Top 5 Tips for Surviving Disney Standby Lines with Kids

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on March 07, 2013 at 4:02 am with 12 Comments

While we generally pass by lines with more than a 15-minute wait, we have been tricked into longer queues.  I’m looking at you, Astro Orbiter!  Or sometimes the wait for your dining reservation can be a little lengthier than anticipated.  Maybe the monorail stalled again.  In any situation, it’s nice to have a little bag of tricks, so to speak, to keep the kiddos happy.

1. Keep Easy Snacks in Your Park Bag

When anxiously awaiting your turn to soar over California after the FastPasses are gone for the day, a little treat can turn a frown upside down.  We always pick up a box of Disney fruit snacks before a trip.  They can quell the ‘I’m hungries’ in a pinch, and who doesn’t love munching on cute treats?  Other convenient kid-friendly snacks – granola bars, crispy rice cereal treats and trail mix.  We try to avoid anything that can explode in the bag or end up crushed.

Get Park Wise: Counter service kids’ meals tend to come with a pre-packaged component (often a cookie, carrots or grapes).  If they don’t get eaten, stash them in your bag for later.

2. Go to the Restroom Before Getting in Line

Where can you find this highly themed restroom?

Most parents know that all too familiar phrase: “But, I don’t haaave to go!!”  If you know you’re getting into a long line, be sure to make the pit stop anyway.  Not much annoys your line-mates quicker than shuffling back and forth to let you out of and back into the line when little Cinderella has an emergency.  That said, if you do have to run out of line, make sure to smile and be polite on your way out, and they’ll be more inclined to let you back in.

3. Catch Up On Your Reading

My little Disney fan could keep himself occupied for a good while with Disney Parks maps.  He loves studying every little detail and figuring out where he wants to go next.  A friend’s daughter always has her latest chapter book in tow.  Disney Parks guides and trivia books are great to read in line, too.  Several titles point out little secrets hidden throughout the parks, which can be perfect while moving through attraction queues.  My two park-goers are often happy thumbing through their autograph books, as well.

Get Park Wise: Pick up guide maps, brochures and other Disney reading material while walking through the park.  Not only can these keep kids enthralled, but you may also learn about new-to-you experiences to try.

4. Play a Game

Several newer and newly refurbished attractions feature interactive and entertaining queues.  These are actually a lot of fun, and sometimes we even go through the standby lines just to enjoy the detail Disney puts into them.  When you’re stuck in the same place for a bit, start playing.  Search for hidden Mickeys (and other famous silhouettes).  Play I Spy.  Pull out that trivia book you’re toting and play a little Disney Q and A.  Keep physical games to a minimum, though.  Remember, you’re stuck with the families on either side of you for the duration.  Don’t make them mad.

5. Go Digital

Yeah, you knew this was coming, and I’m ready to be chastised for it.  Let the kids bring handheld video games, or download some Disney game apps for your smart phone.  I limit screen time at home, but sometimes I take the easy way out at Disney and allow a Where’s My Water? marathon while we’re waiting.

Get Park Wise: Keep electronic time to a minimum.  Video games are an easy boredom fix, but make sure the kiddos are involved in the vacation.  And the least amount of time the electronics are out, the less chance they’ll have of getting lost.

Of course, kids don’t have to be entertained 24/7.  A lot of times, we use waits just to chat.  We talk about our favorite thing so far, what we want to do next or what we’d be doing if we were at home.  After all, standing in line at Disney beats math class, right?

Do you entertain the kids in line?  What’s your must-have item or tip to make long waits more bearable?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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12 Comments

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  1. EXCELLENT article, Jessica! I wrote down two of the tips for an upcoming trip, and I hope to read more of your articles, even if they are unrelated to this one.

    What were the third & fourth items on that kid’s plate wrapped in plastic? I write this a Jacob Marley from beyond the grave from a life of high cholesterol, those fries & nuggets look exceptionally unhealthy. You can do better, parents. Even while on vacation.

    Off topic rant continued: It’s disturbing how unhealthy our kid’s friends eat. We’ve heard our friends say, “She won’t eat that” or “He’ll only eat. . .” Maybe kids can each have one vegetable that it’s understood they don’t have to eat that you avoid serving. but that’s it.

    Parents, I will give you further instructions later in an even more condescending tone. :)

    • I’m not even sure those qualify as chicken nuggets! Haha!! That’s actually why I originally took that picture. I thought they looked awful! If I remember correctly, the wrapped item is a celiac-safe cookie. Not sure where the fourth item is you’re referring to…the juice box, maybe?
      Fortunately, for like-minded people, Disney is starting to offer healthier options for both kids and adults. Keep an eye out for the Mickey Check on menus, both quick and table service. It is Disney, though, so feel free to splurge on that Dole Whip or something gooey at the bakery.

    • Funny I don’t have young kids at home anymore and thought the same thing about the fries and nuggets. Gross looking and not healthy.

      • They look like little rocks or something. Haha! It’s weird because I’ve seen better looking chicken strips, etc. around property, but these were being passed off as edible.

  2. I can’t wait until our next trip when I’ll be able to bring Dobby the trained Service Dog along with me to keep ME entertained in long lines! Dobby loves kids and Princesses; while out shopping or on public transportation, if I hear a fussing child I head straight over and Dobby has them quiet in thirty seconds!

    I don’t know anything about video games but I do know we survived those long lines without them. I was thinking how sad I’d feel to see tweens or adolescents on a family vacation wearing headphones. Waiting alone in line is no fun. I can attest to that.

    • What an interesting take. I bet you’d be a great linemate for dog lovers!! Some of our party has terrible allergies, though, so don’t take offense if you ever see us and we back up a bit. ;) My littles would love it, though!!
      I agree about video games for the most part. I hate to see someone totally disconnected from their family on vacation. That’s why we limit it to long waits, and they just have to go without sound since I don’t let them bring headphones. Haha! It may not be a popular choice (or maybe it is, I see more and more people using technology in the parks), but it works for us.
      I did a sort of solo trip last year, and I actually really enjoyed waiting in line alone. No one to keep up with, and I met lots of very interesting people.

  3. Our family always goes to WDW during off-peak times, so we rarely wait more than 15-20 minutes for any attraction, but we had an activity for long standby waits that works pretty well.

    From an early age, we encouraged our kids to keep trip journals. They could write down whatever they wanted — attractions ridden, meals eaten, characters seen, whatever they wanted — but we wanted them to document their experiences in their own books. Long standby lines were great places to make notes about what we had done over the previous few hours. The whole family could go over recent activity, then the kids could make notes in their journals.

    Now that the kids are older, we don’t really push them to keep the journals; Facebook updates seem to be the journal of choice these days. But it worked well when the kids were elementary school age.

    • Great idea! We have the kiddos keep journals to turn in since we often miss a couple school days. We usually wait until the end of the day, but they’d be much more, um, alert during the day. Haha!! Thanks for the tip!

  4. Sorry Jessica but as an old school Disney-goer I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve been standing in Disney lines since 1956. The Imagineers have gone to great effort to make the wait entertaining and relevant to the ride (except Dumbo). Having a child eating, plugged-in, or tweeting or whatever until the moment they step on the ride defeats the entire Disney experience. I would agree with your article if it was the Fun Zone at the county fair – but not Disney. Little kids should be able to be entertained and excited in the queue, be able to survive any hunger (or boredom) and spend the time BEING at Disney. As for their older siblings…my rule is leave the electronic toys at home or stay home.

    • Ever been stuck in the Soarin’ standby queue at Epcot? Before or after the games, it’s pretty much just blank walls. Not too exciting. I did mention the in-queue entertainment and Disney details and just plain ol’ chatting. There are lots of different types of children and ways to approach your family’s vacation. Thanks for sharing yours!

  5. My method of passing time in long lines is to take pictures of all the details you find in line (along with my hands and shoes includes just to prove I was really there). With digital cameras and ever increasing memory cards, I probably have close to 200 pictures from Tower of Terror lines alone, the gardens are definately a fun place to wait and photograph due to the variety to plants, unusual angles and different lighting conditions through out the day. Letting everyone in the party call out the subject and seeing who can get the best, worst or mist unusual shot is a fun way to pass the time…just have to make sure to control the autoflash to minimze the annoying others in line factor. The best part with digital is you don’t have to pay to develop the bad shot, and if you need room at the end of the trip you can delete the bad ones as needed. In the process I do have several fun computer backgrounds from this process.

    • You had me at Tower of Terror!! It’s my favorite, and I absolutely LOVE taking pictures in the queue!!! We’ve always FastPassed it, or the waits have been crazy short, so I don’t have as many shots as I’d like. The boiler room in California Adventure’s tower is amazing, and the waits were long enough that I got a lot of nice shots in there. Hmmm, now I’m thinking I might do standby when we’re at Disney World next week just to take pictures. Great tip!!!