Essential gear: 7 suggested items for a better theme park experience

in Disney, Merchandise, Travel, Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

Whether you are dropping in for the day as a local resident or visiting for several days from out of town, planning ahead for your next theme park visit can make it a much more enjoyable experience.

Bringing the right items and doing a bit of research can, at the very least, help avoid pitfalls to your trip.  ITM has put together a few tips and a list of suggested items essential to making the most of your adventure.

Plan Ahead

The best thing you can bring with you is a great attitude blended with patience and the knowledge gained from planning ahead.  Even for a short spontaneous day of play, understanding the lay of the land and the weather can be very helpful.

While it can be fun to just wing it, with the growing popularity of Central Florida’s theme parks, crowds are inevitable.  More guests can mean longer wait times and limited available dining options.  Making advance reservations and familiarizing yourself with the particular park’s layout can help save some time and frustration.

Fast Pass + (free at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando) or Express Pass (upcharge at Universal Orlando Resort) can definitely cut down on time spent in line. Various smartphone applications, in addition to helping with navigation, can show wait times and even book Fast Pass + times.

Sharon Kurland Hegedus of the “Your Mileage May Vary” (YMMV) travel blog offered a few tips on personal items to consider.  Both over the counter items (hand sanitizer, aspirin, ibuprofen, antacid, allergy pills, Imodium, and any other non-Rx medications you may need) and prescription medicine should be considered, especially if visiting for more than a few hours.

In addition to brilliantly beneficial general travel tips and anecdotes, YMMV also offers advice on what happens and what to do if you get sick at the park (“What to do if you get sick at Universal”) and helpful tips regarding overlooked prescriptions (“What Do You Do If You Forget Your Prescription Medications When Visiting Walt Disney World?”). She also suggested taking a Tide stain remover pen along just in case you may need to save your threads from any unfortunate food spills.

$5.69 Amazon

What else should you bring?

Again, a bit of planning ahead comes in handy.  Checking the local weather forecast for inclement weather conditions such as cooler winter days or scalding summer nights will help you decide what to wear and bring.

In addition to grabbing your camera (with extra batteries) and/or smartphone, here are some suggestions of essential gear for taming the temperatures, strolling in comfort, keeping clean, and more.

1. Chill Pad

Wet, squeeze out excess water and wear around the neck to keep cool during Florida’s annual “humidity festival” (also known as late spring, summer and fall).

$9.97 from Amazon

2. Portable Fan

Battery operated fans can help when the air is still and the humidity sets up sticky, sweaty sauna-like conditions.  Either battery operated or USB (tied to an external battery-see below) will help.

$12.99 Amazon

3. Disposable Ponchos

A running joke here in the Sunshine State says, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a couple hours.” This couldn’t be more accurate, especially during the summer.  Pop up showers, a result of rising heat, can often happen without warning. While purchasing a PVC poncho in the park is an option, carrying a disposable poncho in your bag or pocket can save money, time and comfort.

$11.80 (for 7) Amazon

4. Collapsible Umbrella

Another option, or addition, to combat the liquid sunshine (rain) is a handy collapsible umbrella – especially for days when rain is heavily forecast.  Grab one that’s built well to ensure more than one or two uses.

$17.98 Amazon

5. Hand Warmer/External Battery

On those days with a chill in the air, having this hand warmer is a nice comfort. The nice thing about this is it can be recharged and reused. Bonus: it is also a second source of power for your smartphone or tablet.

$16.99 Amazon

6. Insoles

A day at the theme park usually means a LOT of walking. Perhaps the best thing you can do for you and your feet is to give the gift of cushion to those overworked soles.  Tuck a good pair of insoles into those closed toed shoes (recommended to help avoid stubbed or stroller smashed toes).

$23.15-42.58 Amazon

7. External battery

Smartphones are a great tool for navigating and making plans in the theme parks, but they’re not much use when the battery dies.  A rechargeable, external power supply helps ensure that does not happen.

$25.99 Amazon

A bit of planning along with packing a few essentials, as suggested above, can help keep make your theme park memories happy ones.  Add in a good attitude along with good dose of patience and you are sure to have a great experience.

Source and images: Your Mileage May Vary, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Amazon, Michael Gavin

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