Tips for minimizing waiting in line meltdowns?

Jen81NYC

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Hi! Sorry for the multiple posts. Going to Disney for first time in April (the week after Easter) with my two boys—a just turned 7 (he’ll turn 7 while there!) and a 4.5 year old. I’m super excited about the trip but also have some trepidation—my kids are definitely the “mess with the rope/have to touch everything” types, not the greatest of listeners and the 4.5yo is not super patient with lines 🤦🏻‍♀️ We’re staying at Poly to allow for easy and quick afternoon breaks and already booked early side FPs. Any other tips and tricks for keeping whining somewhat in check when we do inevitably have to wait for stuff? I know there will be some meltdowns of course but would like do what I can to make sure this is actually a somewhat enjoyable trip, lol.
Thanks!!
 

ainswokp

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 22, 2019
Hi,

I have a 2 yo and a 4 yo and in the last year we did a 9 day trip to WDW and a 2 day to Disneyland. It sounds like our 4 yo are the same, and my 2 yo in line does a combination of standing, being carried, rolling on the ground. It is tricky but a couple tips.

First, we did rope drop every day we went to the parks because that allowed us to crank out the most amount of rides with the shortest aggregate wait. I know this sounds obvious but I did a lot of planning strategy not only on FP but also geographically on how close things are in the park so we could maximize what we were doing in an area.

Second tip is if you know it is going to be a longer line, save the snacks for line if possible. If we picked up a go go squeeze or lolipops or whatever, we usually waited until we were in the line. Obviously you don't want an ice cream cone melting everywhere while your kids are bumping into other people, but just best judgment. Also, drinks are probably a no no as you don't want a bathroom emergency in a longer line. In terms of rubbish there is almost always a barrel at the front of a queue, and separately we always had a spare mesh bag for trash.

Third, the queues now are not like how they were when I was a kid 30 years ago. There is a lot to see and do in the line, so you just need to point it out and get them engaged if you can.

Fourth, and this is obvious but hard to execute, just relax. Your kids are going to have their moments. If you break they will break. I remember my dad always saying "WDW is the child abuse capital of the world" - there are people all over the park having meltdowns - kid on parent, parent on kid, kid on kid. You won't be alone, just keep your cool. If you do I can promise you the good moments will far outweigh the meltdowns. A year out from our first trip with the kids, I don't remember a single fit they had in the park even though I know they had them, really all that sticks with us is the things we all enjoyed.
 

MarkLT1

Yes, that is a hidden Mickey on my dog's rump.
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
One thing we found last year (9 and 5 year old) that worked GREAT in line (and actually made us some line friends in the process) is a phone game called "Heads Up" or "Charades" (the kids versions of each). Essentially what you do is put your phone on your forehead with the screen pointing out, and a picture shows up. The people around you have to give you clues, and you need to guess what it is. If you guess it correctly, you tilt the phone down, it gets counted, and the next picture pops up. If you cant guess it, you can tilt the phone up, and you get a strike, and the next picture comes up. Each round is a minute long or something. Then the next person gets to be the guesser. In many cases, we had other kids in line next to us, ask if they could play too.

It is an "electronic" game, but only in the sense that it tracks the score and swaps out the pictures. It worked great for us.

I just thought of another fun line game, especially at somewhere like Disney. "I Spy." One person finds something around them, and says "I spy, with my little eye.. something green!" and then the other people need to figure out what they've 'spied'. Since there is so much going on in the WDW queues, there tend to be a lot of things to see/spy, and it can be entertaining for a while.

And as ainswokp mentioned, snacks!! Line time is a great time for eating, and an eating kid, is typically a more content kid. The same goes for dads... as they say (and by 'they', I mean 'me').. "A snack in line, will turn 'hangry' to 'fine'" :D
 
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  • jlb727

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 13, 2019
    I second Heads Up and I Spy! My kids (6 and 9) also like “Would You Rather.” They enjoy coming up with crazy options. :) You can try to do a progressive story, so one person starts with kind of a crazy premise and then passes it to another person, who adds to the story and keep going.

    Another thing that’s not really a game is you can talk about are “highs and lows”. What has your “high” of the trip been so far and what has your “low” been and have them discuss why. Snacks are great too!
     

    Thing 1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 4, 2015
    We love heads up. The biggest thing we found when ours were little was to be sure we met their needs. We made sure they got enough sleep and did not get over tired. We made sure we had plenty of not too junky snacks and they stayed feed and hydrated. We went at their pace. A stroller is fine if that makes the day better. With these things in place, we had a no whine rule. If anyone, including adults, needed something, they let everyone know.....food, rest, break whatever, but no one could whine....this could of course include meltdowns, that just was not an issue for us. It works really really well. Of course use all these other great idea too. Keep them rested, fed and happy.😁
     

    Brian4891

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2019
    Honestly, the best thing you can do to avoid meltdowns in lines is to avoid long lines in the first place.

    Use rope drop, FastPass and rider swap to your advantage as much as you possibly can. Take breaks during the peak wait times. If you do all that then you should never need to wait longer than a half hour for anything.

    I see people entering lines with 90 minute wait times with little kids all the time and I just don't know how they do it. The rides are all great but none of them are worth waiting that long with little kids in my opinion.

    Just waiting the 15 minutes it sometimes takes to get through the FastPass line is all my crew can handle sometimes.

    But for the times you are forced to wait, snacks/candy are a life saver. My kids also liked to look at the pictures we had taken so far. They also enjoyed looking at the map of the park and trying to figure out where we were and what was around us.
     

    NickC

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 15, 2018
    I think it's a good idea to make sure the kids are rested. One year, when my kids were around that age, we went from RD to fireworks all week. By the end of the trip, they were exhausted and weren't the most pleasant kids in the parks.
     
  • Bellex917

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 12, 2019
    We have gone the week of Easter the past two years and really avoided lines as best as we could by maximizing our Fast Passes. We'd go at Rope Drop and do a few attractions, then start with FP rides about 1.5 hours into the day. We used all 3 FP back to back. I'd check into the first ride, then start trying to modify the time of the 2nd FP to bring it up closer to the time we were currently at. It worked every time (BUT we weren't doing the big attractions- my kids were too small/timid for some of the rides like FOP or SDD). We'd go through all 3 FP quickly, then we'd just keep getting more so we were continually using FP and not waiting on the regular line.

    With that said, there's still waiting, and there's def meltdowns and tears. When you're in Disney you're constantly surrounded by kids melting down lol! We did a lot of snack breaks and tried to take it slow.
     
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    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    Hi! Sorry for the multiple posts. Going to Disney for first time in April (the week after Easter) with my two boys—a just turned 7 (he’ll turn 7 while there!) and a 4.5 year old. I’m super excited about the trip but also have some trepidation—my kids are definitely the “mess with the rope/have to touch everything” types, not the greatest of listeners and the 4.5yo is not super patient with lines 🤦🏻‍♀️ We’re staying at Poly to allow for easy and quick afternoon breaks and already booked early side FPs. Any other tips and tricks for keeping whining somewhat in check when we do inevitably have to wait for stuff? I know there will be some meltdowns of course but would like do what I can to make sure this is actually a somewhat enjoyable trip, lol.
    Thanks!!

    You have chosen a busy time of year to visit so rather than figure out how to manage in long lines, I would figure out how to avoid them. You may want to consider using extra magic hours in the morning, and also getting to the parks at RD whenever possible. Use FP. Be realistic about their stamina. Don't push the envelope by staying longer for "one more ride" when you can see they are getting to their end. Leave the parks, have a nice lunch and then rest or swim. Dinner and maybe some evening entertainment to finish the day.

    Keep in mind you cannot do it all, so don't try.
     

    Jen81NYC

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2020
    You have chosen a busy time of year to visit so rather than figure out how to manage in long lines, I would figure out how to avoid them. You may want to consider using extra magic hours in the morning, and also getting to the parks at RD whenever possible. Use FP. Be realistic about their stamina. Don't push the envelope by staying longer for "one more ride" when you can see they are getting to their end. Leave the parks, have a nice lunch and then rest or swim. Dinner and maybe some evening entertainment to finish the day.

    Keep in mind you cannot do it all, so don't try.
    Thanks! To clarify, definitely not gonna seek any long lines or ride anything standby unless the lines are clearly short. Totally agreed on that. But I’m thinking about tactics for even a “short” FP line that may still be 30 mins, waits at security, waits for transportation, that kind of thing. I picked a monorail hotel to hopefully counter some of this stuff but still want to be prepared. And yes, booked the one Extra magic morning at MK that week and very excited about that! Unfortunately, I am limited to school breaks so no matter what, it’s gonna be a busy time. But we’re going for 6 nights and I picked what I thought was the best time despite the crowds—any summer heat would kill my husband and NYC’s Xmas break is super short (just the week between Xmas and New Year’s). NYC has a relatively “late” spring break and since spring break is spread out among the states, this week seemed like my best shot! I am nervous about the crowds but the alternative was not visiting at all so gonna hope for the best!
     

    sponica

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2017
    Your kids might surprise you, the kids we have at home are NOT the kids we have at Disney.

    Manage the expectations, there will be lines. I mean if you're flying they'll have to deal with the lines at the airport, the lines to board the plane, deboarding the plane, getting on magical express.

    My thing with lines is as long as they're moving i don't find them as bad, it's when it feels like you're standing in the same 3 feet forever that it feels awful.
     
  • Jen81NYC

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2020
    Your kids might surprise you, the kids we have at home are NOT the kids we have at Disney.

    Manage the expectations, there will be lines. I mean if you're flying they'll have to deal with the lines at the airport, the lines to board the plane, deboarding the plane, getting on magical express.

    My thing with lines is as long as they're moving i don't find them as bad, it's when it feels like you're standing in the same 3 feet forever that it feels awful.
    Do your kids surprise you in a good way or a bad way? Feel like it could go either way with mine! 😂
     

    sponica

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2017
    @Jen81NYC I only have the one right now, but she is one of those kids who INSISTS on being in her bed at 630. At Disney she was perfectly fine making it MUCH later. I was actually shocked by her utter lack of meltdowns when she wasn't in bed so early.

    Of course a 4 and a 7 year old might be content to just spend the entire week in the pool. 🤣
     

    Anna131517

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2019
    Don’t wait in long lines 😀. Rope drop, do your FP’s, then just do stuff with short lines or try to get additional FP’s. We never wait in a line that’s more than 25 minutes. Lines also tend to be shorter during parades (like the MK 3 pm parade), dinner, and around fireworks time. And definitely hit up Tom Sawyers Island at MK and the Bone Yard at AK to get some energy out,
     

    TOBS2010

    A dream is a wish your heart makes...
    Joined
    Oct 6, 2011
    You might be surprised---when we were there with my kids 6 and 3 last summer, they were good just looking around in line. That said, we typically avoided long lines whenever possible---relying on fast passes and trying to knock out as much as possible early in the day. Just go with the flow of your kids. When they are interested in something go with it---but also know when to walk away and move on. We often took a morning and afternoon "drink break" where we would just find somewhere to sit and rest. Ask them what they liked about their day or what they want to do---if they are invested their behavior will likely be what you hope for. My kids easily were happy swimming in the pool as much as possible at the end of the day.
     

    Feberin

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 6, 2014
    On our last trip we left it up to my kids if THEY wanted to wait in the line or not. My four year old shocked me with waiting in hour long lines a couple times to ride his favorites again.
     

    TheOneWithTheTriplets

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 27, 2018
    As the others have said, do your best to be strategic with your choices and avoid long lines. However, that's just not always how things work out.

    When I traveled with 5.5 year olds, some of the longest lines were for characters who don't offer FP. One thing that helped us a lot was bringing the character encyclopedia as an autograph book. We would pop open the book, pick which color Sharpie would work best with that character, and then read his or her page. If the line was really bad, we could flip to other characters from that movie, other characters we had met that week, etc. There were at least a couple of times (I'm remembering the Frozen sisters and Merida in particular) where we ended up with a small circle of kids enjoying an impromptu story time while waiting. :-)
     

    MonkeyKnifeFight

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 9, 2019
    We mostly only did fast passes to avoid meltdowns. After our initial 3 were out we kept checking the app for whatever was available. We had a 6 and 4 year old so had similar concerns as you. We also used the app to keep an eye on wait times and do whatever was shortest. I wish we had gone back to take a nap on some of the days and then stayed at the park later after, but my wife was running the marathon so we usually turned in fairly early.
     

    ivegotayen

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 13, 2017
    I put different snacks in ziplocks in my small shoulder bag: pretzels, apple slices, grapes, cheddar bunnies, maybe even some cookies, granola bars, etc. Then we may also get a popcorn bucket, because they're handy to hold and let them dig in. Popcorn is a big treat for my guys, so they will be totally content for the duration of a bucket. I do try and break out the snacks before they have a chance to touch anything. But if they do, I break out the hanitizer in the shoulder bag before they dig in. I use the type that wipes out norovirus, too. Purell won't.

    This keeps them occupied for some of the longer lines.

    15 minutes and less are super easy waits. 20 minutes and up is a good snack threshold. 10 minutes and under is often practically walk-on. 30 minutes can be a slog, but we manage.

    My shoulder bag has two side pockets for water bottles.

    If they get super antsy, some phone games are good. Worst case, we'll do retro Disney cartoons on the phone. They are used to watching with no sound, so it's not disruptive to others.

    We haven't been in a few years, and ours will be 10 and almost 8 next trip. They're bigtime bookworms, so I might even let them have kindles to read while we wait in the less interesting lines. We'll see how it goes. We're going during Crowd Level 1/2/3 days, so we may not even have a whole lot of waiting!
     

    grossmansr

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2009
    Believe it or not, some of our best memories have been made in line! Spend time talking, playing games, telling jokes, or even making "friends" with others in line.
     




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