Your Disneyland purse, bag, daypack, or backpack is the most important thing you take to the park. What's inside it can mean the difference between having fun all day and a total meltdown.
The bag itself is also vital. And finding your perfect bag or backpack isn't easy. That's why I'm here to help. This article is based on visiting several times a year for nearly two decades, and making every mistake you can imagine. These tips may help you avoid some or most of them.
The Most Important Thing About Your Disneyland Bag
Even more important than the bag itself is what's inside it.
Keep your bag on the small side, and resist the urge to take too much. Before you decide what kind of bag to take to Disneyland and what to put in it, think about this: You'll walk about a mile for every hour you're in the park. Lugging too much weight around is simply exhausting. If you take a backpack that weighs 20 pounds (which is more common than you might think), you'll end up miserable and tired - and that's not much fun.
Instead, consider other ways to carry things. Put some of your items into pockets with Velcro closures or zippers. Take out everything out of your wallet that you don't need in the park: store discount cards, your gym pass, your work ID, and anything else that isn't essential.
If you can't resist bringing a lot with you, don't carry it around all day. Instead, rent a locker and stow it there. If you're park hopping, use the lockers in the entry plaza for easier access. Put your extra jacket in there, along with your change of clothes, spare socks, and other things you're taking "just in case."
There's a better way to handle your purchases. If you're staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, you can have your purchases sent directly to the hotel. Otherwise, you can ask where to leave your packages and then pick them up later near the entrance.
The Best Disneyland Bag or Backpack for You
If you can find a bag or backpack that has these characteristics, it will work well for you.
Get something you can hold onto. Otherwise, you could end up as embarrassed as the person who made the news (and not in a good way) when their ride got stuck for 45 minutes the other day when a passenger's purse flew out of her hands and became wedged.
How big? You can't take up an entire seat just for your bag. It will have to fit into the ride vehicle's seat-back pouch on a few rides. Indiana Jones has the smallest bag storage spot, which is just big enough for a medium-sized sling bag when it's half full.
What kind of bag is best? That depends on what you like. These are some of the things to think about when choosing your best daypack:
How many pockets? To get through security quickly, choose something with a few pockets that are easy to see into. Lots of compartments may sound like a good idea at first, but if you don’t remember what you put in them, it can slow you down all day. Instead, opt for fewer pockets and use Ziploc bags to keep things separate.
If you like a messenger bag, choose one without a flap for easier access. A bag with a few dividers will keep you from spending far too much time digging around in it for things.
Too Small... Too Big... Or Just Right
If you're a minimalist: Try a passport pouch, ID holder, or small wallet with a strap. That may be all you need. A wallet with a strap will be more secure than putting it in a pocket where it can fall out, as long as the strap is well made and secure. And it's easier to get into when you need something.
A lot of people recommend the small Baggalini crossbody bag, which has lots of pockets and zippers, room for cards, ID, and money. Although you don't need to worry much about theft at Disneyland, the similar Pacsafe crossbody bag has a strap that can't be cut and might be more useful all-around - even though it has fewer pockets.
Backpacks and fanny packs are commonly used, but they get in the way, and you have to remove them when you're boarding rides. To make them even more annoying, an adult carrying a full backpack could easily smack a shorter person in the face with it if they turn too quickly.
Some regular Disneyland visitors say they always take a backpack — but many of them are pushing a stroller and don't have to carry the weight all day. Others say backpacks are too hot, cumbersome, and annoying to have for rides.
Just Right: A medium-sized sling bag is — as Goldilocks might say — just right. You can move it to the front of your body when you get on rides, and they're easy to get into while walking.
The Most Important Thing to Put in Your Disneyland Bag
First-time visitors often make the mistake of sticking their tickets into a random pocket of their bag and then spend a few panicky moments trying to find it when they need to get a FASTPASS or hop over to the other park. Unless those tickets go into a pocket by themselves, they're also easy to lose, falling out when you take something else out of that same pocket.
Instead of all that panic-provoking risk, use a lanyard to stow your tickets. For something slightly less dorky-looking, get a luggage tag. You need one that has an open slot on the end so you can slip things in and out without removing the strap. Attach that to your bag and use it for tickets and FASTPASSES.
The same pocket-searching panic can happen if your ticket is on your mobile phone and you forget where you put it. When choosing your bag, pick one that has an easily accessible (but secure) exterior pocket for it.
Disneyland Rules and Policies about Bags and Backpacks
All bags you take into Disneyland are subject to search. When you go through the security check, they will ask you to open all zippers and pockets. They may use a stick to move things around inside to get a better look at what you have. The better organized your bag is, and the easier it is to get into, the sooner that will all be over.
Disneyland's policies say that suitcases, coolers, or backpacks larger than 18 inches by 25 inches by 37 inches are prohibited. So are bags with wheels of any size.
What Else To Take
You may be going to Disneyland for a day trip, and your backpack is all you need. If you're staying longer and need to know what to pack, check the girls' guide to what to pack for Disneyland.