Pandemic Packing Tips for Your Disney Visit
Look, you all know how to pack for a vacation. However, 2020 and 2021 come with additional challenges.
So, I’m going to go back to basics today and remind you about the best Disney vacation packing tips along with several pandemic-related suggestions.
Let’s start with some essential sundries.
Friends, Florida weather is insane this year. The seas are angry, while the heat is extreme.
Orlando has reached a high temperature of at least 85 degrees every day since October 5th. I’m typing this on October 27th.
You will sweat while you’re at Walt Disney World, which you should consider when choosing outfits.
More importantly, you will need suntan lotion. Otherwise, you will burn.
I speak from experience when I say that sunburns are miserable when you’re at Disney.
And here’s the other half of that thought.
The number of tropical storms has exceeded the number of letters in the alphabet for only the second time ever.
We’re using Greek letters for potential hurricanes for the first time since 2005.
While storms have unfortunately pounded Texas and Louisiana, Florida hasn’t gotten it as bad.
Still, sudden weather changes happen more frequently in Orlando than at any point over the past 15 years.
So, you NEED an umbrella or rain slicker for your trip. Sudden flooding is a thing at the parks, with the occasional spot pooling several inches of water.
Speaking of which, you should pick your shoes based on these potential inclement weather issues.
Sometimes, I’ll notice a park guest wearing flip-flops as they stomp through a puddle of rainwater, and I’ll question their elementary school teachers.
I mean, wearing shoes with toe covering seems pretty obvious, right?
Realistically, you’ll want to wear tennis shoes, preferably ones that don’t get soggy in the rain (or a water ride).
My only other tip here, based on past mistakes I’ve made, is that you wear comfortable shoes you’ve broken in. New shoes will give you blisters, usually by the end of the first day.
Also, you may want to pack dress shoes, depending on what your party has planned for non-park time.
Once you reach Walt Disney World, you’ll discover hand sanitizer and handwashing stations all over the place.
During your travel to Orlando, you’ll probably find the same, as most businesses take the pandemic seriously.
Still, you don’t want to risk positioning yourself in a place where you don’t have hand sanitizer access.
So, you should pack two kinds of hand sanitizer. You’ll want the mini-bottles that you can quickly access and conveniently carry everywhere.
You should also take a full-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on your trip.
The Transportation Security Administration currently allows guests to pack up to a 12-ounce bottle. You can even store it in a carryon bag.
Once you’re traveling, use the big bottle to refill the small ones. That way, you always have a hand sanitizer supply in a convenient package.
I’ve said it here before, and I mean it. When we flew to Orlando in January, we already knew about the dangers of COVID-19.
So, we took disinfecting wipes and cleaned every surface we touched. And that was BEFORE the situation turned plaid.
We will take a full pack of disinfecting wipes plus a handy carry-size pouch, too. I strongly advise that you do the same.
Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that more stores have disinfecting wipes in stock than they did a few months ago.
I just searched and found plenty of stock at Wal-Mart and Amazon, along with a scarce supply at Target.
What I suggest is that you shop now, long before your trip.
If you find some in stock, buy them and stick them in your closet until you’re ready to pack. Otherwise, you’ll know to keep searching.
Disney has done a terrific job with cleaning high-touch surfaces. I’m less worried about the parks and resorts than I am about traveling to them.
Your mileage may vary. If you’re stressed, consider buying a pack of disposable gloves to bring, too.
Okay, this section and the previous two represent the obvious section. That doesn’t make them any less critical, though.
Disney enforces masks the way we wish that all of society did.
The parks have even posted signs indicating a simple fact. Anyone who takes a mask off should expect a cast member to ask them to leave.
You don’t want to be that person, which means you should pack some masks.
Since we just talked about the weather and sweat, I will add that you should pack enough for a multi-day stay.
You will NOT want to wear yesterday’s face covering today. In fact, you will probably want to take your early morning mask off by mid-day.
As such, I suggest that you buy a pack of disposable masks along with the fashionable ones you’ve picked up during the pandemic.
I plan to swap out masks every couple of hours that I’m at the park. You may find that obsessive, but I always plan for 100-degree weather.
I seem to get that in Orlando no matter what. So, I need more masks.
Since I cannot clean all the fashionable ones that I’m bringing, the disposable ones matter. They’ll keep my face clear of sweat.
Smartphone with Contactless Payment Enabled
I cannot stress this one enough. Disney has changed in 2020, mainly because it had to.
In past years, Disney emphasized Magic Bands as the primary form of payment, and that’s still true to an extent.
However, not every guest uses a Magic Band, and that causes problems during a pandemic.
So, Disney has finally accepted the ubiquity of smartphones and leaned into the technology.
We will remember 2020 as the year Disney embraced contactless phone payment. You can load Google Pay or Apple Pay on your phone.
Then, you can wave your magic technology in front of a payment machine, and voila! You’ve fed the money monster that demands payment!
This process isn’t easier or harder than a Magic Band. They’re about the same, really.
However, you don’t need to tap anything with your phone. That’s ideal during a pandemic.
So, before you leave your house, make sure that you’ve added a credit card to your phone’s payment app.
Contactless payment will make your life easier during your trip, and it’ll make transactions less stressful for cast members, too.
Of course, you may still prefer your Magic Band. Mine makes me feel more like I’m at Disney.
So, we ordered two sets of Magic Bands for this trip, almost by accident.
We did one a while ago when we initially scheduled our trip. Then, we moved up our arrival date by 24 hours, we ordered a second set.
This Magic Band package awaits us when we check-in at the resort. Ergo, we cannot pack it.
However, we have our other Magic Bands in hand and must remember to pack them. Otherwise, they’re no good to us.
Disney will change its Magic Band rules at the start of 2021. Resort guests will no longer receive them for free.
The current word is that Disney isn’t phasing Magic Bands out, although some cynics disagree.
Either way, Disney will emphasize smartphone apps more in 2021. But Magic Bands still rule for now. Don’t forget to pack yours!
Magical Express Paperwork (keep out extra items)
Disney has changed Magical Express during the pandemic. The company won’t risk the health of its cast members to procure your bags at the airport.
This precautionary measure makes perfect sense and also reinforces how much we take Magical Express for granted.
Still, you will want the bus ride that transports you from Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort.
On top of everything else, Magical Express saves you at least $40 for two-way transportation.
Otherwise, you would pay a ride-share service, a cab, or some other service to drive you to the hotel.
So, you’ll want to have your paperwork handy when you reach the Magical Express check-in kiosk.
For this reason, you should pack your Magical Express information somewhere you can reach it after your flight.
With this paper in hand, you’re all packed and ready to start your Disney vacation!