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What to pack and how to prepare for Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida

When I used to think about travel, I always associated it with spontaneity but with the pent up demand for travel after lockdown, it seems planning and booking in advance is a must. I’m sure it is still possible to have an amazing holiday without planning every detail, but we usually have limited time and I find planning equals greater success. Keep in mind, when travelling to any of the Disney Parks, not planning your days may lead to disappointment. Especially when it comes to experiences and dining.

Space 220 - what to pack for Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

When I travelled to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida in June with I only had a few days available to visit all four parks.  I put in a concerted effort into researching my trip to ensure it went smoothly. I wanted to make sure I could tick off all my must-do attractions and rides, pin trade for Amelia and shop for presents for Braeden. I also took lots of videos and photos to share with my Disney-mad Braeden. I thought I’d share my tips on what to pack for a successful Walt Disney World Resort trip. Many of these tips can be used when you visit other Disney theme parks too.

What to pack for Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida

What to pack for Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Research & planning

Braeden loves watching YouTube so he didn’t mind watching Walt Disney World vlogs. These are a great help with planning. I found the All Ears vlogs particularly helpful. They are good for learning which rides have the longest wait times and are therefore best to visit at park opening. Watch a variety of vlogs though because they all vary in what they highlight and it can help even with which food outlets to hit up for something like a Dole Whip or the best cheese toasty I saw recommended from Woody’s Lunch Box at Toy Story Land.

If you are looking at purchasing Genie + the vlogs are incredibly helpful in showing you how to maximise the benefits.

Download the Disney Apps

Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Download the Disney app appropriate to the park you are visiting. I downloaded the Walt Disney World app before I left Australia so I could get familiarise myself with the features.

If you’re using Genie+ you’ll using your ticket each time you enter a ride and then booking your next ride straight away. Have your ticket in a lanyard for quick access. If you’re going to the parks for several  days it may be worth investing in a Magic Band. The Magic Bands are like a watch that you wear that’s linked to your ticket. You can tap onto rides using it. If you are staying at a Disney property you an also use it at the hotel.

What to pack for your Walt Disney World Resort trip

What to pack Walt Disney World Orlando - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Still melting even with my trusty fan

I was well prepared for the humidity of Walt Disney World Orlando in summer, but it is still something to be experienced to understand just how hot it gets. Most days when I was there is was around 36 degrees (96.8F) and humidity was high. My best friend became my rechargeable fan which I purchased on Amazon before I left Australia. It was really effective in keeping me cool and kept its charge well.

If you are a wheelchair user or have a child in a pram, I suggest a clip on version of the fan.

Walt Disney World - what to pack - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Florida is prone to heavy rain so wet weather gear is essential. I had several pocket ponchos we had previously been given at an event, so I packed a couple. The poncho was small enough to fit in my crossbody bag and I can tell you, I felt incredibly smug when a downpour came and I could whip out my poncho. I didn’t feel particularly fashionable wearing it, but I did stay dry. Ponchos are sold in the parks but they are expensive. There was an incredible rush for wet weather gear when the sky opened up and the rain came down.

If you are travelling with a wheelchair I suggest packing a couple of garbage bags to cover the seat. A disposable shower cap, like you get in hotels, works well to cover a joystick on a power wheelchair and the lens on a camera. A spare plastic bag never goes astray at the bottom of a day pack.

What to pack for Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Disney dining

Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

If you wish to make a reservation in one of the Disney Park restaurants, you need to be organised. These are hot-ticket items and book out quickly. If you are staying at a Disney Hotel, you can make your restaurant reservations at 60 days from your arrival date. All other Disney Park visitors are able to make a reservation 60 days in advance of the date you wish to dine at the restaurant.

Disney Pins

If you like pin trading like we do, don’t forget to pack the pins you are happy to trade. We carry them in a small pouch, like a coin purse, so they are ready for trading. Lots of people wear them on a lanyard but we find that gets annoying when hopping in and out of rides and I’m always worried they might get knocked off and we’ll lose them.

Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

At Walt Disney World some of the rules for pin trading are different to other Disney Parks. While you’ll find some pin boards where you can see all the pins displayed so you can see what’s on offer, there’s also some stores that have the pins hidden in boxes. It’s like a lucky dip. You can choose two box numbers to see which pins are contained in those boxes. If you don’t like what’s on offer you can just politely say thank you and move on, or you can trade a pin if you do like what’s in the box. It’s a maximum of two choices though. Keep in mind though, Cast Members change throughout the day, so if you pass by again at another time nothing is stopping from you checking two new boxes if it’s a different Cast Member. Peering over other people’s shoulders as they choose numbers can also be helpful in eliminating boxes. It can also be frustrating though if they get a good one you’d like. It’s all part of the pin trading game.

Pack a phone battery pack

Taking photos on your phone and using the Disney apps will chew through your phone battery in no time. Pack a power bank to ensure you don’t run out.

Depending on how much you are carrying, a crossbody bag is much more convenient than a backpack, especially when getting on and off rides. I was able to leave it on for the rides which made things easier. I was travelling solo though so I didn’t have as much to carry as I would if we were travelling as a family and I was resigned to buying food in the parks.

What to pack for Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Comfy shoes may seem obvious but even taking my comfiest, most well-worn in shoes, I found I still ended up with blisters from my enthusiastic Disney days. I went to a pharmacy and bought some gauze padding and extra band-aids to pad the parts of my feet that were suffering. If you want a cute outfit, I suggest doing it from the ankles up and wearing comfy shoes, even if they are not the most fashionable. Just take your photos from the waist up and no-one will know! I recently chatted to a podiatrist and he said his best advice is to wear comfy lace-up shoes and tighten the laces up regularly throughout the day. It’s the shifting around that happens when the laces loosen that causes the blisters. So if you think of tightening your laces each time you queue for a ride you should be good.

Walt Disney World - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

I’d also recommend packing sunscreen, a hat, water bottle and a fan in summer. Zip lock bags can be handy for any leftover snacks you can’t finish and want to save for later. Don’t forget your Magic Bands if you have them, band aids and Panadol (in case you are overwhelmed with excitement and end up with a headache). As you can see from my photo, Most of all pack your patience. Disney Parks are magical but there are considerable wait times for some rides.

A visit to Walt Disney World is magical but a bit of planning and research can certainly enhance that magic.

Let me know what you’d add to this list. If you’re a Disney regular or found yourself forgetting something it would be great to help others by sharing your experience below or over on our Facebook page. 

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