Time to hit your favorite amusement park or the big daddy of them all, Disneyland.
It’s also time to figure out how to carry all your stuff around the park.
In this post, I’ll break down:
- what you need to look for in a backpack
- the best backpacks you can choose, depending on your situation
- what you need to carry for a day at the park
- and the rules for bringing a backpack into Disneyland, Disney World, or other popular parks.
In a hurry to get in line for Space Mountain and don’t have time to read the whole post? Check out my top backpack pick, the Under Armour Storm Hustle, over at Amazon now.
Best Overall Amusement Park Pack: Under Armour Storm Hustle backpackBuy on Amazon
This backpack from Under Armour meets all of my qualifications for a great amusement park backpack.
- It’s super lightweight, clocking in at only 1.3 pounds
- It has good-sized main compartments capable of carrying all your stuff without too much fussy organization
- Water resistant material and “UA Storm” tech keeps your stuff dry if the weather turns bad
- It’s got 2 external water bottle holders to keep you hydrated (once you buy those expensive in-park water bottles…)
- “Heatgear” shoulder straps keep your shoulders cool and dry, while the padding keeps you comfortable carrying it around
You can even carry by the top handle if you want. If you need to bring a tablet with you, that’ll be protected in the built-in soft-lined sleeve. It comes in a variety of colors, too, to fit your individual style.
Overall, it’s just a great back for a day at the amusement park.
Best for families with young kids: Ju Ju Be “Be Right Back” Diaper BackpackBuy on Amazon
Looking for fashionable and functional?
If you’ve got young children that require the flexibility of a full-on diaper bag, this great pack from Ju Ju Be is perfect for you.
Plus, it’s super stylish and comes in a number of trendy patterns.
The “Be Right Back” pack has lots of great features for a Disneyland trip:
- It’s made of teflon material to avoid any stains (from the park or the baby)
- It opens up like a suitcase for easy packing and super simple access to everything inside
- 2 exterior bottle pockets are super convenient for a milk/formula bottle for them and a water bottle for you
- Also has a quick-access cell phone pocket
- Memory foam changing pad included for more comfort than those bathroom changing stalls provide
- Breathable back panel made of mesh to avoid uncomfortable sweating
Super functional and perfect for a day at the park, this bag from Ju Ju Be has everything a new family needs.
Best for keeping your stuff safe: Bobby, the anti-theft backpackBuy on Amazon
Carrying anything valuable?
Worried that someone will try to take your stuff?
It’s got a ton of features that keep everything inside of the backpack safe from potential thieves. For example,
- All of the backpack’s zippers are hidden, so no one can access the inside while you’re standing in line or paying attention to the fun
- It’s got hidden side zippers that you can get to while wearing it, but thieves can’t
- The backpack’s lining is shock-proof, cut-proof, and essentially thief-proof
- It’s got water repellent material, which will keep your stuff dry long enough to find shelter
Bobby’s also got a great minimalist design, so you’ll be the hippest family at the amusement park. You can keep your phone charged for emergencies, as well, with the built-in power bank holder (don’t forget to buy the power bank while you’re at it).
If you’re in a situation where there’s a threat of people stealing your things, or you need to commute through the city on your way to the park, the Bobby is a great choice for you.
Best for staying organized: 5.11 Rush12 Tactical BackpackBuy on Amazon
I know, I know:
I said not to think too much about staying organized.
Some of you won’t care about that piece of advice, opting for a well-organized bag.
Maybe your particular amusement park isn’t very picky about security, or you don’t mind a little extra wait for the convenience of knowing where everything is at all times.
Not too big, and only weighs a pound, but packs a ton of pockets for superior organization.
This tactical backpack features:
- A large main storage area for sweaters, rain gear, and other bulkier items
- 16 individual storage pockets for keeping things separate for easy access
- Fleece-lined special pocket for glasses (keep those sunglasses safe)
- Water resistant nylon material to keep everything inside dry
- Adjustable compression straps
- Available in 4 different colors/patterns
For the extra-organized park-goer, this bag’s got it all. Super durable, yet extremely functional for a day at Disney World.
Best lightweight bag: Under Armour Undeniable SackpackBuy on Amazon
Looking for something minimal and light?
Depending on your situation, a drawstring “sackpack” might be the best choice.
If you just need a pack to throw sunscreen, a water bottle, and a sweater for the evening into, you don’t need anything as big and complex as the other bags here.
It goes a bit beyond simpler drawstring bags, featuring a few front and side pockets, while retaining the simplicity of essentially being a giant bag that straps to your back.
The bag itself only weighs just over 8 ounces, meaning it’ll be easier to lug around all day than a standard backpack.
However, the straps aren’t going to be as comfortable, since they’re pieces of cord rather than padded straps.
If you’re not carrying much, this is a great choice. Though if what you’re carrying is going to have any significant weight, you may want to opt for a more traditional backpack form factor.
Best for going solo: Peak Everyday slingBuy on Amazon
Hitting the park alone or with friends?
You most likely don’t need a giant bag to carry stuff for multiple people, then.
With a convenient cross-body form factor and sleek minimalist looks, the Everyday Sling is a great choice for carrying your theme park essentials for one.
Keep a sweater, sunscreen, sunglasses, and other gear close and easily accessible, while avoiding the need to have a two-strap backpack weighing you down.
You can even keep a tablet (up to 11”) in the padded tablet sleeve. Though I’m not a huge fan of bringing devices like that to a park (maybe I’m old school).
Plus, the strap is easily adjustable with one hand, and you can use built-in dividers to customize your storage and organization. A simple bag like this will have you through security fast and quickly hitting those rides (or lines).
Obviously, if you need to carry lots of stuff for a family or even just yourself, a smaller bag like this isn’t the right solution. But for those with a minimal park carry, it’s a perfect fit.
What to look for in the perfect amusement park backpack
We’ve all been there:
You’re trying to have a fun day at Disneyland, but you’ve got a super heavy pack on your back.
When you try to find the sunscreen, you spend 5 minutes digging through a bunch of unnecessary nonsense while you and your kids are getting sunburned.
The sun keeps beating down on you, the straps get sweaty, and your back starts hurting – you wonder why you brought the thing in the first place!
It doesn’t have to be this way.
When setting out for a full day at an amusement park, Rule #1 is that you’ve got to have the right equipment.
This all starts with the backpack.
(we’ll get to filling it up with the right gear later on in the post)
For me, the three things I look for in an amusement park backpack are:
Size: Big enough to carry what you need, but not too big.
Comfort: It’s got to sit well on your back, and have straps that won’t make your shoulders and back sweat all day
Weight: You’re carrying this thing all day – you don’t want it to be too heavy
Now, you might be thinking – what about pockets and organization?
Pockets are overrated, when it comes to a day pack for amusement parks. You’re going to be searched on the way into the park.
This means they’re going to look in every pocket.
If you’ve got your stuff meticulously organized between dozens of interior pockets, this could delay your entry (or reentry) into the park. Delayed entry equals crying kids and annoyed adults.
And you haven’t even gotten INTO the park yet!
One other important factor, depending on your particular weather conditions, is water resistance. If you are suddenly faced with a rainstorm at the park, you want your extra clothes and other stuff inside the bag to stay dry.
Lastly, it’s important to be aware of the rules for backpacks at Disneyland:
- Nothing with wheels
- Nothing larger than 18″ wide x 25″ high x 37″ deep, which is the size of the lockers at Disney
You’ll find similar rules at other amusement parks, as well.
Now that we’ve looked at our general requirements, let’s check out the bags.
Amusement Park and Disney World/Disneyland Packing List
Let’s face it:
People have a tendency to over-pack when taking a day to explore Disney or an amusement park.
It makes sense:
You’re away from home, essentially trapped in a place where the prices make airports seem reasonable.
But being weighed down by a ton of stuff you may not even use can be a real bummer.
I tend to fall on the side of enjoyment rather than preparedness.
That’s not to say that if you or your family members have a particular medical or other need, you shouldn’t be ready. Bring the epi-pen, the wheelchair, or anything else that’s necessary.
But if there isn’t a pressing need, let’s try to lighten the load.
iPad for the kids when they get bored? Leave that crap at home. They’re at DISNEY (or another fun park).
Try to think back to when you were a kid, before iPads. It’s time to use our imaginations to play games and have fun without heavy (and expensive) electronics bringing you down.
For those looking to streamline their amusement park carry, here’s my list of essentials:
- Filter water bottle (to refill at the water fountains)
- Handheld battery-powered fan
- Portable power bank for phones
- Rain ponchos for each person
- Sweater/blanket for when it gets cold at night (if applicable)
- Sun hats/sunglasses
- Small pack of toilet paper/wipes (just in case)
- Small first aid kid
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Snacks (nothing too heavy though)
- Chilly pad/Cooling pad
You simply wet them and wring them out, then you’ve got a cool towel to keep your temperature under control.
A perfect thing for when you’re in a hot line for hours!
Looking for more in-depth packing info, including packing for a full-on vacation? Check out this video below:
What not to bring
Not so fast!
Don’t go to the park yet. We need to study up on what not to carry with you to the park.
While each park is different (we’ll get to that in a second), there are some general rules for what to avoid packing:
- Skates, skateboards, scooters, and other similar things (except wheelchairs)
- Weapons (this should be obvious)
- Things that look like weapons, even toys (less obvious, but still pretty obvious)
Additionally, you should check with the specific park you’re going to to make sure everything you’re bringing is permitted.
Here are some popular ones:
- Disney Parks
- Six Flags (Magic Mountain, but other parks’ policies can be found on the same site and are very similar)
- Cedar Point
- Hershey Park
- Universal Studios
Keep an eye on the park’s policies before you start packing, and you should be good to go!
Wrapping it up
Hopefully this article has helped you decide on a great backpack to take to the amusement park this summer. The Under Armour Storm Hustle is a great overall choice for most people – wear it well!
Got any other Disneyland or Amusement Park tips?
Leave them in the comments!
I’ll leave you with a great video about Disneyland, so you can better prep for the park!