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What's in the bag?

One of the factors that makes me odd to many is my lack of a purse; phone, keys, and a kid-size wallet are all I need on a daily basis. However, I have learned that a certain amount of baggage is necessary in the parks. After many years of streamlining, everything my family may need is now constantly within reach. Fortunately, channeling my inner Daisy leaves my son (and husband) acting much less like Donald so we can all enjoy our days without any meltdowns.

12. Face masks: It's not always required, but when it is, you are much better off with your own, and it's nice to have an extra to avoid any funky smells of the day.

11. Ziploc bags: Obviously, a baggie is nice for water rides and your phone, but it’s also a lifesaver when something literally falls apart or you want somewhere to store that cute straw or umbrella from your drink that you are keeping as a souvenir.

10. One sandwich bag-size “emergency” kit: I come prepared with pain reliever, Benadryl, tummy and throat soothers, Neosporin, Band-aids, Q-tips, tooth picks, nail clippers, hair clip, and an extra contact lens. I have used every item on every single vacation for years; keep enough meds for two doses and replenish each night.

9. Diaper wipes (another baggie): Wipes are a nice refresher on a sticky day; it’s no spa treatment, but you may leave the bathroom feeling like it. Plus, regardless of age, they may be a welcome luxury if someone is sensitive to TP that’s not like momma’s.

8. A battery pack: In addition to the pictures you’ll be taking, when you consider how often you may be on your phone to check ride wait times, make a last minute reservation, or mobile order food, you are going to need the back up.

7. An old smartphone for kids: As you are scoping out your next move on your phone, slide an old phone to you kid for Play Disney interactive games and elements that are available via free Disney wifi. Outside of the Play Disney app, an extra smartphone is nice for the Kidcot activities when traveling around the world in Epcot.

6. Glow sticks & jewelry: Avoid the impulse purchase of a light-up toy before fireworks by flashing your own neon bling. More than once, a kid with the shiny new singing, bubble-making, light-up toy would envy Curtis’s glow-wear; we would share our extra glow, and they would let him have a turn with the toy-which was enough to satisfy his initial impulse attraction.

5. Ponchos: Disney ponchos are $10-15 each; is that really where you want your souvenir money to go? Tip, order ahead in various colors to easily spot your family as Disney ponchos are clear; keep in mind that the shiny ones will also stick to you and act as an incubator.

4. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face & Body Stick: Yes, you will be in the sun, but Disney does a great job of providing shade in most outdoor areas and queues. Unless you are prone to burning, slather your yourself with the usual lotion and aerosol while in your room and then skip lugging them about by sticking with the stick. It is easy to pack, can be applied around others without any awkward spraying or rubbing, and won’t leave you greasy.

3. A Hydration Backpack: Prior to Covid, you could walk up to any Quick-Service restaurant pick-up location to find trays of ice water, free and available for anyone to pick up. While the water is still free, now it is by request, which can mean waiting. As a result, my nine year old now gladly sports a hydration backpack all day. When I see a Quick Service restaurant nearby with no line, I snatch up some iced water and pour it in for later.

2. Pre-purchased Disney gift cards: Locally, our best places for discount Disney gift cards is Kroger’s and Sam’s. You can pre-load them onto your Disney account, which makes mobile ordering a breeze. They are also a wonderful way to budget your souvenir shopping. Last time, Curtis had his own separate gift cards so that he knew that when those were gone, the only thing he was getting from me was food!

1. Piscifun Insulated, Leakproof Lightweight Cooler Backpack: Disney allows you to bring in your own non-alcoholic drinks, so we bring at least six drinks already cold with a couple frozen water bottles. This saves a ton of time and money waiting in lines just to parch your thirst. For my family of three, this saves us at least $30 & 30 minutes each day. Plus, it has tons of storage; in addition to the drinks, I carry everything on this list and still have room to tote my various souvenirs. If you’ve seen me in the past decade, you know that half my “professional” wear is Disney…

What you won’t see in my backpack is bug spray. Bugs love me, but Disney has the bug situation under control. I’m all for saving the planet and recycle everything I can, but whatever they are doing to eliminate bugs, it works. Maybe it’s harmful somewhere in the ecosystem, but I am not asking any questions.


Hello, I'm Kelly Nixon

I'm a Disney-loving mom and teacher who has dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to researching the best way to do Disney-to maximize the quality of time and minimize the dollars spent!

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