When visiting a Disney Park, having the items you may need to use or simply want to have with you is not only important, it can make or break your day. Just imagine the immense disappointment of a family, in the middle of a magical moment in front of Cinderella Castle, discovering the camera was been left behind in the room, and no mom of an infant of toddler wants to open her park bag just to discover that the diapers and wipes were forgotten. Furthermore, when it is pouring rain at the park, it can be pretty irritating to have to seek out and purchase a premium poncho because the less expensive version did not quite fit in the bag. (Hey, let’s face it that is valuable snacking money!) All of these frustrations can be avoided by selecting and properly filling the very best park bag for your needs.
It is difficult to create a narrowed “top” list of park bags because such a ranking is dependent on the requirements of each individual or family. Nevertheless, it is possible to highlight some tips to consider when selecting the perfect pack. In an effort to offer many varying perspectives, I asked several members of the WDW Radio Blog for their advice and suggestions on which bag to carry and why.
Tip #1 – Select the Brand that Best Meets Your Needs
Consider which brand of bag offers features that appeal to you such as security, space, fabric durability, waterproofing, comfort, etc. Here are three popular brands and the benefits of each:
I have carried the same bag on my last six trips to Walt Disney World. What makes Travelon my brand of choice? First, it holds up. My bag looks the same today as it did the day I took it out of the box. Second, it looks small, but I am pretty sure it works like Mary Poppins’ bag. My husband cracks up at the parks as I continue to pull things out of this little bag. Third, it is completely secure. Travelon’s fabric is made with built-in RFID technology, and it includes several carabiners and clips that can be used to secure the bag. Fourth, the sling-style makes it easy to remove on rides, and it is small enough to stow in most of the on-ride storage areas.
My husband likes to make use of a CamelBak while visiting the parks. For those who don’t know, CamelBak backpacks have a “hydration pack.” This means they have a large water reservoir inside that is attached to a tube and mouthpiece outside the pack. Basically, a CamelBak turns you into a camel, and in the Florida heat, that hydration pack is fantastic. Most of this brand’s bags also feature pockets for additional storage. WDW Radio blogger, Joshua also recommends Camelbak backpacks, “We bring a Camelbak that way we always have water, and I can throw some snacks in for the kids.”
If you are looking for a lightweight bag that allows for a large amount of storage, Vera Bradley’s cotton, quilted bags are perfect. A few years ago, the Indiana-based company partnered with Disney to create several Mickey and Minnie themed patterns, and they recently opened a location at Disney Springs. WDW Radio Blogger, Elysabeth says, “I have been bringing my Vera Bradley backpack lately. It’s easy to machine wash, and it doubles as a cushion for my back when I find that perfect parade watching spot on the sidewalk.”
Tip #2 – Select the Style that Best Meets Your Needs
What makes a backpack great (lots of storage), can also be its greatest downfall (too heavy), but if you have a long list of necessary items for your visit to the parks, it really is the top choice. Having straps to throw over both shoulders best distributes the weight for the duration of your day. When it comes to backpacks, our bloggers had one very good tip and several specific suggestions.
- Blake brings up a very important point when it comes to park security, “I recently bought a backpack with WDW security in mind…It’s MUCH faster to go through bag check with a bag that only has one zipper versus a million small compartments.”
- Vanessa loves her Rick Steves Day Pack because it is made of “very light, durable fabric” and the “straps are soft and comfy all day.” (Pictured top-right)
- Kathy chooses her Marmot Urban Hauler (combination backpack/duffle bag) to carry her camera and lenses because she says it is “easy to use, more comfortable on [her] back, and easy for WDW security.”
- Erin has recently purchased an Alice in Wonderland mini-backpack from Loungefly that allows for a fair amount of room, and keeps her hands-free.
- Felicia prefers to show-off her love of Disney with her Walt Disney World backpack purchased at the Emporium.
- Kristin recommends her LL Bean Traveler Backpack because it is ” lightweight, heavy duty and expandable (and waterproof!)” and it has “mini carabiners for attaching keys, hand sanitizer, etc.” (Pictured bottom-right)
If your storage needs require less than what a backpack has to offer, a sling bag may be the perfect option. This single-strap pack has the advantage of being easier to put on and take off while boarding and exiting attractions. However, keep in mind that all of the weight rests on one shoulder and/or the side of your neck, so be sure not to treat a sling bag as if it were a backpack. WDW Radio blogger (and momma to a toddler), Alyssa loves her Thirty-One Sling-Back Bag that allows her to pack everything (see photo below-right) that a momma and toddler require.
While the 80s and 90s are clearly past, fanny packs (or waist packs as they are called today) live on because of their easy hands-free storage. If your space needs are minimal, a waist pack is definitely worth considering because it does not have to be removed while riding attractions. These small, on-board bags are also the go-to for anyone participating in runDisney events.
Perhaps your park needs require nothing more than your iPhone and a MagicBand, but if you are an avid pin trader, there is a bag you should consider. WDW Radio blogger Zack Kaplan carries his pin bag that he says allows him to “carry way more pins to trade than a lanyard.” These padded bags are available in the parks and contain soft double-sided “pages” to display pins. Most have an adjustable cross-body strap and an extra storage pocket.
Tip #3 – Prepare Your Bag
Select a bag in advance of your trip and do a “test pack.” Literally, fill it with everything you think you will require for a visit to the parks. This process is beneficial for three reasons. First, a test pack will aid you in determining if the size, style, and functionality of the bag you have selected is adequate to meet your needs. Second, a trial run will aid you in choosing items that are most important and which ones can be left out. Third, seeing where things fit, and then repeating that process once at Walt Disney World will make it easy to recognize if something is missing before you leave for the park(s).
Minimize park bag mishaps and frustrations by selecting the best brand, choosing the right style and performing a “test pack.”
(Photos from the personal collections of the author, Kristin Fuhrmann-Simmons, Vanessa Prince, Alyssa Wiseman and Zack Kaplan.)
Kendall is an editor and contributing writer for WDW Radio. She began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. Her home-away-from-home is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and she believes a perfect day at WDW includes a dip in the Lava Pool, a ride on Splash Mountain and a Pineapple Dole Whip. Follow her on Twitter @kl_foreman.