One thing that is for certain about your time in Disney World; you will spend a fair amount of it waiting in lines. If you visit during a busy time of year, you will wait in line for everything…check in, check out, transportation, getting in the park, getting out of the park, bathrooms, meals, shows, characters, parades, fireworks and of course, rides! If you are a parent like me, you may be stressing out at the thought of having to wait in line with your (wild) kids. How much whining will there be? Or complaining? And what about your kids, how will they handle it?! Here are some tips and tricks that I have used throughout the years with my boys!
- Managing Expectations Before you even leave for Disney World, sit down with your kids and explain to them that in Disney World, they will be waiting in line, but it will be worth it to get to see lots of amazing things. Reinforce this conversation at home, when you are waiting in line to buy a new toy, to see a movie or to play laser tag. Remind them that this is what it will be like on your trip. That way when you arrive, they won’t get an unpleasant surprise when they have to wait in line.
- Planning Your Day One of the best tips is to plan your day so that you can avoid the longest lines if possible. Get to the park at least 15 minutes before rope drop to make sure you are one of the first families in the park. Head straight for the most popular and slowest loading rides first (like Dumbo the Flying Elephant). Save your Fastpass+ reservations, the larger capacity rides (like the Walt Disney World Railroad) and shows for the busiest afternoon hours. By doing this you are already ahead of the game and hopefully won’t find yourself in a line more than about 30 minutes even during the busiest times of year.
- Make Sure They Are Prepared Before you get in a long line with your kids, make sure they are ready. It is especially tough waiting with a child that is hungry or desperate for a bathroom!
- Interactive Queues Disney must have heard pleas of parents, because they are helping us out by redesigning some of their queues to make them interactive. Dumbo the Flying Elephant has an entire play area that you wait in and you will have a pager that goes off when it’s your turn to ride. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has lots of fun things for kids to touch and play with while they wait. The Haunted Mansion has an elaborate interactive cemetery to walk through to pass the time while you and your kids wait. There are several queues like this scattered throughout all four parks.
- Food This one is my boys’ favorite! Pick up a snack and spend the time while waiting in line sharing it. My kids have even eaten their breakfast (granola bar, banana, juice box) while waiting in line for the park to open. This can be both a time saver as well as a way to keep them busy.
- Electronics Some people might frown on this. You are on vacation after all, isn’t this supposed to be family time? But after several hours in a hot, crowded theme park, some times kids just need a few minutes to zone out on their own thing. Now I like to travel light while I’m in the parks so I don’t carry anything large like an iPad or a Nintendo DS, but a few apps on my phone works perfectly.
- Games Another great way to pass the time while you are waiting is to play a game. They can be simple like who can name the most rides or most Disney characters, who can stand on one foot the longest, or who can be quiet the longest (love this one!). Or they can be more complex like Disney trivia questions or finding hidden Mickeys.
- Rewards (aka bribery!) When my kids were younger, I would carry tiny stickers with me and when I “caught” them being good in line, I would give them a sticker. At the end of each day, they could trade their stickers in for money towards souvenirs. You can set the value of the stickers to whatever you like. I usually paid $1 per sticker.
Hopefully using a few of these tips and tricks will help keep your kids occupied and happy while waiting in line! They sure worked for me and my boys!
What about you? Do you have any great tips and tricks for keeping your kids occupied while waiting in line? If so, please share them in the comments section!