Having been to Disney World over 40 times, I have become a true packing pro.
As a travel planner at Wonderful Mouse Travela specialist in Disney destinations, I'm often asked what are the most important things to pack for a trip to the parks.
Read on for the essentials I always take and the things you can leave at home.
It's going to rain, so you'll be happier if you bring a sturdy poncho with you
If you've spent time in the Orlando area, you know it's likely to rain during your trip to Disney.
But don't let that spoil your fun. Put on a poncho and hit the parks.
You can also wear a poncho if you don't want to get wet on rides like Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids.
You will want a small but roomy bag for the parks
I have tried every type of bag you can think of while visiting the parks. My biggest tip is to bring something small to go with your essentials.
My husband's favorite is a shoulder bag, and I love a small backpack, purse or fanny pack.
You want something that's easy to put on and take off, small enough to walk around in, and roomy enough to not clutter your phone and necessities.
Travel size sunscreen and hand sanitizer are easier to carry in parks
If you are going to the parks, you want to travel light. I browse the travel section of my local store before each trip to make sure I have the basics: Sunscreen, hand sanitizer, aloe vera gel, disinfectant wipes, mini first aid kit, pain reliever and tissues.
I use all of these items on every trip, but the full size versions are too big and heavy to lug around the parks.
Disney gear and Minnie ears are non-negotiables
It's not a Disney trip without the typical Mickey or Minnie ears.
At this point I'm spoiled for choice based on different seasons, holidays and moods. My favorites are the rose gold Minnie ears, but I've been looking at the Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World for a while now.
I also pack one of my many Disney t-shirts for each day in the parks. We also always get a special matching family shirt for each trip.
I also make sure to keep my Disney jewelry, including my Pandora bracelet and Mickey earrings, neatly tucked away.
You'll need to use your phone a lot at Disney World, so portable chargers will save your life
Much of my daily schedule involves using the My Disney Experience app and Disney Genie mobile services. By mid-morning, I often notice my battery is running low.
A sturdy yet compact battery is a must, especially for those who like to open and close parks.
You don't want to miss the next flash booking or the opportunity to take the perfect photo.
I can't spend a day in the park without super comfortable, waterproof shoes.
Going to Disney requires a lot of walking – many days I hike over 10 miles. Also, my shoes can often get wet from the rain and frequent walks in the water.
I bring comfortable, quick-drying shoes to ensure my experience isn't marred by blisters or sore feet.
My husband always wears his Keen sandals, and I alternate between my Sanuks and Tevas.
I always pack stamps so we can send postcards from Magic Kingdom
My family has a tradition of sending a letter or postcard to someone back home from the parks.
You can always pick up souvenir postcards at the front desk of your resort. But it's more fun to put it in one of the four Main Street USA mailboxes in the Magic Kingdom.
Disney gift cards make budgeting easier at the parks
Disney gift cards can be used to pay for almost anything at Disney World, including meals, merchandise and resort fees.
Many outside retailers offer small discounts on purchases, so this is a great way to save some money on your vacation.
To limit extra spending, we give each of our kids a gift card for souvenirs at the beginning of the trip.
On the other hand, I never pack clothes for a Disney vacation.
Other than Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian Resort, none of the Disney restaurants expect anything more than casual attire.
I love this aspect of Disney World as there are wonderful restaurants with high-end cuisine that is still family friendly.
My husband and I usually put a nicer casual outfit in our suitcase when we decide we want to get a little fancier. But usually our clothes stay in the closet at home.
You don't need to bring your own bath towels or life jackets if you are staying on property
My clients often ask me if they should bring life jackets or towels so their children can enjoy the hotel pools.
Fortunately, all Disney resorts offer these items, so you can save space in your suitcase and leave them at home.
It's tempting to pack all your snacks, but it's easier to stock up when you arrive
It's good to have a few quick snacks on hand in your hotel room or park bag, but don't waste space in your suitcase. You can have your groceries delivered to your Disney resort.
Most national delivery services are available, or Garden Grocer is a local option. These supplies can be picked up for free in the lobby at Bell Services or Baggage Assistance.
But if you want them delivered directly to your room, you'll be charged a $6 fee.