|EVERYTHING ON THE LIST IS IN THIS KNAPSACK|
1 FAMILY, 1 DAY, 1 THEME PARK, AND 1 KNAPSACK:
No one wants to lug around tons of bags and items on a day of family fun at a theme park. Neither do you want to spend a fortune on stuff you forgot, or have the day ruined by not having the basic essentials you need. Given the financial investment a day at a theme park is for a family of four (easily $200-$300 just for admission) a bit of planning and packing expertise is so important to ensure you get the most out your adventure. Here is my best advice after 16 years of packing for the 50+ theme park visits to at least 10 different theme parks, on how to make your experience magical.
Take a minute to download the theme park maps, and attractions. Make a plan about what the must do rides and attractions are, and how they can be visited in an order that avoids multiple cross park walks. Disney World's Magic Kingdom is 107 acres, and Animal Kingdom covers 500 acres according to About.com Family Vacations. A plan will help to ensure even with wait times you get so see and do all the top attractions on your list. In the case of Disney be sure to look into, understand, and use the Fast Pass option. Also many parks open early or late to visitors staying in one of their resorts or hotels. Check the weather, and the UV rating for the day! Bring sunscreen and hats!!!
Given the acreage of these parks wear a pair of comfortable shoes you can walk in for 8 - 10 hours! In my opinion that does not include flip flops. After years of searching for the perfect park shoe, I noticed in the last 3 years that about 75% of people were wearing Nike Free Run shoes. So I bought myself a pair (or two), as well as a pair for my son, and husband, and indeed they are the best shoes I have ever owned for a day of walking around a theme park. Highly recommend them!
Okay, what goes in the knapsack:
The Must Haves:
- 4x hats (one for everyone).
- 4x long sleeved shirts (one for everyone). These are great in the evening, in the air conditioning, to block the sun, and act as an extra shirt, should your t-shirt get wet on a ride.
- 2x hoodies (one in kids size and one adult size so they can be shared).
- 2x spare t-shirts (one in kids size and one in adult size so they can be shared) Pack in ziplock bag so wet t-shirts can be stored in that same bag in the knapsack).
- 2x spare pairs of socks (in sizes that can be shared).
- 2x green garbage bags (they can double as a rain poncho, and keep your knapsack, or seat dry on water rides).
- a couple of ziplock bags for wallets, etc when on water rides.
- 4x dollarstore rain ponchos (you will pay as much as $7 each at the park).
- 4x bottle of water (refill them at the fountain throughout the day) You WILL need to hydrate, and this can get very expensive without a water bottle. Everyone carries their own using a bottle clip or lanyard.
- 4x bottle clips so everyone can easily carry their own bottles or empty ones can be clipped onto the knapsack.
- 4x sunglasses and strings so they can hang from your neck.
- Emergency kit: safety pins, bandages, wipes, kleenex, lipbalm, pair of shoelaces (can double as a belt), foam earplugs, luggage tags (to use as ID and Emergency Contact Info Tags and Cards for kids), pen, cell phone charging cord, earbuds, Gravol, Tylenol or Advil.
- Camera and or Cell Phone (Note: Disney has free wi-fi everywhere in the parks, and a cell phone game can make long wait times go by much faster. Also Disney has an app with all sorts of great park information).
- Granola bars, a few snacks, and single serve flavour crystals to add to the water. (My kids have a fast metabolism and need to eat every few hours. These help to hold them over until we can sit down for a meal).
- Card Holder and Lanyard: convenient for Fast Pass tickets ($3 at Walmart, $8 in the park).
- Autograph Book and fancy Princess pen: $12 & $8 in the park, substantially cheaper at Walmart. (or have your kids make an autograph book to bring to the park).
- I always bring a collapsible folding bag like an Envirosac, or a cinch knapsack with me. (It makes carrying purchases that do not fit in the knapsack much easier).
In our family the adults have always taken turns carrying the knapsack, but since my kids are now teens, they are required to take turns too!
Yep, just me Cathy thinking about travel and theme parks.