Packing a cooler for Walt Disney World


Yes, a Disney World Vacation can be expensive,  but Disney does a great job of allowing families of all sizes and budgets to have a great time!  There are all sorts of ways to cut down costs at the Parks, but maybe the most beneficial to your wallet is having the ability to pack your own cooler!

That’s right, Walt Disney World actually allows you to bring a cooler into the Parks, which is something not all theme parks allow you to do.  This is a HUGE money saver, especially when a coke will run you close to $3.00.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when packing your cooler for Walt Disney World:

  • Your cooler must be soft sided and smaller than 24″ X 15″ X 18″ which happens to be the size of a locker at Walt Disney World.
  • No alcoholic beverages are permitted into the Parks at any time!
  • No glass containers are allowed inside the Parks, with the exception of baby food jars.
  • Coolers with wheels are not permitted into the Parks.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not allow anyone to bring in coolers of any kind, except for medical purposes, for the safety of the animals.  Animal Kingdom also does not allow juice boxes or drinks with lids into the park for the same reason.
  • Upon entering the Parks, you must get your cooler inspected at the bag check locations.

Also, keep in mind when you are packing a cooler to take to Walt Disney World that  there is no place to heat anything up.  Everything that you pack should be okay to serve cold, chilled, or room temperature.  Remember that Florida can get very hot, even inside a cooler, so try to pack items that wont spoil in the Florida sun.

Pack anything your family would enjoy, from snacks to a full blown afternoon picnic and save your family a little extra souvenir money and maybe make a memory or two!

Do you bring a cooler? If so what are some of the things you like to bring with you?

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Jackie is a fun loving wife, mother and Disney Blogger!She enjoys making each trip enjoyable by sharing tips and idea's on how to have the best Walt Disney World vacation possible.

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  • E-ticket-lizabeth

    We’re local, and we couldn’t afford to go to the parks as often as we do if we had to buy lunch each time. We take a small “lunch-box” cooler with sandwiches for the family, then take a snack bag with chips, cookies, and drink mixes. Disney will give you cups of ice water if you ask at any counter service that has a soda fountain, and if the kids want lemonade instead, we can do that. It’s the only way to go! Although, your post says “soft-side” and “no wheeled” coolers–we used to have a very small hard-side rolling Igloo that went into the parks with no problem. We also met a family just 2 weeks ago who had bought a soft-side wheeled cooler at Walmart just for their Disney trip–they figured the $20 for the cooler would more than pay for itself in the first day or two! The deal is, you can’t leave it with the strollers–you have to take it on the attractions with you. Anything enclosed like that can’t be left alone for more than 30 minutes.

  • Candi Bellotti

    Disneyland does! We pack lunch in 2 small cooler bags for all 6 of us. Same deal, soft-sided, I had never heard dimensions before, just 6 pack.sized. No glass or knives, the stories I’ve heard. 😉 Also, the amount of food you have should be relative to your party size, 12 sandwiches for 1 person likely will get you turned away. Sandwiches should be premade. I have heard several people witness individuals hurrying to make sandwiches on a bench so they could enter.
    I freeze water bottles bought in a case from the store, at a much friendlier price, and use them for ice packs, by the time we have lunch, we then have cold water for the afternoon. I do bring my refillable sports bottle as well and fill with free ice water as I go.
    Universal Studios Hollywood will allow water and snacks, usually granola bars and string cheese for my kids through the gate as well as my Starbucks.

  • Bill Soares


    Bring a big Tervis tumbler with a hinged lid and fill with comp water and ice all day. It’ll stay cold forever. We have an Animal Kingdom strap that we hook to it to make it easier to carry. You’ll keep hydrated and save a ton of money!

  • Victoria

    We usually bring a big cooler to the water parks. We leave it in the car since the parking is close to the entrance. It’s a nice break to go out to the car away from the crowds and eat on the sidewalk/grass outside. Saves money for us!

  • Vanessa Woodard

    The Dining Plan did not work for us on a previous visit (too much food and some of the restaurants we wanted to eat at were not included) so we brought a cooler with us around 5 of the 10 days we were there in May. We stored our cooler in large lockers. The easiest place to do this was Magic Kingdom. From what I could tell, all the lockers are located by the entrances to the parks. Which can be a bit inconvenient when you are across a park. However, at Magic Kingdom, you can hop on the train. One day we had lunch on the train platform at one of the tables overlooking main street. Lots of fun to eat and people watch. Another time, my husband went back for the cooler while my boys and I waited in line for a ride. We are our lunch after the ride, emptied the cooler and stored it folded in our backpack. We did not try this but while we were on Tom Sawyer Island, we saw this lovely family trying to have lunch but were soon run off by 5-6 rather aggressive squirrels. Two more things, we did bring a cooler (as did many other families) into Animal Kingdom and we saw several small coolers with wheels.

  • Chassidy Garner

    Disneyland does, with the same guidelines as wdw, we bring a cooler bag with us that has drinks in it all the time :)

  • Ralph Guadagno

    My wife and I would pack a cooler when our kids were young filled with juice packets for them and fresh fruit. It always came in handy on times when we would be in line and the kids wanted a snack.

  • Jerry Hume

    I’ve never brought a cooler. I just think it’s too heavy to carry around all day in the park.

  • mikat

    I like to pack drinks (fruit punch, lemonade) in a small lunch-size cooler bag. I open the plastic bottle and let half of the bottle freeze, then refill the bottles in the morning – it keeps the drinks cool all day! Now that WDW has raised soda prices again, this is a great way to save money.

  • Lynn Green Brooks

    We never take a cooler. We always use the Dining Plan. If we want a drink we get the free water. We do however take a few snack treats and put them in our backpacks

  • Life’s A Gift

    I wish Disneyland would let us bring a cooler in! But then again, buying the goodies there is part of the fun! Just breaks the bank! 😀

  • Andrea Moreira Canaday

    We don’t actually bring a cooler with us all the time but we have brought ‘snacks’ into the parks with us. The thing we like to do the most is to recycle our water bottles. The parks have bubblers located all over the place and so we refill out water bottles to stay hydrated in the Florida sunshine. Saves the family some money and keeps us hydrated as bubbler temp water is better for the body than ice cold water. ºoº