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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Things Your Family Needs To Pack For Your Disney Trip

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saturdaysix_asseenonThis 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.

Pop-up Hamper from the Dollar General. Kids love the cute animal designs which makes it easier to get them to actually put their clothes into it.
It doesn’t take long for dirty clothes to pile up while on vacation.
Would you like paper or plastic?

# 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.

Getting change ready for a vacation.
Two quarter: one penny ratio is crucial in time management.
Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

Pressed penny at Disney’s Grand Floridian bus stop. That’s right, you ALWAYS have to be prepared!

# 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.

Our MONSTER USB power strip was bought several years ago. There are even better ones available now.
The ability to plug several devices in at once is a major plus.
iPhones and camera charger ready to go, later a FitBit was also being charged at same time.

# 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.

Shower Curtain Liner at Target.
Shower Curtain Liner at WalMart.
Stroller Covered
Rain, rain, go away….

# 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.

Disney brings out the big guns at night. This the equivalent of crack to kids.  (photo via runDisney heroine @goobermonkey78)
Mega Glow Party pack at Target. $10 for 200 various glow items, enough to last you for a whole week and then some.
Let it GLOW!
Star Wars glow toy that was bought at the Disney Outlet Store

# 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.

Disney’s Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters.
Drizella Tremaine gives the story of Cinderella from her perspective to our family’s Cinderella and Jaq.
Disney’s Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters.
This is exactly how SATURDAY SIX  looks after editor in chief Megan Stump gets through with it.
Buzz’s heart around Jessie. This was true Disney magic.

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.

Photo frame for autographs. Note Buzz Lightyear’s stamp in the bottom right.
Alice signs her page in the Encyclopedia after signing the frame (which she put on our little Alice’s head.)
Merida signing. Remember to bring several different colors of pens for added effect.
Merida’s signature at the bottom.
Joy, after signing.
Joy holding the frame for Sadness to sign.



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!

Alarm Clock
Bedside table at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort.
What time is rope drop again?!


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)


If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:

The Six Best Kept SECRETS at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT

FATHER’S DAY SPECIAL: Celebrating Dads at Walt Disney World and Universal

The Six Best Souvenir Cups at Walt Disney World

Six Of Our Favorite Shows That Went to Walt Disney World

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.

Awww, Don’t Be Sad. We’ll, See You Next Week!

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31 thoughts on “SATURDAY SIX: 6 Things Your Family Needs To Pack For Your Disney Trip

  • I sort folded dirty clothes into separate bags while at the hotel. They go straight into the suitcase and right into separate loads of laundry when we get home. I usually sort by person, but pull out items that can’t just go in a general wash (which don’t usually come on a disney vaca anyway). It also saves time on the back end when folding and putting away laundry!

  • Nice John Pinette reference!

  • Nitpick: You’ve mis-identified Anastasia as Drizella in the above photo. 😉

  • After some tech failures on trip #1, I requested daily wake-up calls from Goofy and Stitch on trip #2 – probably won’t fly on this upcoming visit with my feather-light-sleeping husband, but it worked great for me and my usual travel buddy!

  • The M&M bottle is great, but if you can’t find those, an old prescription bottle will work too. Wide enough to hold the quarters, and you can use a simple address label to decorate the bottle as your Pressed Penny container!

  • Thanks for the alarm clock tip – didn’t know that they weren’t in resort rooms anymore. Vacation is the only time I use an alarm clock instead of my phone. This millennial is afraid that the advanced technology of a smart phone will inevitably choose the worst possible time to fail (the same reason I’ll be carrying paper touring plans and copies of ADRs and FP+ selections)

    • The funny (ironic?) part of this story is right after I finished writing this article (and ending on the alarm clock) my iPhone went batty and the only thing that would appear on the screen was a picture showing a cable hooking to iTunes. Couldn’t access texts or even the home screen to even see the time (let alone set an alarm.) This was all at 2AM and at one point I just had to give up and try to figure it out the next day. Good news was that if I had to go to an Apple Store to see a “Genius” the next appointment was available in three days. Took hours to fix but long story short? THAT NEVER HAPPENED WITH AN ALARM CLOCK. 😉

    • I’ve had bad experiences with hotel alarm clocks. There were times that I assume a previous occupant had “booby trapped” the clock to go off at 3:00 in the morning and it woke me in the middle of the night. So I’ve learned to always check to see if the alarm is turned on even though I never use it. I’ve also heard the alarm clock go off in the (presumably) unoccupied room next door and it rang on and on and on and on… I won’t miss them.

  • Thank you for so many reasons: resourcefulness, hilarity, thriftyness, OCD as a positive trait, more inside references than MST3K and especially the genuine Disney Magic we enjoy. You and your team are all that and a bag of chips.

  • Ok, but does the laundry pile sing Gospel music and dispense invaluable wisdom like the trash heap from Fraggle Rock? Because, that would be worth keeping the pile around.

  • The M&M container for change is a great idea. Do not put it in carryon bags, though. My luggage got rifled through because the solid metal tube shape set off like, ALL the X-Ray warnings. 🙂

    • We made the mistake of leaving the batteries in our make-your-own-lightsaber in the checked luggage. Note from TSA that the suitcase had been opened – we won’t make that mistake again!

      BTW, can anyone tell me how to get the M&M label OFF the tube we’re carrying the quarters in ?
      We’ve been unsuccessful with peeling or soaking.
      Suggestions ?

      • If you still have that sticky residue left on the bottles, try nail polish remover. When my son was an infant we were required to use stick-on labels on all bottles we sent to daycare and they would never come off completely. Nail polish remover worked for whatever wouldn’t unstick after soaking in hot water.

  • Regarding the hamper – on this last trip, we actually packed an extra, collapsible duffel bag for dirty clothes and just filled it up over the course of the vacation. Since our bags flew free, it made it a no-hassle way to get the dirty clothes back without having to repack/refold and/or worry about the dirty clothes “contaminating” the clean stuff. Plus, there was then room in the “good” bags for souvenirs!

    • You may have just solved my dilemma. Was there any issue with a duffel bag going in checked luggage? I would be afraid it would rip.

      • I always pack an empty large Vera Bradley duffle in my suitcase. I have checked it, full of only clothes, on the way home many times. Never a problem. The airlines accept it without question.

      • I just use one of our suitcases we take down. My husband loves to unpack his clothes into the dresser of the hotel so we take his big suitcase and use it for dirty clothes. Then half way through the trip I take and combine clean clothes into another suitcase and use the 2nd empty one for dirty clothes. We are a family of 6 so we take one big suitcase for each of us. On the way home we have 2 dirty suitcase and 4 with any clean clothes and usually lots of souvenirs in them. We did the M&M tip last trip and it was awesome. My daughter got every pressed coin in Disneyland and California land and never had a mess.

  • If your primary goal is to charge USB devices, Anker has some Great Wall bricks in Amazon. You can charge up to 5 devices on some, and they have high speed ports that’ll charge an iPhone faster than the brick that comes with the phone. Really great for traveling with an array of smartphones and cameras and such.

    • ^^ this. We packed both a full-size power strip and a four-USB port charger, and almost exclusively used the four-port charger. I was impressed with Disney’s availability of outlets and charging points at AKL.

      • On our last vacation (wilderness lodge villas) I was so disappointed in the condition of the outlets. The charger would not stay plugged in and just kept falling out of the socket, I ended up propping it with the bible from the room so my phone would charge, FIRE HAZARD?? Even in the bathroom the blow dryer just kept falling out of the wall, extremely frustrating!!

  • There are great free apps for your phone that will leave the time up all night if it’s plugged in. We use it in place of an alarm clock and it works great can even choose red blocky numbers if you like being nostalgic

  • In addition to the pop-up hamper, I also bring large garbage or yard bags. Put the dirty clothes in the bag at the end of the trip so they don’t mix with any clean clothes in your suitcase. When you get home, you can just take the bags to the laundry room.

    • Or mesh laundry bags – they take up no room in the suitcase and when full you can stuff them back into an empty suitcase for the return trip. 🙂

  • The shower curtain liner would also do well for a wheelchair or ECV, if your family needs one.

  • While you’re at Target, buy those ponchos! They’re in the camping section, and they’re less than two bucks each.

    It’s Florida. You know it’s going to rain. Wouldn’t you rather pay under $10 for a family of five rather than $50 when you get caught in a downpour at the back of the Magic Kingdom?

    • Agreed. I think ponchos are a must bring item for all travelers, which is why I have them in the introduction along with the other essentials. Target and dollar stores are great places to get cheap, disposable ponchos. As a Florida Resident now, and someone who goes to the parks often, I can say that you do actually get your money’s worth from the more expensive Disney and Universal ponchos. Both use a much thicker material that you can reuse over and over repeatedly with no problem whatsoever. For people that are just down here for a vacation though, its certainly not the best bang for your buck.

      • The beauty of the disposable ponchos is they fit in your pocket. I don’t know of anyone who can fold them backs so small they can fit back in your pocket again. When we go to WDW we go to Target or Wal*Mart and buy a few and just dispose of them after one use. One year we used them on the Kali rapids and when we got off people in the queue to get on were asking us for them so we gave them our ponchos.
        We usually stay in a villa when we go to WDW. I throw the dirty clothes in the washing machine and then tumble drier or clothes horse to dry, then when we pack all the clothes are clean so there is no laundry to do when I get home. I love that rather than having to wash 2 or3 weeks of washing when I get home.

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