I have mixed feelings about hats. On one hand, it's great to protect your head and face from the sun - that's very important! However, you need to bear in mind what kind of photographs you want of yourself while visiting Disney. I KNOW how vain this sounds! However, if you want pictures of you with your cute-dressed kids, you might not want to be baseball-capping it. Again - this is TOTALLY personal preference! Some people love the low-maintenence act of throwing on a baseball cap and not having to worry about hair. I am just not one of those people.
I personally do not believe that you need to join the ranks of the socks-with-sandals, crazed tourists who wear the ultimate awkward accessory: THE FANNY PACK. Now, if you are a Fanny Packer, please withold your defensive statements. I totally understand the ease and security with which you carry your Fanny. However, I believe that a backpack is a great way to hold your necessities, especially with kids. Also, if you want a smaller option, a travel bag with a shoulder strap is great. You just need an easy way to carry your items, which I will list below.
Here are some items that we always carry in our backpack:
- PONCHOS. The Disney ones are expensive, and in the summer you are pretty much guaranteed some rain. Usually they are relatively light, sporadic showers, but you need to have something to cover with so you can keep going. Don't be one of those families that cowers when it rains! You can take advantage of the time when other guests are having to duck into The Emporium to buy their gear.
- LIGHT SNACKS are great to have, especially with kids! We stick in a few breakfast bars, fruit snacks, or small plastic baggies filled with Goldfish. At this time, Disney is still pretty loose with their food policy. It's wise to be prepared should the need arise, and it can also save you money!
- SUNSCREEN is vital! Cover everything - and don't forget your ears! The quickest way to kill a vacation (anywhere, not just Disney World) is a sunburn. Keep it with you and apply it often. Another great item is a sunscreen stick, which is great for lips and quick reapplications.
- TYPE ALL OF YOUR DINING RESERVATIONS, including what times and the confirmation numbers, to keep handy in your backpack. It helps so much to have all of the information on one piece of paper. Also, should there be an issue with a reservation (and there rarely is), it's a lot easier to pull out that paper, rather than having to look it up on your phone.
- REFILLABLE, FILTERED WATER BOTTLES can save you a lot of money! Just fill them up at the water fountains throughout the park.
- PLASTIC SACKS to wear around your shoes for water rides are a great thing to have. It's a small step that will save a lot of uncomfortable walking! Put the whole bag around your foot, and tuck it up into your socks. You could even bring hair rubber bands to secure the bags.
Something I DON'T think you should have in your backpack is your camera. Use the shoulder strap (you should have one, or buy one) and wear it around your neck/shoulders at all times. I experienced having my camera lost/stolen at Disney, and it's devastating. I carried it in my backpack or around my neck at all times, and the split second it wasn't around my neck, it was gone. We still don't know what happened to it, but you can never be too careful! Keep your camera around your neck/shoulders AT ALL TIMES!
SHOES are a vital choice when you will be doing a LOT of walking. I always recommend tennis shoes first, worn with socks. Use duct tape for blisters (it won't sweat off). I've seen a ton of people use flip flops, and this is a personal choice. I've found that even the Old Navy-style flip flops can rub a blister and they also offer no arch support. You NEED arch support! Again, if you're wanting to go the non-tennis shoe route, break in your desired shoes well before you trip!
PERSONAL FANS and things of that nature can be useful if you find yourself stuck in a long line. Hopefully you're following a Touring Plan and won't find yourself in such a situation!
As far as clothing goes, I think it's important to wear shorts or a tennis skirt (formerly known as a "skort" in the height of its fashion popularity) in a material that won't rub or chafe your legs. This is SO IMPORTANT! Also bear in mind that materials can change when wet (Splash Mountain, anyone?). If you're in doubt, wear the shorts in question and go walking for about 20 miles. I kid; you don't need to walk THAT much, but wouldn't you rather have a trial run of a couple of miles or so before you do the real deal? The bonus is that it helps get your body ready for all of the walking! If I were to go in the summer, I would choose an athletic short or tennis skirt. I tend to shy away from denim, but some people can handle it just fine. Again, this is why I recommend a test run!
Wear cool, breathable shirts. I think that's self-explanatory!
As far as the kids go, you also want to watch for shorts that could rub or chafe. If you go the cute "pillowcase dress" route, make sure your daughter wears shorts underneath. There are a lot of cute cotton shirts that can be personalized for a Disney vacation on Etsy.
There are obviously more items that could complete your packing list, but this should give you a good start! as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask!