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Exactly What to Pack for Maximum Amusement Park Fun

Headed to a theme park this summer? We’re here to help with this ultimate packing guide — don't leave home without these amusement park essentials!

Matt Harvey


It’s officially theme park season, and I can hear the rollercoasters calling! Before we can pack ourselves into a hollowed out log facsimile and drop into the splash zone, we need to make sure we have all of the right stuff to ensure that our fun trip doesn’t get usurped by sunburns and soggy socks!

Checklist and Prep



No matter which theme park your family is visiting this year, it’s always good to do a little research first. As my 8th grade math teacher said “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Check the park websites, download any maps you might need, and craft your plan. Sometimes parks feature awesome rides inside that cost an additional fee — it's good to make the decisions on which of these your family will take part in beforehand, for budgeting purposes and to avoid any disappointment on the big day. Make a checklist of rides and attractions that are of high priority and use it as a reference throughout your day. Check the weather before you go and make a checklist of things to pack.

1. Water-Proof Backpack

A waterproof or water-resistant backpack is essential for a theme park trip. Any backpack that you have will do, but the more waterproof it is, the less you have to worry about your stuff getting ruined by a river ride waterfall. 

2. Sunscreen

As Baz Luhrman once decreed, “wear sunscreen.” There are plenty of options in the sunscreen department, with various SPF values and styles from sticks to goops to sprays. I’ve regretted skipping this step more than once — waking up looking like Sebastian from The Little Mermaid isn’t as cute as it sounds, and it’s painful. 

3. Collapsible Water Bottle

The future is now, and there’s no reason to be thirsty. Avoid dehydration and paying premium prices for bottled water by bringing one of these nifty collapsible bottles! Drink your fill, and when you’re finished, they pack down small so you don’t have to lug a cumbersome jug around.

4. Fresh socks

All it takes is a flume splash to the shoes to persuade your feet that this whole trip was a bad idea. Avoid trench foot with a fresh pair of socks — your ride home will thank you.

5. Ziploc Bags

It’s a good idea to keep a couple of Ziploc bags on hand in case you want to pocket your cell phone, your watch, or anything else that doesn’t like getting wet. 

6. Snacks

The crew is going to get hungry throughout the day, and if the park allows, you can outflank some of the bloated concession prices with a few healthy snack options. 

7. Cash (and a Safe Place to Keep It!)

Most of the world is equipped to handle cards and chips, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. Avoid exorbitant ATM fees by going to your bank ahead of time. Make sure you have plenty to spend on winning giant stuffed animals from impossible midway games or for asserting dominance at Skee ball. 

8. Cooling Towel

Waiting in line for the roller coaster can get hot! Keep yourself cool with a cooling towel until it’s your turn in the G-force breeze!

9. Comfy Shoes

Footwear is super important for a day on your feet. Make sure you’ve got comfy footwear made from breathable material. Water resistant is best. 

10. Phone Charger/ Battery Pack

You definitely want to pack your phone charger, and a juice-pack is a good idea for when you’re at 4% and you can’t find an outlet.

11. Sanitizer

It’s likely that you’ve gotten used to carrying around a pocket sized hand sanitizer, but just in case — throw one in your bag.

12. Hair Ties/ Hats

The roller coaster rush can snag a hair tie faster than a sibling can snag the last mozzarella stick — pack some extras just in case. It’s also smart to shield your head from direct sunlight with a hat — just make sure you don’t lose it in the loop-the-loop. 

13. Fanny Pack

Live your ’90s Miami Beach rollerblading fantasy and rock a fanny pack like you were unaware they ever went out of fashion. All jokes aside, a fanny pack is a fantastic utility on a theme park trip. 

14. Poncho

A poncho is the fancy alternative to a hefty bag and scissors when the rain comes to question your planning.

15. Travel Towel

Quick drying towels FTW! Pack one of these microfiber towels and tackle the water rides with confidence.

16. Small Umbrella

You picked the perfect day to attend the theme park, and there’s no way that it’s going to rain, but … don’t tempt fate. 

17. Bathing Suit, and a Wet Bag

You spent all of that time picking out the perfect swimsuit, so you might as well pack it and go full waterpark!

18. Basic First Aid Kit

Every great adventure leads to unexpected moments. Be ready for any of the bumps and scratches along the way with a basic first aid kit.

19. Camera

Finally, bring something to capture the magic moments, so you can relive your theme park glory when you get home.