What’s Your Perfect Disney Parks Bag?

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on January 23, 2014 at 3:00 am with 39 Comments

Sometimes packing for a day in the Disney parks isn’t, well, a walk in the park.  If touring with littles, you may be traveling with a pack full of diapers, snacks, bottles, etc.  If traveling with a little princess, a couple of wardrobe changes may be necessary.  When perusing the parks with a photographer, you may be toting multiple lenses, a tripod and your trusty DSLR.  Whatever your needs, here are a few pros and cons to help you find that perfect Disney Parks bag.


The workhorse of all park bags, this classic choice is most often hoisted on mom or dad’s back and filled with every possible thing a family would need for the day.  Extra clothes, baby wipes (which I still carry even though my “baby” is now eight), snacks, autograph books and the family cam are all typical contents of the park pack.


The Pros

I love a hands-free bag!  Throw it on your shoulders, and you’re free to hold hands with the kiddos, snap some pics or carry your giant souvenir bucket of popcorn down Main Street USA.  After you eat all the popcorn, you can attach the bucket to your backpack!  Backpacks are also usually large enough to pack quite a bit, as well.  A nice choice if you have to take a small closet with you into the parks for lunch with the princesses.

The Cons

Of course, when packing that backpack full of Disney magic, it can get really heavy really quickly, which can be murder on your shoulders and back.  Bribe any other adults to take turns or consider two backpacks to spread the haul.  Also, be careful with those full backpacks!  I’ve seen many a child smacked in the head with a quick change of direction.


Drawstring backpacks are a nice, light option when you just plan to take a few things into the parks.


Get Park Wise: A backpack with lots of zippers and compartments may seem like a great idea at first, especially for those of us crazy organizers.  Just remember that each time you take that bad boy through bag check, you can and probably will be asked to open Every.  Single.  Pocket. Something to take into account when choosing your bag.

Messenger Bags

Offering differing sizes and a little more stylish than our other bags, this cross-body option is another popular choice, especially among the ladies.  This is what I carry in the parks, although I haven’t found my perfect one just yet.


The Pros

Again, hands-free!  Where this bag trumps the backpack for me is the easy access.  Instead of having to stop, take the bag off my shoulders and unzip the pockets to retrieve something, I can do it all on the go.  I just stick my hand in the bag as I’m walking since it’s sitting right there on my hip.  This is especially useful for carrying my camera (and my lip gloss!), as I can whip it out at a moment’s notice.


The Cons

Again, depending on what’s in your bag, a messenger can do a number on your neck or shoulder and leave you feeling a little unbalanced since it shifts the weight to one side.  Depending on your size, it can also be challenging to find a bag with a comfy fit.  Taking into account your height and/or weight, you’ll need to look for a bag with a long enough strap.


This is usually a mom choice.  An often open-top bag with enough room to put a small child and then throw it over your shoulder.  With gift shops almost constantly offering totes as their purchase with purchase offer, I see a ton of these around the parks.


The Pros

Easy access!  Since totes are often just one big compartment, you can just throw in your park map, junior’s extra clothes and a couple of bottles of water, and off you go.  They’re also usually pretty good-sized options, so you can put a lot in them.


The Cons

Although in theory, you can slip the bag on your shoulder and go, I always feel the need to keep a hand on the straps just in case it starts to slip off my shoulder.  Not so great if you have little hands to hold or if that Dole Whip is calling your name.  Face it, that’s a two-handed snack.  One of the pros is also a con.  The fact that you can throw everything into this bag quickly since it’s just one big pocket also means it can be difficult trying to find what you threw in there in the first place.


And the photographer just happened to catch my tote slipping off my shoulder.


Get Park Wise: Toting a tote through the parks?  Consider a few smaller bags inside to make finding things easier.  All the snacks in a zip top bag; sunscreen, sanitizer and wipes in a small cosmetic case, etc.

Fanny Pack

Pull your socks up, fix your sandals, adjust your Aloha shirt and strap on this little genius!  Fanny packs may get some grief, but they can actually be pretty useful.  Not that I know from personal experience.  ;)

The Pros

Could not be more convenient!  Hands-free, no way to to over pack it, perfectly located.  Cash, cards, a point and shoot camera and a dream fit right on your waist.  Since it’s stuck to your body, there’s very little chance of walking off and leaving it sitting on a park bench, and I bet no thieves are going to try and pilfer your pack, either.


The Cons

Well, yeah, it’s dorky.  But, remember, we’re at Disney and embracing the geekiness, right?  The size may also be a deterrent for some park goers.  I simply need more storage space, so that’s the only reason I won’t be donning a fanny pack any time soon.  Yep.

What do you carry in the parks?  Or maybe you just rely on what you can stuff in your pockets?  Let’s hear it!

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • QPerth

    What a great little article!! On our last Disney Park visit, 5 days in Disneyland Paris during deliciously cold February, I used a Messenger Bag, a little bit smaller than the size of the Poster Art of the Disney Parks book. One flap held with a button, 2 large zippered compartments insided, a small buttoned pocket for camera under that main flap, and an easy access zipper pocket on it’s back. Held our Park guides, umbrella, wallets, phones, camera, and reservation notes. It was great!

    Debating whether to use the same Messenger bag on our next Disney Park visit, or use the nice Disneyland Paris blue backpack I bought while on that trip. To be honest, I think I’ll stick with the non/Disney messenger. One strap and easy side access is hard to be beat!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      I love a messenger bag!! It’s the quick access that sells me every time!