9 Things to Pack in your Backpack for Disneyland – No Exceptions

Today I have a list of items that you absolutely must have packed for your Disneyland visit. Some may seem obvious and there might be a few you have not considered. But, you should not visit the park without these 9 items:   photo (1)

1. Tickets

Don’t wait to buy tickets onsite. Buy online at Disneyland or through another reputable seller or at your hotel (if they provide such services) prior to arriving to save time and stress. You don’t want to stand in that ticket line (pictured to the right).

Even if you arrive early enough to try to accomplish buying tickets before open, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do it. Be prepared. Buy ahead of time.

***Buying from anyone other than the three options I listed above makes me nervous and I discourage you from trying to find ‘deals’ throughout third party sites. There simply aren’t a lot of safe options. lan-mod-001_grande

2. Lanyard for Tickets or a Suitable Bag

Lanyards are ideal for holding your tickets, money, credit card, etc and they come in all sorts of varieties. (They’re available for purchase at the park, too.) You’ll want to have your tickets in easy reach to grab FASTPASSES throughout the day. Don’t count on kids to carry their own (please God, no, just don’t.) And, you won’t want to fish them out of your backpack or satchel throughout the day.

11220788_779137152183930_8764507648460481036_nSo, a lanyard is ideal. If the lanyard is not your thing (like me), consider a small cross-over purse or messenger bag. I almost always carry a super cute Rais Case design. RaisCase bags are well made and beautifully styled.

And, if none of these ticket-holding options appeal to you, make sure that someone in your group has a secure pocket to keep tickets in one place. This should be a smooth part of your park experience. Don’t fumble for tickets throughout the day.

3. Snacks

Regardless of your budget…..and even if you have an unlimited one……you’re going to want snacks to enjoy while waiting in line or while you’re walking en route to an attraction. Lines can stack up even for food. Don’t rely entirely on the park to feed you and your group throughout the day. 92bc1d249da7e48a_granola-bars

If nothing else, pack one ziploc bag filled with granola bars, fruit, energy bars and/or fruit snacks. You’ll be glad you did when hunger strikes and you’re on a mission.

4. Bottled Water

Bring water in. Yes, Disneyland offers free iced water at restaurants and they’re surprisingly kind about the request, but again…..you don’t want to rely on standing in line for rehydration. Bring in your own water bottles. I recommend one per person and then refill them at water fountains throughout the park as needed. Nalgene-backpacking-water-bottle

Public Service Announcement: I’m not a big fan of buying a bottle of water and tossing or recycling it. My family re-uses even the disposable ones when we have them and I encourage you to do the same just for earth conservation alone. 

5. Blanket or Sheet

If you have intentions of seeing any show or parade (Fantasmic, Soundsational Parade, holiday parades, etc, etc), bring a sheet or a blanket to mark your territory.

A sheet is less comfy, but takes up less room in your backpack. You’re really just trying to secure a section for you and your crew to see the shows. People often lose their manners during these events. Take a look at a few of my personal experiences:

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*A blanket marking our territory would have prevented the stroller from being placed right in front of us.

060 copy*Yes. Someone tried to sit there, in front of my then 4 year old.

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*Blankets or sheets save the day.

This Matador blanket folds up to almost nothing and is perfect for Disneyland:


6. Sunscreen, Sanitizer and Wipes

This goes without saying for summer and spring time, but fall and winter visits will need the protection, too. SoCal is known for near-perfect temperatures around 70 degrees year round. But, even on cloudy days, powerful rays will seep through. 29790fd1cb6712d5_sunscreen

Be sure to have everyone covered in sunscreen and I actually recommend making sure this (and a few other things) is done prior to even arriving to the park in my Magical Ways to Start Your Disneyland Days post.

Sanitizer is helpful for obvious reasons, but especially for little ones as they snack throughout the day and not always directly after a restroom stop for washing hands. I always have sanitizer on hand and use it often.

Baby wipes or Wet Ones will keep little ones less messy and actually work well, too, to cool you off on hot days. Consider packing them for both of those reasons.

7. Camera/Wireless Chargers

Depending on what kind of camera you’re using, consider an additional back up battery or a charger for yours if it works with one. Same goes with phones…..especially if you’re planning on using your phone for photos. high-capacity-wireless-phone-charger-thumb

Include a fully charged wireless charger to use throughout the day when your phone’s battery is low. There are plug in stations throughout the park, but you won’t want to rely on this as you walk through your day.

8. Autograph Book & Pen

You can buy these on-site, but they’ll cost a pretty penny. Any little book will do. You can even find them at the Dollar Store.

Be sure to bring a pen. I made the mistake of not bringing in a pen one day and one of the princesses remarked that she’d have nowhere to keep such in her dress! (Duh.)


9. Jacket/Rain Ponchos

Don’t let the sunny SoCal climate confuse you. It will get chilly after dark, nearly every day of the year. I recommend a light sweater or jacket for every visit. women-8217-s-apex-bionic-jacket-new-fit-C771_R8F_hero I’ve recommended other clothing combos, too, in my style post and a pashmina scarf is at the top of my list. It can work as a wrap, a scarf, or even as a blanket for a small child.

Consider bringing a scarf, too, for the colder months (October-May). However, a jacket is needed year round.

Bonus item: I always have ponchos in my bag, however, SoCal has been in a drought for 3 years, so the chance of rain is rare. Check the weather prior and if there is the slightest chance, run to the dollar store and grab some to add to your bag.


So, there you have it! My 9 essentials. I can’t see any reason to enter the park without these items in your bag. Add your own personal items, too, for stress relief or first aid or other preferences. But, don’t forget these 9.

Come see me on Facebook with other suggestions!

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  1. So we are allowed to take in a few snacks, i checked the website and it says no outside food allowed. I don’t want to go then be embarrassed before entering. Thanks in advance.

  2. A gentle clarification. So Cal is large so temps do vary, but 70s year round? Not quite. Warmer most of the year and summers are Long and Hot. Consider a light weight jacket for evenings.

  3. A word to the wise: a few months ago I lost my annual pass (listen every universal annual pass) that I kept in my lanyard sleeve. It isn’t easy pulling card out of sleeve each time I changed parks. I must have torn the perforated sleeve from the lanyard and then just dropped it without realizing it was no longer attached. Went to lost and found several times over the next couple days but no luck. Disney replaced the pass for $10.
    Probably should have only had one item in sleeve.

  4. Whatever else you bring, don’t forget to bring CHAPSTICK!!!!!! Believe me you will be glad you did. No matter what time of year, you’ll need it.

  5. For phone chargers look into mophie phone covers, they are more expensive but worth it, I love mine! I charge my phone over night with a cord and then during the day if my phone needs charging I simply turn on the green switch on the back of my phone to charge it without a cord! Best thing ever!

  6. I’ve had an annual pass on and off since 1981, it’s honestly one of my favorite places in the whole world! I think you might want to add chap stick with sunscreen to your list, nothing worse than dry lips! They seem to make everything else dry! You need more food/drinks cuz your lips are dry! I also have a small fold up fan that can shade AND cool! Can’t live without it! °O°

  7. Hi thanks a lot for the tips. Very useful. I am going there this April with my family. The elder son 7years old is very excited. The little one is just 16 months old. Can I take him inside the parks and the waiting areas considering he anyways will not be allowed in the rides as per his age??
    GG xx

  8. I’m taking my 3 grandson’s this Saturday
    I have a backpack for water, snacks and light jackets
    Can I wear my backpack inside the park? Looking forward to this outing. Thanks

      • I used my Matador blanket (thanks for the tip!) when we went in October (2015), and there was no problem. My children & I stayed on it or near it at all times, though.

        When my son conked out for Fantasmic, I was glad he had the blanket, instead of pavement, to sleep on. I covered him with a dollar store poncho (another great tip—thanks again!), and he was fine.

  9. Hi! I love this post, but I figured that I would tell you something I had recently learned as well. I love reusable water bottles, but I always use them now! 🙂 however, please do not reuse plastic water bottles, for your sake. I love recycling, but if you refill the waters like i.e. Poland Spring, nirvana, or any other company, the chemicals of the plastic seep into the water. For some reason it only occurs when you refill the bottle, but knowing that you have a beautiful family, I figured that I would tell you to ensure their health, and yours. I love your blog so much, it is amazing!! Thank you ?

    I’m taking my best friend’s 10 year old and I’ve not been responsible for a child at the park in years. I will definitely need to plan and coordinate with her folks so we both will be comfortable and happy on Sunday! 😀

  11. Do you have to show your tickets when you ride? What if one person has the tickets and you split up? I’m not sure I understand how the tickets for the park work. Also, do they have options for non-riding tickets? You know the grandparents that just come along “for the ride” of hanging out?

  12. Hi! I’m taking my 4 year old to Disneyland in April it’s our first trip! And I had a couple questions, I’m bringing my stroller and was wondering what you do with it while you’re on a ride? (It’s just him and I going)

    Question 2- I’m hoping to get pictures of both of us together throughout our time at Disney and since it’s just us going do the other people usually take pictures for you if you ask (like the other pedestrians at the park)

    Question 3- are selfie sticks allowed in the parks? I don’t see why they wouldn’t be but I don’t want to pack one of they aren’t lol

    • Selfie sticks are actually banned now. Leave it at home! You’ll leave your stroller at the designated area per attraction. And people – and cast members – are typically very kind about taking photos for each other. Enjoy!

  13. We leave in the morning for Disney World !!!! We bought a small cooler with wheels can we bring it in ? Can you wear a back pack ? We are doing Magic Kingdom for two days.. Our first time it is 6 in our family I am super nervous and excited.

  14. My essentials:
    tickets (or in my case, annual passport)
    insurance card
    mini bottle of sunscreen/hat/sunglasses
    small water bottle
    some band-aids & pain reliever
    lightweight jacket that is water resistant
    really comfortable walking shoes
    sugarless gum
    hand sanitizer
    camera phone, extra battery
    small bag with a zipper that I can wear on my shoulder that fits all the above 🙂
    ***Then I almost always end up buying one of the cute Disney bags to hold all of the cute Disney merchandise I find!!

  15. Thanks for all the great information! We are heading to Disney on Monday and I think I’ve read all your posts at least twice! I’ve finally decided to bring a cooler and get a locker, but I have a cross body bag similar to ones you use and we will have a small back pack to carry. My question is can you ride all of the rides with these bags or do you have to take them off? Where can you put them if you have to take them off? Thanks again!

    • I wear my cross body on all the rides. I would store the bigger bags/cooler in the locker, but keep your cross body with you with only the essentials in it. There really isn’t room to store bigger bags like at other theme parks with the exception of the free lockers at Grizzly River Run in DCA. Enjoy your visit!

  16. We’ve found that bringing in little water flavor packets really help when refilling water bottles with nasty Anaheim tap water. It makes it taste way batter. Also the kids drink more and stay more hydrated when it’s yummy.

  17. The Disneyland website says you cannot bring in outside food or water. Do they really not care? I would hate to have to throw away a bunch of stuff.

    • Hi, Sarah.

      Disney policy states that food is not allowed in. And, I never want to encourage anyone to break policy, however, the park doesn’t insist you throw it out upon bag inspection. I bring in water and snacks with each visit. You can also rent a locker to store food in the front of the park and then picnic at their space on site. There are more details on the picnic spot in this post: http://dlrprepschool.com/the-logistics-of-disneyland/

      • I go to Disney at least 4 times a year and they have never told me not to bring in water or snacks. I’m sure if you brought an ice chest or cooler they’d tell you no but a water bottle and a few snacks in your bag won’t raise an alarm. 🙂

        • I know we just went and we brought a couple snackes and water bottles. They didn’t say a word about it! But a lady in front if us at bag check had a selfie stick and they took it away.

          • We bring in Sunway, McDonald’s, etc and they’ve never told us to throw anything out. Most of the bag checkers could really care less. A friend of mine used to work tickets and she said they’re surprisingly lenient with food.

  18. I would of thought for someone conserving the environment by reusing water bottles that you might take in a couple of face washers (square bits of towelling) which you can store in a zip lock bag. Rinse out in the bathroom if they get too messy as most times when you eat the messy stuff you are near a toilet. Doesn’t Disney land have lockers? If so go the expense and dump off the heavy stuff. We have them at our parks in Australia and for $10 we all enjoy the day and can take in our lunch too.

  19. For another way to safely carry valuables (your #2) try PortaPocket. Not a fanny pack, but more versatile since you can wear almost anywhere on the body, and either under or over your outfit. I’ve worn these to many amusement parks (including Disney) and would never dream of being without! It’s super comfy and easy to use. And so simple to swap out the pocket sizes depending on your daily needs.

  20. in the summer months I always bring s couple of the small evian facial spray bottles. They really do cool you down. They are lightweight and don’t spill. My daughter loves them too. Way easier to lug around vs those heavy water bottles they sell at Disney. Plus the mini bottles surprisingly last a long time.

  21. As far as tickets, great tip. But if you’re not going during a busy time of year then just get them at the gate. The lines aren’t usually long. Plus, buying online doesn’t guarantee admission during the Holiday season, especially Christmas Day. Otherwise, online is a perfect way to get your tickets and to be prepared.
    I’m sorry to say, fanny packs aren’t coming back. I find the lanyard thing to be useful but unnecessary unless you’re a child.
    Most if this stuff can be left in your car. What I mean is: If you’re at the park all day and it’s warm, leave your blanket, jacket and sunscreen in the car. Later in the afternoon, take a small break and go to the car, add sunscreen and grab the jacket & blanket. You won’t have to lug them around all day.
    My 2 biggest tips for Disneyland is: 1) Park in the Mickey & Friends parking structure. You get to ride the tram but it’s still in walking distance from Downtown Disney. When leaving during a busy time of year, just take your time- especially after the fireworks. Go get a snack or listen to some of the performers Downtown and wait for the crowd to calm down. Then hit the trams back to your car. 2) Don’t rush. Make plans but always take time to just relax in the parks. Soak in the atmosphere because, if you don’t, then you’ll be tired and cranky. The colors, design, entertainment… it’s all there for a reason and it part of your price of admission. And, part of not rushing is “Don’t Rush to Judge.” Relish in someone’s excitement, be polite if they’re over-excited, and smile to let them know you’re all there for the same thing. (If they’re rude, let them be rude. This is your trip and you decide how you get to feel about it. It’s about having fun, not being right).