Flying to Disney World: Carry-on Essentials

Going on a vacation can be a real bittersweet experience at times; you are excited to go, but you are not necessarily thrilled about the “getting there” part of the trip.  When the trip requires flying, this feeling can be even more overwhelming, as you decide what gets packed in which bag, how much to pack and how heavy your bags are.

Disney offers a service called Magical Express which makes getting to and from Orlando International Airport easier and cheaper (it’s free) than taking a cab; however, it doesn’t come without its caveats.  For one thing, your checked luggage won’t show up to your resort until a few hours after you do, so depending on your plans, you need to think very carefully about what is going into your carry-on bags. Here are some suggestions:

1. Extra clothes
We commonly pack an extra set of clothes for each person in the family whenever we fly anywhere, in case our checked luggage is lost in transit.  This may be particularly important if the clothes you are flying in are not suitable for a day in a theme park.

2. Sunblock
It’s important to wear sunblock while visiting the parks, but you can’t throw your entire bottle of it into your checked bags, due to the liquids rules while flying.  Make sure you fill a couple of airline-acceptable containers with enough sunblock for the whole family.

3. Swimsuits
Some families prefer to spend their first day at the resort pool.  This is a great way to ease into your vacation without burning one of your theme park tickets on a partial day.  Just make sure you pack your suits in the carry-on, so you can hit the pool right away!

4. Snacks/Entertainment/Chargers
These are items most people typically pack for any flight; just make sure your devices are charged up before the flight.

5. Sunglasses
A lot of our flights leave out of our home airport early in the morning, so we aren’t necessarily wearing our sunglasses when we leave the house.  Make sure you pack them in your carry-on, so you’ll have them when you need them upon arrival in Orlando.

6. Pins/Vinylmations
If your first day plans involve going somewhere that includes pin- or vinylmation-trading, make sure you have your traders with you.

7. Guide books/Itinerary
Even as smartphones take over as the go-to resource for accessing your vacation plans, we would still recommend a hard copy of your essential information – reservation numbers, times, etc.


8. MagicBands
This is a new one, but we will all soon get used to the common reminder: Don’t forget to pack your MagicBands in your carry-on!
MagicBands are the focal point of Disney’s Next Generation initiative, and they are being rolled out across property as you read this.  They are bracelets that replace your room key, theme park keys and credit card.  When you book a Disney vacation, you can personalize a MagicBand for each member of your party, and they are sent to your house ahead of your trip.  This is a fun and exciting package to receive in the mail as you are counting down the days until your vacation; but you have to remember to pack them! Furthermore, they should go in your carry-on so you can begin using them as soon as you get to the resort.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive; we each have our own items that we can’t travel without. But, if you include these things in your carry-on, you likely won’t feel like you forgot something when you are checked into your Disney resort and are ready to start your vacation!

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