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Ask Us: What Don’t We Bring to the Parks

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Last time, we asked our crew of TouringPlans crew about what items we bring to the parks. In general, we pack pretty light. If you want to read our responses, check out the article here.

This time, we’re talking about what we don’t bring to the parks. One reader noted that many of us don’t bring water bottles to the park, and it’s true–most of us are the “get a glass of water somewhere” crowd instead of carrying a water bottle that is challenging to fill at some water fountains. (Although if Disney wants to save themselves money in the long run, if they installed water bottle filler stations with cold, filtered water in the park, I think a lot of us would be more inclined to use them instead of going for the cups of ice water.)

But what other items don’t we bring to the parks, or don’t we carry anymore?

Read on…

Rikki Niblett

Most of the things I have paired down have been electronics. I no longer carry a camera or a GoPro like I used to do. My phone really is sufficient for what I need now at this point. Taking out the electronics has been a huge help and allowed me to have a lighter bag.

Laurel Stewart

I don’t carry:
Backup power for my phone (I used to and never needed it, so I stopped)
Poncho (Who wants to feel like they’re walking around in a greenhouse?)
Sunscreen (I put it on when I leave the house and wear a hat)
A camera (My phone is good)
And, most importantly, I DON’T CARRY OTHER PEOPLE’S CRAP. If you need something in the parks, carry it yourself and go through the bag check line like I have to. I’m not going to do it for you so you don’t have to take a bag.

James Rosemergy

As someone that prefers to travel light, I’ve long marveled at the list of things that people will pack and carry with them into the parks all day “just in case”. One thing I’ve learned the more time I spend in Disney parks is that there’s very little that comes up that you absolutely cannot manage without that makes it something that you have to bring with you. Accordingly, I never bring Band-Aids or any other first aid stuff with me, because I can pick that up for free at the First Aid stations in the park. Similarly, though I will still bring them if it is actively raining when I leave or I KNOW lengthy periods of rain are coming down the pike, I no longer bring ponchos as a matter of course–since a lot of Florida’s rainstorms are quick, I can usually deal with them by just hopping into a theater attraction, a shop, or sitting down for a snack somewhere until it clears. Finally, despite Disney World’s status as one of the nicest swamps you’ll ever visit, Disney does an exceptionally good job of controlling mosquitoes, particularly in the parks. As such, I’ve stopped bringing bug spray–it’s just not necessary.

Liz Mangan

Back in my Mary Poppins days, I used to pack a mini first aid kit, tissues, an extra phone battery, chapstick, snacks, water bottle, flip-flops or a change of socks (for wet rides), park maps, and Ziploc bags. I barely used them and found that traveling lighter was so much easier. Now I only bring those if I know I’ll need them. For example, if I’m heading out in the pouring rain, the Ziploc bag definitely makes an appearance to protect my phone.

Julia Mascardo

At the time when I carried the most stuff, it was because I needed a diaper bag backpack for hauling around infant/toddler necessities. Once I was able to travel without that, I went immediately to carrying next to nothing. For a while I did carry camera gear (a Pentax K1000 for anyone who remembers when?). I’ve tried to get into using a low-grade DSLR (a Sony A100), but I do find that my iPhone camera does what I need it to and is much, much lighter.

Joseph Matt

I have a blessing of being a single man, so all I have to carry are two things: a wallet and my cell phone. But I even have cut back on my wallet. My suggestion is to make a travel wallet with ID, insurance card, credit card, debit card, and admission.

Angela Dahlgren

Sadly, there’s not much I DON’T carry as I’m known for being an overpacker. Bug spray and an umbrella are the only two I can think of, and the reason I don’t carry an umbrella is because I always have a poncho with me!

Neil Trama

I’ve been trying really hard to pare down my excessive hiking backpack to a much more manageable and backache-curbing drawstring bag. Among the things left behind in the large bag: simple medicines and first aid supplies (most can be retrieved at in-park First Aid stations…one exception being pre-cut moleskin, which I still do bring), guidebooks and printed confirmations (everything can be easily grabbed on a smartphone now, although I still do bring an index card-sized copy of my Touring Plans for the day), snacks (no kids and I never end up eating them myself), and a reusable water bottle (I opt for the more convenient but sadly less environmentally friendly option of buying bottled water in the park and refilling as necessary). One last thing I no longer have room to carry: souvenirs. This is a trickier one, as it requires strategically thinking purchases so they can either be shipped to the resort or in-park package pickup or not bought until the end of the touring day when they won’t need to be lugged around for too long. Lastly, some things I’ve NEVER carried with me: a change of footwear (I’d rather not ride Kali River Rapids than carry flip flops around all day), an iPad or other tablet (I see people taking videos on these things all the time and don’t know why), and outerwear (this is not to say that I don’t sometimes bringing a sweatshirt depending on the season, but I rent a locker for them). Finally, and this may be a sacrilege to some fellow TouringPlans bloggers, but I no longer carry a camera around. The camera on an iPhone X is better than anything I’m likely to buy anytime soon anyway, so it does just fine for pictures of my wife and I with Mickey or my beer from Rose & Crown.

Heather Keller

Since I have put in my time as a park sherpa when our kids were little, I have one hard and fast rule of what I will not carry in the parks these days: other people’s things. Sorry, every man at bag check for himself! Since I’m down to carrying one small bag, I won’t look around for anything I can’t fit to it, and the one thing to get the boot was bottled water. It’s much too easy to grab a free ice water from quick service and snack locations around the parks–chug it and move on. The other thing I’ve given up on lately is my DSLR. Although the phone camera is of course not the same amazing quality, it is pretty darn good and gets the job done when it comes to capturing memories. And I do not miss the literal pain in the neck!

Have you changed what you bring to the parks over the years and have some things you don’t carry anymore? Let us know in the comments.



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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

6 thoughts on “Ask Us: What Don’t We Bring to the Parks

  • I carry a water bottle, but it’s in a ‘sling’ and easily goes across my body. I don’t need to go through bag check with it. And it’s easy to fill up at quick service places like BoG where you have unlimited refills. Everything else I carry is in a lanyard that goes around my neck on part of my Magicband. My husband has the phone for MDE access and pictures. That’s all we need.

    I completely agree about using suncreen before leaving, and that First Aid stations have bandaids and standard OTC meds, and even more sunscreen, if you need it.

  • Love the idea of Disney installing bottle filling stations! I love to take my own water bottle so I can refill it with ice every time we eat quick service. But I ‘m from farther North and can’t handle Florida summers otherwise!

  • The lack of water bottles still surprises me :). I don’t want to keep going into quick serve places – or stand in line in them, to get water. That throws off my plans and I know I won’t drink enough if I have to keep finding a place to get water. When it is 90 out, the portable water bottle is my most important item. Same with the poncho, I don’t want to be stuck inside one place until it passes. I was there last week where the store lasted an hour, I poncho’d up and went to a few different stores.

    • I wonder if the no-water-bottle folks carry water bottles at other times. I cannot imagine going to the parks without a water bottle, but I also carry one everyday in the car, on the train, grocery shopping, seeing the doctor, while I am teaching… everywhere. Anyone care to answer: if you do not take a water bottle to the parks, do you carry one in your everyday life? Are the cups of water just that convenient?

      • In fairness, I always CONSIDER bringing a water bottle but ultimately end up cutting it out. My wife can’t stomach the Florida water so she doesn’t even like to refill at water fountains/counter service and we end up buying bottled water around the parks. I’ll lug around my bottle and refill for awhile but eventually cave and buy one with her. Like I said in my answer, it’s neither economical or environmentally sound but it’s how we roll on park days.

      • Neil:
        We’ve found that many of the quick service locations now give you a cup of filtered water, which doesn’t have the Florida taste. Can’t remember which locations do this, but it was at least half of the ones we tried last time we went. Might be a good touringplans article 🙂

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