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Stress-free Planning and Packing Tips for WDW and Disneyland

Updated on April 21, 2024, If you see any errors, please let us know at

Stress-free planning and packing tips for Walt Disney World and Disneyland, learn how to plan and pack like a PRO.

Millions of Guests visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland each and every year. Memories are made with family and friends to cherish for a lifetime. Unlike the old days, planning a Disney vacation nowadays takes a little more effort than just buying tickets, showing up, and riding attractions (although I wish we could go back to those simpler days!). But, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. Read on for tips, tricks, and best practices for planning and packing for our ultimate Disney vacation. Let’s get to it!

Stress Free Tips for Disney Planning

Set a Budget

Before doing anything, determine your budget for vacation. Disney can get pricey and things add up quickly. If you don’t sit and think it through, you can very easily spend much more than planned or expected. There are many ways to save money like visiting during less costly times of the year, taking advantage of promotions, using quick service vs table service restaurants, or buying souvenirs outside of the Disney Parks, but you need to evaluate your financial situation and your budget first and then plan accordingly. Using an authorized Disney Vacation Planner can also help you stay within your means and help guide you in the right direction.

Choose the Right Time to Visit

Do you love the heat? Or do you prefer to visit when it’s a bit “cooler”? Do you want to visit during a certain EPCOT festival? Or perhaps you are interested in visiting during the holidays? These are very important questions to ask yourself as you start to plan. Depending on when you visit could also impact your budget. There are times of the year when ticket prices are higher than normal (mostly high volume, or popular times of the year such as the holidays). Plan accordingly.

Book Early

The sooner you book, the more options you will have. While hotel availability is getting easier to score (compared to a few years ago), I do notice that Value and Moderate hotels do sell out more quickly than Deluxe. If you are on a budget and have a specific time of year you want to visit, I highly recommend booking earlier rather than later. There are many promotional offers released throughout the year to help you stay within budget. Contact Love of the Magic Vacations to help get you started!

Choose the Right Type of Tickets

This one is important and can ultimately cost or save you a lot of money. Ticket pricing is dependent on the time of year you visit. High crowd levels and popular seasons or events drive up the ticket pricing. If you want to save a bit of money, visit in the off-season. Also consider skipping the “park hopper” option when buying tickets. This can easily add approximately $80 a ticket for the duration of your stay. While it doesn’t sound like much, depending on the amount of tickets being purchased, this can add up quickly. And if you don’t plan to really take advantage of hopping, it may not be worth it. As of the time of this writing, you can only park hop after 2pm to other parks. This may or may not impact your purchase choice. The more days you decide to visit, the cheaper per day your ticket cost becomes. Keep this in mind when determining the number of days to visit.

Don’t Forget Dining Reservations

Once your hotel is booked, mark your calendar! Dining reservations can be made 60 days in advance of your first day of your visit. If you are staying on property, you will be able to make your dining reservations for the duration of your stay. Prioritize your restaurant choices, the popular choices book up quickly. Have a backup plan in case your first choice isn’t available. Keep in mind though that people cancel reservations all the time. Keep checking for the restaurants you weren’t able to secure. You just might get lucky and snag a desired reservation!

Design an Itinerary

Once you have your hotel booked, tickets purchased (and park reservations secured for visits through the end of 2023) and dining reserved, it’s time to create an itinerary. Map out which park(s) you’ll visit each day, where you’ll eat and what attractions you’ll ride. Leave room for spontaneity and flexibility. It’s important to leave room for extra magic and surprises in the park – unplanned happenings across the park(s) pop up all the time! You want to make sure you leave room to enjoy them. You also want to make sure you don’t frazzle yourself by a tight schedule. Walt Disney World and Disneyland are magical, but you won’t notice it if you are whizzing by everything. Take your time, enjoy the sights and sounds and take it all in! Need some help planning your itinerary? Casey from SoCalDailyCasey can help you! She’s a master at planning strategies for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Find a wealth of information here!

Download the My Disney Experience App

Be sure to download the My Disney Experience App on your mobile device. The app will be your sidekick during your stay. You can make or cancel dining reservations, use Genie or Genie+, access your park or special event tickets, access the parks or your hotel room, mobile check-in before arriving to the hotel, mobile ordering for quick service, check attraction wait times, and so much more! 

Decide if Genie+ is Worth It

Purchasing and using Genie+ is very subjective. It will really depend on your family and friends, the time of year it is and how crowded the parks are, in whether or not Genie+ is worth the purchase. If the parks are busy and the lines are long, it’s probably going to prove to be a good option, but if not, it may not be worth it. There are quite a few resources on Love of the Magic’s website that break down using Genie+. I highly recommend reading through them to help decide if you will opt to add Genie+. You purchase Genie+ each morning of your vacation, so you don’t need to make a decision until your first park day. But, if you are on a tighter budget, you should plan for it as the price of Genie+ varies depending on the day and time of year. It could range anywhere from $15-$30 per day/per person. Read more here.

Stress Free Tips for Things to Pack for the Parks

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. We get to the parks and realize we forgot something. In many cases whatever you happened to forget can be purchased somewhere in the parks, but many of us would rather not spend the extra money on something we have sitting in the hotel room or even at home, so here is my list of things that is essential for a full day at the parks.

Photo I.D., Credit Card(s), and/or Cash

Don’t forget your photo I.D.! You never know when you’ll need it. This happened to me once and it will never happen again. I accidentally left it in the hotel and during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival and was carded for a beer!

This is VERY important….bring not one, but two credit cards with you! You never know when one may not work or even be declined for some reason – things happen! I also highly recommend bringing cash with you as well. I know, you’re thinking no one uses cash anymore! Not true – you might need it for tips! And it’s a great back up in case you can’t use your credit card(s) for some reason.

If you are an Annual Passholder or a D23 member, don’t forget your membership card(s)!! You will need your card to show proof of your membership to receive special discounts throughout the parks.

Backpack/Hip Pack

YES, the fanny pack (commonly known these days as the hip pack) is back (in a super huge way) and still going strong! Even Disney Parks are now selling them in all prints and styles. You may not like it or refuse to wear one, but they are great if you don’t plan to carry a lot and want to be hands free. I personally could not be happier they are back in style!

The backpack is another great option – depending on the size backpack you use, you can carry a great deal and will most likely not forget anything because you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything you might possibly need! Backpacks are the way to go if you are vacationing with children.


These are essential to protect your eyes from the blazing, bright Florida sun. If you do forget yours at the hotel (or at home), there are a few Sunglass Huts located at the parks and Disney Springs, as well as an assorted variety sold at souvenir shops.


If you are like me, allergies are a year round issue. I cannot go an hour without needing tissues. Rather than running into every restroom along the way and using the hard toilet paper or hand towels, carry a small pack of tissues with you. Your nose will be thanking you!

Be sure to also pack Advil, Tylenol, Tums, etc. and any necessary prescription medication you will need throughout the day. There is a First-Aid station located within each park that offers free over-the-counter medications if needed, however if prescription medication is required, you don’t want to forget that or leave it behind in the hotel room.

Hand Sanitizer

This is absolutely essential! While not foolproof, this will help with the dirt and grime. Your hands will be touching everything throughout the day. I’m not a germaphobe, but I try to sanitize my hands several times throughout the day. And certainly in this post-pandemic world, it’s considered a must-have in your bag.


Every now and then we decide to wear the wrong shoes to the parks, and our feet pay the price. It seems like a great idea at 8am and by 1pm your feet are not happy. There are first-aid centers throughout the parks that you can visit and pick up band-aids, but if you have a few with you, your poor blistering feet will be happier.

Extra Chargers

This is absolutely critical. If you use Disney WiFi throughout the parks, you know that it eats away at your cell phone battery. Next thing you know, you have 25% left and it’s only mid-day! The parks offer Fuel Rods as an option if you find yourself in this situation. This one-time purchase of $30 allows you to continuously trade them in once depleted for new ones that are fully charged. The only downside is there are only certain locations that have a Fuel Rod station, and you may not be near one when you need it. My personal recommendation, pick a charger up on Amazon. In most cases, they are half the price of the Fuel Rod and have more charging capacity to get you through the day.


Just like your sunglasses to protect your eyes, you’ll need sunscreen to protect your skin from the blistering sun. Especially in the heart of the summer when the UV index is very high. Pick up a few travel size sunscreen tubes, this way you can have it with you and it won’t take up too much space in your bag.

Poncho or Umbrella

It always rains in Florida if you are visiting Walt Disney World. Chances are at some point during your vacation, the sky will open up. Keep your eye on the weather and if there is a chance, bring along your poncho or umbrella. I recommend visiting your local Dollar Store before leaving for vacation and grab a few inexpensive ponchos. You’ll be happy you did!

Ziploc Bags

If you don’t have #9 with you, you may get soaked in a rain storm. A change of clothes or socks is always a good idea and can be stored in a locker for about $10 a day. If you do get wet and need to change, throw your wet clothes in a Ziploc bag, it will protect everything else from getting wet. Ziploc bags are also great if you go on water rides, throw your camera, phone, bag into the ziploc to protect them from getting wet.

Bonus! Disney Gear!

You can’t visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland without the park gear! Be sure to bring your Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears, Disney-themed clothing, bags, your autograph book and pen for character meet and greets and Disney pins (if you are into pin trading). These items are essential and add to the magic of your amazing trip!


Are you ready to plan your vacation? It’s so easy!! Click here for your FREE Quote! A Love of the Magic travel advisor will get back to you as soon as possible so you can start planning today!

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