The time has finally come. You’ve booked your trip to Disney for December—the most magical time of the year. Now all you need to do is pack for your vacation and head to your hotel.

Hopefully, you were able to book a room at one of the best Disney World hotels, which can be any of them, arguably. Even if you aren’t staying on the Disney campus, though, you may be scratching your head when it comes to figuring out what to pack for this special time of year.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about preparing for Disney. December can be a tricky time to prepare for, but with the help of this list, you’ll be ready to take on the parks.

Clothing

The first thing you need to know about Disney in December is that the weather will not be what you expect. Florida in December can be confusing. If you haven’t been to Florida before, you may assume December will be just as hot as it is during the summer. And if you think that, then you’ll be packing too many shorts and t-shirts.

Despite what you may think, Florida can get chilly in the winter months. It doesn’t get anywhere near the temperatures one might experience in the north, but you can expect lows in the 50s. The highs, on the other hand, are more unpredictable. You may feel temperature in the 60s, but it could get higher than that. It really depends on the week you decide to book your trip. Make sure to double check the weather before you go.

As far as what kind of clothes you’ll need goes, treat it like autumn in other areas of the world. Pack layers because the nights will get chilly and a little windy. Plus if you plan on going to the beach, it’ll be extra cold by the water. You’ll also want to bring some lighter clothes in case it gets too warm, but overall think in layers. Bring along some rain gear, too. Florida has been experiencing more extreme weather as of late, so it’s good to go prepared. A pack of ponchos, rain boots, and some umbrellas are never a bad idea.

Crowds

You may be thinking: “What do crowds have to do with my packing list?” Well, they have more of an impact than you’d think. If you’ve booked your trip in December you will bump into the Christmas time crowds. It is inevitable. That means some of your wait times in line may be longer than usual. You can use FastPass+ tickets, but you can’t use those for every single ride. Because of this, you’ll want to bring along some activities to do while you wait.

These don’t have to take up too much room in your suitcase, but bringing along a deck of cards or some words you can use for charades will be super useful. You can also download some apps on your phone. The My Disney Experience app is great if you want to plan your next move while you’re waiting in line. It’s got a GPS-enabled map, so you can plan out where you want to visit when you’re done with the ride you’re waiting to get on. Or, if you’ve ever wondered, “How big is Disney World?” you can skim through the map and get an idea of how much walking you’ll be doing. Overall, though, you’ll want to bring anything you can to make your time in line less painful.

Christmas Season Souvenirs

Because you’ve booked your trip for the Christmas season, the limited edition merchandise may tempt you. There will be tons of new Christmas souvenirs to take home, and you’ll want to be prepared in case you come across something you absolutely have to bring home with you. To prepare for the urge to shop, bring along some extra cash.

It may seem obvious, but forgetting to pack money can really put a downer on your experience. Of course, you don’t need to bring extra money if you don’t want to because you’ve already booked your trip and paid for your vacation, but if you want to get some Christmas treats and presents, then you do need to bring a little extra.

In addition to some cash, you’ll want to have an empty backpack or two. Nothing is worse than finding a huge plushie to bring home, and then having to carry it around all day with you. It’s just better to have a backpack solely dedicated to your souvenirs so you can just put them away and forget about them until you get back to your hotel.

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

If you booked your trip for December, you probably wanted to partake in some of the festivities happening around the parks. You’ll want to pack some seasonally appropriate goodies for when you’re walking around, if that’s the case.

Going along with the need for layers mentioned earlier in this article, having some knitwear or ugly Christmas sweaters can really help set the mood. You may also want to bring along some festive Mickey ears to wear when you’re walking around the parks. You can either buy these at one of the parks or find some online. Either way, you’ll feel extra Christmas ready with a pair of festive ears on.

If you have children with you, it could be fun to bring along some Christmas snack to make the days a little more special. Having some Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, or candy canes to nibble on creates a nice Christmas atmosphere. For extra fun, maybe bring along a present or two for the kids to open while they’re at the hotel. Nothing is better than waking up in Disney World and opening a gift from Mickey Clause.

Essentials

There are, of course, some essential items you don’t want to forget. You know what kind of toiletries your family needs, so that will be left up to you. However, there are some insider tips that can help you avoid some unpleasant circumstances when traveling around the parks. For example, carry wet wipes with you wherever you go.

You never know what kind of sticky substance will find its way onto you or a member of your family. It’s always better to have something to wipe away dirt or grime than have to walk to the bathroom and wait in line to use the sink. With wet wipes, you can quickly remove the gross stickiness in question, and go about your day as if nothing happened.

This may seem obvious, but perhaps you think that winter in Florida means there won’t be as much sun. Not the case—December is just as sunny as the rest of the year. Because of that, have extra sunscreen. Even on overcast days, you can still have some negative effects from the sun, so it’s always good to be prepared with lots of sunscreen. Bring along different kinds if you can, too. Having a lotion and a spray can be helpful depending on where you plan on applying your sun protection. Lotion is better at the start of the day, but the spray is good for topping up throughout the day.

Special Events

Finally, you must be aware of the events going on at a few of the parks if you want to get the most out of your trip. Being prepared for special events—i.e. bringing along some of the items mentioned and a few additional ones—will really turn your vacation from good to great.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is the biggest event you’ll need to worry about. This is the party that will increase your wait times, meaning you’ll need to bring those fun things to do in line mentioned earlier. In addition to that, you’ll want to make sure you have the correct tickets if you plan on taking part in the actual party. You are, of course, allowed to visit the parks during the event without special tickets, but if you want to be a part of the Very Merry Christmas Party, you’ll need to purchase additional tickets that cost around $105 currently. The price may change the closer to the event you book.

The International Festival of the Holidays comes next. This one is at Epcot and features different holiday traditions in the World Showcase. For this event, you don’t need to purchase any additional tickets, but you will want to bring extra cash for all the food and drinks that are available for the holiday season.

Countdown to Midnight is the last big event of the year at Disney World, and it’s an all-inclusive experience. This means you can attend at no additional cost. It takes place at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and celebrates the New Year in style. If you want to take part in this event, it may be a good idea to bring some dressier clothes. The Disney website describes this event as “elegant,” so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to dress a little more formally than you would just strolling around one of the parks.

The Recap

Traveling to Disney in December is much different than vacationing there at any other time of the year. With all the extra events and seasonal merchandise, you’ll be tempted to bring home half the park with you. Just to give you a recap of the items in this article, here’s a list of everything mentioned:

Clothes for layering: The amount of clothes you bring will far exceed anything else you pack for this trip.

Rain gear: Ponchos, umbrellas, and rain boots are all essential for December in Orlando, Florida.

A few games or apps: You want to have something to do in line, so bring along some fun activities to kill the time!

An extra bag: You’ll want to have somewhere to store your souvenirs.

Wet wipes: For all the messes you didn’t know you were going to have.

Sunscreen: Because even in winter, Florida is still the Sunshine State.

Event Tickets: Be sure to double check you have the Very Merry Christmas Party tickets if you want to participate in the festivities!

Overall, Disney in December can be tricky to pack for if you go in blind, but these general guidelines should help you with all the essentials you need. Of course, you know what your family needs so you can add or subtract to this list where you see fit. You do, however, want to make sure you have the right tickets if you want to be involved with the Christmas Party! Most of all, be sure to bring along an excited attitude and plenty of space for all the memories you’ll make.

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