Planning a trip to Walt Disney World in January can be a bit of a challenge. But once you’ve booked your resort, gotten park tickets, planned your meals and all that fun, you’re all set, right?
Unfortunately, no. Now you’ve got to think about what to pack for Disney World. This can be quite a task, as you have to prepare for the weather, traveling, and any and all situations you might come across.
What Kind of Weather to Expect
January weather in Orlando, Florida can be hard to predict. It is usually the coldest month of the year there, but the temperature can range from an average low of 50 degrees to an average high of 70 degrees.
Because of this intense range of temperatures, you need to pack an adaptable wardrobe. In January, there is usually little rain, which is pretty frequent there in the summer, so that’s a clear benefit to visiting Walt Disney World during this month.
But just because most Januarys have had little rain, it doesn’t mean you won’t see any. Even if you check the weather each week counting down to your trip, it’s always subject to change at a moment’s notice, so don’t trust the weather report. So it’s best to prepare for anything.
What to Wear for the Flight or Drive
If you are like me, you have a few outfits in your closet that you always wear when you travel. Usually it includes some comfortable shoes that can easily be removed to go through security, cozy sweatpants or leggings, a soft, casual shirt, and a nice sweater or sweatshirt for extra comfort and changing temperatures.
I’ve been on plenty of long flights that end up super cold, and the small blanket they give you does nothing to help. So in these cases, I like to be prepared with an item of clothing that can keep me warm and comfortable in any environment.
I also like to wear my largest piece of outerwear while I travel so it doesn’t take up all the space in my bag, and I can possibly use it as a blanket or pillow on the plane. This might be something to consider with your footwear too if you are thinking of bringing a bulkier pair on your vacation. Lay out what you are going to wear the night before traveling so you don’t have to stress in the morning. When I was a kid traveling, I always got so excited that I slept in my clothes, so that’s certainly also an option for you or your kids!
Bonus: Your Baggage and What’s Inside
Of course, you also need to have a good bag to travel with, and what you have inside is super important too. There are a few things that you need to have close at hand while you are traveling to Walt Disney World. If you have medication that you need daily, it’s best to pack it in your carry-on, just in case anything happens to your luggage.
Then of course you need all your travel documents with you. Most people these days have their ticket on their phone, but it’s also good to print it out. Again, just in case anything happened that would stop you from having access to your phone or your mobile ticket.
I also like to have all other information printed out with me, like my reservations for the Magical Express and resort, and even my travel information for coming back home. There’s no such thing as being over prepared!
Inside my bag, there are a few things I always bring a few things with me to occupy my mind. A few of these things are: at least one book (though if I could, I’d pack three), a notebook and pencil, headphones, and my phone loaded up with downloaded television shows and movies.
More than I could ever watch on a short flight to Orlando, Florida. This can be a totally different situation if you are traveling with young children. If you are, you probably are practiced at keeping children preoccupied. Whether this means you travel with an iPad or a bag full of their favorite toys, this might be a high concern for you.
You might need to have a bag packed for your children, especially if they are quite young. Dressing them for travel means making sure they are comfortable, and their clothes can be adjusted for changing temperatures. This is for the trip to Disney, but it applies to your time there too.
What to Wear While You’re There
A day at Disney in January can go from needing a warm jacket in the morning, to t-shirt and shorts weather in the afternoon, back to a cold night. You need an adaptable wardrobe, with a focus on layers that you can easily pull on or off throughout the day.
You could probably build your travel wardrobe around a nice pair of jeans. Even if the weather gets a bit warmer, jeans are pretty manageable in the heat. Also, if you plan to go somewhere nice, it’s definitely possible to plan a nice outfit around a dark pair of jeans.
You should expect cooler weather, but you never really know what you’re going to get. So what if it gets unexpectedly hot one day? Well, this is where you might want to have at least one tank top or light shirt. If you don’t find yourself needing your because it’s cold, then it can work as a good extra layer. Alsom if you are like me, you wear a lot of tank tops and t-shirts to bed. This means that no matter what, you can use the shirt in some way.
For the same reason, a light, neutral sweater is a perfect thing to bring. It can be a good transitional item. If it is a neutral color and not too heavy, then it won’t take up too much space in whatever bag you bring with you to the parks, and it will match any and all of your outfits. You can take on and off depending on the weather without it feeling like a hassle.
While I do think jeans can be all you really need for bottoms in Disney World in January, it’s possible that it might get warm enough at some point for shorts. Whether you want to bring the extra clothing option is up to you. But for me, if it’s too cold for shorts when we leave in the morning, it’s not like I’m going to bring shorts to change into while at the parks. It’s just too inconvenient.
If you are staying for four days or less, one pair of pajamas should be good, though kids might need a few extra pairs, just in case. If your reservation is for a week or longer, than I’d only suggest you pack extra pajamas if you are staying somewhere without a washer and dryer. If you have the ability to do laundry where you are staying, take advantage of that!
A lighter suitcase is always better, especially if you know that you’ll be buying stuff while you’re at the parks. You’ll need that space for the trip home. The Disney Tourist Blog has a create guide to packing for Disney World in the winter months!
Things you should definitely pack:
- A sweater
- Easy to match t-shirts, long sleeve and short sleeve
- One or two pair of pants or leggings
- Socks and underwear
- A nice outfit for dinners
- Comfortable sneakers
For shoes, I definitely encourage you to pack good, worn-in sneakers for walking around the parks. And if it rains, make sure you’re wearing a pair that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. The parks are quite big, and if you plan to get a lot done each day, then you are covering a lot of ground.
You have to make sure that the shoes on your feet will not give you blisters or make you uncomfortable after hours of walking, and that you won’t be sad if they end up needing to be tossed in the trash. In some cases, the one pair might be all you need. But if you have other, more formal activities planned, a second pair of nicer shoes might be good to bring.
Extra Things to Consider Packing
There’s always a chance it will be extra warm in January and you might be able to swim. But with how unpredictable their weather can be, you never know. You might want to pack swimsuits just in case (I always do), unless the pool isn’t a big draw for you.
Also, I definitely suggest planning to pack an umbrella or poncho. Or you can wait until you land in Florida, and take a visit to a local Target or Walmart to grab a cheaper rain poncho. While there are ponchos available in the parks when it rains, they are definitely more expensive.
They are generally around the $10 range, though that is subject to change. It does rain a lot of Florida, especially sporadically in the afternoon. You may experience a fifteen minute rain shower one afternoon, or an hour long storm another night. Might as well be prepared for anything!
If you like working out, there are usually exercise facilities at hotels and resorts, so you might want to bring some workout gear with you. There are many ways to keep up with your exercise regime while on vacation at Disney World. Some of the resorts even offer free yoga classes!
Also, since trips to the park can be a lot of walking, a lot of people wear leggings and work out gear there as well. Workout clothing has gotten very cute and well-designed, so I can see the appeal and have definitely been guilty of doing this myself. It brings comfort and fashion together. What more could you ask for?
Other Things Besides Clothing that You Should Have Each Day
Other extra things you might want to pack with you are wet wipes to disinfect surfaces, band-aids and ointment, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and bug spray. Also, if your phone’s battery doesn’t last long, and even if it does, you should probably have a portable battery charged up for the day. My phone holds a charge really well, but after a long day at an amusement park, I’m sure it would be low or almost dead.
The parks do offer a portable charger kiosks, but I don’t recommend using or relying on them. It’s best if you have your own, along with a charging cord. Also, some portable batteries have two USB ports, so you can charge multiple devices at the same time. If you are traveling to Florida from outside of the US, you might need a portable adapter for your devices as well.
In the same vein, you might want to bring a camera, separate from your phone. While devices like the iPhone have amazing cameras in them, some people would rather take pictures or video on a specific camera, like a Canon or Nikon. In my opinion, the photos usually end up better from a real camera, no matter how good your phone camera is. But if you bring a bulky camera, it will take up a lot of space in your suitcase or carry-on, so that’s another thing to consider.
Dressing for Different Dinner Options
What are your dining plans? If you are traveling with kids, are you doing all casual eating, or maybe you want to go to a nice restaurant one night? Well, that’s something to consider. Disney has great dining options, with amazing, award-winning restaurants all over. For some, you need to book a reservation far in advance, so this should be thought out along with planning dates and accommodations.
Some of the best restaurants Walt Disney World has to offer are the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Jiko: The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.
All of these restaurants are nicer sit-down dining options, so if you are considering dining at one of the more formal restaurants, then you should pack a more formal outfit to match. For women, I’d pack a simple dress that’s light and neutral. It takes up less space in your suitcase them a two-piece outfit, and is easy to add accessories or jewelry to in order to look a little nicer.
This is where adults might need a second pair of shoes. Yes, sneakers are convenient, comfortable, and easy to wear, but they definitely ruin the look when paired with a dress or a nice shirt and pants. If you have an easy, not heavy pair of dress shoes or heels, then this is where you would need them. For women, you should also consider a thin and light pair of nice sandals.
These are just as welcome in these restaurants, so no need for uncomfortable and bulky footwear if you don’t want to do there. Also, these sandals would be great transitional shoes if you want to dress up a bit for a more casual day at the parks (as long as you aren’t running from one end of Magic Kingdom to the other to use your fastpass!).
Packing for Kids and Teenagers
Let’s start with children 5 and under. It’s safe to say that if you are traveling with little ones, they aren’t packing their own suitcases, so here’s some tips for Disney World with toddlers and infants.
For their clothing, I would try to limit this to only what you really need, and maybe one or two backups for situations bound to happen. Also, you can add a few things that might make their trip a little more magical, like a Disney costume.
While anyone 14 years and older strictly cannot dress up in character dress in the park (unless they are “disneybounding”, which can be super fun), it’s something encouraged for little kids. This means you might have to pack a little more clothing (or less, if they decide they want to wear their costumes the whole trip), but it can really make their trip that much more special.
Also, some children can be very controlling about what they were (that was me as a kid), so in cases like that, you might need a few extra options for them. Kids can be quite messy, so it’s really up to you here on how many outfits to pack for them. They’re your kids, after all. Again, if you have access to a washer and dryer, any clothes can be washed and worn again, solving those problems.
If you are lucky enough to stay at one of Disney’s DVC resorts, then you will have a washer and dryer set in most rooms. This makes it easy to pack only a few outfits, since you can wash and repeat wear later on. These rooms are great for week long stays, while a regular room is probably more fitting for a shorter stay. At all other Disney World resorts, they do offer laundry service, including valet laundry and dry cleaning, so you can also take advantage of that.
As for teenagers, their suitcases, in terms of clothing, should look a lot like yours. Encourage them to limit what they bring as much as they can. Though sometimes they feel like they need a lot of options, and you can’t convince them otherwise. Also, for every person traveling, I’d try to limit footwear to two pairs, three at the most.
Shoes will probably be the most bulky items in your packs, so that’s a huge space saver. Formal clothing for fancy dinners or events for kids should only be one outfit, unless you have multiple events going on.
Other things you might need daily for young children:
- Diapers/swim diapers
- Diaper bag
- Sippy cups
- Any personal item, like a special blanket or stuffed animal
- Baby wipes
- Snack foods and travel containers
I know that traveling with kids can be a lot. Because there are so many other things you need to remember, if you can pack less clothing, then it makes it just a little bit easier on you. Just like with your clothing, pack things that you can layer, and take advantage of laundry if you have it.
What NOT to Wear to Disney in January
Just in case the rest of this article didn’t make this clear, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to point out what you really should not bring or wear while you are here. Heavy fabrics, like corduroy, should be avoided, as well as extra warm things like fleece. So keep those fuzzy socks at home. Don’t wear anything fancy or expensive, like a nice dress and heels. That’s just not smart when you are walking around a park filled with rides and kids.
While it’s possible to wear a comfortable dress or skirt to the parks, it’s just smarter to stick with shorts, but that’s up to you! Also, just to really make this point clear, do not bring any heavy outerwear. Yes, January in Florida can be cold, but that’s by their standards. It almost never gets truly cold there, so stick with thinner sweaters or sweatshirts.
The last thing you shouldn’t wear if Disney, if you are older than fourteen, is a Disney costume. I know I talked about this earlier in the article, but Disney is pretty strict about this, so stick with disneybounding.
Are You Ready?
So, do you have all of your clothes packed, with outfits planned out? Look over it all once, then twice, and maybe make a checklist if you want to be extra organized. There are a lot of good checklists circling the internet that you might want to look over and compare your list to.
If you really forget something essential, there are local stores that are sure to have whatever you need, but it’s best if you don’t have to do that. Also, the more trips you go on, the better prepared you will be each time, based just on practice, learning, and adapting. Have fun!
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