disney-charactersYou already know to pack your camera and a pair of sensible shoes, but what else do you need to make the most of your stay at the Disneyland Resort in California? Here are some items I got right, and some I wish I had known about before our three-day weekend at the Happiest Place on Earth:

1.     Ponchos/umbrellas. Don’t let a little rain spoil your fun! For those unexpected showers, pack your own 2-person umbrella or disposable rain ponchos. You’ll pay $5 at Disneyland for your poncho (available at any retail shop counter on property) or, $20 for a 1-person umbrella. We learned the hard way.

2.     Leather tennis shoes. There are some wet rides at Disneyland, and always the chance for rain. To keep your footsies toasty and warm, avoid mesh tennis shoes. Learned this one the hard way too.

3.     Arch supports. You will need these if you plan to stroll back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure for three days. I recommend Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts. Worth every penny.

4.     sleepingbeautyStroller. Yes, you can rent them at Disneyland for $15/day, but why not bring your own lightweight collapsible one instead? You can gate check it at the airport where they’re also indespensible. Here’s a tip: buy a balloon of your child’s favorite character or in their favorite color and tie it to the stroller. It will help you identify your stroller among the sea of them in stroller parking areas.

5.     Blanket. Either pack your own, or buy one as a souvenir at the park. Ours’ came in handy to drape over our four-year-old in her stroller to block out all the noise and lights when she needed a nap, and to bundle up in when it got chilly at night. You can also use your blanket for sitting on to view the fireworks, Fantasmic or World of Color shows.

6.     Autograph books. It’s fun for the kids to collect signatures from all the Disney characters in their own souvenir autograph book. You can buy them at Disneyland, but if you buy ahead of time, you’ll be prepared for your very first encounter as soon as you enter the park or even before. We met Pluto while checking in at Disneyland Hotel and had lots of one-on-one time with him, but no autograph book on hand. And just inside the entrance of the park we met several other characters as well. Missed opportunities all. For something different, how about autographed t-shirts or pillowcase souvenirs using permanent marker? Bring a clip-board to making signing easier. And a fat pen is always appreciated by the characters because they usually only have three, fat fingers. 😉

7.     donald-duckLanyard wallet. Buy at Disneyland, or pack your own. Between your ID, Park Hopper Pass, PhotoPass, Fast Passes, Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel or Grand Californian Hotel room key card which give you Magic Morning Hours and double as debit cards throughout the park, a lanyard wallet serves as a very convenient way to keep these items quickly accessible. Especially when going between parks where you have to show your pass each time you pass through. For pin collectors, they’re a must.

Chris is a designer, WAHM and pilot’s wife living in Colorado. She writes as Standby Traveling Mom as well as at MamaBirdsBlog.com. Follow her on Twitter as @BirdBanter.