I get asked quite frequently what exactly you should bring with you into the parks. I see a lot of people who bring way too much and struggle to maneuver through the crowds and tight paths as well as others who bring next to nothing and have to buy basics like water bottles or hats. For novices, especially, and for more seasoned visitors, these are some suggestions to help you pack and be prepared once you're inside Disneyland.
- Water bottle - It gets hot in California and you want to stay hydrated as much as possible. There are filtered water stations located at some restaurants (like the Mint Julep Bar and the Tomorrowland Terrace) but typical water fountains don't personally bother me at Disneyland. There's not much reason to purchase water in the parks as long as you carry a water bottle with you at all times.
- Sunscreen - Apply before you leave the hotel and bring some extra with you to reapply part-way through the day. Sunburns can happen quickly in Disneyland and can put a kink in your fun. I like to bring the kind that's in a stick because it's small and easy to apply when you want it.
- Sunglasses - This is pure convenience, but there's no reason to deal with the bright sun in your eyes if you can just bring some sunglasses and be more comfortable.
- Phone - Always have it on hand both for emergencies and to keep an eye on wait times, FastPasses, etc., on the Disneyland mobile app.
- Camera - If you have one separate from your phone, bring a camera so you can capture everything!
- Hat - I don't personally wear hats very often, but if you're a hat person then this is another great way to stay cool in the heat of the day and keep the sun out of your face. Or, on the other hand, you can simply show off your Disney side wearing your Mouse Ears!
- Charger - I always bring a portable charger with me and it's a life-saver. You can get one for about $20-$30 and have it with you when your phone battery starts to run low. It's ultimately a lot cheaper than the charging lockers you can rent inside the parks because you can use it over and over again. I've had mine for 3 years and it still works great.
- Autograph book - Bring an autograph book or anything else you'd like characters to sign and have it ready before you meet them. It's frustrating when you wait all that time and realize you have nothing for them to sign. Other ideas for characters to sign could include a hat, your map, or a picture. Oh, and if you're going to have something like this, make sure you also bring a pen.
- Snacks - Not interested in buying snacks in the parks? No problem! Bring some small snacks with you like granola bars, breakfast bars, popcorn, trail mix, fruit snacks, or anything. You could pack a whole lunch if you wanted to and could fit it in a small enough container.
- Umbrella/Jacket - Keep an eye on the weather each day you're there. If it looks like there's a chance it could rain or be a little colder than you'd like, go ahead and pack a small umbrella and/or light jacket into the parks. You may not need it, but it's better to be prepared just in case. You don't need anything large, small and simple will do.
- Change of clothes - There are rare instances where you may need to bring you or your children a change of clothes. If you're worried about walking around in wet clothes, the good news is that clothes usually dry very quickly in the California sun. For the most part, it's not necessary to bring extra clothes.
- Large purse - Having a small purse or satchel is a great idea, but if that bag is getting so large in can be a hindrance. The last thing you want is to make yourself wider with a large bag because that can make it difficult to get through crowds. If you need to carry that much stuff, consider instead carrying a backpack or drawstring bag which don't take up as much space.
- Excessive toys - Bringing a few toys for your kids into the parks is fine, but you don't need to bring so many that they take over your bags and strollers. Just bring a couple and they will be plenty occupied.
- iPads - iPads are big, bulky, and can be annoying to other guests. If you or your family need to play something to pass the time, your phone is more than enough. Also, people who video fireworks or other shows on their iPads block the view for a lot of other guests so stick with something smaller - like your phone.
- The kitchen sink - If you're bringing so much stuff that you can't fit it all in your bags or your strollers and you need to rent a locker, you've probably brought too much. Lockers can be expensive and you likely do not need everything you're trying to pack.
There are exceptions to all these guidelines, but overall these are good places to start. Families will likely bring more into the parks than other groups, but keep these points in mind as you pack and you'll be able to fit everything with you and not resort to a rented locker.