This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things Your Family Needs To Pack For Your Disney Vacation! Getting ready for a Disney vacation is one of the things we love to do the most. It means your trip is almost here! Once you’ve gotten together your clothes, ponchos, and medicine, what else do you need to bring on your trip to The World? Good news, that’s why we’re here. After
pestering an exhaustive investigation with many vacationing families, the SATURDAY SIX is ready to give you a list of things to bring to Disney that you didn’t know you needed to bring. These items are designed to make your life easier, or to make your trip more memorable. The only “rule” we had was that every item had to cost less than $20 (and believe it or not, almost all of these items can be found in some fashion at your local Dollar Tree.) The first ever SATURDAY SIX informercial is ready to go, so sit back, make sure you remembered to pack your reading glasses, and let’s begin our list with….
# 6 – A Pop-Up Hamper
Everyone loves to pack for a Disney vacation, but rarely do we consider what we are going to do once we are done wearing our special outfits. There are almost no rooms at Disney hotels that have a hamper, and the ones that do only have them for towels. If your family is like ours, you generally pick an area in the room (usually a closet) and just start throwing your dirty clothes on it until the pile almost becomes sentient like the talking Trash Heap in Fraggle Rock. In the past, we would go to the resort’s gift shop and ask for an extra large bag to try and stuff all the clothes in, but this was as about as fun and useful as it sounds. We finally realized it was a much better idea to bring a pop-up hamper with us.
Mesh pop-up hampers are affordable, compact, and will allow you to stay organized while keeping all of your family’s dirty clothes in an area that doesn’t make you want to apologize to MouseKeeping if you run into them in the hallway.
# 5 – Mini M&Ms Container For Pressed Penny Change
Weekly readers of this fine blog know how much we love pressed pennies. They are an extremely affordable souvenir, and one that is easy to collect and carry with you. What’s not as fun or easy, is having to carry around the actual change to get the pressed pennies. Pockets full of change are noisy and annoying, while having to dig through a change purse can also be frustrating. An easy solution to this problem is buying a tube of Mini M&Ms and storing your change in there. The tube is the perfect size for quarters, and your life will be much easier if you load your change in to the tube in a two quarter/one penny stack. This is going to allow you to pop out the required 51 cents for a pressed penny as easy as a Pez dispenser.
# 4 – Mini USB Power Strip
Let’s face it, no matter how much we get dragged kicking and screaming into it, our vacations are becoming more and more tied to our electronic devices. Smart phones allow us to stay in constant contact with each other and be able to do thinks like make FP+ changes while in line for other attractions. We listen to iPods while running runDisney races. The kids play on tablets. We have FitBits to track our steps. This is a Disney vacation, so of course we’re taking photos, and unlike the old disposable cameras, digital cameras need to get plugged in too.
Because many of Disney’s hotel rooms were built before this technological revolution, it can be challenging to find enough outlets to power all of our family’s electronics. We’ve been to some resorts, like Coronado Springs, that are loaded with outlets, but many others are sorely lacking. What’s nice about bringing a mini power strip with you on vacation, is that you can also bring them into the parks (which can be a lifesaver if need it.) There are several decent strips available on Amazon, including one from ORICO and another from Belkin.
# 3 – Shower Curtain Liner for Stroller
We pack a lot of stuff in our stroller, and anyone who has been to Florida – especially during the Summer – knows that you are never far away from a possible torrential rain storm (even if it only lasts for a couple minutes.) The easiest way we have found to protect everything in the stroller, so we don’t have to worry about our stuff while inside a restaurant or attraction, is to cover the stroller with a shower curtain liner. Using chip clips, we attach the liner to the stroller and instantly everything inside stays dry. On our most recent trip to Disney we thought we had dodged a bullet, with the weather being great the entire time. Then, on the last day, while we were at the Magic Kingdom about to meet Aladdin and Jasmine, the skies opened up. We quickly covered up the stroller, put everything we didn’t want to get wet inside, and then enjoyed our time at a great meet and greet.
# 2 – Glow Sticks
The Disney parks are an absolutely blast at night, but once the sun goes down the carts carrying around all the light up toys come out. These carts are designed to draw your kids in like the Pied Piper, and of course everything is priced as a “color” so you have to ask a Cast Member. By the time you try to figure out what price “Orange” is, the sale is all but made. These are possibly the most overpriced pieces of merchandise in WDW, and imagine what ground that covers.
As suckers, it’s hard for us to say no to the kiddos when they are jumping around with their light up swords. When we do, in the back of our mind is the risk/reward scenario of the possible meltdown that may accompany the foot being put down. To cut this off entirely, we just bring our own glow sticks. Turns out, to a kid, a $1 glow stick is just as fascinating as a $20 one. Whether you go to the dollar store, or Target, or Party City, you are going to find a bunch of great light up options that will keep your kids extremely happy.
# 1 – Bring Your Own Memorabilia to Autograph
Character meet and greets are becoming as big a part of a Disney vacation as E-Ticket rides and unique dining experiences. As we said earlier, pressed pennies are a cheap Disney souvenir, but character autographs are even better: THEY’RE FREE! We have absolutely nothing against the standard Disney Autograph Book, in fact it may be the best way to go for a family who is new to the meet and greet game. However, when you’ve been around the block a couple times, bringing different options for the characters to sign is not only a unique souvenir for your family, but it often times can create a wonderful character interaction. There are literally hundreds of items you can bring to get autographed, but for this article we are going to cover two of our favorites.
First up, forget the Disney Vacation Club, the real Best Kept Secret on Disney property is the Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters. This is a fun book that is filled with pictures and backstories of over 150 Disney characters, almost all of which you can meet at Walt Disney World. Because this book is so great for autographs, many families have brought it and the characters themselves know exactly where they are in the book. On our most recent trip we had several very cool interactions with characters because we brought this book. When we met Cinderella’s step sisters Drizella and Anastasia at 1900 Park Fare, they hilariously rewrote their section of the book. When we met Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland, we got the Buzz Lightyear stamp on his page, but then Buzz turned the book to the page featuring Jessie from Toy Story and then he drew a heart around her. Just incredible. Cannot recommend it highly enough based solely on how many of the Disney characters knew about the book. Buy the Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters if you plan on hitting meet and greets at The World.
Now, because we have gotten so many character autographs in the book, we were looking for something else special since we love meeting the characters. We ended up getting photo frames that allowed the characters to put their John Hancocks around the entire border. Once again this led to some very fun interactions with the characters (both Merida and Joy from Inside Out wore the frame as a hat) but it also showed just how talented some of these characters were when it came to signing their autographs. I don’t even know how some of the costumed characters could even hold the Sharpie, let alone get the great detail in the signature that they did.
HONORABLE MENTION – An Alarm Clock
Starting in late 2015, Disney removed all alarm clocks from onsite resorts. I’ve been informed this is because many people have no use for alarm clocks anymore as they just use their phones. As the resident theme park old fogey, I must say NAY NAY. When I wake up in the middle of the night wondering what time it is – and how many more minutes I get to sleep until getting up for rope drop – I just want to quickly look up and see the time in big numbers. I have no interest in searching for my phone, and besides all the alarms on my phone are nice and relaxing. I want an alarm that is like an air raid siren! So now I just bring my old trusty alarm clark. My arch nemesis, the #Millenials, may scoff at this outdated technology, but gosh darn it, I’m sticking with it!
So there you have it: Six Things Your Family Needs to Pack For Your Disney Vacation! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles (which we just celebrated our THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY), or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, DVC magnate Morgan Crutchfield, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-host Aengus Mackenzie and fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.