What You Need to Buy For a Disney Vacation

What You Need to Buy For a Disney Vacation

A Disney Vacation may not seem like it’s complicated. It’s just a theme park, right? Throw some things in a bag, and just go! And while we don’t disagree that packing for Disney World is different from other vacations, it is definitely more complicated. Why? Because Florida is both sweltering HOT and rainy. And as Disney vacations go, you’re also walking about 15 miles a day through the parks. Consider this the equivalent of your most difficult hot yoga class. And if you’re toting strollers or heavy backpacks, it can double as your HIIT class too. As such, to be prepared, there are things you Need To Buy for a Disney vacation. And it’s best to buy them before your trip. If you’re hoping to save money, and a headache, here’s what to buy for a Disney World trip. 

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Wondering what must-have items for Disney World are needed? With loads of Disney Packing lists on every Disney Blog, including ours, you’re probably wondering how you can possibly afford all the things needed for Disney World. As such, if you’re ready to learn What to Buy for a Disney Vacation, that you actually need, you’re in the right place. Here we’re sharing all the items to buy before going to Disney World so that you can save money, by not having to buy them from the gift shop. Because in addition to everything you’ll be packing, there are things to buy for a Disney World Trip, that you may not have even thought of! Let’s dive in. 

What to Buy For Traveling

No matter how frugal you are, how grown up, how prepared, or how good at planning we can guarantee you will begin packing your suitcase for your next vacation ( Disney or elsewhere) and realize OH MY GOSH I have absolutely nothing I need! You won’t have the right clothes, the right hair stuff or makeup, and you’ll suddenly need three kinds of shoes you simply don’t own! And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of getting the bigger SD card for your camera or the sunscreen.

So why does this happen? You obviously go about your regular life just fine with the things you already have, why on earth would you need more stuff or different stuff? Let me clear this up for you. If you’re a traveler you’re probably slowly gathering your arsenal of things because you are used to traveling and are accumulating the things you know you need. Some of the Best Things to Take on Vacation when you’re packing are the least glamourous. Ponchos, Packing Cubes, and and Cooling Fan are hardly things you need everyday. For a vacation in Florida, however, they are must have things to Buy for a Disney Vacation.

If you’re not a traveler ( yet) or worse, just a once-a-year vacationer when you get that 2 weeks off work, then you’re in for a rude awakening. A recent study showed that on average people spend 2x more money on stuff for the vacation than they actually do on the vacation. Not good.

Why? Because you’re going somewhere you don’t usually go. If you’re used to getting in your car and driving to work every day, you’re not likely to need hiking boots, a thermos, a camping lantern, or a beach towel. You’re not likely to need a lot of things, except maybe coffee. If you’re in the average American household of 2.54 people all the stuff you need to buy now suddenly includes others. So what can you do to tackle your “Things I Need To Buy Before Vacation” List without breaking the bank?

how to unplug, digital detox at disney

What to Buy Before Going on a Disney Trip

What you’ll need to buy before vacation varies depending on where you’re going, what time of year it is, the method of travel, the weather, and how long you’re staying. But in general, lugging everything out of your closet in preparation for the upcoming task of packing makes clear what you’ll need regardless of where you’re going.

Disney Vacations require you to carry your stuff around, fit it into roller coasters, and navigate gift shop aisles…the point? Pack Light. While there are lockers at the front of the park, you aren’t visiting Disney so you can spend it lugging your stuff around. This is the list of stuff we always bring on our Disney vacation in addition to those things above. Once you get comfortable with your new travel-ready self, you can focus on those specific items you’ll need to Buy for a Disney Vacation.

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Really Good Shoes

It’s best to use worn in shoes when traveling. However, while you may not need a new shoe collection, you will probably need a variety or two you haven’t had before. Flip-flops for the beach, hiking boots for the mountains, rain shoes for outdoor showers, and dressy shoes for a nice evening out. Obviously, try to multipurpose when you can, and buy something quality that can last through the next few vacations. Plus the right kind of shoes to  Buy for a Disney Vacation may vary from the shoes you already have.  Disney Pro Tip:  BRING A FEW DIFFERENT SHOES…. because walking 15 miles a day in one pair of shoes, for 5 days straight is tough. Check out our list of the Best Shoes for Disney. 


Once you start packing this stuff you’ll realize toiletries are responsible for about 20 lbs of weight in your suitcase. Chances are you will want to either share the responsibility of bringing toiletries or grab sample sizes. If you wear contacts make sure you have one or two extra pairs available to bring. If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. We also always end up needing stupid things like cotton balls, q-tips, nail polish remover, bobby pins, and more hair things. Mind you, toiletries are not always something you need to Buy for a Disney Vacation, ,except for the personal things of course. Disney Pro Tip: Disney Resorts have Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash built into the shower. So you can skip bringing those if you’re okay with H20 products. Grab cheap Personal Hygiene Stuff at Target.

Disney Magicbands

Buy a MagicBand+

A mainstay for any Disney Vacation is your MagicBand+. Having these purchased and already attached to your My Disney Experience account saves time and money! And if you’re staying at a Disney Resort, or have booked a Disney Vacation Package, then you get a discount on MagicBands in the My Disney Experience. So, while there are plenty of Magic Bands in the parks, having this little Disney wristband on your wrist when you arrive means you can scan into your room easily, pay for your commissary food, and more. If you’re staying on property, and would still like the convenience of scanning in for your Genie+ Lightning Lanes, just head to shopDisney.com to buy your MagicBand ahead of time and attach it to your account. 

Bug Spray

When considering what to buy for a Disney trip, one of the things people usually forget when heading to the swampy land of Florida is bug spray. Bug Spray, Sunscreen, Tick Spray, Aloe- chances are these are all things you don’t have readily available or in enough of a supply to bring along on a vacation. If you’re going anywhere sunny, or with bugs, buy this stuff ahead of time. And remember to keep it small if you’re only bringing a carryon to comply with TSA rules. Grab Outdoor Things you may need to bring to Disney World. 

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Meds and Vitamins

Easy to forget, over the counter meds at the Disney Gift Shop are outrageously priced. As such, just bring the Tylenol, or ibuprofen instead. And you’ll want to dose up on some Emergencee or Vitamin C gummies prior to your vacation. And then probably bring what’s left along. You will be around lots and lots and lots of people. Stay healthy. We can also mention nothing is better than knowing that any medicine, Band-Aids, or Midol you need is just in your suitcase  or bag. Otherwise, you’ll be paying a small fortune for that headache that’s ruining your vacay. Go prepared and bring this stuff with you. Grab any extra Medicine and Vitamins  at Target before going to Disney World.  

A Cooling Towel

If you’re traveling to Disney World in the summers, or heck, anytime from late February to October, you will need a Cooling Towel. These little magic workers help cool you down and can help keep you sane during hot days in Florida. Easier to transport than a fan, we recommend grabbing a multipack for the family to make things easy. This is all one of the things you can usually grab at the Doller Tree for Disney World ahead of your trip. And while the Disney Gift Shops do have cooling towels, they are often three times more expensive. This is definitely one the best items to buy before going to Disney World, so you can save some money. 

Portable Chargers and Tech

Another easy thing to forget when packing for a Disney trip are all your charges and cords. You need them both. And of course you should have these already, but a backup battery pack is always a good idea. Yes, Disney has charging stations,  but who wants to spend your magical Disney vacation outside of Tangled bathrooms waiting for your phone to charge? Or worse, spending valuable ride time hunting down a charging station. Grab a Phone Charger if you need a backup, and then be sure to put it in your Disney Day Bag.  

Ah the joys of needing to plug in everything! While some of the Disney resorts are undergoing refurbishments to add USB ports into the headboard outlets, it’s a good idea to grab a USB Wall Charger anyway. Mainly because chances are you will have several phones that need to be plugged in when you return from your day at the parks, and potentially a camera or two. If you are a girl or traveling with girls, it will also be no surprise that we need those actual outlets for things like our industrial-strength hairdryer, curling iron, and flat iron, cooling fan, girl boss laptop, etc.

If you’re bringing a camera to take all those gorgeous photos of the park, then you will most likely need a  bigger SD Card. We go straight for the 32 or 64GB SD card for our cameras. Why? Well because on any given day we’re usually taking about 500-800 pictures and will probably need space for that impromptu video we didn’t know we’d need to take. Also, a larger SD card allows us to take some of the pressure off keeping all the pictures and video on our phones. We’ve spent many an early trip to Disney sitting at lunch deleting pictures off the phone simply because we had run out of space. Now, we just go prepared.

disney weekender bag

A Disney Park Day Bag

If you don’t already have a good bag that can fit necessities, get beat up, stuffed onto the floors of rides, and rained on, then this will be one of the most important things to buy for a Disney World Trip. As we mentioned before, most of your experience at Disney World is usually about carrying things around. As such, what you really need is a small backpack that can simply fit essentials. We only have a few Disney Day Bag Essentials we bring into the parks with us daily. And recommend against bringing anything too big that you’ll need a locker for. Frankly, we’re here to save money, not spend it on lockers. That said, a small backpack should fit your wallet, phone, charger, small sunscreen, hand sanitizer, water bottle, and camera. And if you’re bent on something a little bigger, check out our favorite Disney Backpacks

what to buy before you go to disney

Water Bottle

An absolute must for a Disney Trip, is a water bottle. We know that it’s easy to just buy a drink or two along the way. Nevertheless, having a water bottle is essential in the Florida Heat. Mainly because it’s easy to get cranky when you’re dehydrated. Disney Parks and Resorts have filtered water stations throughout to make refilling your bottle easy. Disney Pro Tip: Go with a Swell water bottle.  These seal nice, and come in a variety of sizes so that you can fit it wherever. You can grab it at Target or Amazon along with everything thing else on this list. It’s stainless steel, and slim, so it will fit nicely in your day bag and you’ll ward off any of that plastic taste caused by the heat on a regular water bottle.

A Second Pair of Sunglasses

Yeah, we know you probably have one pair of sunglasses already. However, plan to bring a couple of pairs with you just in case. Sunglasses are the “most lost” items at Disney World. Whether you sit them down at the table during lunch, forget to secure them during a ride, or accidentally sit on them while you’re juggling all the things, you’ll need a second pair. You don’t want to have to pay the 20 bucks for the sunglasses with mickeys all over them at the gift shop you may never wear again.

Disney face masks and hand santizers

Hand Sanitizer

A necessity as a result of the pandemic, having hand sanitizer attached to your bag is just smart. From touching rides to banisters and balustrades to multiple items in the gift shops as you browse. There’s a lot to touch, and a lot of germs floating around. Grab a Sanitizer holder and attach it to your bag. Fill it with a Bath and Body Works pocketbac and use it as needed throughout the day. These are small, handy, and a great way to keep your hands clean until you can wash them properly. 

An Autograph Book

If you’re heading to Disney with plans for a Disney Character Breakfast or Meet and Greets in the parks, then you’ll need an autograph book. As another item available at the gift shop, but a bit pricey, you can just plan ahead of time to bring your own. The best autograph books are the ones we’ve seen people make themselves just out of notebooks. But you can also grab any Disney-related notebooks at Target or Box Lunch or the real thing at the Disney Store.  You can also grab a Disney book with your favorite characters and have them sign that for an extra special keep-it-forever keepsake. Shop for a Disney Autograph Book on Amazon.

Hello Vacation Disney Family shirt

Disney Family Shirts

Sure, Matching Disney Shirts are not necessary on any Disney Vacation, but they do help you keep track of the kids, and get you in the mood. Plus, if you get your Disney shirts ahead of time, they are always cheaper than what you’ll find in the parks. Because, if you don’t plan an outfit or purchase ahead of time, you’ll end up at Disney seriously considering the 60-dollar jersey top and 40 dollars shorts and the 25-dollar ears just so you can live your best Disney life. Instead, plan for one special Disney Outfit that you can buy ahead of time. We got loads of Disney gear for the whole family in our shop that are way less than the 100-dollar outfit that you may have to buy if you don’t plan ahead of time. Check out our Polka Dot Pixie Shop Shopping Guide for fun Disney shirts and style ideas. 


The chances of it raining in Florida are pretty good most of the time. In California, it’s slightly more predictable, but if you’re headed to Disney World, know that rain happens all year long. And the Florida Hurricane Season lasts from June through November. As such it’s best to pack a poncho, or several for everyone in your fam or travel group.  Because let’s face it, you don’t want to end up paying the 12 dollars for the ones at the resort gift shop. On Amazon you can also usually grab a 10-pack of ponchos for the cost of a little over $1 dollar each. Shop Ponchos.  If you’re traveling to Disney during Hurricane Season then skip the ponchos and go for the full-on rain outfit. While this may seem like overkill, we see so many people in these things during September that you just know they have to be locals… because they’re not letting the rain stop them for anything! Remember too that soggy shoes and socks aren’t the best feeling, so opting for crocs on rainy days is also a good idea. 


Sunshine is everywhere! You will most probably be outside for about 12-15 hours every day you’re on vacation. And in Florida that means hot sun, humid weather, and lots of sweating. As such, you will need lots of sunscreen. Since, chances are you’re not outside this often, which means your skin is going to freak out. Protect it. We most like the sunscreen sticks for our faces, so we can add them to our day bag. And be sure to get a spray bottle, as opposed to cream, of sunscreen for all day protection. While the creams typically work just fine, they seem to sweat off a little easier. We’d also recommend a chemical sunscreen when you can grab it. Mainly since you will be washing your hands nonstop, and getting rained on. Having a chemical sunscreen that doesn’t wash away with the water, is essential. Shop Sunscreen.

remy giftcard at food and wine walt disney world

Discounted Disney Gift Cards

There are so many ways to grab Discounted Disney Gift Cards ahead of your vacation to help you save 5% OR MORE on just about everything you will need at Disney World during your trip. It’s one of our favorite ways to Save Money at Disney. At one of our local grocery stores, we can buy all the gift cards needed to pay for our Disney Vacation and get 20 cents off a gallon of gas for every 50 dollars we spend. At Target you can get 5% off the purchase of everything with a Red Card. And this works the same for any cash back credit card too! You can can simply use the credit card with the highest cash back and then buy your Disney gift Cards ahead of time. Easy Peasy! It will help keep you on budget even if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, or have already paid for absolutely everything ahead of time. Because things like snacks, tips, food you mobile order, and souvenirs can add up! 

A Parade Blanket

If you’re headed to Disney World in the cooler months, we highly recommend grabbing a Parade Blanket, or bringing a Travel Blanket for your visit. Especially if you’re already bringing something big into the park, like a stroller. Mainly because, if you’re hoping to catch loads of shows and parades a blanket,  not only helps officially “claim your spot”, but can also double as something to get warm in, if it’s chilly outside. Grab A parade blanket.

Room Smells

Did you know that the strongest memories are attached to smells? Chances are you realize this to some capacity already and look forward to apple pie as much as we do because it reminds us of moms at Thanksgiving. Well, if you’ve just spent a few thousand dollars on this vacation, you should do everything you can to instill this memory forever. We usually like using the shampoo/conditioner technique where every vacation anywhere we pack a different shampoo/conditioner with a beautiful smell that will remind us of our vacation long after we’ve left. Luckily, Disney uses H20 products which already feel like vacation and should have you reminiscing the scent. But, if you’re looking for a way to attach the memory even more, with something you can take home, you can grab a room spray. We like Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works. Both offer room sprays, and Bath and Body also offer wallflower plug-ins, so your room smells fantastic when you return.


disney afternoon parade polkadotsandpixiedust.com

What to Buy for a Disney Vacation

There you have it! The Items to Buy Before Going to Disney World can really add up if you let it. But, for some of these things, once you have them you can reuse them for every vacation afterwards! Saving you even more money! True, grabbing the disposable ponchos may not be as exciting as the 12-dollar poncho at the Disney gift shop. Nevertheless,  when you multiply that extra cost by everyone in your family/travel group… you’ll be grateful you bought them ahead of time! The same goes for sunscreen ( usually about 15 dollars at the resort gift shops), the autograph book ( about 12 dollars), and the medicines ( ibuprofen is 8 dollars). And frankly we can go on and on. If it made this list, it’s because we’ve seen it and sometimes bought it for a higher cost at the gift shops. Be prepared and just buy it ahead of time.

We hope this list has given you a good idea of the stuff to Buy for a Disney Vacation. Is there something else that should be on this? Let us know in the comments!

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Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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