disney, I can get away with bringing three to four pairs of bottoms of my choice and re wear them a few times. I like jeggings (for ladies) of some sort that look like jeans but are stretchy, comfortable, and breathable. (My favorite is at Target.) Any type of pant or short that you have and like would work. If you're one of those people who won't wear pants more than once, you'll need seven, which sounds like a headache in a suitcase to me. (Note: There is laundry available if you're in a pinch.)
- Skirts/Dresses: If you're a woman and want to wear skirts or dresses over pants in the parks, it might be a good idea to wear some type of shorts (like biking shorts) or tights (in the cooler months) under them. I find the rides will sometimes have you yanking down on your skirt.
- Tops: It's a good idea to stick with soft tops like jersey or cotton, and short sleeved. Even in the colder months, you can just add layers. Bring one for each day.
- Cardigans/Light Jackets: I bring a very light zip up hoodie everyday with me. Even in the warmer months, because sometimes the inside attractions get cool. Especially if it's rained, you've been on a water ride, or have sweated and your clothes are a bit damp.
- Evening Shoes: If you plan on going to any of the nicer restaurants (which I highly encourage!) you'll want to bring something other than your park shoes. Still try to stay in the comfortable range for yourself. If you're not someone who wears heels a lot, don't bring heels. Even though you're not in the park, you'll still have to do a good bit of walking no matter what you're doing. A pair of nice sandals, flats, or ankle boots would work great. Men should bring some type of loafer or other non-athletic shoe.
- Evening Attire: Most of the table service restaurants in Walt Disney World are still very casual. Unless you're dining at one of the Signature Restaurants, you shouldn't encounter a dress code issue by wearing casual clothing. I like to change before dinner just to get in some nicer, cleaner clothes. This is really up to you. Pack these outfits based on your previously planned dining reservations. I would often wear the same pants and just change tops and shoes. If you're just having a quick service dinner- you can stay in your park clothes. (Note: Signature Restaurants have dress codes. Be sure to learn the dress codes and prepare accordingly if you've made a reservation.)
Example day-to-day outfit plan:
Day 1: Park, quick service dinner.
- Pants/shorts, character tee, athletic shoes, wear all day
Day 2: Park, dinner at Cape May Cafe.
- Pants/shorts, character top, casual shoes (like Tom's), wear all day
Day 3: Character breakfast, park, quick service dinner.
- Pants/shorts, character tee, athletic shoes, wear all day
Day 4: Non-park day (pool, Boardwalk, Downtown Disney, resort hop), dinner at O'Hana
- Pants/shorts, blouse/top/tee, sandals for daytime
- Sundress and sandals for dinner (ladies)
- Collared shirt, pants (gentlemen)
Day 5: Buffet breakfast, park, quick service dinner
- Pants/shorts, tee, comfortable shoes, wear all day
Day 6: Park, nice dinner of your choice, Magic Kingdom for Wishes fireworks show
- Pants/shorts, tee, comfortable shoes
- Skirt, top, sandals for dinner (ladies)
- Slacks, collared shirt for dinner (gentlemen)
- Remain in dinner clothes to return to wishes (as long as your shoes are comfortable.) You won't be walking as much or as long, so non-athletic shoes will probably be fine.
Day 7: Travel day
- Comfort is key! Yoga pants + tee is my favorite travelling outfit.
January and February
These are the two months in which there is a chance of cooler weather. There has been temperatures in the 30s before, so don't throw that out as a non-possibility. These are the months that are typically the times that you really need to check the forecast as close to your arrive date as possible.
- Average high: 70.8
- Average low: 48.6
- The driest month, with average precipitation of 2.30 in
- Average high: 72.7
- Average low: 49.7
- Average precipitation of 3.02 in
Both of these months are very mild temperatures, depending on what you're used to. Hailing in Chicago, a low of 48/49 is a dream. It's still fairly cold for plenty of people, though. I think the main problems I have with this type of weather is that it can still get pretty warm during the afternoon hours, especially in the direct sunlight. This is why layers are important. I also recommend a comfortable backpack rather than a hip bag or messenger bag. They'll have more room for a sweatshirt or light jacket, yet still be pretty comfortable.
You must bring a light jacket, and some type of light cardigan or hoodie. It will be cooler in the mornings and at night and warmer in the day so you could possibly take off some layers. Better to take off layers then have to buy expensive jackets in the parks.
Also, if you're a lady and like to wear dresses or skirts, it's a good idea to bring tights. They can easily be taken off in the restroom and put in your backpack if you're warm in the afternoon.
What not to bring:
Don't bother with sandals, you'll probably want to wear closed toe shoes. I like ankle boots for dinner outfits, as well. Also, you'll want to check the weather forecast to see if there will be any days warm enough to consider a dip in the pool before packing swim suits.
March and April
March and April is definitely climbing in temperature, but not as warm as the summer months. It's still fairly mild, but still on the warm side.
- Average high of 78.0
- Average low of 55.2
- Average precipitation: 3.21
- Average high of 83.0
- Average low of 59.4
- Aver precipitation of 1.8
You won't need a jacket, but you might need a light cardigan. It's fine to wear your most comfortable sandals, it's likely going to be warm enough for them. It's transitioning for more shorts weather, so less pants. It's also warm enough for your swim suits.
What not to bring:
Don't bother with jackets, light sweaters should do.
Elsewhere in the country, it's really only hot in July to August, but in Florida, you will reach the sweaty stage in May and last until September, sometimes October. There will be many days over 100 degrees in these months. Rain chances also increase starting in May so be sure to pack ponchos! There is often a thunderstorm every afternoon.
- Average high: 87.8
- Average low: 65.9
- Average precipitation: 3.55 in
- Average high: 90.5
- Average low: 71.8
- Average precipitation: 7.32 in
- Average high: 91.5
- Average low: 73.1
- Average precipitation: 7.25 in
- Average high: 91.5
- Average low: 73.4
- Average precipitation: 6.78 in
- Average high: 89.7
- Average low: 72.4
- Average precipitation: 6.01 in
Panchos, shorts, breathable tees/tanks, sunscreen, swim suits, and you should pack extra clothes than other times of the year. You will likely need to change outfits due to sweat at least once.
What not to bring:
October - December
October is still pretty warm, but it begins to go back to milder temperatures in November and December. The rain chances fall considerably, and crowd levels are lower.
- Average high: 84.6
- Average low: 65.8
- Average precipitation: 2.42 in
- Average high: 78.5
- Average low: 57.5
- Average precipitation: 2.30 in
- Average high: 72.9
- Average low: 51.3
- Average precipitation: 2.15 in
These months have fluctuating temperatures, much like January and February, so the use of layers will be needed in this month.
Light jacket, light cardigan.
What not to bring:
Nothing! Temperature fluctuations cause for some days in the pool and some days in a jacket. You have to watch he forecast in these months closely.
No matter what time of year, you'll need:
- Gum. If you're a gum chewer, bring it from home. They don't sell gum in Disney World.
- Blister preventives, like moleskin, or Band-Aid Friction Block Stick.
- Ponchos. You can buy the cheap ones from the dollar store if you like, but purchasing a more sturdy one will be much better. The cheap ones stick to you (awful in the heat!) and often don't completely block out rain. Disney sells sturdy ponchos if you forget.
- Febreeze. I use this trick on any clothes I want to re-wear if they're a little stale or smell like the dinner you just had. It's not a replacement for washing by any means, but it makes it smell fresh the next morning. It's also useful for suitcases after shoving worn clothes in.
- Downy Wrinkle Release. This stuff is pretty great. No matter how neatly you fold your clothes, there will be some wrinkles when you unpack. This isn't a replacement for ironing, but if you just have a wrinkle or two, lay the item of clothing on a flat surface (Disney hotels will have a desk/table area), lightly spray the product, and smooth out the wrinkles with your hand. Then let dry laying flat.
- Room spray or plug in. I always bring a room spray or plug in to a hotel (even if I buy it from a nearby gas station) because piling up theme park clothes can start to make your room not smell as fresh. Also, it always attaches a particular scent to that trip and when you smell it again, you'll remember the trip.
- Sunscreen. Yes, you'll need it year round, and it's insanely expensive in Disney gift shops.
- Comfortable backpack. As i mentioned above, I prefer a backpack over messenger or hip packs, just for the simple size of it, and the evenly distributed weight across both shoulders. I've never had an issue riding a ride at Disney with a backpack. If I'm certain I don't need a poncho or any type of light jacket for the day, I'll go without anything over carrying a one-shoulder bag. All you need is a phone (in a pocket) and your MagicBand (on your wrist.)
- Camera. You can certainly go with just your camera phone. I also like to bring a good, small, point and shoot that takes good nighttime photos. I have the Sony DSC-WX80/B that takes amazing dark photos (for rides or night time,) panorama, and video. (It's very affordable now that there are new models out, yet it's still amazing quality.) I use both this and my iphone. I'm a DSLR user as well, but I don't bring my DSLR in the parks. I find it's too heavy.
- Portable chargers. I bring along travel chargers for my phone. You will need a charge at some point. There are now free charging stations in Magic Kingdom, but I still like to have my own so I can charge up anywhere.
- Extra memory cards.
- Flip Flops for showers (or pool.)
For warmer months:
- Frogg Toggs chilling towel or headband. These will save your sweaty neck.
- Ladies, always bring hair ties and bobby pins. You'll want to pin your hair up at some point, I promise.
- Brita filtered water bottle. You get free ice water at any quick service dining location and you can pour into your bottle and save for later.
I've included a video of some great room saving tips and tricks for packing up a suitcase. Some highlights are:
- Fold and roll
- Stuff small items in shoes
- Use buttons for stud earrings
Also, in case you're adding a Disney Cruise to your Disney vacation, I've added a video below with some DCL-specific packing tips. Enjoy!
Nancy Layton on June 29, 2015:
What a great article! Informative and fun to read. :)