How to Disneyfy Your Next Road Trip

How to Disneyfy Your Next Road Trip
Travel Tips WanderDisney Road Trip

Let’s face it: sitting in a car for hours on end, even with your best friend, can be boring at times. As experienced road-trippers, we’ve taken our favorite tips and compiled the below guide to help you pass the time while keeping your eyes on the road.

Whether on the way to your favorite Disney Park, or trekking near Route 66 in search of the real Cars Land, we hope you can find some new and interesting ideas here to keep your next vacation-by-car as magical as possible.

For your safety, remain seated with your seatbelt fastened and your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the blog post at all times… and please supervise children. Thank you.

Packing

Long trips sitting in one place can get uncomfortable – ease your pain (unless you’re driving, then try your best to stay alert) with these packing tips.

Essentials

Instead of boring you with a list of practical stuff like roadside emergency and first-aid kits (though they are important and Disney does have an impressive amount of branded Band-Aids available), I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you to pack a few of our favorite road trip essentials for a successful ride.

  • Hydration: Pee breaks are normal, dehydration is not. Don’t forget to fuel up your own body with plenty of water, especially on those sweltering drives down the I-95 toward Orlando or in the hot smog of LA traffic towards Anaheim.

    Non-carbonated drinks will typically have a button like this to dispense just filtered water

    We recommend investing in a nice stainless steel water bottle that (with regular cleaning) should last you for many years. Not only is it healthier for you, but it’s also better for the environment vs disposable plastic bottles (unfortunately, recycling isn’t the answer).

    Disney sells a wide range of these bottles on ShopDisney.com so finding one to show off your favorite character shouldn’t be a problem. When on the road, fill them up with filtered water from rest-stops, fast food soda fountains, coffee shops (just ask!) or really any public water fountain.

    We also like to have a travel tumbler on us at all times to caffeinate ourselves along the way – they can be used for both hot or cold drinks but we’ll sometimes just sip water out of them too. Disney has an endless amount of designs for these, but we’d suggest getting one that’s mostly stainless steel as plastic tends to chip, crack, or wear over time.

    If you are trying to make time or have the bladder of a camel, you can also get a larger, collapsible container to fill up before heading out and refill it along the way. You can easily transfer from these into your personal bottles without ever having to make a pit stop (again, assuming you’re not the one doing the driving).

  • Snacking: Along with hydration, keeping a healthy supply of, well, healthy snacks will keep you going. In order to keep things fresh, we discovered these Sea to Summit brand X-Seal & Go collapsible containers. While Disney does have some food storage solutions, they’re usually babyish and aren’t nearly as durable and versatile as these. They come in a variety of sizes and can seal airtight, making them the perfect accessory for taking along snacks anywhere you go. Since they fold flat, we like to keep them in our travel bag and use them to pack up leftovers from restaurants, thus avoiding a needlessly wasted disposable container. With care and cleaning, these guys have lasted us for well over a year with nearly daily use, and still going! Skip the skimpy Disney branded ones and upgrade to one that will last you for years to come – it doesn’t get much more magical than that!
  • Relaxation: The best part of being a passenger in the car during a long road trip is the opportunity to nap. Disney stocks an unnecessary amount of different types of pillows for you to choose from, but we like the type that wrap around your neck – it looks like the Disney ones only come in kid’s sizes, sadly. Adult sized ones aren’t too hard to find, though.If you do have kids, and want them to relax in the car (thus reducing the likelihood of “are we there yet” chants), you can find these rather adorable sets that not only come with a neck pillow but also a matching blanket and sleep mask.

Car Accessories

Now that we’ve gotten your human needs out of the way, let’s make sure your car has some fun too. Sprucing things up with accessories that are not only functional but also fashionable will greatly improve your next road trip experience.

  • Sun Shade: A windshield sun shade will help keep your car’s interior cool in the summer months, thus saving some time and gas needed to run the A/C. It’s also a great way to keep valuables hidden if trunk space is limited. You can find a nice selection of Disney shades on Amazon in fun designs including ones that give your car Pixar style “eyes”. Not only will these make people smile, but they’ll make your car easy to spot in a crowded lot (in combination with that weird thing people do where they put their car remote under their chin while clicking the lock button).
  • Steering Wheel Cover: While we wouldn’t say this is a necessity, a steering wheel cover can not only protect the one part of the car that you consistently touch from wear/tear, but it also helps with comfort and grip while at the wheel. You can find a number of fun Disney ones on Amazon, including this Darth Vader one that will make your steering wheel the most sinister in the entire galaxy of steering wheels.
  • Floor Mat: Similar to the steering wheel cover, you can get by without this one, but a good floor mat can prevent wear and increase comfort while cruising along. Spruce up your floors by stepping a beloved mouse!

Stops Along The Way

This is what WanderDisney was built for: finding Disney things to see and do wherever your travels take you. You can start by perusing the map on our homepage to follow along your route and see if there’s anything interesting along the way. Even if it’s as simple as a stop at Earl of Sandwich, a 20-minute detour could mean the difference between a boring fast-food stop, and a meal that reminds you of your favorite Disney sandwich shop.

We’ve categorized stops by location too, so if you know the state or even the country you plan to pass through, you should easily be able to find it on this page. Just drill down until you find the region you’re looking for. If you’re still having trouble, check out a guide we wrote on how to use our site, by clicking here.

If you can’t find anything fun nearby, don’t worry: our list is constantly growing and new locations are being added monthly, so be sure to check back often or sign up for our mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page.

Road trip!!!

Entertainment

Road trip games are a staple of every backseat for a child. Before iPads were even a thing, we had Game Boys and books. Some of us even used our mouths to speak to one another to pass the time. Gone are those days, so let’s break down the modern age of entertainment on the road.

Daniel (middle) and his brothers, road-trippin’ to WDW (December 1989). Could this photo get any more eighties?

Games

  • Classic Road Trip Games: Of course, there’s the always popular License Plate Game and the always painful Punch Buggy, but we like to Disneyfy our car games. For example, try the Going on a Picnic game using only Disney characters or the always stressful Kiss, Marry, Kill using only Disney Prince or Princesses (Kill the Beast!).
  • Card Games: For some reason, Uno was our go-to card game in the car. I suppose since it’s pretty compact and has repeat playability. You can find just about every Disney character version of Uno now, from Captain Marvel to the incredibly apropos cast of Pixar’s Cars. If a deck of cards for open-ended play is more your speed, you can find playing cards with Disney themes like Villians or Star Wars. I’d be cautious though since most card games we played in the backseat growing up ended with an exhilarating round of 52-card pick-up.
  • Digital Games: If you want something a bit more techie, Ellen DeGeneres’ Heads Up! game is not only fun and interactive for kids and adults alike, but it also has a Disney Parks deck and a Star Wars deck available for purchase. We love to watch back the video after each round and sometimes save them for posterity. It’s totally worth the download and in-purchase upgrades since this game can also come in handy during those long, Fastpass+less waits when you’re in the Disney Parks. You can also find an analog version of a similar game, here, though it’s a bit more kiddie directed and quite difficult to travel with.Social interactions, not your thing? Assuming you’re not in the driver’s seat, there’s a slew of great Disney digital games you can play to make the miles fly by. Crossy RoadTsum Tsum, and Disney Magic Kingdoms are now considered classics. Emoji Blitz is especially addictive and fun since as you collect characters, they unlock as emojis in your phone’s keyboard that you can send to friends.

Books

Reading in the car isn’t for everyone but we hope these couple of book tips will be useful, even for the most motion-sick of us.

Music

Music is an integral part of any good road trip but finding the perfect songs can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Luckily, we live in an age where streaming music and playlists are an everyday occurrence. We’re also lucky that Disney has a pretty huge presence on all major streaming platforms. Below’s the rundown of our favorites – if you feel that there are any others we should include, please let us know in the comments below or via our contact form.

Spotify

If you have a subscription, Spotify should be your go-to source for some great road trip jams. In case you didn’t know, Disney has a slew of public playlists already available to listen to on this service, as well as a number of searchable playlists created by fans. Try the official Disney Songs To Sing In The Car playlist for a great set of classic Disney sing-alongs and one called Disney Road Trip for even more.


Here, you can also find playlists from Disney characters themselves. We really like Lightning McQueen’s playlist for some truly classic road-trip songs (think Life Is a Highway), Cruz Ramirez’ for poppy hits, and Jackson Storm‘s for EDM-inspired jams. Who better to curate the perfect road trip playlist than automobiles with auditory systems (do they even have ears, tho?!?).

Our favorite Mouse even has Mickey’s Mix, which is actually worth a listen;  Easy-to-swallow top 40 songs which will help pass the time.

If playlists by inanimate objects/rodents aren’t your thing, check out this human-created one of music from the Walt Disney World Resort the perfect way to hype up your trip to or re-live memories on your way back from a magical visit to the parks.

Whichever you choose, just make sure to hit the “download” button while on Wi-Fi so you don’t eat up your data plan or risk interruptions in your sing-alongs.

Apple Music

With the launch of the Play Disney Parks app, Disney launched a great partnership with Apple’s streaming service. If you’ve never tried it, you can sign-up for a free, three-month trial before committing to buying.

Unlike Spotify, Apple Music offers official Disney streaming radio stations like Disney Radio, Disney Princess Radio, Disney Junior Music, Disney Channel Music, and Frozen Radio (which, as far as we can tell, is just an assortment of songs from animated features, with Let It Go thrown in every so often, for good measure).

While you can search some fan-created playlists here, the options here aren’t as abundant and varied as Spotify’s selection. Disney puts out a good number of official ones here though (many of them do overlap to Spotify, as well). Disney Hits, Pixar Hits, Disney Parks Hits, and Disney Essentials are great for long stretches of highway, while Disney Broadway Hits brings out the best of Broadway-style show tunes, great for singalongs.

An official Disney Road Trip playlist does exclusively on Apple Music, but in our opinion, it’s a bit contrived (yes, A Place Called Slaughter Race is about automobiles, but it doesn’t exactly scream road trip to us. In the same vein, the Muppet version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody does give us the Mirthmobile vibes, but falls short to keep us headbanging the whole way). Instead, we’d recommend checking out the high-energy runDisney Virtual Race Series playlist that, while intended as a running playlist, actually makes for a decent road trip mix!

Subscribers also have the option to download music offline, so don’t forget to load up before hitting the road.

Sirius-XM

One of the best things about satellite radio is that you can flip on a single station and listen to it without interruption (less the occasional static when passing under an overpass) from coast-to-coast. Most cars nowadays come with it as standard equipment, you just need to pay for the subscription to get up and running. If you haven’t tried it yet, Sirius-XM offers a three-month free trial that’s worth the effort. If your car doesn’t have it built in, it’s decently easy to install with the proper equipment.

While Sirius-XM offers over 150 channels, the only option for Disney goodness (unfortunately) is Radio Disney (channel 79). If you’ve heard Radio Disney on your local airwaves, you’ll know that it’s typically teenybopper pop music with some songs from Disney features sprinkled in. There is the occasional Oh My Disney segment which pops in between songs and features news and info from the Disney Parks and movies… but in our opinion, it’s not worth the ear bleeding from the music they play (unless you’re into that sort of thing!).

YouTube

For those of us that can’t stomach paying for a streaming platform and don’t mind using data for streaming, YouTube has a number of free, fan-made Disney playlists that don’t require a paid subscription.

Check out this playlist of sing-alongs from animated films. If mood-setting is more your speed, this monstrous playlist of over 300 tracks of background music from around Walt Disney World is one of my personal favorites and is unique in that a lot of these tracks can’t be found on other platforms.

Just keep in mind that these beautiful audio tracks also come along with distracting videos, so be sure to keep your eyes on the road if you go this route.

Podcasts

If music starts to get tiresome, try a podcast. Disney ones are easy to find (just search for “Disney” in your favorite podcast app) and usually offer news, reviews, or some sort of discussion about upcoming rides and movies. Some of our favorites include:

  • The WDW Radio Show: This is one of the first Disney podcasts that has survived the test of time. Host Lou Mongello (author of the Walt Disney World trivia books) shares his knowledge and thoughts on the Disney Parks and more. Lively discussion and lots of food will make the exits fly by.
  • Disney History Institute: For those Disneyphiles interested in the history and details of the Disney Company‘s formation and interesting tidbits and stories from all aspects of the Disney universe.
  • The DIS Unplugged: This podcast has two feeds, one for Walt Disney World and one for Disneyland. Each week Pete Werner, creator of WDWInfo.com, hosts a roundtable discussion with a panel of guests, sharing unfiltered opinions about different Disney topics.
  • The Disney Dish with Jim Hill: Each week, the rumor mill king Jim Hill and the highly analytical Len Testa, owner of TouringPlans.com, host fascinating discussions that delve deep into a variety of topics from throughout Disney’s past, present, and future.

About Daniel

Curating a database of Disney locations from around the world - come #WanderDisney with me!