Spending a day at a theme park, whether it be somewhere as iconic as Disney’s Magic Kingdom or Universal Islands of Adventure over in Orlando Florida, or something closer to home like Alton Towers, is unlike any other day out you might experience. Once you leave the car park you generally don’t have the opportunity to go back and grab anything; you won’t have time and it’s normally ages away. So in this post I am sharing theme park day pack essentials to help make sure you have everything you need but nothing that you don’t…
The Hulk, Universal Islands of Adventure.
The thing to remember about theme parks is that they are generally HUGE. Absolutely massive. Some of them are so big you can’t see everything in one day. And so packing sensibly is important. It’s like when you go out for a day to climb a big hill, you need to make sure you have everything you need but keep the size and weight as small as possible. Likening it to a hill climb isn’t that far off either – I know my legs ache as much after that as they do after a day at a theme park.
I should add that my essential suggestions for your theme park day pack are very much for the adult… I don’t generally travel with any kids and if I do their parents are normally there so they take care of the nappy bag or other kiddy essentials.
Theme Park Day Pack Essentials
1. I’ll start with the bag itself. I recommend taking a small rucksack with two shoulder straps for your day out at a theme park. This way you have somewhere to keep all your essential bits and bobs, plus a little extra room to spare, and it will sit on your back all day without causing your shoulders to ache. If you have a squishy bag like my old bag from Adidas, it fits in the bag slots on rides really easily too, so you don’t have to leave it with someone else or in a locker. This one of mine is old and worn out and I’ve been looking for a replacement, but I just can’t find one I like anywhere. I think it’s about 8-10 litres or so, and it’s the perfect size all of these things plus a thin waterproof coat if you want to take one.
2. I take a baseball cap when at a theme park for a couple of reasons. First, to stop me catching the sun, which I am prone to doing, and second to keep my hair in place when I’m on and off rides (especially the water rides). It also means I’m much less bothered if we get caught in a rain shower.
3. This little pouch has a few essential things in – paracetamol, lip balm, hand sanitiser, plasters and tissues, you know the sort of thing. I recommend using a small pouch or makeup bag like this (mine was free with some makeup), to keep all of these things together so I can easily find them rather than having to rummage through my bag, and it also means it’s very easy to swap bags over.
4. I don’t take my whole wallet when out at a theme park, I just don’t need all the membership and loyalty cards, so I generally have a small purse with my card and some ID (if you’re in the USA you might be asked for ID when using your credit card), along with a bit of cash. I’ll also have a small ziplock bag in my bits and bobs pouch in case I want to take my purse on a water ride outside of my bag (if I’m forced to place my bag in a locker).
5. Suncream is an absolute must when out for any day, but especially at a theme park. Even in the UK it’s important to use sun protection, and if you’re going on water rides you will need to make sure you have some with you to reapply once you’ve dried off.
6. Save money and the environment by taking a refillable water bottle with you. Keep yourself hydrated by using the water fountains found at most theme parks to refill your bottle rather than buying bottled water or sugary drinks.
7. Snacks! Even if you decide to spend your money on theme park fast food rather than taking sandwiches with you, taking a few snacks with you is a very good idea. I tend to have a couple of 9 Bar or similar in my bag at all times (whatever I’m doing), which help keep me from getting hangry (and from giving in to theme park snacks… mmmm funnel cake!).
8. Spending all day outside means sunglasses are an absolute must, especially if you’re in Florida. There is nothing flattering about squinting all the time and bright sunshine in the eyes almost always leaves me with a headache. Make sure you take the case so you can put them away when you’re on the fast rides so you don’t risk losing them.
9. I generally don’t bother with a separate camera when I’m at a theme park – I have done but now don’t want the extra weight or faff from an additional thing in my bag. But I do always have my phone, of course, and so will take a waterproof/rugged phone case with me so I can use it without worrying about getting it wet or dropping it. The one pictures is the Ghostek Atomik I took with me on my roadtrip this summer, it’s super easy to fit and does the job really well.
10. And finally, a note to help save your feet. Yes I know these aren’t going to go in your theme park day pack, but it’s probably the most important piece of advice in this blog post. Wear some comfortable shoes! With socks. It doesn’t have to be a pair of proper walking shoes like the Merrells pictured, a pair of trainers or Converse or similar will do, but make sure it’s something with a decent sole that you are used to wearing all day. Wearing socks with them will help prevent blisters and stop your feet getting too hot and sweaty. Don’t wear flip flops to a theme park and expect to have happy feet by lunchtime. Happy feet = happy mind.
That’s it. I don’t think you need anything else for a day out at a theme park. Unless you want to add in a waterproof coat of course, which depends on what the weather is doing wherever you are and if you want to protect your favourite t-shirt from getting soaked when on the log flume. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions below… what else do you take?
If you’re off to Florida and want some tips for enjoying Orlando as an adult, check out my Orlando for Adults post.