What You Need to Survive a Theme Park Day With Your Kids

Let the days of sunshine, roller coasters, long lines and park food begin. Check out these essentials for making the most of your day at a theme park with kids.

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May 12, 2022

I love a theme park. Disney, Dollywood, Universal, Six Flags, I'll pack up my two kiddos for a day of fun (and sweating and a little whining) in minutes. I'm a plan-it-to-a-tee kind of mom (and an enneagram 6, IYKYK), so not only do I have a strategy for the entire day to maximize every minute of a theme park, but I also pack my bag with everything I need.

Truth be told, I've been known to go a little overboard, but I've narrowed it down to the absolute must-haves you'll need to enjoy a theme park day with kids in tow.

The Best Theme Park Bags

I have carried this Fjallraven tote to every theme park we've visited since 2016. It's roomy enough to fit snacks, water bottles, an extra change of clothes for toddlers or elementary-aged kids and all my other essentials (keep scrolling to see!). I know a lot of theme park goers carry a backpack, but I love how streamlined this design is, so that it's easier to fit in a locker or on a ride with you. Plus, the versatility can't be beaten — carry it as a tote or a backpack.

When we were at Disney over spring break, I noticed that all the tweens to 20-somethings carry adorable mini backpacks. So, if you're heading to the park with older kids, let them haul some of the load with their own bag and you can opt for a chic waist bag. Also, don't forget a few handy waterproof bags to keep all your must-haves — phone, wallet, tickets — from getting ruined in an afternoon rain shower.

What to Pack in Your Theme Park Bag

Let's start with a few small but necessary items. A travel first aid kit, pain reliever and motion sickness medicine will save a day that's about to go south. Sunscreen and sunglasses will keep everyone protected and able to be out even when the sun is blaring down, and hand sanitizer is a no-brainer. I love having the spray kind and the wipes because sometimes little hands get extra grimy.


Our phones are even more essential in theme parks than ever. Whether you're snapping photos, taking videos or trying to grab a spot in a virtual queue, you need your phone to stay charged. This is the exact charger I use. The compact design doesn't take up a lot of room in your bag, and even when connected and charging, it doesn’t get in the way of using your phone.

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Please stick a poncho for each person in your bag. They take up zero room and are crucial if the skies open up or if you just want to stay as dry as possible on Splash Mountain. In the parks, ponchos can cost anywhere from $7-$15. Grab these budget-friendly ones and buy yourself an extra churro while you wait out the storm.

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Walking around on concrete all day with the sun beating down is HOT. Stay hydrated by having a lightweight water bottle on hand. In my experience, most parks have water bottle-filling fountains, or you can ask for free cups of water at any kiosk or counter-service restaurant.

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If lugging around several water bottles sounds miserable, this is my latest discovery. These cups collapse down flat, taking up very little room in your bag. You can carry one water bottle and divvy it out in the cups as needed. We also used them on our last trip to divide up fun lemonades and drinks so that we didn't have to buy each kid her own $6 drink. Win-win.

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Getting overheated is no joke. These compact cooling towels help you and your kids regulate your temperatures on hot summer days. The breathable mesh material simply needs to be wet to start chilling.

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When my kids were really young, these gave me peace of mind. We always told our girls where to go and who to look for if we got separated, but I knew in a stressful moment, they might not remember my phone number. Add your cell phone number to these bracelets so that a park employee can get a hold of you as soon as possible.

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