I have learned first-hand that Orlando can be both sweltering and chilly. When I visited in October 2013, it was Florida-fabulous—so hot, I craved a personal misting attache. This March, the weather threw a North Pole-cooled curve ball in the form of unseasonably chilly temperatures that quite literally made me shiver.

After two visits in six months, I’ve been schooled in Theme Park Packing 101—a big departure from Beach or Desert Packing 101. With this newfound knowledge, I feel the need to share my personal packing prescription for your next trip to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World. Here’s what to bring, what to ditch, and how to “imagineer” your Walt-friendly wardrobe with efficiency and style.

Study the weather

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World in March 2013, I thought the weather forecast for colder temps seemed wonky. Turns out, The Weather Channel’s sophisticated forecasting technologies trump my own (obviously), and I should have packed warm clothes instead of inadvertently living out Disney’s Frozen. Normally, I don’t pack for any trip without doing two things: Studying the 10-day weather forecast, and planning potential outfits for at least the first four or five days of my trip. I’ve found that this strategy enables me to look fabulous for the first week on the road, and gives me the tools with which to mix-and-match after that.

 

Think like a hotel

When I assemble my Disney wardrobe, I channel hotel decor. Before you run for the hills thinking I’m going to suggest a bed-sheet toga; hear me out. Hotels use a variety patterns and darker fabrics to hide spills and stains, and extend the lifespan of their materials. Use the same tried-and-tested logic at Walt Disney World. While I’m not prone to frequent food-to-frock collisions, I always seem to end up with a spill of some sort when I’m savoring the likes of DOLE whip, chocolate-drizzled funnel cake, or red wine. For this reason, I’ve learned that if I bring my patterned prints and darker-hued clothes, I look as fresh at the end of the day, as I did at the beginning.

Remember the essentials

As you enter the gates at any Disney Park, it’s hard to miss the bags of all shapes and sizes guests bring into the park. I can’t dispute the day-pack; I too carry a few items that give me the same sense of preparedness Dumbo felt when he held the feather in his trunk. While essentials are different for everyone, here are some things I don’t go without: sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, water bottle, hand sanitizer, camera, smartphone (plus a battery pack if I’m going to be there all day), and a ‘triple-threat’ scarf to keep me warm at night, dry in case of rain, or protected from the sun.

Viewfinder Tip: Embrace layering and day-to-night duds. Disney Parks are not the place for a Louis Vuitton trunk full of runway-ready outfits.

Sole surviving

No Disney discussion is complete without a conversation about sole searching. Walt Disney World sprawls over 25,000 acres—the size of two Manhattan Islands—so shoes can make or ache your day. You feel me? I suggest packing flats or sandals (no heels!) you’ve already worn, so you know how they feel after five hours. And if you’re concerned with style, sleek sneakers and minimalist sandals are hot right now, meaning fashion and comfort can easily coexist in your Disney wardrobe.

Finally, don’t forget to channel your inner Ariel and bring your bathing suit for daily pool breaks—an essential pastime in any Disney holiday. 

What are your packing suggestions for a Disney vacation?