You finally convinced your girl squad, family, or S.O. to join you on a theme park vacation this summer. You’ve booked your flights, pinned some cute outfits, and even planned your itinerary down to the half-hour (we hear the millennial pink Minnie Mouse Prosecco at Disney World is serious Instagram goals BTW). Now the only thing left to do is figure out what you should bring with you into the park. While some folks swear by taking practically nothing with them into a theme park, we’re firm believers in being prepared for just about everything. From a trusty disposable poncho to invigorating facial spray, here are 21 essential items to pack in your bag for a hassle-free theme park day.
1. Sturdy Backpack: While many theme park-goers opt for fanny packs, we prefer to fit all of our gear into a more stylish hands-free backpack — especially when we know we’re going to be on our feet for more than 10 hours a day. Your bag should be big enough to comfortably carry all of your essentials (and last-minute souvenirs), small enough so you don’t feel like you’re lugging around a toddler, and supportive enough to not cause any back pain. We love the JanSport Disney Backpack ($75) for its adorable, thematically appropriate design, supportive structure, and reasonable size. If you have a little more moola, Kate Spade’s Watson Lane Hartley ($198) is also a sturdy and fashionable option that will surely complement any park day OOTD.
2. PopSocket: Selfie sticks are banned in several popular theme parks, so you may want to consider adding a trusty PopSocket ($10+) to your phone instead. Not only will this low-tech addition help keep your phone more secure when you’re on a speedy roller coaster, but it also makes character selfies and in-line entertainment easier too! (Photo via PopSockets)
3. Hand Sanitizer: It’s no secret that theme parks are riddled with germs. So instead of trying to squeeze into a crowded bathroom every time you go on a ride or touch an icky surface, we suggest packing a small hand sanitizer in your backpack. While any hand sanitizer will do, we like the mermaid scent from Bath and Body Works ($6 for a five-pack).
4. Sunglasses: Having a nice pair of shades with you is a no-brainer if you’re going to be spending all day in a theme park. Because dollar store sunglasses are notorious for breaking and we don’t want to worry about anything happening to our designer shades, we prefer bringing something reasonably priced, durable, and stylish. We’re particularly fond of Sunski sunglasses ($48+) because they won’t break the bank, they’re lightweight, and they’re snug enough that they won’t fall off on any thrill rides. Plus, each pair comes with a lifetime warranty!
5. External Phone Charger: After taking countless pictures, checking wait times, and FaceTiming your buddies back home, don’t be surprised if your phone battery drops to three percent. This is why having an external phone charger on hand is a lifesaver in any theme park. The MyCharge HubPlus ($80) is one of our favorite choices because it can fully charge your smartphone up to four times. Think of all the ‘grams!
6. Disposable Poncho: Whether it’s getting drenched on a water ride or getting caught in a freak rainstorm, you should definitely be prepared to get a little wet during your trip. Megan duBois, Disney blogger at Mingling With Megan, likes bringing disposable ponchos found in the camping section of Walmart or Target. “They are about one dollar and very convenient for those splash-and-dash showers and thunderstorms Florida is known for,” she writes. For instance, this Ultimate Survival Emergency Poncho ($1) is a great option that you can easily find online or at your local Walmart. DuBois highlights that they’re packed in tiny bags so won’t take up much space, and “then when the rain is done, you just throw the poncho away because it was a dollar and you don’t want the inside of your backpack getting all wet.” Easy peasy!
7. Travel-Sized Deodorant: After walking around in the hot sun for hours, you may start to feel a little disheveled. Instead of feeling icky for the rest of the day, pack a travel-sized deodorant like this one from Dove ($6 for two) in your backpack for a quick refresh. Trust us, this is a must!
8. Medicine and Band-Aids: Accidents happen, y’all. Instead of trying to hunt down an employee when your little one scrapes her knee, create your own mini first-aid kit and stash it at the bottom of your bag for emergencies. Tailor your kit to your personal needs, but you may want to consider including Advil ($14+) if you’re prone to headaches, motion sickness medicine in case you feel sick after a ride, and plenty of Band-Aids.
9. Foot Care: We can’t stress this enough: Make sure to bring proper foot care with you if you’re planning on spending a full day inside a busy theme park! Since most of us aren’t used to walking 20 miles every day, we highly suggest bringing along a few blister Band-Aids and extra insoles. If you’re especially prone to blisters, try using the anti-blister balm Foot Glide ($8) to really take care of your tootsies.
10. Refillable Water Bottle: Instead of shelling out $5 for a bottle of water inside the park, pack your own refillable water bottle and fill it up for free at a dining location or refill station. If you’re in the market for a new one, S’well ($35), Hydro Flask ($30+), and Zojirushi ($40) all make great water bottles that will keep your drink ice-cold all day.
11. Oil Blotting Sheets and Concealer: “I love to keep oil blotting sheets in my bag, especially on a rope drop to fireworks type of day,” writes veteran traveler and unofficial theme park expert Megan Young. “When you’re out in the hot sun and going from morning straight to a nice table service dinner, it’s nice to have a little blotting sheet and some concealer to combat the oil and redness that may build up throughout the day.” If you’re looking for some new options, check out Brit + Co’s top picks for lightweight and deeper-skintone concealers, such as this NYX Gotcha Covered Concealer ($6).
12. Hat: If you’re visiting a theme park in the middle of summer, you’re going to want to keep the sun off you as much as possible. We suggest stashing a hat in your backpack so you’re covered if you find yourself waiting in direct sunlight for a ride and need some quick relief. You can even get themed headgear from Disney or Universal to match your magical outfit (this Minnie Mouse Baseball Hat ($25) is sooo stinkin’ adorable).
13. Ziploc Bags: Whether you want to take a sticky snack on-the-go, protect your phone on a water ride, or keep all of your family’s park tickets in one place, having a few spare Ziploc Sandwich Bags ($9) in your backpack is essential for the organized traveler.
14. Breath Mints: “They do not sell gum in some parks because they don’t want to have to scrape it off everywhere,” says self-proclaimed theme park expert Chantal Brabant. Since there’s not always a trash can nearby to discard gum, Brabant prefers mints for freshening breath after meals or snacks. Pop some Ice Breaker Mints ($12) in your bag, and you’re good to go!
15. Cooling Towel: “It used to be that you would see people walking around the parks with wet white washcloths and towels, probably borrowed from their hotels, but nowadays the new craze is the cooling towels,” says Brabant. She says they can be purchased almost everywhere sporting gear is sold and even in the parks and really helped her husband and daughter in the Florida heat and humidity. The Chill Pal ($12) is an excellent budget-friendly option. Also, if you’re really trying to beat the heat, consider purchasing a portable battery-powered fan like the O2COOL Deluxe Necklace Fan ($13).
16. Cooling Facial Setting Spray: If you want to cool down in the park without ruining your makeup, pack a travel-sized cooling facial spray. We love Urban Decay’s Chill Cooling and Hydrating Makeup Setting Spray ($32) because it stops your makeup from melting or smudging while actually chilling the surface of your makeup to keep it picture-perfect for up to 12 hours.
17. Essential Oils: When you’re feeling a bit drowsy and jet-lagged but don’t want to risk losing your place in line to grab a cup of coffee, try Saje’s Arrive Revived ($10) for a refreshing and invigorating boost during your busy day. Just spritz it over your face (it won’t ruin your makeup) whenever you need a quick and natural boost of energy!
18. Extra Hair Ties: Whether you want to quickly whip your hair up for a thrilling coaster or just want to get your hair out of your face after a long and sweaty day, having a few extra hair ties like these from Goody ($8) is always a good idea.
19. Sunscreen: Say goodbye to sticky sunscreen — you no longer have to compromise comfort in order to protect your skin from the harmful sun. Two reef-friendly sunscreens that we’re particularly fond of are the All Good Sport Sunscreen Stick ($16) and Bare Republic Mineral Sport Sunscreen Stick ($10). Don’t forget to pack sunscreen for your face and lips too!
20. Healthy Snacks: While theme parks are getting better at providing some healthy food and beverage options, it’s always a good idea to carry nutritious snacks and bars if you or your little one gets hungry in line for a ride or attraction. Pack a few RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bars ($25 for 12 bars) and some fresh fruit so you never have to deal with a growling stomach.
21. Just-in-Case Bag: “Most theme parks have locker rentals, so if you have little ones, pack extra clothes, diapers, food, and formula, and store it in the locker,” writes Dr. Carrie Burrows, who is an experienced member of the Disney Parks Mom Panel. Even if you don’t have children, you could still store an extra bag with a change of clothes, a full lunch, and any heavier personal items in a theme park locker if you’re worried about lugging around a hefty backpack. (Photo via Getty)
Are you planning on going to a theme park this summer? What are your must-haves to bring? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.
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(Featured photo via Getty)