The following packing list was submitted by Perri. See all packing list posts here.
I have visited Orlando and its theme parks at least once a year since I was a kid. Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando are large resorts full of hotels, restaurants, and activities, and there is always something new and exciting to explore – even for adults traveling on their own.
I’ve traveled there at every stage in my life so far. At two years old I met Mickey for the first time, at thirteen I tried my first upside down roller coaster, and at twenty-one I tried all the different adult beverages in the EPCOT countries. Even now in my mid-twenties, I still love to do all of those things, and I’m also really looking forward to visiting the new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the next time I’m there.
There is so much to do that you can never have the same trip twice, even if you do go back to your favorites. I love to try new restaurants during every trip, but I also make sure to visit Boma, my all-time favorite restaurant located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Packing List for Orlando Theme Parks
Orlando can be very hot, humid, and occasionally rainy for most of the year, especially in the summer months (May-September). The spring, autumn, and winter months are pretty unpredictable. It can either be hot and humid or dry and cool. I recommend checking the weather right before leaving to make sure you are packing appropriate clothing for the predicted temperature.
Whatever you choose to pack, keep in mind that most parts of the theme parks and resorts are outdoors, so you shouldn’t wear anything you absolutely can’t get wet if you get caught in the rain.
Shorts, tank tops, and sun dresses: If you are traveling during the warmer months, make sure to pack outfits that are light and comfortable because it can get very humid and hot during the day. The theme parks are very casual, so you should wear clothing that won’t bother you during a long day of walking in the heat.
Cardigan or light sweatshirt: Since temperatures during the summer months can reach into the 90s or 100s (Fahrenheit), restaurants and inside attractions will really crank up the AC to keep you cool. I always get a bit chilly inside these places, especially after a long day of trekking around in the heat, so I keep a light cardigan in my backpack.
Bathing suit: There are several water parks in the area, and most hotels will have outdoor pools. Some of the rides in the theme parks may get you wet (like Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom, or Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom, both in Disney World), and you might want to wear a bathing suit to avoid feeling wet and gross the whole day or having to buy a new set of clothes.
>> Discover the best travel pants for women and choose wisely.
Nice dress or outfit: Most of the restaurants on the Disney and Universal properties are very casual, but if you choose to go out for a fancy dinner or to experience the nightlife, you might want to dress up a bit.
Waterproof walking shoes or sandals: No raincoat, umbrella, or poncho will be able to keep your feet dry, so I recommend bringing a good pair of walking shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. The theme parks are large and you will be doing a lot of walking and standing on lines. I usually bring a pair of comfortable sneakers and alternate with my waterproof Teva sandals in case my sneakers get wet. My waterproof Tevas are what I wear when I know I’ll be going on an attraction where I’m likely to get wet.
Nice sandals or flats: If you’re going out to dinner or bars and want to dress up a bit, a nice pair of sandals or flats will work for most dressy outfits in the hot weather.
Plastic poncho: I prefer to bring a cheap plastic poncho with me instead of a raincoat or an umbrella. It’s won’t add extra weight or take up too much space in your bag, and it won’t retain too much heat in the summer (even when it rains, it’s still pretty hot out!). It does the best job of covering both me and my backpack from the rain, and leaves both of my hands free. It’s not the most stylish option, but it does a good job of keeping most of me dry and cool in the warmer, rainy weather.
Refillable water bottle: There is no glass allowed inside the parks, so if you’re bringing a water bottle, make sure it’s plastic. I am a huge fan of my Vapur bottle, and I can refill it at the many water fountains or restaurants around the parks. Hydration is so important especially when you are doing a lot of walking in the heat! I really like to drink coconut water or Emergen-C to boost my hydration even more.
Backpack: I don’t know if I’ve made this clear yet, but Florida gets pretty hot and sticky in the summer months (and can still be somewhat hot and humid in the winter). I don’t like to carry a lot when it’s really hot out, so I prefer to carry a small backpack with all of my essentials, and then I can clip my Vapur bottle to it as well.
I usually bring a mini backpack because it leaves both my hands completely free. Most attractions will let you take your bag with you, and usually I just put mine by my feet during the ride. There may be a few high-speed roller coasters in Universal Studios that won’t allow bags, and Disney’s water park rides won’t allow you to take bags or shoes with you, but there are lockers in every park that you can rent to store your stuff. You’ll get a key or passcode to your locker, so you’ll be able to access it whenever you need to throughout the day.
Small cooler: Food and drinks inside the theme parks can get very expensive, so I suggest doing some research and planning your meals ahead of time. Disney is also really helpful with all types of special diets. I am vegan and gluten free, and I never had trouble finding food there. I toss some bananas and trail mix in my bag for extra snacks, but you are allowed to bring cooler bags into the parks if you have sandwiches or something else requiring refrigeration.
Small purse: I like to carry a smaller purse with me for times when I’m not visiting the parks or I’m just going out to dinner.
First-aid kit: I always bring a travel size first-aid kit with me when I go anywhere, but I would definitely recommend including blister bandaids if you’re not used to walking very much. Your feet will thank you later!
Portable phone charger: Disney World and Universal Studios both have smartphone apps that allow you to check wait times for rides and look at maps of the parks. Disney’s app also gives you the option to reserve “fastpass” spots at three attractions per day, or make reservations at any restaurant on property during your stay. You’ll want to make sure your phone won’t die while you’re out all day so you can stay on top of all your scheduling with their apps.
Sunglasses: It is very sunny in Orlando, and you’ll be outdoors a lot. Make sure you have a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes!
Camera: You’ll want to take a lot of pictures in the theme parks! I usually just stick with my smartphone camera, but if you are big on photography, there are so many great moments to capture on this trip so you’ll definitely want a good camera.
Side note: selfie sticks are not allowed in the theme parks for safety reasons, so practice your old-school selfie skills before leaving.
Extra memory cards
Chargers and adapters
Sunscreen: I would recommend bringing at least a 30 SPF sunscreen for face and body, because you’ll be outdoors a lot and the Florida sun is very strong.
Face-Wash: For your post-sun skin care, bring a good face wash to make sure the sunscreen doesn’t clog your pores.
Moisturizer: This can help your skin after sun exposure. I know that I burn easily and my skin usually gets dry from sun exposure even if it doesn’t burn, so a light moisturizer usually helps my skin heal overnight. If you’re prone to sunburns like me, don’t forget to pack some aloe vera gel for those particularly painful ones.
Makeup: I don’t usually wear much makeup, and I find that between reapplying sunscreen, getting caught in rainstorms, and getting wet on some attractions in the theme parks, my makeup doesn’t stay on too well during the day. I will sometimes wear eyeliner and lipstick during the day, and might put on some blush and eye shadow if I am going out at night. If you prefer to wear makeup, try to find a BB cream or moisturizer with SPF in it so that your skin stays protected.
While some people may think that the theme parks are silly, overpriced tourist attractions, the ones in Orlando are really wonderful vacation spots for people of all ages and interests. Disney and Universal put so much effort into creating an immersive experience for their guests, and there is always something new and exciting to explore. I hope this list helps you pack efficiently so you can spend less time worrying and more time playing in the coolest theme park resorts in the world!
About the author: Perri is a New Yorker who writes about her adventures in vegan cooking and eating on her blog, Life Gone Vegan. She loves to travel to new places and lives for packing lists. Her dream destinations include Scotland, Australia, Peru, South Africa, and India. You can follow her on Instagram.
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