I am so thrilled to be writing for The Affordable Mouse. Each Tuesday and Thursday I will be sharing as many ideas and tips with you as I can. I decided that for my introductory piece, I would invite you into my home so I can share one of my biggest time-savers with you. It is a large plastic bin I keep up in one of my closets and I call it my Disney Trunk. The contents of this box have been very important to me over our last ten years of traveling to Disney World, so I am going to give you a private look inside.
All of the reusable items we take on our annual trips can be found in here. Since we are a family of 5, you might guess that there are five of each item in the box:
We each have a backpack made of lightweight but strong prolypropylene with a drawstring closure and straps. They weigh less than an ounce when empty and are 15” high by 13” wide. Each person carries one loaded with the items below needed for a day in the parks.
We pack our lunch in the mornings on the days we will eat in the parks. We usually pack a juice box, sandwich, bag of chips, fruit, snacks such as nuts, fruit rollups, etc. and maybe even a surprise special treat that I pull out in the morning. Whenever everyone decides they are ready to eat lunch, we can pick a couple of benches and people-watch while we have our lunch. An alternative would be to rent a locker and put all the lunchbags in it and then go to the front of the park when you are ready, but we like to just stop and drop.
We have lanyards to use during Extra Magic Hours (EMH), which is a special privilege for all Disney resort guests. Our lanyards each have a card holder attached for our key to the world (room key) which you must show at each ride during EMH. This saves us the time and trouble of taking out our key at each ride. We have even graduated to extra special ones with blinking lights so I always know where my family is if we accidentally get separated during nighttime EMH.
I purchase these at my local Dollar store a few weeks before our trip but always have extras in the box because we have been blessed with great weather during most of our trips. They are sold two for $1.00 and I usually buy 2 packs for each person. Since most of the time, we may have to use only 1, or at the most 2, we usually have some left over. We keep 2 ponchos in each backpack – one just in case the other breaks.
We use ziptop bags for a couple of reasons and every day we place two in each backpack. One holds our cell phone, camera and anything else we want to keep dry. The second is carried as an extra to put a wet poncho in, if necessary. We can also use the spare if we have any leftover chocolate anything from a meal so we can take it with us for a snack later. If you know me, you know I NEVER waste anything chocolate.
Cell phone pouches
Every person in my family has a cell phone, which I am sure you can understand since my kids range in age from 17 to 25. They can easily get dropped and broken if carried loose in a backpack, so each person has a soft cover pouch. The only time we use our cell phones at Disney is at night (during our chill time at the hotel) or to contact each other if we split up for a while. These pouches keep them from getting damaged hopping onto and off of rides all day. The only time we use these pouches is at Disney World so when we return home they get put right back into the trunk.
We have a carabiner with a water bottle holder ring for each person. Each of us carries a bottle of water in addition to the drink in our lunch kit. It can always be replenished at the drinking fountains around the parks and, don’t forget, you can also get FREE ice water at any of the quick service locations at any of the parks. We hook the carabiner to the drawstring cord at the top of our backpack.
I always take a spray can of air freshener with us. I am sure you can understand why. Five people (3 males and 2 females) sharing one bathroom — need I say more? Since we are there for only ten days, we usually have enough in the can for the next visit. I replenish this item as needed.
I have an over-the-door shoe organizer I like to use for the bathroom. The organizer has 6 rows of 4 “shoe” slots each. So, for five of us, each person gets a row. That is 4 large slots each to use for our personal bathroom necessities: deodorant, toothbrush, hair gel, hairspray, makeup, face cleanser, etc. It has been very handy to keep us organized since the resort bathroom areas are usually not equipped to handle such a large number of items and, especially, since I don’t want anyone to have to live out of a suitcase for 10 days. I use the bottom row for other items such as bandaids, pain and fever reducer, lotion, etc.
Body Glide/Monistat Soothing Care
These products are used to prevent and combat chafing (like on the inner thigh area). When my kids were young I went ahead and put it on them to keep them from having any discomfort from walking all day, getting wet on rides then taking a while to dry out, etc. We now take them just as a precaution but if we need it, we have it.
Germ-X, sunscreen, lipbalm
We have been carrying Germ-X with us for years, long before Disney installed the antibacterial soap dispensers. We still each carry one out of habit, as well as necessity. I know it is not necessary since the Disney installation but I am a moderate germaphobe so I will not even go there. I also keep sunscreen in my backpack as well as a lipbalm for each person, just in case.
Keeping all of these reusable items organized and in one place throughout the year keeps me from having to fumble around for them when our time finally arrives to go back to Disney World. About five weeks before the trip, I take out the box to see what needs to be replenished. As I was reviewing this article I had to laugh at the sound of having my grown kids put their phones in the pouches and keeping lipbalm in my bag for them. It sounds hilarious, especially when I think of my oldest son who now has his own mortgage, but the thing is that we have been doing it this way for so long that it’s just natural – and when the system works, why change it? Believe me, I don’t pack their suitcases for them and I don’t hold their hand on the way to the bus stop (even though I really miss that).
One thing we all agree on and are very thankful for is that during the Free Dining offer, we get to go to the parks without having to pack a lunch and sometimes we don’t even need to take the backpacks. Free Dining makes everything easy. But, when we are really watching the budget and there is no free dining, these items have saved us time, trouble and lots of money.
I sure hope this look into my Disney trunk will help to make your trip a little easier. Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas to share!
Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.