Liliane Opsomer, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids, shares with us waiting-line strategies for adults with young children.
Children hold up better through the day if you minimize the time they spend in lines. Arriving early, booking Fastpass+ for headliners, and using our touring plans greatly reduce wait times. Here are other ways to lower stress for kids:
Several attractions have minimum height and/or age requirements. Some couples with children too small or too young forgo these attractions, while others take turns riding. Missing some of Disney’s best rides is an unnecessary sacrifice, and waiting in line twice for the same ride is a tremendous waste of time. Instead, take advantage of switching off, also known as The Baby Swap or The Rider Swap (or The Baby/Rider Switch).
To switch off, there must be at least two adults. Adults and children wait in line together. When you reach a cast member, say you want to switch off. The cast member will divide the group into those riding first and those riding second—that is, the nonriding child and up to three supervising adults. The first group will enter the ride. The cast member will scan the MagicBands of the adults riding second, who then wait with the nonriding child in a designated spot near the ride entrance.
When the first group returns, those adults take over watching the nonriding child while the other adults return to the FastPass+ line. The cast member will scan the second group’s MagicBands again, after which the group enters the ride’s FastPass line. The entire group reunites after the second group finishes their ride.
Rider Switch passes—which are digital entitlements that are scanned into your MagicBand—must be used within 90 minutes, but they will not interfere with any other FastPasses. There is no cost to use the switching-off option.
Wise parents anticipate restlessness in line and plan activities to reduce the stress and boredom. In the morning, have waiting children discuss what they want to see and do during the day. Later, watch for and count Disney characters or play simple guessing games such as 20 Questions. Lines move continuously, so games requiring pen and paper are impractical. The holding area of a theater attraction, however, is a different story. Here, tic-tac-toe, hangman, drawing, and coloring make the time fly by. It also never hurts to have playing cards on hand.
Game apps are a great tool for staying entertained while waiting in a queue. In 2018 Disney rolled out the Disney Play App. The app offers trivia, games, and even music in all its parks. Note that in view to play certain games and earn badges you must be in a specific location in the park or in the queue of a ride. The free Play Disney Parks app is available for both Apple iOS and Android platforms from the App Store and Google Play. Make sure you turn your location service on and bring lots of battery power!
Again, bring lots of battery power!
Last-Minute Cold Feet
If your young child gets cold feet just before boarding a ride where there’s no age or height requirement, you usually can arrange a switch-off with the loading attendant. (This happens frequently in Pirates of the Caribbean’s caves and dungeons or as a child enters the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion.)
No law says you have to ride. If you reach the boarding area and someone is unhappy, tell an attendant you’ve changed your mind and you’ll be shown the way out.
If you enjoyed this post about waiting-line strategies, you may also enjoy reading about using a stroller or not when visiting the theme parks. For all your planning, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. The book even has a tear-out trivia game for each park at the end of each park chapter.