Monday, June 25, 2012

Magical Moments - Packing Essentials

This week finds me struggling to retain focus on anything non-Disney.  Though this particular member of the DLuminations team spends several weeks a year in the WDW parks, each approaching visit is still replete with anxious anticipation.  So, as I work through a few last minute items on my packing list, I thought this post would provide the perfect opportunity to discuss packing essentials, and packing tips for a WDW vacation.

I think it is pretty safe to assume that you have already figured out items such as basic toiletries, clothes, reservation information, extra cash, photo ID, insurance card, etc. should already be packed.  Thus, I will focus only on those items that you may not have considered as a part of your normal packing list.

1.      Frogg Togg Chili Pad:  With projected summer temperatures hovering in the lower to mid-90s, there is absolutely no way I am traveling to the parks without a few of these in my bag.  To save money, we purchase 2 Frogg Toggs and cut it in 4 smaller strips.  These are easy to fold, slip into a zip-lock bag and pack.  They are also big enough to make a difference in comfort, while small enough to wrap around your neck comfortably.  There are more tips for keeping cool in an earlier post.
2.      Sun Block:  Sunscreen isn’t just a poolside or water park essential.  It is absolutely recommended for the parks.  I’ve recently heard of an increase in the number of skin cancer diagnoses for lips, so some form of Chap Stick with sun block is also highly recommended.  Two other great options are thin, long sleeve shirts (dry-fit running shirts are ideal) and sun / bucket hats.  Though long sleeve shirts may sound warmer, they actually protect your skin while keeping you cool.
3.      Pocket size bottles of Hand Sanitizer:  Remember, millions of people visit the parks annually, and even though Disney works amazing feats of magic, they can’t sanitize everything daily.  So, as you move from the attractions to the restaurants or snack locations, hand sanitizer proves highly useful!
4.      Running Socks:  You can find these at any sporting goods store.  Unlike traditional cotton blended socks, these socks are moisture wicking, so they help prevent blisters.  This is a packing essential when you are walking through the parks on hot summer days.  (It may also be important to remember that you will be walking a lot, so wear sneakers if at all possible.)
5.      Body Glide: Popular with runners and other endurance athletes, these balms help prevent blisters from forming on your feet and inner thighs during long durations of movement – especially in the heat.
6.      Pictures of Your Kids:  I’m sure you would jump at the chance to show a picture of your kids to any willing stranger, but that isn’t the purpose here.  In case your kids get separated or lost, you can have something to show park officials as they help your kids reunite with their lost parents.   It may also be a great idea to have some sort of separation plan.  In the event that you and your children become separated and anyone finds himself or herself lost, plan ahead to meet at a specific location inside the parks.  For instance, if I were to find that my son had walked away for a moment and we could not find each other, already having a plan to meet at the entrance to the Hall of Presidents in that case may save a lot of trouble and anguish.
7.      WDW Trading Pins:  Years ago we decided we would not get caught up in this craze.  Unfortunately, we did succumb to the phenomenon.  That said, pin trading is a great way for you and you kids to collect souvenirs, while keeping busy in the long lines.  (More on this in a later post.)
8.      Batteries:  We love to take photos and video using cameras, Flip Cameras, phones, etc.  Extra batteries are useful and are much cheaper if you bring your own!  Also, don’t forget any battery chargers you may need.
9.      Rain Poncho:  Years ago, you could find Yellow Ponchos with Mickey prominently depicted thereon moving through the parks on a rainy day.  The design has changed somewhat over the years, but the price has always remained high.  I recommend taking a trip to the Dollar General where these are more affordable.
10.  Sunglassesfor obvious reasons.
11.  Mobile Phones / 2-Way Radios:  If you travel to the parks with large parties, or if you have older kids who might like to venture off by themselves, these items may be a great way to keep in touch when you need to.
12.  Sandals / Flip-Flops / Boating Shoes / Crocs:  For the water parks and resort pools, but not the parks.
13.  Glow Sticks:  I must admit, I learned this one from a friend.  A big hit with the kiddos, these come cheap at the local dollar store, but similar type items can break the back in the parks.  So, load up beforehand.
14.  Light Jacket / Sweatshirt:  For those traveling to the parks in the winter months, Orlando can be rather chilly.  So, bring something to cover up with.
15.  First Aid Pack:  Disney Parks do have first aid areas, but I recommend a small kit of your own – especially if you have kids.  4 – 5 Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, Aspirin (or other pain reliever), sinus medication (Nose Spray, etc.) are all items that you may be thankful for on any given day.
16.  Back Pack: After looking at the list above, you shouldn’t need to wonder why this is on the list.

So, there you have it, a few additional packing essentials for your trip to WDW.  Good luck gathering your essentials for your next trip.  Feel free to add any tips or essentials on your list in the comments section below.  We would love to read about any items that you feel are absolutely necessary to pack.

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