To pack it or not? That’s the question when you’re visiting Universal Studios, Disney or any other theme park. You want a park bag that is functional, yet light weight. I really do suggest laying out what you think you must have for a day at the park, remove about 30% of that, then find a bag that will fit it and is functional and easy to carry for you.
The reason I say remove 30% is that you’re probably overpacking. And by the end of the day, if your back hurts from lugging around all the extra stuff, you’ll wish you had pared it down significantly.
I found that I really love having little organizer bags (most of the ones in this video are from Daiso, the Japanese One Yen store (it’s about $1.50 in USD). But you can just use zip top bags or other little cosmetic bags from dollar spots everywhere.
Park Bag for Universal Studios / Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The backpack that I used for our trip was this Harry Potter backpack. It wasn’t the best of choices as far as lots of little pockets or water bottle sleeves, but I loved it for the iconography at the park, and it was light weight. I used plenty of separate pouches inside to help keep things separated. It also served as my carry-on and fit under my seat with plenty of room. I didn’t want a huge bag, as we were carrying only a few essentials. We also chose a smaller pack to make sure they could fit into lockers on the rides we couldn’t take packs on.
First Aid Kit
- Pain meds
- Band aids + gauze pads
- Moleskin/blister covers – we had some of both as we’ve found they both work well for different needs. We love the moleskin sheets to customize a cushion. They were a lifesaver on our last trip when my husband developed a bad blister on his heel.
- Antiseptic wipes
- Triple Antibiotic ointment
Normally I carry a small first aid kit like this in our luggage, and just pare down what we need into a smaller bag for the park. I found the little pill organizer at Daiso.
We used regular water bottles that were about 12-18 oz. and had a hook somewhere to attach a carabiner to attach it to the outside of the backpack or our belt loops, but also stored inside the pack if needed. While water is no longer available at the Freestyle machines, you can refill at restaurants and food vendors and restrooms. We opted for smaller water bottles so that they weren’t so heavy, and could refill as much as we needed to. Note: Glass water bottles are not allowed in the parks, nor is a filled, opened bottle. Some security agents may make you dispose of filled, sealed bottles, too.
- Phone – I film on my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Tripod – I use a GorillaPod tripod with a separate mount. I can use it as a grip or as a tripod.
- Lens cloth
- Battery packs. My phone can be a power hog when I’m filming a lot, so I have 2 battery packs that I use to make sure I’m charged throughout the day. While Universal does have a couple of phone charging machines (the kind you have to leave your phone in), and a few plugs around the park, I don’t like to leave the chance to fate of finding one of those plugs, nor do I want to leave my phone in a machine, because then I’ll find the perfect thing to film or photograph, and I’ll be without my phone. That’s the way fate works for me! Some of you can relate, I’m sure.
Personal / Clean
- Wipes to wipe down tables, seat trays, sticky hands, etc.
- Wallet – I use a very small wallet that carries just my cash, license, insurance card and one debit card, plus park pass and room card.
- Extra pair of reading glasses – if my glasses break, I want a cheap pair of readers to get me through checking messages on my phone and reading info, but I can get by without glasses for everything else
- Hand sanitizer – let’s face it, the parks are very germy places, and I’d rather not come home sick if I can help it!P
- Umbrella (we are taking a Dollar Tree umbrella for each of us this time because the forecast calls for rain. Otherwise, we’d just do the ponchos for the occasional pop up showers)
- Lip balm
Park bag additions for small children
- Snacks – in individual zip top bags to pull out small portions at a time
- Diapers/wipes/changing pads
- Change of clothes plus extra zip top bags to store soiled clothes
- Glow wands/sticks/bracelets for night time waiting.
- Personal, clip-on fan
- Comfort item for someone who is a little too tired
- Shower curtain and alligator clips to cover a stroller during the rain
- Lightweight blanket to cover stroller opening to protect from sun or give some privacy for a wee nap
- A small, old cell phone or digital camera to allow kid to take their own shots from their vacation. Their perspective is so sweet! You can easily buy inexpensive cell phones off ebay for this purpose.
Theme Park Bag Security Tip
When you pack your bag, get a large, clear plastic zip top bag to place all of your elements into. This way, when you go through security, you can pull out the contents of your main compartment in one fell swoop, let them see inside easily, and then toss it back in and be on your way. You can then empty and reorganize the bag into your pack at your convenience, and put the zip top bag at the bottom of your pouch for use later if you’re doing water rides, etc. It just makes going through security a little quicker, especially on super busy park days.