Most families, when planning for a day at Walt Disneyland, focus more on the fun, rides and excitement, and less on planning what to pack to make the most out of your visit. There are a number of things to bring with you, especially if traveling with a family. Some items will help you save money during your visit while others just make good sense or will add to the excitement of the children in the group.
It is important to keep in mind that Disneyland is the most popular tourist attraction in California. This means everything within Disneyland will cost significantly more than when buying the same items outside the park. No matter what your budget may be for your Disneyland trip, the expenses quickly add up over the day even when only purchasing small items or snacks. If you live 600-700 miles from Anaheim, it can be cheaper to travel by car than by plane and driving also enables you to pack more and spend less.
Regarding clothing, bringing a variety can save you and your family a great deal of suffering if the weather turns while you are in the park. For example, while rain is infrequent, it’s not an impossible occurrence and downpours can happen with little warning. Therefore, including extra clothes in case you need to change into something dry can be important. Be sure to include a change of shoes and socks.
Additionally, although Anaheim weather is considered to have a Mediterranean climate, even with warm winters and hot summers, the mornings and evenings can be cool so be sure to pack lighter wear for the day and warmer items in case it becomes chilly.
Ensuring you have appropriate clothing options to cover different weather possibilities can prevent the need to buy marked up Disney-ear for the entire family.
Other extras you can pack for the park to save money when driving include:
While Disney obviously prefers you buy snacks and drinks in the park, you can pack small boxes or zip lock bags filled with snacks and juice boxes or bottled water in diaper bags, stroller bottoms, or in camera or camcorder bags. (Packing liquids in camera or camcorder bags is not recommended however, as if they somehow open or spill, expensive equipment can easily be ruined.)
To save even more money, consider packing light lunches such as Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches or other options that will not spoil during the course of the day. Lunch for a family of four bought at any establishment in the park can be quite pricey even for simple meals.
A great savings tip for repeat visitors with children is to create a Disney Box. One of the unnecessary expenses of a return trip to Disneyland is having to purchase the same souvenirs you’ve previously purchased. Often, the souvenirs that children can’t live without at the park, remain treasured possessions until something newer captures their attention, such as the new,trendy toy or the beginning of the school year.
When your children lose interest in their Disney souvenirs, put them all in a box and save them for your next trip. When it’s time for the next visit, hide the souvenirs in your luggage and don’t tell them you have the items until you’re leaving for the park. Considering the mark up on Disney items buying the same things several times knowing they will only keep your child’s attention for a limited period of time is a waste of money. Perhaps you can add one new item for each child. (It’s a good idea to give them a price limit so they don’t choose one of the most expensive souvenirs in the park.)
Whether a repeat visitor or not, you can also pack Disney items you purchase at dollar and wholesale stores before you leave, such as pens, small notepads, children’s jewelry and sunglasses along with many other types of merchandise. Giving these items out during the day when at the park can decrease constant requests for every souvenir your children spot and save you a bundle.
The ability to pack a larger amount will help ensure you have your children’s favorite brands of food, extra clothing, and much-loved toys or stuffed animals. This can be particularly important if your children are younger or tend to refuse to eat or use brands that are unfamiliar. Thinking ahead of any “must haves” for your children can prevent temper tantrums if their favorites aren’t available in or near the park.
The more you can bring into the park with you, the less you will have to buy while you’re there. Keep in mind however, while bringing in extra items will save money you should be careful about how much excess weight these items amount to as you’ll be carrying much of it around throughout the day.
General Items to Pack for the Day
Again, remember that while certain items may seem like a great idea to take with you in the morning before you set out, you may not find them such a great idea after carrying them around for several hours. Also while your children may insist on taking their favorite toy, stuffed animal or other “must have” items, you’ll likely find yourself carrying these items as well before long. Be sure to think through what you are planning to take with you and evaluate each item in terms of how necessary you feel it is measured against how practical it will be to carry around.
Consider renting a locker to store things you may not need to keep with you throughout the day such as changes of clothing, shoes, and extra “just in case” snacks and drinks. While you want to be able to have access to potential necessities you don’t want to load yourself down to the point these items become more of a nuisance than a practicality.
If traveling with a baby, be sure to have bottles and any cover-ups you need if you are nursing. Also bring any special foods your children may require such as baby food or items without ingredients to which they are allergic. Disneyland has a Baby Care Center where you can bottle feed or nurse as well as change your baby in comfort.
Others items to pack to make your day as enjoyable as possible include:
Packing for Family Members with Disabilities or Special Needs
Sometimes you’ll need to pack items that are a requirement rather than a convenience. Make sure to have the proper quantities of any medication that will be needed by family members during the day. Keep any medication that you are carrying with you in a waterproof container, secured in a zippered pocket or other compartment area which can be fastened so as not to lose any during the rides. Medications that you don’t need to keep with you at all times such as something that needs to be taken only once during the day can be left in your locker or you can bring just the single dose with you if possible. Check to ensure you have any emergency remedies such as medications for diabetes, epi-pens /remedies for severe allergies or other health conditions.
For family member with visual limitations, make sure any items that help them to see are packed or worn. For those who wear glasses be sure to bring something that will secure them while wearing them on rides so they won’t fall off on some of the wilder rides. Many stores sell straps with loops into which the end pieces of the frame can be slipped and which wraps firmly around the back of the head.
For family members with mobility difficulties, if possible bring a fold up wheel chair. Renting strollers and wheel chairs can be expensive and often require waiting in long lines.
For family members with audio and associated verbal disabilities, make sure to pack any hearing aids or communication facilitator such as communication boards. Plan how hearing aids can be secured during rides if possible and if not, determine if it is practical for the individual to go on rides without wearing them. If the choice is not to wear them during rides, determine where they will be kept during the ride. Decide if leaving them with the attendant is an acceptable choice or if not, how they can be stored securely.
While there are numerous items listed here, ultimately what you pack should be what makes sense for your family. You choices will differ based on your budget, the number of children accompanying you and their ages, how many people will be able to reliably carry a small backpack or other bag throughout the day, and any special needs of family members.
Remember the day is about making magical memories and while you want to have what you need based on your families individual circumstances you also don’t want to have to continuously check to make sure you have everything you brought with you.
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