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You know you’ll return home from Disneyland with memories to last a lifetime, but what the heck should you bring there?
Packing a bag for a day at the parks can be daunting. Even if you’re all set with the essentials — sunscreen, hand sanitizer, your phone with the Disneyland app within thumb’s reach — you can’t help but wonder if there are some less-obvious items that would make your experience easier, comfier and even more magical.
There are. I surveyed my Disneyland-obsessed friends, chatted with Disneyland content creator Katie Goto (@2.adventure.and.beyond) and visited the parks many times myself to compile this pro-level packing list, a collection of items that would make Mary Poppins herself wonder, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
Some of these things help you endure the weather. Others make navigating the parks with kids less chaotic. Choose what makes sense for your own itinerary to the best Disney day ever.
Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
A clear backpack: Let’s start with the bag itself. If you don’t mind your items exposed, toting a clear plastic backpack makes passing through security a breeze.
Disney character onesie: When it starts to get chilly as you watch the fireworks or parades, slip an adult-sized onesie over your day clothes and it’s like having a wearable blanket. It doesn’t have to be Disney character-themed, but it’s just more fun to wave to a dancing Daisy Duck while dressed as Donald.
Glow necklaces: Pass them out to your kids at night so you can better spot them in the dark.
Collapsible water bottle: To lighten up your bag, it’s best to leave your beloved Stanley tumbler at home and instead bring a highly packable Platypus water bottle that you can refill around the park throughout the day and roll up when it’s not in use.
Stamped letters or postcards: Did you know that there are real, functioning mailboxes around Disneyland and Disney California Adventure? It could be fun to have kids write, “Wish you were here!” letters to Grandma and send them straight from the parks. (FYI, Disneyland doesn’t postmark the mail — instead, it’s taken to an Anaheim post office.)
Mickey ears and a metallic permanent marker: Instead of asking characters to sign an autograph book, hand them a metallic permanent marker and have them sign your Mickey ears. It’ll be a fun thing to display later on.
A pair of flip–flops: These come in especially handy on water rides.
A lightweight stroller, even if you don’t have kids with you: Some Disneyland regulars like to bring a stroller that serves as a “movable locker” for the group. Keep a portable power strip in it so that everyone can plug in their devices whenever they need to. (Just make sure someone has an eye on it at all times.)
A temporary tattoo with your phone number on it: Disneyland is a crowded place — know that you can buy custom child-safety tattoos on Etsy that say, “If lost, please call [your phone number].” Alternatively, you can write out your digits on your kids’ skin with Sharpie (which I’ve read that some parents do), but you risk it washing off on Grizzly River Run.
Empty containers or reusable snack bags: When you’re full but you can’t bring yourself to throw away half of that $19 burger, it’s nice to have something to store it in. Bring your own to-go containers so you can munch on your leftovers later. One good option is a PackIt freezable snack box.
Your own reusable straws: Disneyland offers only paper ones.
Souvenirs for your kids that you purchased ahead of time: Avoid long lines and hefty price tags at the gift shops by doing some pre-Disney-day shopping. You can find Disney merch at tons of online and bricks-and-mortar stores, including the sale section at the Disney Store.
Extra socks: Even if your feet don’t get wet from the rides, by the end of the night, they’ll probably feel … not the freshest. Have a pair of clean socks to change into — and put the old ones in one of the extra bags you’ve brought.
Liquid Bandage: If your shoes fail you, the waterproof sealant will protect your blistered heels.
Chafing powder or body glide: Because no one should have sticky, irritated thighs at the happiest place on Earth.
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