A Dollar Store Visit to Prep for Disneyland

Fun fact: The Dollar Store gives me major anxiety. We are always on a very tight budget due to raising three kids in super expensive Southern California, so I shop here often. But, it always makes me anxious.

Once I mentally prepare myself for the experience, I get to work. My list is made. I’m on a mission.

Here are several things – above and beyond the basics you might already shop for – that can help you prepare for your Disneyland trip:


Puzzles to keep kids busy while waiting in the hotel room, at parades, etc.

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Glow sticks. An absolute essential for night time visits.

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Nightlights in case little ones (or you) like a small light in the hotel.

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Princessy stuff and small bags for kid gear.

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Magic towels that expand with water. Kids love to have their own towel that’s off limits to other siblings. (Not that my children ever fight…..but I’ve heard others do.)

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So many options for princess gear, including Disney produced items.

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Face wipes for make up removal or just to keep cool at the parks.

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A pop up hamper or large laundry bag that will keep dirty clothes all in the same place. (Rather than the floor where my children insist they go.)

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Laundry detergent if you’re planning on washing clothes while you’re there. May not be your usual brand, but the sizes are smaller and it will do just fine for one or two washes.

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Character themed sandwich bags make home-brought snacks seem a little more exciting. They’re good for other little things, too, like bubbles, small trinkets and more.


Suction hooks are good for hanging wet swim suits and other items in your hotel bathroom.


Ponchos – not a huge deal for Disneyland, but I always have them on hand. I’d rather buy 2/$1 than $8+ at the parks.


A bright bandana is good for tying on a stroller to quickly recognize it among the sea of strollers.


Finally, shot glasses. No explanation needed. No judgment from me, either.

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In addition to this list, I also purchase:

  • hand wipes
  • character or kid-designed notebooks for character autographs
  • bubbles and other easy-access activities
  • small toys
  • snacks
  • small sewing kit
  • small nail file/clipper set
  • back up sunglasses in case mine break
  • hand sanitizer 3-packs
  • water bottles to refill at the parks
  • hard shell food containers for snacks like goldfish that crush easily

*****I highly recommend some sort of hard shell food container if you plan to bring in goldfish or other such snacks that crumble easy. Baggies don’t work for everything.

Go a week or so before your trip and stock up. I spent $38 on my last trip and walked away with SO MUCH for our visit. Success!

Take a look at how Get Away Today can help with your vacation


  1. Planning trip 3/25 and 3/26. We plan to purchase 3-day so ca pass since appears most economical. Agree? We plan to go back and forth to parks. First visit 12/9. Trying to find itinerary which combines fast pass plans to do both parks. Recommend start at DCA day 1 since morning hours at DLR? We plan to arrive when park opens but not sure which would be best route. Star Wars fan so assuming go this route and not Peter Pan. Since our kids are older, no stroller, but plan to bring a back pack with snacks, etc. Can you put this on the ride, what do you do with it? Fireworks, parade Sat or Sun??

  2. Do the dollar tree stores there sell helium inflated balloons? I want to use it for the stroller. They say it helps to quickly identify your stroller in the sea of strollers.

  3. Great list.
    We are from overseas and will be staying at Hampton Inn and will not have a car.
    Rather than bringing some of the stuff from home, we may just buy them in US.
    Nearest Dollar Tree from the Link above (thanks for it), found to be 2 miles away.
    Do you think that we should just go to Target to get the stuff instead of spending on Uber to get to Dollar Tree and back?

  4. Another thought, not dollar store related.
    Kids want souvenirs, and if there’s a Disney store At a mall near you get your kids Disney Dollars to take with them.
    they can decide what to buy, and can’t beg for lots of stuff because we’ve given them the responsibility of getting their souvenir with their’money’.

  5. Great suggestions! I would add: an empty spray bottle, normally used for cleaning supplies, to fill with water at the park and spray on sweaty kids and parents.
    we’ve been to Disneyworld, as we live in sFL, and really wanted rain ponchos and a spray bottle!!! The fancy ones with fans are $15 at Disney.

  6. Sucks that it’s a gamble with Dollar Tree glow sticks. Walmarts in my area sell glow sticks for about the same price, so might be the same elsewhere.

  7. Is there a Dollar Tree/Store that you would recommend? We are coming from HI, and there aren’t any of those stores here so we would likely stop anywhere between SD, LegoLand, and Disneyland to pick up these things. Any one store carry more Disney merchandise that you’ve noticed? Is there one close to DLR?

  8. I prefer Tide Pods for laundry. They are very compact for travel, and it is easy to bring home unused ones. Plus, they often work better than the dollar store brands. The downside is that they have a lot of fragrance in them. My family is generally fragrance-free. I keep hoping Tide or another major brand will manufacture a scent-free pod for laundry.

    • Make your own “pods”. Put the amount of laundry soap you normally use onto an old wash cloth (12″ square towel) and place it in a zip lock bag. Throw it in with the load. Viola! The brand of soap you like in the amount you want per load.

  9. We went to WDW in December and I stocked up at The Dollar Store near our rental condo. This cut down on having to haul stuff both ways. Plus, we used up almost all of what I bought, so I didn’t have to bring the stuff home either. The glow sticks were a huge disappointment. We realized at the first night parade that none of them worked. My daughter was so upset because kids all around us had them. A nice mom overheard me tell my daughter that she was just going to have to do without and the next thing I know, her kids offered to share! They saved me from having a child throw a major meltdown. Skip the ones at the dollar stores. Target and Walmart both sell better quality ones including those with Disney characters on the packaging.

  10. I went to the dollar store to stock up before we went to disney last year. My son was 2 at the time. He wanted nothing to do with the toys from the dollar store once he saw what was in the stores in disney. It was a waste of money and space in my luggage. I also bought glow Sticks from several different dollar trees and 90% of them turned out to be duds. Again a waste of money and a disappointed child. I bought ponchos but it never rained but I guess better safe the. Sorry. The one thing that was great was a spray bottle. It kept my son occupied and felt nice in the extreme heat. The spay bottles in disney are about $15 .

  11. In the summer, the Dollar Dtore carries water wings (or floaties if you prefer), intertubes, kickboards, noodles, and even goggles-so if you have an emergency missing goggle situation or just don’t want to bring your kids (probably more expensive) home swim flotation device of choice, you can always run to Dollar Tree!

  12. This is such a great list! I especially love the idea of kid-designed notebooks. A notebook and a bunch of fun stickers would be the perfect airplane craft. 🙂

      • Thanks, Casey! And the Dollar Store (my favorite is Dollar Tree) has so many awesome stickers (including Disney stickers!) as well has a huge variety of notebooks. I think I’ll get my son the pack of Mickey Mouse stickers, a few sheets of the metallic stars stickers, and some foam letter stickers for him to personalize a notebook.

        Remember, over in the kitchen supply area there is contact paper. I plan on covering a composition notebook in plain contact paper to give my son a black slate for his creative notebook design. Thanks again for the awesome idea!