What to pack for a Disney vacation | A Canadian’s guide 2022

What to bring on a trip to Disneyland, Disney World or Disney Cruise Line

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Usually, I like to share lessons I learned the hard way. But when it comes to packing for a Disney vacation, I know my way around a bag. I just got back from Disneyland and am here to report back on everything packing, from luggage efficiencies to park bag necessities.

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Though this was my first time visiting Disneyland, I used to have frequent stops at Disney World because I worked for Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and docked near Orlando, Fla. Basically, I learned everything the long way and now effectively function as a human Swiss Army knife, ready to whip out anything and everything anyone could need at a park. 

I also had the opportunity to interview a few people who built areas of the park and asked them what they bring when they go. Brent Strong, who is the executive creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering and helped design the Avengers Campus at Disneyland, said he always brings a stroller, a sweatshirt and a camera/phone. Henry Tuttle, the show control designer for The Walt Disney Company who helped design the World of Colour show, always brings a water bottle, a good jacket and comfy shoes.

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Here are must-haves, nice-to-haves and items you should leave at home.

Packing your park bag

Whether you’re at Disney World, Disneyland or are heading out for an excursion with DCL, you must bring a bag packed with necessities. I really dislike carrying things, so I wear a backpack or pouch, and I pack light. I like pouches or backpacks because they have even weight distribution. Tip: A long day with a crossbody bag is future days with body aches.


Backpack or pouch

Backpack – For those who need a bit more space (like families). This adidas X Disney backpack is lightweight, large enough for what you need and perfectly on-brand. 

Backpack – For those who love Loungefly. These small leatherette bags can be found on many-a-backs around Disney properties. They’re available at the parks and on DCL, but you’ll be charged in USD. Find your favourite before you go and enjoy Canadian prices.

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Backpack (Canadian option) – The Nova Backpack is a fantastic option and not only because it’s by the Canadian brand Herschel, but because it’s stylish and comes in three sizes and many colours.

Pouch – The ultimate pouch. This bag fits all the needs of an individual person.

Pouch (Canadian option) – Great for everyday use beyond Disney travel. I wear this lululemon bag most days and it’s essentially perfect. It just fits a standard 500 ml water bottle, but not too many other things. This is the pouch I brought every day to Disneyland. 

Pouch (Canadian option) – Herschel also has a selection of pouch sizes and colours. 


Neutrogena body sunscreen – This is one of the sunscreens that’s recommended by a dermatologist we recently connected with. It’s also 88 ml, so you’re good to bring it on a plane. (All liquids need to be 100 ml or less.) I suggest having one bottle per person for every five days. That should be enough for a morning slathering and an afternoon reapplication.

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Aveeno face sunscreen – Aveeno is also on the dermatologist-recommended list. This sunscreen is great for a hydrated and protected face. It’s 59 ml, so good to bring on a flight as well.

Aveeno sunscreen for sensitive skin – Another plane-friendly option that can accommodate skin sensitivities. 

Sun Bum SPF lip balm – Don’t forget to protect your lips. 

Portable charger

Charger – It’s good for androids and iPhones. You need a charger because you’ll need to download a Disney app to navigate through your vacation. Not only do you need constant access to the app, but your phone is also obviously important for safety. You may also use your phone as a camera and a method for finding out fun facts, like which park was built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. (Hint: It’s one of Disneyland’s two parks and it rhymes with shmisneyland.)

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Advil (and/or other medication)

Advil – Take a few pills out of the jar and put in a small bag or a Kleenex. Whether you spun a few too many times on Mad Tea Party teacups or accidentally stepped on a pointy shell on Castaway Cay, these little guys may save the day. Or someone else’s. 

Sweatshirt and poncho

Sweatshirt – Many groups and families make bespoke shirts for their Disney vacation. People get creative. It’s so wonderful to see the themed shirts but it can get cold. I ended up buying a sweatshirt from Disneyland, but not because I needed one. I want that on the record. I bought it because it’s cute. I was prepared for the nightly temperature drop.

Poncho – A poncho doesn’t make it in my park bag but I know that some people really don’t like getting drenched. I checked the daily temperature and opted to leave my rain gear at home. I always bring a sweatshirt.

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Hand sanitizer

Sun Bum hand sanitizer – This hand sanitizer shouldn’t dry out your hands, and the hard spray container should prevent it from exploding in your bag. Hand sanitizer is nice to have because there are a lot of germs around the park. 

Comfy shoes

Allbirds – Allbirds are the comfiest shoes that I’ve ever worn (full list of comfiest walking shoes). 

Crocs – I saw a lot of people wearing Crocs around Disney. I get it because they can get wet. I don’t know how much arch and foot support they offer though, so keep that in mind.

This list is what I recommend everyone brings to the parks/DCL excursions, but it’s by no means exhaustive. If you have small children, of course, bring a stroller, and consider other items that support individual needs.

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Pretending to be Captain Canada at Ancient Sanctum in the Avengers Campus at Disneyland
Pretending to be Captain Canada at Ancient Sanctum in the Avengers Campus at Disneyland. Photo by Randi Mann


Hat – A hat is pretty much in the “must-haves” category, but I personally don’t wear a hat because my large hair provides enough sun protection. But I’d still recommend bringing a hat and maybe one that you don’t love just in case it gets lost. (A few fun Disney options.)

Gum – Disney parks do not sell gum but you’re allowed to bring it into the park.

Lozenges – After four days of roller coasters, water coasters and jaw-dropping shows, my throat is feeling it. I apparently screamed enough to lose my voice and am happy that I can report back using the written word.

Snack – Having a snack on hand may seem counterintuitive with all the food offerings at Disney, but sometimes lines can be long and most foods are expensive.

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Snack (Canadian option) – Love Good Fats is a Canadian company that offers delicious granola and protein bars. Love the real and simple ingredients.

Inexpensive sunglasses – It may be tempting to bring your favourite sunglasses to Disney but I suggest leaving them at home. For example, if you’re on a roller coaster you may want to take them off and leave them in the little bag attached to the ride. Sometimes they get left there. 

Blanket – Pack a compact blanket that can be used to sit on during a parade or for an added layer of warmth.

Leave-at-home items

Selfie stick – You’re not allowed to bring selfie sticks into the park. The person going through security in front of me learned that the hard way.

Here’s the full list of what you’re not allowed to bring into Disney.

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Packing your luggage

If you don’t have to check, don’t check. Disney ensures that your experience is magical but the same isn’t true for airlines. (Disney, please start an airline.) You don’t want to start your Disney vacation with lost luggage. Utilize packing cubes and wrinkle-resistant clothes. Keep calm and carry on. 


Carry on luggage – I went uber-organized this trip with my Away bag called The Bigger Carry-On. The luggage fits most airline carry-on size requirements but there’s also The Carry-On for even more efficient packing.

Packing cubes – This is my first time using official packing cubes versus various reusable lululemon bags I found around my place. They’re a game-changer. Usually, I’m able to start an organized packing experience and then turn into an animal as soon as I get to my hotel room. Packing cubes allowed me to fit more items into my luggage, and they kept them organized and wrinkle-free. I used the matching Away packing cubes for this trip, but Amazon has good options, too.

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Away packing cubes
Away packing cubes. Photo by Randi Mann

Comfy clothes (Canadian options) – You can take the girl out of Canada, but you can’t take the lululemon and Roots off the girl. I love lululemon and Roots because they are good quality, slow-fashion, and Canadian brands. Many of the lululemon and Roots clothes I wear I’ve had for more than five years (likely closer to 10). I brought a pair of Align Joggers and a few pairs of Align Pants and Align Shorts. (I guess I have a type.) I also brought a few All Yours Cotton T-Shirts and my mom’s Mickey shirt she bought in Disneyland 45 years ago. If you like retro Disney shirts, Etsy has some cute ones. If you’re looking to make a custom tee, Vistaprint has various styles available for the entire family.       

Bathing suit – I brought one bathing suit for four days. I wore it twice. If you don’t mind wearing a damp bathing suit, one should be enough. I wore this top and bottom from Everlane and love it. Knix has a line of bathing suits too that have a wonderful size range. For swim trunks, lululemon has a nice pair.

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Nicer but still comfy clothes – Everlane has some great dresses, shirts and bottoms. They’re comfy, sustainable and simple. lululemon has fantastic options for men that look good and feel great, like button-down shirts and the ABC Slim-Fit Pant

Unbound Merino was founded to make travel-friendly sustainable clothes that are wrinkle and odour resistant. The brand is also Canadian.

Nicer but still comfy shoes – If you’re going on DCL, there will be formal evenings. If you’re going to a Disney park, there are some fancier restaurants that you may want to visit. I suggest leaving your stilettos at home and bringing comfy shoes that can go with your fancier clothes. 

Toiletries and sundries – Please see the “Packing your park bag” section for Disney-specific recommendations. Aside from that, pack your travel toiletries as usual. However, I do like to bring Ziploc bags. They’re great for packing leftovers, keeping liquids in their own leak-proof bag and other various tasks. Ziploc happens to have adorable Disney bags.

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Clear bag (one quart) – Airport security requires all liquids to be in a singular one-quart clear bag. Here’s one that comes with empty travel bottles and a set that are just the bags.

Extra bag – You may want to bring a bonus bag that’s empty and ready to be filled. I brought a reusable shopping canvas one from the Gap that was definitely full on the way back.


Glow in the dark sticks – Make your Disney travel mates visible at night. Added safety and fun. 

Travel pillow – I didn’t bring a travel pillow for my five-hour flight because it was during the day and I didn’t want to sleep or carry it around. But, I know many enjoy.

AirTags –  AirTags can be useful to put on luggage, strollers and other items that could be lost.

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Flip flops or water-friendly sandals – You’ll want a pair of shoes that can be safely and comfortably worn around water.

Leave-at-home items

That second pair of jeans – Denim is heavy and girthy. Bring one favourite pair. 

That fourth pair of shoes – Bring one pair of walking shoes, one pair of fancier shoes and one pair of water-friendly shoes. 

Selfie stick – You’re not allowed to bring them into the park, so unless you need one outside of Disney, it’s best to just leave it at home.

Disney extras

  • If you go to Disneyland, see the World of Color (pains me to spell colour sans “u”). It’s the water show with colour projections. I don’t want to ruin any of the show but it did nothing less than blow my mind.
  • Every Disney employee wears a name tag that includes their hometown. Many people in Disneyland live in “Ontario, CA.” There’s a city in California called Ontario. I learned that the hard way.
  • Strong, the executive creative director from above, mentioned that he loves the Ancient Sanctum in the Avengers Campus at Disneyland. “If you stand in just the right spot reality is warping so it feels like you’re falling through a hole,” said Brent.
Ancient Sanctum in the Avengers Campus at Disneyland
Ancient Sanctum in the Avengers Campus at Disneyland. Photo by Randi Mann

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