Any Disney adventure, whether it be to a Disney Park or on a Disney Cruise, is going to involve some waiting in line. If you have been to the parks, you probably know there are three different lines to stand in before you even get into the park. Once you enter the park, there are lines for food, rides, shows, and to meet the characters. On busy days, those lines can get quite long, which can be difficult, especially if you are traveling with kids. In our many adventures to the lands and seas of Disney, I have accumulated a rather extensive screen-free bag of tricks to keep my children (and myself!) occupied while we wait for our next adventure to begin.
Lines to go through security, entering the Magic Kingdom
- Snack. Hungry people are grumpy people. Keep a few snacks in your bag, or stop by a food cart on your way to a long line to pick up something to snack on. Make sure you also throw in a few wet wipes if your snack is messy (if you haven’t yet given your 3 year old a Mickey ice cream bar, take my word for it, you are going to need lots of wet wipes!) Almost all ride and show lines at the parks have garbage cans when you get close to the actual attraction, so you can toss your trash there. I like to also keep an empty ziplock bag in my purse for leftovers (although I haven’t tried that for ice cream; probably not a good idea).
- I Spy. Yes, the age old game. I spy, with my little eye, something ______________ (insert a color). The other people then have to take turns asking yes/no questions or guessing things they can see that are that color. This is especially great for reinforcing color recognition with the preschool set, but older kids enjoy the guessing aspect as well and can take turns being the spy.
- Numbers/Letters. My 3 year old loves to play numbers, a variation on I Spy where you search for a specific number. Recognizing numbers by sight is new for him, and he is happy to choose the number we are searching for. The first person to spot that number (or letter) gets to choose the next number to search for. This can be great math reinforcement for older kids. Instead of just finding the number 100, they can find enough numbers to add (or subtract, multiply, or divide) up to 100.
- Plan. What are you going to do next? Get out the map (in the parks) or navigator (on board) and allow each person to pick what they most want to do that day, then put together a plan to make one wish happen for each person.
- I’m Going to Disney. This is an alphabet and memory game (but don’t tell… half the fun is to keep them guessing why they can or can’t come along!)
Leader: “I’m going to Disney and I’m taking along some apples. Would you like to join me?”
Person 2: “I’m going to Disney and I’m taking along apples and __________.” (Here the next person has to fill in something that starts with “B”. If they don’t guess something that begins with B, they can’t come along). Let’s say this person guesses a bear.
Person 3 (or back to the leader if there are only 2 of you): “I’m going to Disney and I’m taking along some apples, a bear, and ___________.” (This person has to fill in something that begins with C, or they don’t get to come along).
The game continues listing everything that the group is bringing along to Disney that follows the alphabet rule. Even if kids figure out the reason why they can or can’t come along early in the game (because it does or does not follow alphabetical order), it is still great memory practice to remember what everyone is bringing along for the entire alphabet.
Lines to go through security, entering Disneyland
- High/Low. We play this all the time at home at the end of the day as a check in to see how everyone is going, but it can be a great conversation started during the day as well. Each person takes a turn telling the highlight and low point of their day so far. My kids will often surprise me with things I didn’t realize were so important to them being the highlight of the day.
- Yoga Challenge. Most lines only have a little bit of room, and those Cast Members are good at getting people to fill in all the available space. There is still typically enough room for a yoga balance pose. Learn a few common poses (tree, eagle, mountain) and have a competition to see who can keep their balance the longest.
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- Sing. Encourage your kids to join you in singing some of your favorite Disney songs.
- Name That Tune. There are different ways to play Name That Tune. You can sing part of a song and they have to tell you what movie or show it is from. Or you can sing part of a phrase and they have to fill in the blanks:
- The circle of ________________
- The bare necessities of life will come to _________
- There you see her, sitting there across __________
- The seaweed is always ________________, in somebody else’s ____________
- Compliment Game. Compliments are free, they make other people feel good, and they help kids (and adults) practice polite conversation. Encourage your kids to compliment someone around them in line. Remind them that to be a true compliment, you need to make eye contact and make sure you speak loudly enough that the person can hear you, and use a genuine tone of voice. You can even make it a competition to see who can give the most compliments throughout the day; whoever has the highest number by the end of the day gets to pick the (last ride; snack; dinner location; etc).
- Shows. Disney is great about providing entertainment while you wait. Take advantage of the great ride queues, entertainment, and shows while you are waiting in line.
Cars Land Street Show
- Scavenger Hunt. Who can be the first to find a yellow leaf? A red flower? Someone with Mickey on their shoes? *We would never pick a flower or disturb a plant; the leaves in these photos were found on the ground.
Creativity Challenge in A Bug’s Land, Disney’s California Adventure
- Creativity Challenge. Pick an object and see how many different ways you could use it. How many uses can you find for this leaf? (a hat, wrapping paper, a fan, a lightsaber, etc).
Do you like my hat?
- Observation Game. Pick one thing and see who can find the most. How many Mickey ears can you count? How many people are wearing glasses? How many cast members are within view? How many hidden Mickeys? How many people are wearing (red shirts; black shoes; Disney clothes; etc.)
- Read Aloud. Download an ebook to your phone and read while you wait. (Okay, so not screen-free, but still a great way to pass the time!)
- Dance. There is almost always music playing in line queues. Getting your grove on is a great way to pass the time.
- Pick a hand. It is amazing how this game never gets old for my kids. Keep a tiny toy in your bag (ideally, one per kid!) and play pick a hand until they find the toy. Then allow them to play with it while you wait. It doesn’t have to be something new each time, my kids will happily play pick a hand for toys they already own.
- Once Upon a Time. Group storytelling can help reinforce writing and storytelling skills and can be a fun way to pass the time. The first person begins with, “Once upon a time, _________________” and sets the scene with some details about the story in one sentence. The second person builds upon the same story with a new sentence. Keep taking turns telling the same story with everyone adding one new sentence.
- Staring Contest. Yep, kids still like that, especially if they can challenge an adult to play!
- Rock, Paper, Scissors. Another one that kids never tire of.
- Video Interview. If it is quiet enough in line (not always the case!) turn on the video and ask your kids some questions. Where are they, what are they doing next, what has been their favorite part of the trip so far, what characters have they met, what are they waiting in line for… Those video clips will be priceless once you get home.
- Photos. Some of my favorite trip pics are the ones I snap before we get to the big moment. Anticipation on my daughter’s face when she is next in line to meet Moana, my son’s nervous excitement before riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for the first time. Capture the journey, not just the destination.
Do you have any great ways to pass the time and engage your family while waiting in line? Feel free to share them in the comments below. I would love to add more to my bag of tricks!
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