What are you essentials for your park bag? Visiting in June, and carrying a heavy bag in the humid heat doesn’t sound enjoyable. I see so many things listed to bring and I just wonder if it’s necessary! Do we really need handheld fans? Cooling towels? Mule skin and skin glide?!
I take a small purse with cash and credit card just in case, phone and small charger, small camera. My touring plan is folded up in a pocket and a couple of plasters (band aids). I have space for a lot more than I take.
This is the best pic I have of it.
You could always go bare minimum for the first day and see if you regret it! Either way, I don’t think you need handheld fans AND cooling towels. With careful planning you can avoid the hottest part of the day by taking a break and going back to the resort, doing shows in the afternoon, and prioritizing indoor queues.
When I go to Disneyland with my family I take a small cinch backpack and carry snacks, wallet, charger, sunscreen, water, (I always carry bandaids in my wallet), and my phone. In a few weeks I am going on my first trip to WDW (without my party pooping family, who didn’t want to go) and purchased a small bag that can be used as a waist pack or sling bag. In that I will be able to get all the same things except the snacks (I can get a small bar in there, but that would be about it) and water. I will be slipping in a small poncho for possible rain and rides I don’t want to get overly wet on.
Hahahah absolutely not.
For me, it’s a simple cinch string bag (Each person in the party carries their own gear. No pack-mules.)
One very much like this:
The benefits to this type are several:
- The straps aren’t simply strings, and I noticed they don’t bite into your shoulders as much, if at all.
- The straps are still fairly thin (and very light), so you don’t get the dreaded “shoulder strap sweat” areas. (What, you gotta look good in those family photos!)
- These bags are only 2 pockets. Which means speedy security checks.
- somewhat water resistant
- light colored/reflective, so the Florida sun won’t turn it into an oven on your back
- With the below load out, it’s big enough to throw a few bits of merchandise in there (like a t-shirt, or a small stuffed animal)
- It’s a functional souvenir.
And it’s filled with light-weight essentials (all in a 1-qt ziplock bag).
- 1 - travel sunscreen (one of those little 1.8 oz ones) (being sure to grease up with the “big can” back at the hotel/car and only using this one for “touch ups”.)
- 1 - poncho
- 1 - pack of hand wipes (cause sometimes you just need to wipe your hands instantly).
- 2 - 5-hour energy drinks
- 1 - phone battery charger
- 1 - tiny bottle of eye/contact solution in case something gets in my eye.
Total weight: less than 4lbs (that phone charger is a bit heavy, but I went for a big 10,000 mah one cause I use my phone for photos a lot!)
Aaaand that’s pretty much it. My phone/camera is in my pocket and my “wallet” is just the stick-on wallet with a single credit card, AP card, and ID. And my printed out itinerary is in my other pocket.
Meds needed are at any first-aid station, so they can be omitted unless it’s a special type (like a prescription). And there might be an item added depending on what I plan to do (for example, if I want to do photography, I throw in DSLR batteries), or if I know it’s going to rain, I might throw in an extra pair of socks.
I’ve tested my shoes ad infinitum at home so I know they won’t be causing all sorts of blisters.
Heat is rarely a problem because when it gets too hot, I just duck into a store/ride/restaurant for a little bit. Even in AK, where air conditioning is rare, gift shops are always AC’d. Additionally, there is free water at every restaurant (sometimes off to the side, sometimes you just need to ask for it), so no need to carry around dedicated.
I take a small fanny pack. I have a little card holder for credit card and ID, chapstick, small bottle of sunscreen, fuel rod (or similar - i do really like fuel rod because so small), paper copy of important plans in case the app behaves poorly, really small cooling towel (long enough to go on neck but super skinny), little baggie with Advil Tylenol a few bandaids and the chewable pepto tabs in case something makes me nauseous, and a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. The key is everything is little and is “single serve” just for me and DH.
Cargo shorts. When the weather is nice, meaning not cool in the morning or a total washout anyway. All I really need to carry is DL, AP card, Amex and some cash. Even have a sample size sun block, and chapstick. Other wise I have a sling pack that I use, just big enough to put a layer in and an emergency poncho.
I agree with not needing EVERYTHING, but I will add that if you’re a person that might get skin rub issues the skin glide is essential and cannot be skipped! I didn’t need it in the park, but my daughter and husband who didn’t think they needed it the first day were literally saved by my bringing a small stick. While some things like cooling towels can be compensated for by splashing your face with cool water or sitting and resting in the a/c, skin chafing only gets worse without product.
I can’t see without glasses, and don’t do contacts. So i wear sunglasses, and bring regular glasses in my bag when indoors. Also sunscreen, chapstick or other lip balm, hair tie for when i get hot, phone/charger, touring plan, ponchos. I ALWAYS have bandaids in room, but not on me in park… When kids were small had suckers and little figurines/cars to keep them entertained
You are so going to regret asking this question.
I have spent more time worrying about my park bag and its contents than any other single aspect of my WDW trips.
Before we even start we have to talk about rain.
My greatest fear when it comes to WDW is rain. So even before my first trip I was trying to figure out rain contingencies. I had found some amazingly comfortable shoes for the long days of walking, but they were not waterproof. So I figured I’d carry a second waterproof pair. After trying all manner of possibilities — flip flops, sliders — I settled on Crocs. OK, they’re ugly, but they’re very light and they’re waterproof.
I figured a small backpack would be the way forward. After much shopping around I found this:
It was very expensive (over $100) but beautifully designed and made, with all kinds of zippered pockets and whatnot. It was small, but big enough for the Crocs.
I arrived at the house I was staying in at around 4pm on my first day, having flown in from the UK. It was immediately obvious that a backpack was completely impractical in the Florida heat and humidity. It would have been miserable to carry around. So I abandoned it — and, indeed, never used it. I recently sold it on eBay at a considerable loss.
A few hours later I set off for MK carrying very little as it was early evening and beautifully clear. All went well. I had a great spot in the Plaza Gardens for HEA. Then something happened. The HEA narration really moved me. Something about being who you are. As the park closed I walked down Main Street and into one of the expensive shops on the right. I found this bag:
OK, so it’s a woman’s bag, but HEA had taught me not to care about things like that. It was perfect. Easy to carry, exactly the right size and — damnit! — I liked it.
But I didn’t see myself walking around my hometown carrying it. So I gave it to my friend (in the picture) when I left.
A year later I was back. This Crocs plan hadn’t worked out — they slide all over the place if it’s raining — and I abandoned the second pair of shoes plan. I’d just take my chances with rain and rush indoors before my shoes got soggy.
But what bag to carry? I had a (masculine) over-the-shoulder bag, similar in style to the one @missoverexcited is modelling in her photo. I put my poncho, glasses case, phone, medication, wallet and so on inside. But the over-the-shoulder thing just didn’t work for me.
So I trawled the Disney stores looking for something better — alas I could find nothing. I had more luck at UOR, where I found this:
(Magic Band included for scale.)
In many ways it was perfect, but I never really liked it. In particular I didn’t like the fact it had a UOR logo on it. But it worked well for the rest of the trip.
My next trip was in December. I discovered that Florida isn’t actually that hot at that time of year and I had a couple of coats — a padded gilet for when it was “cold” and a very light raincoat for when it was raining. Both had various pockets, including enormous ones at the front. I didn’t need a bag at all thanks to these — a wonderful-time saver at bag-check.
Which brings me to my next trip. Whenever that will be. Ahem.
I searched high and low trying to find a tote like the Minnie Mouse one I used in my first trip. Except a “masculine one”. It turns out there is no such thing. No-one makes them.
Oh, yeah, I nearly forgot: why back to a bigger bag? Because I had the genius idea of buying water shoes for when it rains, so it needed to be big enough to carry these around.
Anyhoo, eventually I found a bag on the Herschel website. I searched for “man’s tote bag” and it came up but, well, you decide.
Yeah. Huge mistake. It’s supergay.* Look inside:
Obviously that was a huge mistake. But returning it was going to be a hassle and I couldn’t be bothered. Another $80 down the drain. (I actually tried to sell it on Facebook Marketplace: no takers. So then I tried eBay: it got one bid of $5. I got a friend to shill for me. Which pushed the price up to $6. Which was the winning bid. So I still have the damn thing.)
My next candidate bag appeared when I saw one of my students had a very small sports bag. I loved it and thought it was perfect.
It’s big enough for a pair of shoes and a few clothes. It’s small. Perfect!
Until I started thinking. Do I really want to be carrying this thing around all day? What am I even going to carry with me?
To which the answer is:
My super light raincoat. It rolls up into a pretty small ball and is way better than a poncho.
My glasses case. I wear sunglasses outside, but need my regular glasses inside.
A few medications that I take daily.
My phone, with a battery case so that it lasts all day even in WDW. (I prefer not to carry it in my trouser pocket. I like my clothes to feel light at WDW. It’s hot. And humid.)
And a few other items, but more of those later.
Then I saw this:
(Tennis ball included for scale.)
It’s something I already own and have done for years. It’s small, light, rigid, comfortable to carry. Perfect, surely?
My only concern is that it’s hard-sided. You can’t squish it into tight spaces. Of course the flip side is that this means it protects the contents very well.
It’s my current preferred option.
And it’s got me thinking about what else I might want to carry around. In particular, I’ve become obsessed with miniature things.
It’s big enough for an iPad mini. So I bought one. (Well, I traded in my iPad Pro for one.) Why would you carry one around with you in the parks? Why not? It fits. It’ll be secure.
But in the last week or so I’ve had my Best Idea Ever.
During my first trip I did quite a few of the sit-down shows at WDW and I found the bleacher-style seating agonisingly painful. Although I’m grotesquely fat and no-one will ever love me, I have quite a bony ass.
So I’ve avoided those shows but next time I want to try some again. So I started googling “stadium cushion”. And eventually I found this:
It’s beautifully made. It inflates in about one and a half blows. It deflates instantly. It’s exact the right size for my bony ass and it folds down to a size that would fit in your outstretched hand:
It’s the nicest thing I’ve ever bought. I love it.
My most recent purchase was these:
Stainless steel straws. I hate the paper ones — they go soggy too quickly. I’ll carry a couple of these bad boys around in my case along with a cleaning brush.
I think it’s possible — it’s not impossible — that I will have the best day bag and contents of anyone in WDW. Ever.
Oh! I forgot about the water shoes. What of them? I’ve decided they’re a dumb idea. I’ll just hide from the rain when it rains like I have done during every other trip. It would be too much hassle carrying them around and changing into them and back out again. Well, maybe I’ll take them if rain is forecast, or if I’m planning to try KRR. Or the resort pool.
*Oh calm down. I’m gay. I’m allowed to call things supergay. It’s one of the perks of being gay. And there aren’t many, believe me.
I bring credit card, cash, ID, phone, small phone charger, sunglasses, disposable poncho, trading pins, small thing of sunscreen AND a hand held fan (I consider the fan essential -old fashioned, not electronic). All of this fits very easily in my Vera Bradley Hipster. Long list, small items!
I think at this point, we’re all regretting that she asked
I can’t believe I forgot to mention my USB fan. Which is miniature and fits in my small case.
Here I am modelling it:
Where did you get those straws? I didn’t realize until I saw them how much I need them…
They’re the best! My friend got collapsing ones and my sis has silicone ones. Think I’m going to get one of those to fit in my tiny little waist pack. I have the ones pictured for use at home and restaurant.
I think I want a package with both the straight and the bending ones? Serious question- does length matter?
I just LOL’d and my whole family just all looked at me.