Living in Central Florida, we are blessed with the opportunity to visit theme parks often. Most years, we have annual passes for Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld Orlando, and LEGOLAND Florida. If not, we take advantage of special Florida resident deals that come out frequently throughout each year. After hundreds and hundreds of visits to various Florida theme parks, I’ve come up with what I think is a pretty complete list of things to buy before your Florida theme park visit.
I know this list seems big, and chances are you won’t need everything, but I promise you won’t go bankrupt getting what you need. Many of them you probably already own. Some of them can be found at the dollar store. And, they take up very little room in your backpack or suitcase. But, if you wait until you arrive at the theme park to get what you need, you’ll end up paying a lot more for the convenience. You’ll also waste valuable time trying to locate what you need instead of having fun with your family.
Buying the items you’ll need before you go will not only save you money, but will also make your visit safer, more comfortable, and more fun.
Florida is called the “Sunshine State” with good reason. It’s sunny, humid, and hot much of the year. If you’re visiting anytime between April and October, sunscreen is a must to protect your skin.
I’m a big fan of sunscreen sticks, which make it easy to apply without getting sunscreen all over your hands. Works well for squirmy kids, too! If you’re heading to one of Florida’s amazing beaches or water parks, then bring along sunscreen spray that can be applied to wet skin.
While most of the parks do have some opportunities to cool off in air conditioned rides, restaurants and shops, you’ll still find yourself spending a lot of time in the heat. Cooling towels are amazing at helping you stay cool. Just add water, wring out the excess, and they are ready to use.
In the heat of the summer, these are hard to find at the parks, so it’s best to pick up cooling towels for the whole family before you go.
Another great way to cool off is with a personal fan. You can buy all kinds of handheld fans. Some come with caribiners for clipping them to your bag or stroller. Others have lanyards to wear around your neck. Some personal fans have water bottles attached to create cooling mist. Whichever fan you choose, I guarantee it will make a huge difference while waiting in long outdoor lines.
You will save a ton of money on bottled water at the parks if you bring your own refillable water bottle. You’ll find water fountains all over the parks where you can refill your bottle. Insulated bottles are a little bit heavier to carry, but are wonderful for keeping your water cold on hot days.
At Disney parks, you can also get a cup of water for free at any of the counter service restaurants. We often order water with our meals, and then pour the leftover ice into our water bottles to cool down the water even more. You can also buy water bottles with fun designs on them for the kids.
Not only does Florida have hot, humid weather for much of the year, we also get frequent afternoon or evening thunderstorms. Downpours can be heavy and sudden at times. Most of the time, though, the rain doesn’t last too long.
If you don’t want to get soaked, pack some lightweight rain ponchos to wear. This will allow you to keep enjoying attractions instead of waiting it out inside a shop or restaurant. For younger kids, you might want to pack a lightweight rain jacket that doesn’t take up too much room. They’ll find it easier than wearing a poncho.
If you bring these items with you instead of buying when you get there, you’ll save a lot. Theme parks charge a lot for rain gear because they know people who didn’t prepare will pay the price!
Sanitizer and Hand Wipes
I’m a bit of a germaphobe, so I don’t go anywhere without hand sanitizer. But, we use it the most when we’re at theme parks where there are so many people touching railings, door handles, and safety bars. We always make sure we used it before we eat anything.
I also like to bring along wet hand wipes. I just pop a few in a Ziploc bag. You’ll be glad you brought them, too, once your kid has gotten ice cream or chocolate or cotton candy all over his or her face and you’re nowhere near the bathrooms!
These are great for keeping IDs, park tickets, credit cards, money, or any other little items handy. They are also a great place to wear your pins if you are visiting the Disney theme parks and plan on pin trading.
There are lots of lanyards for sale at the theme parks, but you’ll pay a lot for them than if you get them online or at a local store. Mickey and Friends lanyards and Star Wars lanyards are perfect for anyone in the family, but my favorite one to wear is a Harry Potter lanyard. Unfortunately, it does not come with an undetectable extension charm.
A power bank is a portable battery charger for your cell phone. This is a must-have if you’re spending the whole day at a theme park. You’ll end up using more phone battery power than you think, looking up wait times on the park app, checking your reservation times, or taking pictures or videos. It’s so frustrating to run out of battery power and miss out on capturing priceless memories or not be able to contact each other if you get separated for some reason. You can use a power bank to recharge your phone quickly and easily while you’re waiting in line or eating lunch.
If you’re taking your own stroller to the park, chances are there’ll be others there identical to yours. To find your stroller quickly in any stroller parking area, decorate it with stickers, lights, bandannas, keychains, colored duct tape, or anything else you can think of to make it stand out.
Just remember that your stroller will be out in the open, in the heat and sun, so choose carefully. You’ll want to pick decorations that won’t bleed color in the rain, damage your stroller, or have sentimental value, in case they are lost.
Theme parks are often very busy and crowded, and you’ll want to take precautions with younger children, just in case you get separated from each other. One of my favorite ways is by using ID wristbands. You write emergency information on the inside of the wristband and attach it to your child. If they get lost, your contact number is there for anyone who is assisting them.
Another option besides a wristband is an ID tattoo. If your toddler tends to be a runner, you may want to consider using a safety harness with a leash. It beats losing your little one in the crowd.
Most kids love to get characters’ autographs when they go to a theme park, especially the parks at Disney World. You’ll save a lot of money if you buy an autograph book before you go, instead of buying one when you get there. You can also make one with your kids out of construction paper or dollar store notebooks and stickers. Not only is it very inexpensive, but it gets everyone excited for the upcoming trip!
Don’t forget to bring a pen or Sharpie as well.
When the sun goes down, you’ll see glow sticks and light-up toys everywhere at the theme parks, especially at Disney World. You’ll save a good chunk of money by bringing your own glowing gadgets instead of buying them there. We usually pick up a pack of sticks, bracelets or necklaces at the party store before we go.
What are your must-have items when visiting a theme park?
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