Theme parks aren’t for the weak. The different themed “lands” at California’s original Disneyland Park cover some serious ground which means, firstly, that your Fitbit will be happy, and, more importantly, your backpack needs to contain answers to every eventuality, from a sudden opening of the heavens to a chance encounter with Goofy.
While this packing list is especially perfect for Disneyland, it also serves as a guide to what should go into your bag for a day (or several) at any theme park around the world. Don your Mickey ears and get prepared.
If you’re through the gates when Disneyland opens at 8am, you could potentially be out in the sun for almost 12 hours. A hat, sunglasses and copious amounts of SPF 50+ sunscreen are crucial. Apply around two tablespoons across your limbs, extra for your face and reapply every two hours to minimise your chances of sunburn.
Phone or camera
Choose one. Unless you’re a pro, you probably don’t need a camera with all those features you don’t actually know how to use, so stick to your phone.
Download the official Disneyland Resort app before you get to the park. It lets you check wait time for rides, buy tickets, pay for food and suss out where characters are doing meet and greets.
Portable battery pack
Your phone is going to need extra juice. While there are some phone-charging kiosks throughout the park, travelling with your own battery pack means you can power up your phone while in line for the next ride.
You’re not leaving before the evening fireworks (9.30pm above the Sleeping Beauty Castle) so take a jacket that will keep you snug after dark.
Splash Mountain is a must. Though you technically don’t need to put on your cossie, you’re going to get wet. A pair of boardies won’t go astray if you’d prefer not to be soaked for several hours after your ride.
A wet-weather poncho might be a crime against fashion but it’s far more convenient than an umbrella and you’ll be thankful you have it in a sudden downpour.
If you want to sip a tropical cocktail at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland (and you’re over 21), an original passport is the only valid form of identification for guests visiting from outside the US.
Pack a plastic bottle – you can’t bring glass bottles into Disneyland parks – and refill it at the drinking fountains throughout the park. Find them on this map.
Pack several in different sizes and use them to store wet swimmers or place your phone in one for protection on water-based rides.
Yes, your kids will probably insist on walking themselves at the start of the day. But after several hours traipsing through the park, they’ll be grateful for the ride.
You can hire strollers at park but as long as your own fits within the park’s specifications, you can BYO.
Mini first aid kit
Keep it simple – there are first aid stations throughout the park for any serious emergencies (which will also store any medications you need to keep refrigerated). Band-Aids, Panadol or similar, hand sanitiser, tissues and any allergy medication should do it.
Autograph books and thick pen
You can buy official autograph books for the life-size Disney characters to sign but a DIY option is far more cost-effective. The thick pen? A chunky marker is easier for characters with oversized hands to use.
Buy your tickets online before you go to make getting into the park easier.
To travel between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park on the same day buy a Park Hopper ticket.
Once you’re in the park, a Fastpass will help save you time in line – simply insert your admission ticket into the machine near the entrance of select attractions to receive a Fastpass ticket specifying the time to come back and enjoy the ride.
Disneyland resort also has an official packing list if you’re after more suggestions.
What to wear
- Good walking shoes.
- You may fancy dressing up but you’re out of luck if you’re over 14 years old – costumes can only be worn by guests under 14.
- Don’t despair: capes can be worn by anyone so long as they’re not longer than your waist, as can transparent wings, plastic light sabers and swords and tutus.
- Selfie sticks. They’re banned.
- Chewing gum. You can technically take your own but it’s not sold anywhere within the park to prevent the sticky mess landing on someone else’s shoes.