As a dad who's navigated Walt Disney World with a four-year-old in tow, I've picked up a few key tips that make the experience much easier.
Best Gadgets for Disney World
Traveling to Walt Disney World with kids of any age is special. You look at the "House of Mouse" so differently when you're there with your little ones. But a trip to Disney with kids also comes with its fair share of stressful situations. From meltdowns to eating and time management, there's just a lot to deal with and try to plan for.
Rest assured! Those challenges can be mitigated and all-out avoided by being prepared with the right accessories to take on Walt Disney World.
1. Umbrella for Rain and Shade
Regardless of the picturesque photos on the Disney website of blue skies and one or two fluffy clouds, it does rain across Walt Disney World with some regularity. Bringing an umbrella should be an essential accessory for any parent.
Go with an umbrella on the smaller size, roughly the size of your forearm, for easy packing. If you have kids who can manage their own umbrellas definitely bring a couple. And, don't forget, on those hot, sunny days an umbrella can keep you and your little ones significantly cooler. Popping an umbrella open over your resting toddler in a stroller makes a big difference in the heat.
2. Rain Poncho
If an umbrella is too cumbersome for an extra long storm or a gentle mist, try a poncho. As a parent with multiple children, I know it can be challenging to keep them all dry with umbrellas, they can be difficult for some kids to hold in the wind, and a full rain jacket may be way too hot on humid days. Pop open a poncho in less than a minute and keep the family moving.
I also highly recommend a reusable poncho. They come with a thicker plastic and are stronger against potential tears. It's also simply more prudent. You don't want to spend $5-$10 on a poncho every time it rains (and it rains nearly daily at some points in the year).
3. Reusable Straws
As of 2019, Walt Disney World has now gone plastic straw-free. Disney's Animal Kingdom has long been a supporter of paper straws in an effort to reduce plastic in the environmentally sensitive park, but the recent announcement to cut plastic straws from its parks has left many people wondering what to do, especially parents.
Bringing a reusable straw or two will make a big difference for your family when trekking through the parks and grabbing a quick drink. Silicon straws are an excellent way to go when it comes to bringing your own straws. They are more flexible (literally) than metal ones, last longer than a single-use paper straw, and can come in an array of fun colors that will add a little more fun for your kids.
I've found that straws are essential for young children at the Disney Parks and given kids are prone to chewing on the straws as much as drinking out of them, their flexible nature makes them the perfect accessories for easy drinking at every park and restaurant.
4. Inexpensive Water Bottle or Mug
Nearly every dining location - quick service and table service - across Walt Disney World offers complimentary water. Packing a water bottle or mug is an outstanding way to save money and keep your kids hydrated.
You should also go in expecting to lose or break the bottle at some point, so leave the S'well bottles and Yeti mugs at home. Go with an inexpensive bottle on the smaller side given the fact you won't want to carry around a five pound bottle of water just to save $3 per bottle of water from a park kiosk.
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5. Cross Body Purse
You're likely going to be running around the parks trying to keep track of children, strollers, your significant other, and any number of things. The last thing you want to worry about is your valuables like car keys, phones, and wallet. A normal purse or wallet just won't cut it at Disney.
Bring a sling purse, or cross body purse that you can quickly take out of the stroller and bring on a ride with you. It will be a life and time saver.
6. Portable Fan
There is a good chance it is going to be hot when you go to Walt Disney World. With temperatures in the 85-95-degree Fahrenheit range for much of the spring, summer, and fall, you need to keep cool. Bringing a portable, battery powered fan is a big plus.
Pro Tip: Go for a rechargeable fan with a clip. You won't have to deal with batteries throughout your trip and the clip, like on this portable fan, makes it perfect for strollers or attaching it to a table while dining out. I've found that the quiet hum of the fan adds so much to help a napping toddler stay comfortable in the Florida heat.
7. First Aid Kit
You may be traveling to "The Most Magical Place on Earth" but that doesn't mean the reality of cuts and bruises go out the window. There is a free and helpful First Aid Station at every one of the Walt Disney World Parks, but accidents can happen anywhere and everywhere.
Bringing a small, travel first aid kit is a life saver. This could be anything from a pack of Band-Aids and tape to a small Boy Scout First Aid Kit. It's really up to your needs.
8. Portable Mobile Phone Charger
This might seem like something more for adults or teens, but with so much of the Disney Parks experience requiring the use of your cell phone, a portable charger for your phone is essential. Your phone can be used for booking FastPasses for rides and even doing Mobile Ordering at restaurants across Disney property. It's important to note that the My Disney Experience App can chew through your battery power, let alone using the Play Disney App that includes interactive games for users to take part in at every Park.
Ensuring your phone is operational at all times will make all the difference in keeping your family happy and on the move. Plus, you won't want to miss those special moments and memories because your phone has died and you don't have a camera to snap a key photo.
9. Ziplock Bags
One of the great things about Walt Disney World is eating. There are snacks, delicious meals and unique treats all around the parks and resorts. But, we all know that children's eyes are often larger than their stomachs. You might want to take that Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll with you instead of leaving it half eaten on the plate. Grab a Ziplock bag and take it with you!
You could bring a small container with you around the park, but I would recommend classic Ziplock Bags. They're there when you need them and small when you don't.
A good backpack can honestly make or break the flow of your park day. I've walked past Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with a rare 25-minute standby line and only have a moment to park a stroller, wrangle a four-year-old, and grab my bag without another thought. I couldn't have done that with no backpack or a cumbersome bag.
When picking a backpack, bigger is not always better. Think about your stroller size, the essentials that will need to be in there and how much you want to physically carry for eight straight hours.
© 2019 David Tubbs