The Beauty of FastPass+

If you’re a frequent Disney World visitor or follower, you know exactly what FastPass+ is and all of the benefits associated with it. However, I’m still mind blown by the amount of people who still don’t know FastPass+ exists OR how to use it to the best of their ability. FastPass+ is a tool that can make your vacation that much more perfect by avoiding some of those unnecessary long lines we all know and (don’t) love. Below are my favorite tips and tricks to make FastPass+ your best friend on your next Disney World vacation.

First and foremost, it’s important to know how FastPass works and when you’re able to book yours. FastPass is a way for you to schedule a time to ride a certain ride at a park, check in during your scheduled time, and skip the majority of the long line rather than wait in stand by. You are able to book up to 3 FastPasses at one park per day you have a ticket for. Whether you’re setting aside one park per day or park hopping your way around Disney World, it’s important to remember that you CANNOT combine your 3 rides into different parks to begin with. My first bit of advice for you is to schedule your FastPasses at the park that you are starting your day at.

How far in advance are you able to book FastPasses? If you’re staying on Disney World property, you will be able to book your FastPasses 60 days before the first night of your trip. If you are not staying on Disney World property, you will be able to book your FastPasses 30 days before. I have heard rumors that certain Deluxe hotels have offered 90 days in advance for staying at Club Level, but I have not personally done so to comment on that. Comment below if you have! On the day of your FastPass booking, you will be allowed to book at 7:00 AM EST (Disney World time) so make sure you know how that time converts to your own time zone!

Planning 101: You should start planning your FastPasses as soon as you land on which parks you plan to visit which days of your trip. It doesn’t ever hurt to start planning sooner rather than later. The only way it might affect you is getting you really excited and then having to wait another month before you can even start your booking (aka if you’re me.) Once you’ve settled on the parks you plan to visit each day, go ahead and start planning out your FastPass choices per day. Like I said before, I would recommend booking at the park you are going to start your day at. Even if you are only spending half a day at a park, book there. Why? Well, once you have used your 3 pre-booked FastPasses for the day, you can move on a book one at a time for the rest of the day at ANY park. For example, if you are splitting a day between Hollywood Studios in the morning and Epcot in the evening, book your 3 FastPasses for Hollywood Studios. Once you’ve used those 3, you can book a 4th for a ride at Epcot that evening. Once you use your 4th, you can book a 5th, and so on and so forth.

In your planning process, try not to worry about booking any FastPasses until at least 1.5 hours after the park opens. This first 1.5 hours the park is open will be a lot lighter as far as crowds and lines go. Don’t waste your “skip the line” pass when there is hardly any line to skip! However, keep in mind the 3 FastPass rules as well. While you shouldn’t book super early in the morning, don’t wait to have your first FastPass start in the afternoon. If you do that, you won’t be able to book your 4th FastPass until the evening, and you will have much less to choose from. Keep in mind that when booking a FastPass, it will always give you a one hour “window” rather that a specific time. Since this is the case, you will not be able to schedule FastPasses any less than one hour apart.

My advice here? Plan to have your first FastPass about 1.5-2 hours before park opening. Then, schedule each of the following FastPasses immediately after the others window ends. For example, if you have Space Mountain at 10:45, plan to book Peter Pan at 11:45 and Jungle Cruise at 12:45. Come 12:45, you will be done with your 3 FastPasses and able to book one at a time from there. Throughout your planning, as well, keep in mind the layout of the park. In the above example, we started in Tomorrowland, followed the map around to Fantasy Land then went to the other side of the park to Adventure Land. This is a lot smoother of a plan than if we has flipped Peter Pan and Jungle Cruise. We would have to start in Tomorrowland, hike to the other side of the park to Adventure Land, then come back to the Fantasy Land side of the park. This won’t always work out perfectly, because it will depend on what is available and at what times, but having it planned and prepared beforehand is key.

FastPass at each park is a little bit different. At Magic Kindgom, you can choose any 3 attractions and plan to book those. Magic Kingdom has the easiest system because it is the park with the most attractions, and people’s preferences will absolutely vary depending on your parties age range and interests. Each of the other three parks now has a tiered FastPass system. Animal Kingdom is the most straightforward of them all. The Avatar rides are tier 1 and the rest of the rides at tier 2. You can only pick one Tier 1 FastPass and the other two will be tier 2. So, basically, you’re picking one Avatar ride and two of anything else. Or, of course, if you’re not interested, you can pick all three as tier 2. The same will go for the other two parks as well. At Epcot, the tier 1 attractions are Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’. The rest of the rides are considered tier 2. The same booking applies as Animal Kingdom. Hollywood Studios is the most recent change and, let me tell you, it’s a killer. Tier 1 attractions are all of the Toy Story Land rides, Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Tier 2 is Star Tours and all of the other shows. Therefore, you can only book one of the rides between Toy Story, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror and two of the other options. This is all important to keep in mind, and an extra reason why you should really plan out your strategy.

Now you’re at the morning of booking. You login to My Disney Experience at 7:00 AM Disney World time and you’re ready to go. Do not be alarmed if some of the more popular attractions are no longer available when you book. Even at 60 days out, we could not find FastPasses for Slinky Dog Dash or Flight of Passage. Also be warned that there are a lot of people booking FastPasses at the same time as you. We logged on before 6:00 AM (cst) and refreshed the page every minute as we got closer to 6:00 AM. Even being that diligent, we were frozen on the loading screen for a good 10 minutes before we were able to get on to book our FastPasses. That’s going to happen, but you just can’t let it ruin your planning process. There are still ways to snag those holy grail FastPasses, and I’ll go over that later.

Start with the most difficult rides first. My list of the rides to book ASAP goes as follows: Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog, Seven Dwarfs. After that, most rides should be pretty attainable. Start with your tier 1 attractions first. Most, if not all, of your tier 2 should be really easy to snag. This is why it’s important to not just go in order of your trip when it comes to booking. Get those difficult, tier 1 attractions done first and then go back to book the rest. Prepare yourself to have it not go perfectly. I can almost guarantee you will not find every single ride you want at the exact time you want it, but going in with a plan, with backup options, and with the general knowledge you’ll gain from planning will greatly help you when you have to make changes.

Now, your FastPasses are booked, your pretty happy, but there’s just one ride you really wish you would’ve gotten. Don’t be alarmed! If you booked 60 days out, here’s a little tip for you. Check the FastPass availability every day, but especially around the 30-35 days out mark. 30 days in advance is the last time people are able to cancel or change their vacation without financial penalty. That being said, you may have families canceling last minute or changing last minute, and those FastPasses will become available to the public! Also, I can’t guarantee that this is true, but a little part of me believes that Disney may hold out some FastPass times for those super popular rides to release around the 30 day out mark for those 30 day in advance people. I may just be speculating, but I have read a lot of posts and blogs who say that they’re still able to snag Slinky Dog or Flight of Passage at 30 days out, even when it was completely booked up after 10 minutes on our 60 days out day. Anyway, just keep a close eye on this as much as you can! About 30 days before our trip in January, I found a FastPass for Flight of Passage at the EXACT time we had already booked for Navi River Journey. It was super easy to just make the switch to Flight of Passage online.

You’re there. You’ve officially arrived in Disney World for your vacation. Day one, you’re hitting Hollywood Studios. You just scanned your magic band for your third FastPass of the day. Get out your phone! If there is any sort of line that you have to wait in before you ride your FastPass ride or watch your FastPass show, get to booking that fourth FastPass! If there is anything available in a nearby time slot for a ride you’re interested in, go ahead and book it. The sooner you book, the more likely you are to have some options. It may seem silly, but even waiting until you’re off the ride or the show ends could limit the available options. While I’m not a super big fan of the tiered FastPass system, I will say it seems to be doing it’s job, especially at Hollywood Studios. I’m a frequent checker of the “available FastPass+” tab on my TouringPlans app. Today, September 23 at 11:45 am Disney time, Hollywood Studios has quite a few FastPasses available for Alien Swirling Saucers, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and more! With the former tiered system, I can tell you there were not this many day of FastPasses available. Forcing people to choose one options between Slinky Dog, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster does leave a lot of time slots available day of.

FastPass+ involves a decent amount of planning, being prepared for disappointment, and some getting used to. But I’m not kidding when I say that it can and will become your best friend if you use it properly. It still amazes me that people are either unaware or unsure of the FastPass process. As much as it would benefit me not to share my tips and tricks with you all (and leave more FastPasses for myself) I wouldn’t feel right not sharing it with others. Get that FastPass+ planning started!

Disney World Money Saving Tips

We all know that Disney World can cost you an arm and a leg as a vacation destination. So how do so many people afford to visit year after year? The more you research Disney World and learn about vacation planning at the Happiest Place on Earth, the more you come across tips and tricks to save money for your Disney vacation.

As a 25 year old, these money saving tips were a little bit more of a necessity than a preference for me. As much as I loved visiting the Wilderness Resort as a kid and staying in club level (one time) it’s just not something I can afford right now. But every single part of me wants to continue to visit Disney World at least annually, so finding ways to save was big for me to be able to continue to do that.

The first tip I have for any fellow Disney World vacationers on a budget is to not look past the Value Resorts. Gone are the days of the 90’s looking carpers and bedding, wallpaper lining the tops of the room, and lesser amenities. If you haven’t seen the newly remolded Pop Century or All Star Movies rooms, I encourage you to click these links and take a look. Pop Century, All Star Movies. These renovations, which will be spreading through the remaining All Star Resorts as well, really give an upgraded look for such lost cost hotels. For someone like me who can only visit Disney World once a year with my current budget, I spend the majority of my time out at the parks anyway. So having a super fancy resort is not at the top of my priority list. However, these renovations make staying at a Value Resort feel much more high-end than the cost shows.

Another save money is always to book my trip during the window of a room or package discount period. Now, I know that it’s important to book your vacations far in advance to ensure that you get the hotel you want on the days you want. However, I have found a lot more success in having 3-4 different weeks that work within my schedule and seeing what is available for me when those room discounts come up. For a Value Resort, you can save (usually) 10-15% off the room price during those discount periods. Typically, they will be available about 4 months in advance, so that’s still plenty of time to book your airfare (if needed), plan out your days and fastpasses, and prepare for you upcoming trip!

While this isn’t necessarily a money saving tip, I love to have gift cards on hand prior to my Disney World vacation. Each time that I have a little bit extra money to spare after a paycheck, I will go ahead and purchase a Disney gift card for that amount. By prepaying on Disney gift cards, I don’t have to worry about spending as much during the trip. This also helps keep me to a stricter budget as I will only allow myself to spend what we have in Disney gift cards on food and drinks.

Last, but certainly not least, if you are not an Annual Passholder, consider looking at dropping your Park Hopper tickets and doing 1-park per day tickets instead. This has been a really hard thing for me to let go of recently as I have always been a Park Hopper person. However, seeing the cost difference between Park Hopper and 1-park per day is enough to lead me to looking into the latter option for the future. It requires a bit more planning to ensure you hit all of the things you would like during your trip, but it’s better to only be able to attend 1-park per day than to not be able to afford your trip at all!

Disney World is getting pricier and pricier as the years go on. As that continues, it’s important that those of us who are constantly researching and learning more about Disney World and the costs associated with it share our tips with others! Do you have any money saving tips I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!

I’m Back! And I’m Here to Talk Pin Trading

It’s been quite some time since I’ve hopped on the blogging train. There’s been a lot going on in the Disney universe, and I have been admittedly distracted. What could possibly distract me from blogging about my favorite place in the entire world? Pin trading.

For those of you who don’t know, pin trading is a real experience for Disney lovers. Disney creates a LOT of different pins. Limited Edition, Limited Release, Mystery Collections, Box Sets, you name it, Disney has probably released it. And the best thing about Disney pins is that you have the ability to trade them with other pin traders. If there’s a pin you don’t like or a pin that you already have, there may be (and probably are) others out there searching for that exact pin to complete their collection or sets.

If you’ve never pin traded before, here’s a little background. In the parks, most cast members in the shops and around the parks will have a little lanyard or apron where they hold a handful of pins. These are pins you can trade for if you have a certified Disney Trading pin to trade with. The benefit of trading with cast members is they have to say yes to any trade you want to make, even if they don’t want the pin that you’re interested in trading. Trading with cast members is a really good way to find pins you like to add to your collection.

If you want a little more of an experience, you can also find other guests who are interested in pin trading. There are certain areas of the parks where pin traders typically meet to trade, but you can also reach out to someone if you see them wearing a lanyard with pins on it. Now, with other guests, they do NOT have to say yes to your trade. You are a lot more likely to get shot down in these situations because pin traders can be very particular about what they want/need. Most pin traders are looking to complete pin sets or they have a certain interested in one character or movie and they only want pins that fit those categories. But, you never know what you can find or what pins you may have that may spark an interest from a fellow pin trading guest.

Now, if you’re like me, you may not live near Disney or be able to visit as often as you wish you could. When you only visit Disney once a year or so, you may be itching to pin trade in your day to day life. Don’t be discouraged, because you can! How you choose to online pin trade is really up to you. For me, I was able to join a pin trading group on Facebook. The biggest up side to these groups is that they are usually monitored by hosts and moderators. If for some reason you don’t receive a pin you traded for or if it comes bent or in a different condition than the picture you received, you can reach out to the page hosts to try to get the situation rectified. Most members of these groups do NOT want to risk getting kicked out of the group, and they will get the situation handled in order to prevent that.

If you don’t want to join a group, you are obviously welcome to pin trade via social media. For me, I have a Disney dedicated Instagram page (@all.about.the.ears if you’re interested!) If I wanted to, I could easily post my traders (pins I want to trade) to my Instagram Story or post it on my feed to see if any of my followers are interested in the pins I have up for trade. You can reach a lot of people this way, but you also don’t have any moderators if a trade goes wrong.

If you’re interested in the pin trading world, step 1 is obviously getting some pins! Again, if you can’t make it to Disney do not be alarmed. You can purchase pins online. There are a variety of different websites where pins can be purchased. Obviously Shop Disney is a very easy go to. They will have mystery sets, exclusive pins, and much more available to purchase! However, do your research. There are some reputable websites and sellers where you can purchase some pin sets for a cheaper price than you will find on Shop Disney. Make sure you do A LOT of research, though. If you are finding a seller who is selling a pin lot of unpackaged pins for a small amount of money, there is a good chance those pins are not authentic. However, you are usually safe if you find a seller with good feedback who is selling pins that are packaged and, while cheaper, not ridiculously and unbelievably cheap.

I’m biased to mystery collections. There is something so exciting about not knowing the pins that you are about to receive. And the work it entails to complete a mystery collection is a lot of fun. This also can make building your trader collection easier, as well. If you’re always purchasing pins that you KNOW you will like and don’t have, your trader collection will never grow. Purchasing multiple mystery packs will likely lead to some duplicates, and that’s the best way to grow a collection of traders.

If you’re interested in pin trading, get yourself started! Join a group, purchase some pins, pick what you want to collect, and have yourself a ball! Everyone needs a little Disney magic and fun in their daily life, and pin trading is a great way to do so!

Kicking Back & Relaxing in Disney World

None of us want to admit it, but we all need a way to relax during our busy Disney World theme park days. Every time I plan a trip, I tell myself that I won’t need to take many breaks and I can be go, go, go the whole time. Good one, Megan. Taking breaks doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy something great that the park has to offer, though. There are definitely ways to enjoy the park without having to be on your feet.

Find a show to go to. Every single park has them. From the Indiana Jones stunt show to Country Bear Jamboree, there are more than enough in-park shows that you can sit back and enjoy. Plus, some of these shows are quintessential Disney. I seriously cannot take a trip to the Magic Kingdom without parking my butt at the Carousel of Progress. It just wouldn’t be a real Disney World trip if I didn’t. The shows that are offered in Disney World are a truly great way to get out of the sun (or rain), sit down, and relax while still feeling fully immersed in that Disney magic that we all know and love.

Stop and have a drink or a snack. The parks are full of options. Plus, a small snack or quick drink requires a lot less planning and waiting than going to a quick service or table service meal. A nice, cold Dole Whip always hits the spot, and you can feel like you have a good excuse to sit down and relax. It seems really silly, but it’s hard to take a seat in the parks when you feel like you don’t really have a “reason” to do so. Having a quick snack or sipping on a cold drink is a GREAT reason to want to pop a squat and relax somewhere.

Take full advantage of the rides that take a long time. I love Rock ‘n Roller Coaster as much as the next person. But you’re on and off in what feels like 60 seconds. Whereas you can hang out with Br’er Fox, Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and all of the Briar Patch pals over at Splash Mountain for a solid 15 minutes. When you really need to feel rejuvenated, but you don’t want to waste your time, head over to one of the attractions where you know the wait will lead to a nice, long ride. Those 10-15 minutes can really help your feet.

If you’re on Disney World property, take a midday break at your resort. This was really hard for me to grasp on our recent trip. We only have 3 park days and I wanted to get as much as possible out of every single moment. Looking back, though, I don’t think I could have survived if we didn’t take those midday breaks at our resort. For Disney World Resort guests, there are so many other theme park perks that taking a couple hours to go back and relax in your room, hang by the pool, and just get off your feet is so worth it. Think of it this way, if you have Extra Magic Hours that day, you potentially have upwards of 13 hours to spend at the parks. Even if you go back to your resort for a full 3 hours, you still have 10 hours of park time each day. You can get a lot done in 10 hours.

The most important thing, of all, is just to remind yourself that you don’t want to burn out. It’s really easy on the first couple days to be very all-go, no-stop. You’re so excited to be back in the most magical place on earth that you don’t want to stop. However, if you keep that up, you’re going to end up burning yourself out by the third or fourth day. Take time to find ways to relax. There’s definitely ways to do so without wasting your precious Disney World time.

Best Ways to Enjoy Disney World Without Hitting the Parks

A trip to Disney World can sound intimidating to many because of it’s high cost. Want to know a little secret? The most expensive part about taking a Disney World vacation is the admission to the parks. Okay, so it’s probably not a secret at all. Theme park tickets in Disney World are extremely expensive. While I personally thing that every last penny is totally worth it, it can be really intimidating to buy, say, a 4-day park hopper pass for about $500+ each. So while it’s pretty clear that theme park tickets in Disney World can be expensive, what you may not know is that there are plenty of ways to enjoy Disney World without having to spend your savings to get into the parks.

I’m a sucker for the Disney World resorts. I know, I know. It may seem like its way too expensive to afford. But, honestly, if you want to get the feel of that Disney magic, staying at a resort is a great option! You don’t have to visit the theme parks at all, but you can still take advantage of the free bus to Disney Springs other non-theme park locations. For comparison, during times of the year when special deals are going on, some of the Disney World Value and Moderate hotels can range from about $120 to less than $200 a night. If you’re planning to visit Orlando anyway, you can get a little taste of the Disney World vacation by spending a few days (or all of them) at one of the Disney World resorts.

If you don’t want to stay at a resort, I can’t totally blame you. If I were staying at a Disney World resort and not visiting the parks, I think I would have some serious FOMO. That being said, you can do so much more outside of the parks and resort stay, too.

If you want to visit a fun, crazy water park one day, take a trip to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon. Disney World finds a way to throw it’s Disney magic into water park form with both of these spots. You’ll experience wild slides and fun attractions all while spending a day in the water and soaking in the sun. Water park tickets are significantly cheaper, and it’s still a great way to experience Disney World without having to invest too much into your vacation.

Beyond the water parks, there are a few other recreation activities you can take part in on Disney World property. Interested in a few rounds of mini golf? Disney World has two different miniature golf locations on property with 36 holes each to enjoy. And, just like Disney does, it’s not just your regular mini golf course. Each of them is themed to that high level Disney theming that we all know and love. Mini golf definitely won’t fill up an entire day, but it’s a nice way to be on Disney property and feel like you’re enjoying the Disney magic while on your Orlando vacation. Want to take mini golf a step further? You can actually golf on property, too. And, if you’re like me and not a very skilled golfer, you can play foot golf too. Basically, you’ll be playing golf with soccer balls. It’s harder than it looks, so make sure you set aside a good chunk of time to play foot golf if you’re interested!

Last, but certainly not least, you can visit Disney Springs and use that as your hub to travel wherever you wish on Disney property. If you just want to shop for some Disney souvenirs and enjoy some delicious food, stay at Disney Springs for the day! There is more than enough to do there, and buying a couple pieces of Disney merchandise is something you can continue to cherish after your Orlando trip ends. Want to do a little more? Disney Springs is a great hub to get other places on property. Buses to each of the Disney resorts have a stop at Disney Springs. Want my suggestion? Take a bus from Disney Springs to either The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, or The Contemporary. These three resorts are Disney Worlds “monorail resorts” and all have access to the Disney World monorail. Take a trip around the monorail loop to get some great views of the Magic Kingdom. Stop off at the Ticket and Transportation Center, and take the EPCOT loop to get views from the inside of the park over in EPCOT. The best part? Monorail trips are completely free! When you get back to the TTC, take the Magic Kingdom monorail back to one of the 3 hotels on the loop and take a bus back to Disney Springs.

With all these things to do in Disney World that aren’t theme park related, I do want to leave you on this note: Disney World is Disney World because of the theme parks. If I REALLY couldn’t afford theme park tickets at all and wanted to visit Orlando, I would absolutely do at least one, if not all, of the options above. However, for me, It would be very hard to not take advantage of the theme parks at all. But, Disney World knows how to get people coming on property even if you aren’t planning on visiting the parks. They know what they’re doing, and they do it the best!

How to Make The Best of Disney World Transportation

Staying at a Disney World resort comes with its perks. You get to head into the parks early or stay out late for Extra Magic Hours, you get the benefit of immersing yourself in Disney for your entire trip, and you get complimentary bus, boat, and/or monorail service from your resort to the various Disney World theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. Some will say the Disney World transportation is unreliable. I’m here to tell you how to take advantage of the transportation, and what options you have when you’re visiting Disney World.

I personally love the fact that the Disney resorts give you the different transportation options. Even if it’s not something I use every single time I go anywhere on Disney property, having the option is a huge plus for me. But, inevitably, we will all have a time during our Disney World trip where we sit back and wonder if waiting in the transportation line is really the best use of our time.

One time I would say you should ALWAYS take advantage of Disney World transportation is when you aren’t in a time crunch. For me, at the end of any given night, I never even thought about grabbing an Uber or finding a different way back to our hotel. The parks are closed and I’m in no rush to get back to my resort. Now, this isn’t necessarily going to apply to EVERYONE. If you have small kids, they may be fussy and needing to get to bed. If that’s the case, then maybe alternative transportation IS your best bet. For me, however, I know that it makes very little difference if I get back to my resort at 11:20 or 11:30, so I’ll save that extra cash to buy me a late night snack.

One time I would say you SHOULD consider taking alternate transportation is if you’re running a little bit late on a morning where you’re headed to Magic Kingdom. While this could apply to any park, keep in mind that you usually have to wait in the parking lines in order to get through to the entrance. The Uber ride may save you time initially, but you’ll come to a bit of a halt when you reach the parking lot entrance lines. I specifically say Magic Kingdom here because of the (maybe sneaky) way you can avoid all of the crazy park entrance lines. Instead of taking an Uber, Lyft or taxi to Magic Kingdom, you can take it to the Contemporary Resort. After doing this last time I visited Disney World, I really don’t think I will ever go back to taking the bus on a Magic Kingdom morning. The Contemporary has it’s own walking path right up to the Magic Kingdom entrance. The best park? The walking path has it’s OWN security checkpoint! It was easily the shortest security line we waited in the whole trip, and we got to walk right past all of the long security lines at the Magic Kingdom entrance. For a pretty cheap car ride, this was definitely worth it.

Every other time, the transportation is really up to you. I, for one, think that taking advantage of the transportation systems is a huge perk of staying on site. If you can plan ahead, it can really make your trip a lot more streamlined. Plus, it’s free. I’ll take a free bus, boat, or monorail over wasting gas and paying for parking any day. With Uber, Lyft, and taxis available, you always have a second option if the Disney transportation just isn’t working out. However, overall, try to look at the Disney transportation as your friend, not your foe.

Theme Park Backpack: What to Bring

I can’t go a day in a theme park without my trust backpack behind me. I’ve said this in previous blogs, but it really amazes me that my family used to travel to theme parks when I was a kid with just fanny packs. I think in our later years, my mom graduated to a drawstring bag, but still! How is it that at 24, I needed a full size backpack for just myself and my mom managed a family of 4 in a fanny pack? Maybe the times have changed. I honestly don’t know. But, what I do know, is what you have in your backpack or bag on your theme park days is really important. I’m not going to mention the obvious things here. Of course you need your wallet, your phone, your magic band, etc. This list is some of your not so obvious, must-haves.

  • Snacks: ALWAYS PACK SNACKS! You will be hungry. Probably more hungry than you are on an average day. Having snacks will prevent you from having to spend money every time you’re hungry. Now, you’ll spend money on just meals and snacks you really want to eat.
  • Sunscreen: Even in the more modest months, I would say sunscreen is a must-have. If you’re going in Florida Winter, bring a little travel size sunscreen. You definitely won’t need a full bottle, but there could always be a random day where it’s very hot and sunny. Be prepared!
  • Water Bottle: This one is a no brainer. There’s water fountains all over theme parks. Don’t be that person who spends $5 on bottled water every time you’re thirsty. Put a TON of ice in your water bottle before you leave your hotel, and continue to fill up on free water during the day.
  • Ponchos: I was totally, 100% the person saying “I won’t wear a poncho in Disney World.” Are they cute? Not really. But it’s so much more convenient than an umbrella. It’s more compact, it’s easier to walk around with, and it’s the one place in the world where you won’t be judged for wearing a poncho. Extra pro tip: buy cheap ponchos somewhere outside of Disney World. If you really want a poncho with something Disney on it, some of the stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) around Disney will have ponchos with Mickey or Minnie on them. They’re a little pricier than the standard ponchos, but they are A LOT cheaper than the ones in the parks. Or, splurge on the park ones if you want. To each their own!
  • My Must-Have Makeup: Read this blog for my must-haves and why I say so. Just out here plugging my other blogs 😉
  • Flip Flops: Again, this one is good year round just in case. We all love Splash Mountain. What do I not love about Splash? Just the thought of it getting my feet wet with gym shoes and socks on and being forced to walk like that all day. Blister city. Avoid all of that annoyance by packing a cheap pair of flip flops. Throw them on before you get in line, and you’ll be able to put on your dry shoes and socks after the ride is over.
  • Extra Socks: On that note, always pack extra socks. Even if you don’t do water rides, and you stay dry all day long. They say one of the best things for your feet is to just change your socks. Even though you didn’t do water rides, the gross truth is that your feet are still sweating and causing that moisture to be contained in your socks. Switch them out for a fresh pair once or twice. Yes, that may mean you pack 15 pairs of socks for 5 days, but it’s a lot better than having painful, blsitery feet. Take it from me.
  • Portable Charger: This is huge. Having a portable charger in the 21st century is a must. I brought 3 every day on my recent trip. Even though 90% of the time I didn’t have to use them, it was the comfort of knowing they were there if I needed them. I never had to worry about my phone dying. First World problems, I know. But that’s the reality a lot of us live in, so we may as well be prepared.
  • Plastic Baggies: This is my inner mom coming out at ya. I’m 24, but I am so Mom in Disney World it’s almost unbelievable. Plastic baggies are a must have for water rides, especially in the summer. For those of you who don’t know, they tend to turn off or lessen some of the water features on the water rides during the colder months. If you were guaranteed to get soaking wet even in the 50 degree weather, no one would want to go. Having plastic baggies for your electronics is crucial in ensuring they will also make it through the water rides. Again, there’s a chance you never even touch them, but they take up virtually no space so it doesn’t hurt to have.
  • Clothing Additions (depending on the season): This really depends on when you’re going, but I think any season could benefit. If you’re going in the dead middle of the summer when it’s the hottest, you may want to bring extra shirts. Long theme park days in the sun = sweaty. A fresh shirt could do you good. If you’re going in the winter or fall, it could be warm during the day but get cool at night. Pack a long sleeve t-shirt or a sweatshirt to save yourself from a pricey gift shop trip.
  • Deodorant: My only explanation will be a little math equation. Long days + sweating = smelly. Smelly + deodorant = not smelly anymore. You’re welcome. Math lesson, over.

I’m sure there are things on this list that I didn’t mention. Anything you think is crucial that I left off? Let me know!