The time has finally come. You’ve booked a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida for this May. Maybe you’ve been researching your trip for months, or maybe it snuck up on you, and now you’re scrambling to make sure you have all the essentials.
Luckily, we’ve compiled the best packing list for Disney World so you can pack like a Disney-going pro.
What to Pack for a Disney Vacation
Walt Disney World in Florida is a magical travel destination complete with four separate theme parks, two water parks, and a Disney-unique shopping center. It’s helpful to check out the Florida weather forecast, and each of the parks you will be attending before you go. Below we’ve compiled the ultimate Disney World packing list, followed by a few extra packing lists for specific types of Disney-goers.
Ultimate Disney World Packing List
1) Pack plenty of cute but comfy clothes, and make sure they’re weather appropriate. Pack mostly clothes that are suitable for very hot sweaty weather. But consider that Florida in May is typically a cooler month (for Florida), so don’t forget a few sweaters, long pants, and lightweight jackets.
Our pro tip: wear your heaviest or bulkiest clothes on the plane (if you’re flying) to save space in your suitcase. Consider bringing at least one fancy outfit if you have reservations at a nice restaurant. Disney parks restaurants tend not to have a dress-code, but if you plan on venturing off-property, a dinner outfit might be nice to have. You can check out restaurant price ranges and atmosphere on the Disney Website.
2) Pack comfortable walking shoes. We see people make this mistake ALL the time. They show up to Disney World with fashionable, Instagram-worthy outfits paired with the cutest heels or sandals they could find. This is a classic first-time Disney goer mistake! If you look around while you’re at the parks, you’ll see the experienced Disney travelers in soft, comfortable athletic clothes, and squishy supportive tennis shoes.
3) Pack one pair of waterproof shoes or flip flops if you plan to go to the pool or waterparks, although May might be a bit too chilly for that. If the weather predicts rain during your trip, and in Florida it likely will rain if your trip is more than a few days, we recommend bringing an additional pair of comfortable walking shoes that are waterproof, or packing a second pair of walking shoes for when your first pair ultimately gets soaked. And if you purchase new shoes for your trip, definitely break them in BEFORE you get to Disney.
4) Pack a swimsuit if you plan to go to the pool or waterparks. Again, May is maybe too cold for pools, but this is entirely up to you. Don’t pack towels! If you’re staying at a Disney Resort with a pool, they will have poolside towels. If you’re staying at a local hotel with a pool, they will likely also have towels. And the Disney water parks both have their own towel stands.
5) Pack plenty of sunscreen and Aloe Vera for when you ultimately get sunburned. Sunscreen and Aloe Vera is much more expensive on Disney property than it is if you bring it from home. This is because it’s very easy to get sunburned in Florida, especially if you’re outside at the parks all day. We also recommend bringing a comfortable baseball cap or sun hat that goes with your outfits. And if you have skin that burns easily, we recommend doing your research on sun safety at Walt Disney World.
6) Pack a park bag. We recommend bringing a small backpack or drawstring bag with you to the Disney parks. This way you can have easy access to a water bottle, bandaids for blisters, a portable phone charger, and maybe even a mini fan. You do NOT need to bring your wallet into the Disney parks! Obviously pack your wallet for Florida, but we advise leaving it in the hotel room safe. Disney World utilizes a ticket system called MagicBands. These are bracelets that contain your park passes, credit card information, and hotel key all in one flexible band you wear on your wrist. If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, be sure to link your credit card to your MagicBand at the front desk when you check in.
7) Pack a portable phone charger, preferably one per person. Your phone will die while you’re out and about at Disney. We don’t know if it’s the heat, bad phone battery life, or the multitude of Disney-related apps chewing up your battery, but your phone will die while you’re at the parks. Pack some portable chargers, and recharge them every night at the hotel.
8) Pack a lightweight water bottle, one per person. Or, and this is the method we recommend, don’t waste suitcase space with any water bottles, buy a plastic water bottle when you first get to Florida, and refill/reuse it for the rest of your trip. One plastic water bottle per person, don’t share your one Dasani with the whole family.
9) Don’t bring rain coats, pack rain ponchos. If you’ve never been to Disney, you may be unfamiliar with the phenomenon of wearing a giant plastic bag when it rains, however, here this is the norm. Rain ponchos are available for purchase inside the Disney parks for emergencies when you get caught in the rain, but bringing your own will mean saving a little bit of money.
The perks of rain ponchos is that when they’re folded up, they’re very small and easy to pack. They’re far less bulky than a raincoat or an umbrella, and this makes them ideal for stuffing in a suitcase and carrying around the parks in your park bag. Trust us when we say you do not want to be carrying around an umbrella or heavy-duty raincoat in your drawstring park backpack all day. Plus, if you purchase cheap enough ponchos, you can throw them away at the end of your trip and save that little extra suitcase space for your trip home.
Packing List for the Super Shopper
If a priority of yours is the Disney merchandise, or if you plan to take a trip to Disney Springs to hit the shops, be sure to leave room in your suitcase for all your purchases. And remember- if you purchase something in the parks, you can have it shipped to the front of the park for you to pick up at the end of your day! Don’t carry around bags full of Disney merchandise.
Consider investing in Disney gift cards. Paying with Disney gift cards saves you 5% on all your purchases. This discount may not matter to every Disney guest, but those dead-set on shopping may find it worthwhile.
Packing List for Families with Kids
A notebook and pen for autographs. Disney World is famous for its character meet-and-greets, which feature photo opportunities, and autograph signing. If your kid has interest in meeting any of the Disney characters, we recommend bringing your own autograph book and pen, as the ones available for purchase at the parks are pricey.
And if you plan on meeting any of the characters, we recommend staying up to date on the Disney character schedule (temporarily unavailable during the 2020-2021 pandemic) so you know when and where to go to run into your favorite Disney friends.
Disney costumes. Guests ages thirteen and under are allowed to wear costumes to the Disney parks, and if there’s any chance your kiddo will want to dress up in Disney, it’s wise to bring a costume from home. Disney princess dresses and Disney costumes go for crazy prices in the parks, and you might be able to dodge that expense by bringing your own Disney attire.
Bring stuff to do on the plane, car, and or bus, in the lines, and at dinner. Disney is a place where you should plan to do a lot of waiting. The drive or flight to Florida might be long, the bus rides from Disney Resorts to the parks are long (for kids), the lines for rides are long, and some of the nicer restaurants feature longer dinners. All this waiting can be especially tough on little kids.
To avoid creating little monsters that could ruin your happy vacation, pack a multitude of activities your kids can do while they’re waiting in line for a ride or sitting on a bus. This could mean downloading mobile games to your phone, downloading a few episodes of their favorite tv show, bringing notebooks and crayons for drawing, etc. Even if you don’t initially plan to use any of these distractions, you may want them in your back pocket in case your kids get crabby. It could save your vacation experience!
Wet wipes. Somewhere, somehow, at some point during your vacation, you or your kid is going to end up with something sticky on your hands and face. Trust us, pack some wet wipes.
A stain to-go stick. Your daughter will probably drop her ice cream cone on her princess dress. And your husband will probably spill pretzel cheese on his white shirt. Bring a stain stick, and thank us later.
Do the math and consider signing up for a Disney Dining Plan. You and your family might save some money by using a Disney Dining Plan to pay for your meals. This includes a plan you purchase up-front that provides you with a set number of meals and snacks for the duration of your vacation.
But if you plan on using this option, do your research! It’s only worthwhile if you’re going to breakeven, and then save some money. Note that not all restaurants take the Disney Dining Plan, and if you have reservations for a few of these, it’s probably not worth it.
Pack a swimsuit. Even if you don’t plan to go swimming, prepare for your kids to want to go swimming, even in unfavorable weather. Plus if your kids get hot and crabby on vacation, an easy solution is to take a break and hit the pool. Water is a magical remedy for crabby kids.
Don’t pack a stroller. The last thing you want to be doing is worrying about folding up and un-folding a stroller in Disney. Disney World has a stroller rental service at the entrance to all of their parks. This allows you to travel to Florida and to and from the Disney parks without worrying about a stroller, while still having one when you need it at the parks. Simply pick up a stroller when you enter a Disney park, and drop it off at the exit again when you’re done.
Packing List for the Travel Minimalist
Skip the shampoo and conditioner. Disney Resorts and most hotels will provide travel shampoo and conditioner for you! That’s one less thing taking up room in your bag.
Leave the fancy camera at home. Odds are your smartphone can take amazing photos, rendering the bulky DSLR useless. If you find yourself needing professional photos in Disney World and the phone won’t suffice, invest in a Disney PhotoPass and allow the professional photographers at the parks to capture your memories for you.
Reuse outfits by taking advantage of hotel laundry machines. The Disney Resorts have laundry facilities available to guests, and many nearby hotels do too. You can get away with packing less and rewearing old outfits.
Don’t pack a water bottle. This was also included in our general packing list, but if you’re trying to save space, don’t pack a water bottle. But DO bring a water bottle to the parks. You’ll want water when you’re there.
We recommend buying a plastic water bottle from a gas station or grocery store in Florida, and refilling it with water at the parks. Restaurants with serve-yourself fountain soda dispensers, and water fountains outside public bathrooms and in some of the ride queues are great places to refill your water bottle throughout the day.
Pack (wear) one pair of shoes for everything. Ideally these are comfortable enough to wear all day every day, and waterproof in case of raining or pool visits. Also hopefully they go with all of your outfits.
Buy merchandise that you see and fall in love with at Disney online and ship it to your house. Disney is chalk-full of merchandise stores, and chances are you’ll see something you just have to have. If you’re packing light and low on suitcase space, consider making a mental (or physical) list of the merch you see in the parks and buying it online when you get back to your hotel.
This way you can have it shipped back to your house, and you don’t have to worry about running out of room for Disney paraphernalia. It should be noted that there are some limited-edition merchandise items that are exclusive to the physical stores in the parks only. Make sure that if you’re going to purchase something later it’s something that can be purchased online.
Don’t pack any food. Purchase all of your snacks or meals to be eaten at the hotel from a Florida grocery store. You’re welcome to spend all of your food money in the parks, but you’ll save some money by supplementing with snacks and breakfasts bought off property. Remember that groceries are an option even if you don’t have a car. Many grocery delivery services can bring food right to your hotel.
Don’t pack a raincoat or umbrella. This was in our ultimate packing list as well, but if you’re really trying to cut down on packing, we recommend purchasing a rain poncho from the Disney parks in the event of rain. You can bring your own to save money, but if saving space is the goal you’re after, we recommend waiting to pick one up until you’re at the parks.
Disney World Clothes to Wear
So we’ve given you some general thoughts pertaining to the best packing list for Disney World, but we didn’t go into specifics about what clothes to bring. And specifics are important, because bringing the wrong clothes to Disney could ruin an otherwise perfect vacation. So let’s jump right into it.
Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go on your trip to make sure you’re packing the right types of clothes. May in Florida typically means temperatures in the high seventies and low eighties. If you’re from somewhere much colder than Florida, this means shorts and tee-shirt weather! If you’re from a hotter climate, you may want to pack layering options.
Regardless of the weather forecast, we advise bringing something that would be suitable for extreme heat, and a light jacket or sweater and pants for a cold night. Even if the peak temperature is pretty hot, evenings in Florida could get cooler. And keep in mind that Florida air conditioning is unusually robust. Even if the weather is supposed to be eighty degrees all day every day, you might freeze to death on the bus to the parks or in the indoor attractions if you don’t dress appropriately.
Our clothing of choice for Disney World vacationing is activewear that doesn’t necessarily look like activewear. Anything light, breezy, sweat-wicking, comfortable, loungy, and maybe even mildly sporty will do. Athletic dresses with built-in shorts are a fan favorite, lightweight sun dresses that can be layered with a light jacket at night are also a great option. Unless jeans are your go-to for comfort, we recommend avoiding that fabric entirely.
Any clothing that won’t be comfortable after all-day wear, or will allow for chafing somewhere isn’t practical for Disney. Reach for shorts that aren’t tight-fitting, leggings that aren’t too hot, shirts you can sweat in, and quality socks. And ladies, don’t forget to bring only your most comfortable bras.
Kids thirteen and under can wear costumes to Disney! They could theoretically wear a costume to the parks every single day if they wanted. So if you’re traveling with a kid that wants to dress up, pack some costumes. You probably shouldn’t get caught in Disney without one, or you’ll risk dropping $100 on a children’s dress.
Adults can’t wear costumes inside the Disney parks because it’s a violation of Disney attire guidelines. If you’re age fourteen or older and you’d like to do some dressing up for Disney, consider Disney Bounding. This is a phenomenon created by adult Disney fans that involves wearing something that vaguely resembles a Disney character without it being a costume. Check out some easy Disney Bounding ideas here.
Make sure none of your Disney outfits include profanity or graphic images, because this isn’t allowed in any of the parks. It’s also recommended that you avoid wearing any revealing clothing, but we’ve seen women wear sports bras as shirts to the parks, so it kind-of depends on how natural and appropriate you can make it look.
Use your best judgement when creating Disney outfits. We advise not getting too caught up in looks or fashion. It might not be possible to look effortlessly flawless throughout your whole trip. Prioritize comfort, and then find your style.
Snacks to Pack for Disney
It’s no secret that food in Disney World is expensive. If you’re looking to get through your vacation without breaking the bank on snacks alone, we recommend packing some food for the parks. You can bring these in your suitcase, or even better, you can purchase snacks from a grocery store in Florida and save the extra suitcase room.
We recommend easy-to-carry snacks that won’t melt in the hot sun, and treats that will help sustain you for a whole day of Disney adventures. Our favorite snacks to pack in a park bag are granola bars that won’t necessarily melt (maybe avoid chocolate?), nuts, raisins, goldfish, and fruit snacks or gummy bears (for some fun).
You can also stock your hotel room mini-fridge with snacks that are more affordable than park food. Save money by skipping a Disney breakfast and eating cereal in your hotel room, or by snacking on microwave popcorn at the end of a long day. It can also be helpful to stock up on juice boxes or gatorade if you have little ones that won’t settle for water.
Packing your own grapes and single-serving chip bags saves you from buying these with kids meals at the parks, and keeping some snack food on hand can help you avoid getting hangry while waiting in line for a ride. Keep in mind that you can’t eat or drink on any of the Disney Resort transportation busses, and many Disney restaurants won’t let you bring your own food inside.
Traveling with Toddlers Essentials
If you’re traveling with young kids, be sure to read the packing list for families with kids. We also have some additional pointers here to make sure your vacation is as magical as possible.
Rent a stroller from the Disney parks rather than bringing your own. This saves you time and space when traveling, and you won’t have to go through the hassle of loading a stroller onto busses and into your car. Don’t worry about the stroller getting in the way of going on rides- there are designated stroller parking locations all around the Disney parks.
Before your trip, do some research on special activities that are just for kids! Disney World is great about creating activities to involve the little ones.
Learn about the Disney scavenger hunts. There are various scavenger hunts around the Walt Disney World parks. The most famous is the quest to spot hidden Mickeys all around you, but Disney is known to create additional seasonal scavenger hunt challenges with prizes!
Book a character breakfast. Some of the restaurants around Walt Disney World parks and at their Disney Resorts offer character dining. This means that while you and your family enjoy a meal together, various Disney characters will stop by your table to greet you and your kids, and take pictures! There are character dining options for all three meals, but we recommend character breakfasts. Be sure to look up which restaurants have Character Dining, and which characters will be visiting which restaurants so you can make your reservations accordingly!
Familiarize yourself with the character meet-and-greet schedule so you can catch your favorite characters when they’re out in the parks.
Consider going to the parks right when they open and leaving around midday when the crowds hit to spend the peak of the heat in a resort pool or at a waterpark. Florida heat is no joke, and even though Florida is more temperate in May, it might still be a good idea to plan for some cool-off time. Booking air-conditioned lunch reservations, finding a splash pad, or leaving the parks to hit the pool are some of our best recommendations for keeping you and your kiddos happy and healthy for your whole trip.
Bring portable fans and or spray bottles. At the Disney parks, they sell battery-powered fans that double as cool mist spray bottles. If you’re into that, save room in your suitcase and plan on purchasing one in the park. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on a Disney-themed cooling device, consider bringing your own from home.
Pack snacks for hangry kids. This one’s a no-brainer. If your kid is hungry and angry, your fun Disney experience could be jeopardized. We’re all for keeping a packet of goldfish and some gummies in your backpack for when you can’t make it to the nearest snack cart on time.
Keep activity ideas in your back pocket for long waits. Kids can become crabby when they’re waiting in long lines for rides or waiting on food at the fancier restaurants.
For ride lines, we recommend having some mobile games at the ready for when times get tough. And for restaurants, consider packing a coloring or activity book and some crayons in your park bag! The Disney restaurant staff totally understand.
5 Phone Apps You’ll Need in Disney
Last but not least, something you should consider “packing” for your Disney trips are the appropriate Disney phone apps.
First and foremost, you’ll need the My Disney Experience app to make dining and ride reservations, to check the park hours, and to mobile order snack foods. This is a Disney-created, Disney-encouraged app that’s absolutely necessary for your vacation coordination.
A Disney ride times app. My Disney Experience also includes a ride times feature, but we prefer an external Disney Ride Times app for checking the length of those pesky lines.
The Play Disney Parks app. This is an app that allows you to play Disney-themed mobile games that correspond with where you are in the parks! We strongly suggest trying this out, especially while waiting in longer lines with little kids.
A game app of your choice. We strongly recommend keeping one or two game apps on your phone for when you’re waiting in long lines or spending time on the bus or boat back to your resort. Even if you don’t think you’ll reach for it all that often, it’s nice to have, just in case you or one of your party members end up needing it.
The weather app. This should be automatically installed on any smartphone these days, but we included it to remind you not to forget to check the weather app daily! Florida weather can change multiple times a day, and keeping a diligent eye on the weather app can prevent you from getting caught in the rain without a poncho or a raincoat.
Disney World in May
Last but not least, we wanted to go into a little bit more detail about what you can expect from Disney World in May. We already mentioned that the weather is going to be around eighty degrees, and May is the beginning of the rainy season in Florida. Disney World crowds tend to be rather tame in early May, with some spikes around Memorial Day weekend.
Also worth noting, May is home to Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, which features beautiful floral scenery and festival-exclusive food stands all around the park. If you attend, you can expect to receive a map containing a menu for all of the Flower and Garden food stands, and remember: all frozen beverages at Disney World can be made non-alcoholic for kids! Previous Flower and Garden festivals have been known to include a butterfly tent, peach frozen daiquiris, and several pop-up stands of exclusive Disney merch.
Overall, we think May is a perfect time to visit Walt Disney World in Florida.
Well, there you have it! This was our best packing list for Disney World, especially if you happen to have your trip booked for the month of May. Be sure to stay up to date on future Disney information as your trip approaches, and don’t forget to have tons of fun in Walt Disney World.
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