We are 28 days from Disney!! My husband and I have not visited since we were teens (early 2000’s) and we are taking our 2 1/2 year old for the first time. I have planned and replanned approximately 1000 times. We are doing free dining. I have a character meal ADR every day, a dream schedule of fast passes, as well as Savi’s and Oga’s reservations! I have also worked in a daily break/nap for all days except our HS/SWGE day. We have purchased memory maker as well. I am an amateur photographer and plan to bring bare bones equipment into MK one morning to take a couple of shots of my son, otherwise we’re leaving it up to CMs and iphones for photos. We are pumped!!
But now I’m trying to think of daily logistics of packing/travel. My husband and I used to travel very minimally and continue to try this as much as possible with a toddler. I keep seeing blog posts about all the million things families pack. I know we want to stay hydrated and we plan to bring in water bottles. But do we really need a cooler, and first aid kits, and glow sticks, and bubbles, and on and on and on? I have two goals- 1 is to not check a bag going into Florida. But to check one going back home so my husband can carry on his lightsaber. Goal 2 is to not be a pack mule all day everyday. We are bringing our “big” stroller (aka not the flimsy umbrella one) and a baby carrier because he will nap in it. But otherwise I had just planned on bringing clothes and barebones toiletries (using Disney soap during our stay) and that’s about it. Am I crazy? Is this doable? Do I need a cooler? Can’t I refill our water bottles in park? If we really need first aid can’t we find some in the park - or will the hassle just be too much?
Also (and I know this is highly personalized), how much empty space for souvenirs? We typically don’t buy a lot on our travels. We instead make scrap books/shadow boxes using pictures, brochures, tickets, etc. from our trip. But I feel Disney might be different? Especially with a small child? How many souvenirs do you typically purchase on a family trip?
I’m amazed at some of the things people say they pack. It’s crazy. I was able to get everything for myself for 6 day 5 night trip in a carry one. As a family of 4, we take two large suitcases and that’s it. If you have the dining plan, there’s no need for a cooler. In the parks, I’ll have a backpack with sunscreen, a very small hand sanitizer, wet wipes, external phone charger, a Tide stick for stains, a few large zip lock bags (for half eaten snacks my kids want to finish later) and rain coat/poncho. As far as regular packing I’ll pack an extra bag for dirty clothes–I use a large vera bradley one, a pop up hamper, and an over the door shoe organizer with pockets to keep the bathroom stuff organized. If you find you need something that you didn’t pack, Prime Now can get it to you in 2 hours. You can get first aid stuff in the park. Pack light is my motto. We aren’t going to a remote desert island.
This makes me feel so much better!! I was starting to feel overwhelmed reading all the blog posts! And I don’t get overwhelmed by planning/travel. We’re also the people who took two carryons for 10 days in Greece. But reading what people bring had me hitting a panic button that if we didn’t bring all this stuff we would be miserable and hot!
I have heard about the Prime. I’m thinking of getting a few grocery items to speed mornings up. Anything I need to know about making sure it gets to me ok?
No. If you are good at packing minimally, do so for Disney too.
Refill your bottles with free water at the quick service locations in the parks.
I have gone on several Disney trips and not bought a single souvenir. But, when I do it’s usually a shirt or some other easily packable item. General rule for me is I allow for one “gotta have it” item. If I don’t see one, I’m ok with that. For the kiddo, I definitely splurge on a special plush.
I’ve used Prime Now four times now with no problem. I place my order the night before I leave and have it arrive around the time my flight lands. It’s waiting for me in my room when I get to the resort. Very easy to use. I usually have water, cereal, gum, granola bars, uncrustables–breakfast stuff, delivered. We use the dining plan so I don’t need any other food.
Yes, we took our daughter for the first time when she had just turned 3. The “guys” we bought on that trip hold very special memories and that’s what it’s all about.
We’ve gone back annually since then and I have to say those are the times that we are really treasuring now.
Take tons of pictures and download the ones from the photopass. In 10 years when you look at them, your heart will melt.
We just returned a week ago from our first trip without a stroller, just took my older kids, sons 17, 15 and 10. Couldn’t stuff everything under the stroller like usual so packed light as we could. What we really needed/used was external charger, a few ziploc bags, ponchos and a small umbrella. Putting on a layer of sunscreen before we left was sufficient although with a little one you may want to bring a small tube in case. It was so hot and humid down there, believe me you will not spend any time in the sun that you can avoid! It rained every day so ponchos got used. The umbrella was good for quick dashes in the rain and for those times when you have to stand in line in the sun, to shade you. Even at 7 AM in line for FOP the umbrella shade was a relief! Since you will have a stroller to leave it in, I would bring a small soft sided cooler with bottled water. However if you don’t it’s no big deal. Just know that the water fountain water is pretty nasty, and that is what they will tell you to use to fill your bottles. You can get free cups of ice water at quick service locations and you can grab two cups and use them to fill a water bottle if you want. Also, we had free dining as well and despite the fact my boys can do some serious eating, we still had 30 snack credits to burn at the end of the week. So it would not have killed us to use a few of those for water bottles even if it isn’t the best “value”! I would also tuck in a couple of bandaids which weigh nothing and a small glow necklace or something, little ones get a kick out of that and will help resist the temptation to buy something overpriced there.
Also I should add, we bought a bunch of breakfast stuff when we arrived and never touched it! We were in a hurry to get going in the morning and used snack credits to get something in the parks instead. Dumped out a full half gallon of milk before we left, so sad!
I’m definitely planning to use snack credits for breakfast most days. Our little one thinks he has to eat something the second he wakes up. So we aren’t buying much, just enough to keep the whining at bay lol
With small kids, you do need to bring more. As they get older, then you pack lighter. For us now, we pack, three external phone chargers. It is a must to keep your phone charged, everything (FPP, ADR’s), runs off technology. We also pack two water bottles that we constantly refill during the day. Hydration is everything this time of year. We also pack cooling fans (tiny ones you can get @ Wal-Mart) and two cooling towels. We also pack two umbrellas (Smaller Totes from Wal-Mart) and finally a small first aid kit with bandages and especially moleskin for blisters. We also slide in there some anti-bacterial wipes (yes sometimes you need to wipe down tables etc.) and a small towel in case you need to dry off a bench. All of this is put in a backpack.
7 nights and 8 days, so with five of us we had 70 snack credits to use. There was a lot of “I wouldn’t normally get this, but we have snack credits!’ going on, but still with two meals per day we were usually quite full! This was our first time on dining plan and I’m afraid we are quite spoiled now!
First aid - we didn’t bring this, but could’ve used a minimal one (bandaids, Tylenol, blister stuff). Our 1 y/o got a cut on his head (ran into a wall, naturally), so we swung by the Baby Care center at MK and got one there. Would’ve been nice to have one on hand, but they are more than able to accommodate you in the park.
Cooler - we refilled bottles and had no problems. I don’t see the need for a cooler unless it’s an extremely hot day and you don’t plan on many breaks.
Bubble/glow sticks/toys - I think this may depend on your kid, but ours were fine playing in line and entertaining themselves in their stroller. We did bring a LOT of goldfish, granola bars, and other snacks, which helped with any boredom.
Souvenirs - again, depends on you, but it sounds like photos are your primary souvenirs. I’d also highly recommend getting a pin lot/lanyard before you leave and doing some pin trading with the cast members. Our 2 year old loved getting to pick her own pin and looking at them while waiting in line (ties in to #3). I was worried she wouldn’t “get” it, but she still remembers doing it and why she picked each pin. Very fun, not much space, and personalized for your trip.
Pack well in advance! We waited until a night before (I had every thing laid out, but waited to put it all together), and it took forever to get it all in minimal suitcases and stop to remember whatever we forgot We were up late that night!
Remember that you can buy things there or have them delivered, too. We went out to Target (had a rental car) for diapers, snack bags, toiletries, etc our first night, and then a few times after (I think to buy more bug spray, blister stuff, and more snacks). Next time we will not have a car and are staying on site, so I think we will have Garden Grocer deliver diapers, wipes, and some snacks for the week (depending on prices).
Let me know if you have any other specific areas of toddler concern!