Hitting the best theme parks in Florida and elsewhere in the United States requires plenty of planning and a decent-sized budget. And after you’ve made those kinds of investments in money and time, you want the hours (or days) you spend at the theme park(s) of your choice to be as enjoyable as possible. That’s why what to wear to Disney World and other amusement parks matters—but not necessarily in the way you might think.
What to Wear to Disney World and Other Parks: Do’s and Don’t’s of Theme Park Clothing
Yes, you want to look decent in your Instagram pics, but a theme park vacation is not the time to embrace your inner fashionista. Comfort and ease of movement are what’s most important, especially if you want to be screaming with joy, not pain. So here’s what not to wear to the major U.S. theme parks, and what you should wear instead.
Don’t Wear: Your Casual Friday Attire
Do Wear: Breathable, Sweat-Wicking Clothing
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 the summer months 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.
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For women, a sweat-wicking shirt can keep you feeling cooler and more comfortable even on long days at the parks, plus it will dry quickly after you get soaked on the log flume or another water ride. And they come in so many styles these days, from V-necks for women to polo shirts for men, that you don’t have to look like you’re in the middle of a workout.
Don’t Wear: Flip-Flops
Do Wear: Comfortable Shoes or Sneakers
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.
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 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.
Don’t Wear: Clothing You Can’t Easily Sit Down In
Do Wear: Attire You Can Actually Move In
A Universal or Disney vacation isn’t the time for wearing that skintight dress or a miniskirt that barely covers your, ahem, assets. (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 preferably without flashing anyone.
If a good pair of shorts just aren’t your thing, 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.
Don’t Wear: A Purse
Do Wear: A Crossbody Bag
It’s understandable that many women would want a place to stash their wallet, lip balm, and other must-haves besides just their pockets. But you don’t want to be fumbling with your standard shoulder bag or another kind of purse better suited for a day at the mall.
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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.
Don’t Wear: Clothing that Exposes a Lot of Skin
Do Wear: Items that Help Shield the Sun
This is for your own protection. You’ll likely find yourself standing in line in the sun throughout the day, and if you’re wearing nothing but a skimpy tank top, you’ll probably go home with a sunburn as a souvenir.
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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 cute straw hat also isn’t a bad idea. Just be prepared to safely stow it for rides.
Don’t Wear: A Giant Camping Backpack
Do Wear: A Smaller, More Manageable Backpack
To successfully spend a day at a theme park, you often need to be prepared for a variety of possibilities, especially if you’re traveling with kids. A light backpack like the Osprey Daylite Daypack 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 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.
Don’t Wear: Offensive Clothing
Do Wear: Your Favorite Vacation T-Shirt
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. Parks like Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, for example, 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 LEGO T-shirt.