For me personally packing for Disneyland is always equal parts excitement and feeling overwhelmed. Planning for an entire day (or days) in the park(s) is not something you can wing. I’ve learned that preparation is key to maximizing your time at the Happiest Place on Earth, and not wanting to pull your hair out. It’s also important to not overpack as well, or bring unnecessary things and not have a lot of room for souvenirs, because there will be souvenirs. Here’s what to bring and what to leave behind on your Disneyland packing list.
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The Complete Disneyland Packing List
The biggest thing to remember is bring layers, since it can cool off even during the warmer summer months. You will also want to bring a warmer layer if you get wet on Splash Mountain and a breeze picks up.
Here’s what should be on your Disneyland packing list:
- Pair of comfortable shoes like sneakers – because you will get your 10,000 daily steps in. If you’re going to have multiple days in the park/s it’s recommended you bring two pairs of comfortable shoes that you can switch off wearing each day.
- Extra socks – stuff some in your day bag, since you never know when you’ll need them.
- T-shirts – always good to have a lighter layer in case the sun comes out.
- Sweatshirt – important to have on hand when it cools down at night.
- Light portable jacket – important to have on hand during the cooler winter months.
- Shorts/pants – depending on the weather, you may need pants if it’s an overcast day. Make sure to check the forecast the day of since the weather can be change day to day. In early summer the sky can be overcast due to June gloom, where thick fog rolls in from the coast.
- Bathing suit – whether you’re staying in a Disneyland hotel or in a nearby hotel, taking a break by the pool is always a good idea.
- Hat + sunglasses – don’t under estimate that California sun, especially when you’re stuck waiting in line.
- Disney ears – if you have ears from a previous trip, don’t forget to bring them. I have a pair of sparkly blue and white star ears that have been my go to since I bought them a few years back (and also I refuse to pay another $40+ on another pair).
- Poncho – if the forecast says it’s going to rain, you don’t want to end up buying one of the overpriced ponchos in the park. You can also use your poncho on Splash Mountain to stay dry.
- Snacks – from personal experience it’s always beneficial to bring extra snacks in your bag to ward off hunger while waiting in line. Disneyland allows guests to bring in snacks, as long as they’re not in a glass container. Food wise, if you want to save money and bring your own lunch, sandwiches and cut fruit and veggies are allowed. Large family-sized Tupperwares of food and food that needs to be heated and/or prepped is restricted to the picnic area outside the park.
- External phone charger – there are limited outlets around the park as well as FuelRods for rental as a back-up. I’ve always found it easier to bring my own phone charger, since it saves money and I don’t have to worry about the extra step of having to rent one out or hover over an outlet (if I can find a free one).
- Extra Ziplock bags – of all sizes, because you never know when they come in handy. From keeping things like your camera dry on water rides in gallon-sized bags to storing Disney pins in snack-sized bags.
- First aid kit – including Advil, motion sickness meds, and band-aids for blisters. There is a First Aid Center in the park, but when you’re all the way across the park it can be a hassle to try to make your way back to Main Street for a band-aid.
- Backpack/bag -bring a bag that is big enough to stash all your belongings and then some. It’s always important to have a bag that will zip-up, since you don’t want all your things to fall out when you’re on Big Thunder Mountain.
- Extra packable duffel bag – to carry more souvenirs at the end of the day when you buy all those gifts for family and friends at the Emporium.
- Reusable water bottle – there are plenty of water fountains around the park to fill up. Bottled water around the park is pricey at $3, but it you want some ice cold water you can always ask quick-service restaurants for free water. Nothing ruins a Disneyland trip faster than dehydration.
- Electrolytes – speaking of staying hydrated, I am a big fan of having this natural brand in my water for an extra boost and some added flavor.
- Sunscreen – even on the cloudy days, those clouds can be deceiving. Make sure to reapply it throughout the day, especially if you go on Splash Mountain.
- Lotion – Orange County is dessert dry and having extra hand/face lotion is always good.
- Hand sanitizer + wet wipes – there’s no way to sugar quote it – Disneyland is filled with germs and it’s important to bring an arsenal of both hand sanitizer and wet wipes in your bag. Wet wipes come in handy especially when you need to clean off your sticky churro fingers in line for Pirates of the Caribbean.
A note about storage options:
If you don’t want to carry about your jacket all day or don’t want to lug your souvenirs around all day, you can always store your things in a rented locker located at the front of the park on Main Street U.S.A. (or alternatively Buena Vista Street in DCA and The Esplanade accessible from Downtown Disney and located right outside the main entrances of both parks. Locker prices within Disneyland are $7 or $10 depending on the size of the locker.
If you have medication that needs to be refrigerated, drop it off at the First Aid Center at the end of Main Street, next to the Baby Care Center.
What Not To Bring To Disneyland
There are some things that guests are not allowed to bring into the park, including the following:
- backpacks/bags on wheels
- coolers that are larger than a 6-pack (though an exception is made if you want to bring coolers up to 19″ wide x 24″ high x 31″to store in rented jumbo lockers)
- glass containers (except for baby food and medicine)
- selfie sticks
- costumes if you’re over 14 years old (unless there’s a special event)
- pets-unless they’re service animals (there’s a kennel right before the entrance gates where you can leave your pet for the day)
Extra Disneyland Trip Prep Tips
Here are a few additional things to take care ahead of time to make sure your trip goes smoothly:
Disneyland App – download this essential guide before your visit, which gives you ride wait times, online park tickets (important for skipping the ticket line), mobile food and drink ordering, dining info, character appearances and more.
Dinning reservations – for popular dinning spots like character meals or sit-down dinning you can make reservations ahead of time (up to 60 days in advance). Restaurants that take reservations include Blue Bayou, Plaza Inn, Ola’s Cantina, Carnation Cafe, River Belle Terrace, and Cafe Orleans. For more dinning info, check out this Disneyland guide here.
Book nearby lodging – planning where to stay is very important to the ease of how your trip will go. Staying at a Disneyland hotel property is ideal, but not always the best choice financially. I have always found staying at nearby hotels the best option, especially those that are a quick Uber or complementary shuttle ride away. Here are a few solid choices:
A 15-minute walk to Disneyland (you can see Disney California Adventure across the street), this hotel is a clean, spacious home base. The area is well lit, so you can feel safe coming home from the park late at night. The pool area is a nice retreat with two large pools, two hot tubs, and shaded cabana areas. A hot breakfast is included.
A bit further from the park, this 3-star hotel is modern, clean, and offers spacious suites complete with modern kitchenettes. A reasonably-priced option for families or travelers looking to have the convenience of a fridge, microwave, and stove top in their rooms. Walking to the park is a bit far (25 minutes or more), but a blink of an Uber ride takes you straight to the front gates.
A mid-range hotel that is a solid choice with amenities that include an outdoor pool, snack bar, and a complementary hot breakfast buffet. Suite rooms include a separate living room area with a sofa pull-out bed, that is perfect for larger groups. Ask for a back-facing room to avoid highway noise. Disney is a quick 11-minute walk door to door.
The Best Time To Go To Disneyland
Disneyland is blessed with a sunny Southern California climate, where the weather is pretty ideal year round. In the summer it will be hot (but without humidity and daily thunderstorms like Disney World), and in the winter there is always the possibility of rain. Going in off-seasons like winter, spring, and fall are preferable, since summer can be crowded with families on summer vacation. That being said, exceptions during off-season times to avoid are school holidays like spring break in March and the weeks surrounding Halloween and Christmas.
Check out this helpful calendar of the best times to go to the park from Magic Guides.
Read more: Prolonging The Magic: Disneyland For Adults