What Not to Wear to a Theme Park (and What to Put on Instead)

Here are the big Dos and Don'ts of dressing for your best theme park day ever.
Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo: Steven Diaz)
Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo: Steven Diaz)

What you wear to Disney World and other amusement parks matters. Comfort and ease of movement are what’s most important, especially if you want to be screaming with joy, not pain. I’m going to walk you through the dos and don’ts so you can pack efficiently, dress smartly, and win at your theme park visit.

What to Wear to Disney World and Other Theme Parks

Yes, you want to look decent in your pics, but unless you’re among the small group of people super committed to, say, Disney-inspired cosplay, a theme park vacation is not the time to embrace your inner fashionista. So here’s what not to wear to the major U.S. theme parks and what you should wear instead. Because when you’re wearing the right clothing and shoes, the only thing that will slow you down at a theme park is closing time.

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Do Wear: Breathable, Sweat-Wicking Clothing

Don’t Wear: Your Casual Friday Attire

Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Photo: Shutterstock)
Sweat-wicking shirts will dry quickly after you get soaked on water rides (Photo: Shutterstock)

Unless you’re visiting during one of the rare crowd-free periods, there’s a good chance your theme park vacation will take place during summer vacation, spring break, or in a location where there’s always the possibility of bright sun and extremely warm weather. (We’re looking at you, Florida and California theme parks.) What you’d wear to the movies or weekend brunch might seem casual enough, but it probably won’t feel great once things start to get hot and sticky at your favorite amusement park.

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For maximum comfort, wearing a sweat-wicking shirt is a good clothing choice for everyone in your group. Not only will it keep you feeling cooler even on long days at the parks, but it will also dry quickly after you get soaked on the log flume or another water ride. And these shirts come in so many styles these days, from V-necks to polos, that you don’t have to look like you’re in the middle of a workout.

Do Wear: Comfortable Shoes or Sneakers

Don’t Wear: Flip-Flops

Yes, flip-flops are a warm weather staple, but save them for the Disney water parks and Florida beach resorts. Navigating a Disney vacation (or a trip to any theme park) requires miles of walking. Visitors at Walt Disney World Resort, for example, are often overheard marveling at how many steps they’ve logged in a single day’s visit.

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That’s why sneakers, tennis shoes, or any good walking shoes are a better choice for what to wear on a Disney World vacation (or to any of the other theme parks) because of their long-lasting foot support during a marathon park session. If you absolutely have to wear some kind of sandal, choose sandals that offer more cushioning and arch support than standard flip-flops.

Do Wear: Attire You Can Actually Move In

Don’t Wear: Clothing You Can’t Easily Sit Down in

Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando Resort (Photo: Universal)
When deciding what to wear at Disney World or Universal Studios, remember that comfort is key (Photo: Universal)

A Universal or Disney theme park vacation isn’t the time for wearing super short shorts or skirts. (Just think about how many other behinds have sat in that same rollercoaster seat before you.) You’ll be climbing in and out of rides all day, so you want to be able to do that easily and comfortably.

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For men or women, a good pair of shorts with pockets is tried-and-true. For women, if a good pair of shorts just aren’t your thing, then there are lots of cute travel dresses that are easygoing and practical enough for a day at the theme park. A skort can be another good option if you want the look of a skirt coupled with the practicality of shorts.

Do Wear: A Crossbody Bag

Don’t Wear: A Purse

If you’re usually a purse person, it’s understandable to want a place to stash your wallet, lip balm, and other must-haves besides just your pockets. But you don’t want to be fumbling with a standard shoulder bag or another kind of purse better suited for a day at the mall. A crossbody bag makes it easy to corral your stuff and get on and off of rides. Plus it doesn’t require as much hands-on attention as other kinds of purses and bags.

Do Wear: Items that Help Shield the Sun

Don’t Wear: Clothing that Exposes a Lot of Skin

You’ll likely find yourself standing in line in the sun throughout the day, and if you’re not shielding your shoulders, you’ll probably go home with a sunburn as a souvenir. In addition to slathering on (and reapplying!) a good sport sunscreen, opt for a pair of UV protection sunglasses and clothing that offers sun protection. A baseball cap or sun hat also isn’t a bad idea. Just be prepared to safely stow it for rides (in your crossbody bag or backpack).

Do Wear: A Small, Manageable Backpack

Don’t Wear: A Giant Backpack

Riders on TRON Lightcycle/Run at Walt Disney World (Photo: Disney)
Small backpacks are easier to stow when you need to remove them for a ride (Photo: Disney)

To successfully spend a day at a theme park, you need to be prepared for a variety of possibilities, especially if you’re traveling with kids. A light backpack can come in handy for stowing snacks and refillable water bottles (if you’re allowed to bring them into the park), sunscreen, hand sanitizer, band-aids, and other items you might need throughout the day.

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But you don’t need a bag fit for backwoods camping or a Eurail adventure. Choose a smaller backpack for yourself (or your kids) that can still fit what you need but will be less burdensome to carry. And if you’re at parks like Universal Studios and Busch Gardens, it will fit better in the smallish lockers and cubbies where you have to stash your bags before getting on most thrill rides.

Do Wear: Your Favorite Vacation T-Shirt

Don’t Wear: Clothing with Objectionable Language

You’ll want to save that funny-to-you T-shirt with all those curse words on it for your next adults-only party or trip to the bar. Most parks specifically prohibit clothing with offensive or objectionable language, graphics, or other content. Wear that kind of thing and you might be refused admittance, so it’s absolutely not what to wear to Disney World, Universal, or any other amusement park. On the other hand, the Universal or Disney parks would be a great place to put on your favorite Hogwarts, Star Wars, or Marvel T-shirt.

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Beth Luberecki
Beth Luberecki is a Florida-based freelance writer who writes about travel, business, and lifestyle topics for a variety of publications and websites. She enjoys exploring destinations close to home and farther afield with her husband and teenage daughter. Visit her website at bethluberecki.com or find her on Instagram at @bethlubereckiwrites and @findingfloridafun.