Tips for minimizing waiting in line meltdowns?


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2002
String puzzles; and bonus points if you bring extras and teach the other kids in line. Seriously, I take a ball of string with me to the parks. I have a little folding scissors on my key ring (or nail clippers will work), and when we get stuck in a line, I cut off 6 feet or so, tie a square knot to make it a loop, and practice string puzzles with the kids.

Now here's the fun part; string puzzles are a dying art, and lots of other kids get curious. Their adults will notice, and more often than not, you'll end up with folks outdoing themselves to remember this cool thing they used to be able to do, and showing the kids how. It goes way beyond "cup & saucer".

Another one that works really well with girls is clapping rhymes. (Boys are fairly useless with this one, I'm afraid; most of them would not be caught dead doing a clapping rhyme. To his credit, DH has tried to get the hang of it with us, He's laughably bad at it., but a good sport.) This one is great because clapping rhymes vary geographically, and if you are lucky enough to get an international crowd in your part of the queue you may get a chance to learn ones that you've never heard before. You do need to establish a "no yelling, and we clap LIGHTLY" rule -- otherwise your hands will be aching before you've progressed 50 feet.


DIS Veteran
Feb 19, 2019
We have a fire tablet and a cell phone with out service ( tracphone that was 19.99) they have really come in handy. Besides vacation we use them at doctors offices etc. If you have prime you have free movie/tv show dLs. As well as some games.
  • Ohiostatefan606

    Aug 16, 2019
    We always make a lunch reservation. This way everyone gets to sit down, order food (which can be shared) and some one brings you the food! Our sit down lunches have been a life saver every year we've gone.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 4, 2017
    We always make a lunch reservation. This way everyone gets to sit down, order food (which can be shared) and some one brings you the food! Our sit down lunches have been a life saver every year we've gone.
    This is a good one and one we personally do every day.


    Dec 31, 2018
    We don’t over-do it. For us this can mean only doing fast pass rides and taking every other day off from the parks. We also give snacks in the line, play games, look at photos on phone. As well, we take lots of down time in between rides and experiences so LO can run around, play, etc. so he is not just cruising from line up to line up.


    Crazy Disney nut
    Nov 25, 2005
    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.
    Yep. My oldest 2 couldn’t stand each other at home, boy and girl as different as night and day!! BUT at WDW we had a week of perfect kids!!! Maybe it’s because it’s the most magical place on Earth??? I don’t know, didn’t care, they were being good!!!!
  • pjacobi

    DIS Veteran
    Jan 20, 2001
    By properly planning out your Disney trip, it will minimize the time waiting in line which will be appreciated by both kid and adults. Unfortunately, this requires that the adults do a lot of researching and planning prior to your trip, then have the discipline to follow the plan and make adjustments. Are you willing to make the effort for a successful Disney trip?



    Feb 6, 2018
    Another thought: be cautious about interactive ques (I guess this also falls under "know your kids"). That was really the only cause of a meltdown on our recent trip.

    The interactive ques are SO cool and my kids were super excited about them. That said, the lines need to move and you can't just stand in one place because it causes a bottleneck. If your kids aren't good with detaching themselves from an activity that they've just started, it can go badly quickly. We did Winnie the Pooh just once because of this and we did manage to keep them moving but we immediately ruled out doing it again because of the que. It's also stressful given that not all parents are really keeping an eye on their kids (our daughter got hit by a kid twice in the Winnie the Pooh area). It's a lot of young kids smushed together and not all get the taking turns concept, so I think that heightens the stress.

    Our meltdown was 100% with Dumbo. The interactive que only opens if there is enough of a line and my kids super wanted to do it (it's an indoor climbing/play place type deal). We waited til mid-day and warned them that as soon as the buzzer went off, it was time to leave. Needless to say, it went off in about 10 minutes and my three year old pitched an epic meltdown and we had to quickly exit out the back door without riding the ride (which caused a second meltdown, but we just let him scream it out in the back area... it exits between Barnstormer and the tent and obviously no one was around to have to suffer through hearing that). We weren't going to allow him to ride with that poor of behavior, but after that, we decided no more interactive ques at all.

    In terms of playing with the rope, we reminded our kids a ton on the first day but they were basically fine after that. I'd just be prepared to say it three hundred times on the first day ha!


    Apr 6, 2011
    Talk, play I-spy, play charades, those clapping games (concentration), etc. Honestly most kids with parents who dont' totally ignore them and stare at their phones usually are okay. We recently were at HS for Presidents day w/e and were (sadly) behind a family with three young (3 ish) children. Mom and dad totally ignored them and focused on pounding beers and staring at their phones. The kids were OUT OF CONTROL, but a little attention, direction and focus by mom and dad would have kept them from terrorizing everyone in line. Also, as long as you are TRYING as a parent to make things better, most people are pretty kind. Its those people who just let them run like animals and ignore it who really make folks lose their minds. ;)


    Oct 4, 2016
    We do a lot of the things in this thread.
    We don't wait in long lines. Its just not worth the pay off. Fast passes and do short line attractions. It helped us that we have child swap working for us on some fast passes, so the 8 year old and 3 year old got to ride twice a few times, while we swapped with the baby.

    This last trip, I did I Spy in line a few times to success, talked about the trip, a small snack on the line. Also mentioned above, I stayed off my phone in line, despite the desire to check on fast pass options, scroll facebook etc.

    The other key is to not over tire the kidlets. The 3 year old rode in the stroller on any long walk, it let him have more energy to stand and do things. We tried to call it a day before the whole crew melted down to fight another day.

    Other non-ride areas can be a lot of fun for the kids. The boneyard was a big hit in AK. the water play area by dumbo was another huge hit on a hot day.
  • Afabena

    Sep 20, 2018
    Snacks! And a bottle of water for when they say “I’m thirsty”. My daughter loves I spy and will play that forever. We also talked a lot about what they liked so far, what they were excited to do next etc. some of the line queues are also interactive which helps.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 7, 2014
    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.
    THIS! We had great story telling times in line, made friends with people around etc. I hate the idea of the in line phone game that Disney came out with- how many times do you get face to face time like that with your kids?

    That said, we had a 30 minute rule- we skipped lines that had more than a 30 minute wait because I was not sure how our 2 year old would handle longer than that. We used the Lines app to get around quickly and missed a few rides because of the wait, but we just plan another trip haha.

    IN line, we had snacks and stickers and always went pee before lining up.
    The queues are so cool, they keep kids pretty entertained too.

    Deb & Bill

    DVC-Trivia Contest, Apr-2006: Honorable Mention
    Mar 20, 2000
    Our first trip our son was 4 and we stayed at the Polynesian. It was really nice to leave the park when he got tired and head to the pool or take a nap. We also had our two nieces along (10 and 12) and they loved hitting the pool with their Uncle Bill because he bought them anything they wanted like hair braiding, stuffed animals, a snack. This was long before FP, so we got up and got to the park at opening, did as much as we could, had something to eat and headed to the pool. We took the afternoons off and then went back for dinner or parades or more rides. AK hadn't opened yet at the time, so we only had the three parks to go to. This was supposed to be a one and done trip, but we found DVC on that trip and 56 trips later... But DVC was a lot less expensive back then and only had two WDW resorts (OKW and BWV) and two offsite resorts (HHI and VB).

    We hit the bathrooms before we got into line, but one time that didn't work (Splash Mt), we got through the line to boarding and I had to leave with our son to go to the bathroom. My husband stayed with the girls on the ride. The CMs on the ride told us to come back to the exit and we could load and ride there. The girls got to ride again. Not sure they do that still, but it was nice for that one time.


    May 19, 2016
    Only once did one of my 4 kids start to meltdown in line. She’s 2. Sucker bribe worked. Lol. My others are 9, 7, and 5. No issues. We honestly planned our days well, rope dropped, and worked the fast pass system to where the longest line we waited in was for the Peoplemover! I never used any electronics to entertain or anything. They were fine. :)


    DIS Veteran
    Jul 16, 2016
    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.
    I tried to let my son(9 at the time)choose but he just didn't wanna wait for anything over 5-10 min. Legit had a melt down at Rafiki photo op cuz I knew he wanted to have a photo but he didn't wanna wait for him to come back from break. And wanted to just leave the area. Few tears later and a "we might not see him again this trip" got us the time we needed to get the photos. Of course he smiled and I will always remember that picture and say.. "man he was miserable 2 min before this photo".

    We didn't do alot of things that trip and looking back he's upset about it. So a few years later and Abit older I hope this trip goes better.

    Sorry op no advice from me I failed hard on my son's first trip. I planned alot and took most of it out and it was still to much for him to handle.


    Earning My Ears
    Apr 28, 2014
    We have never had a meltdown in line however my 3 year old's meltdown in the middle of Tomorrowland was epic! That one was completely our fault. He was overtired. We were actually leaving the park when the meltdown started b/c he wanted to ride Buzz one more time! We shouldn't have ridden it the first time b/c we knew it was time to leave.

    As far as in line I recommend little snacks and another easy to carry with you cheap idea is Dum Dum lollipops. Yes I realize it's sugar but they are tiny and it's just enough to make a young one super happy. Also the I Spy and just interacting with guests around you. Most people are super nice and enjoy their kids chatting with your kids! Agree on the staying off of your phone except to grab your next fastpass! Kids are amazingly resourceful if they don't have technology blocking their creativity. Last time my kids got to talking about where they would want to work at Disney and then it went to if they could live anywhere in WDW where would it be. The pros and cons of different areas/attractions were hilarious in the eyes of 3 boys!


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