Waiting in line at Disney can seem like a painful process for all ages, but trust me when I say a toddler waiting in line might be considered a form of torture. We opt for Fastpasses every time we hit the theme parks, but as Disney Annual Passholders, we can come and go without the stress of missing a ride we didn’t get to do that day. For those who travel, don’t have passes or those who truly just want to pack in a day of fun waiting in line with toddlers doesn’t have to be tortured.
Last year we waited in a special character meeting line for Hook and Snee for 1 hour. Hook doesn’t make appearances at Disney World, so this was a big deal for us here. We also got photos with Peter Pan’s shadow that day making it a 3 part photo pass experience for the hour-long wait. Here’s how we managed that wait with lots of fun and a few other tips on how to make the most of waiting in Disney lines with toddlers.
Discuss what you’re waiting for a few times while waiting but distract as well
There can be a tricky balance when it comes to talking up the ride or character meeting you’re about to experience when you still have 30+ minutes ahead of you. I often talk about how fun the experience is going to be, but make sure to distract when I need to. If you’re talking about the fun to-be-had and one of the toddlers says something like “I don’t want to wait anymore” or “Let’s just hurry up” then it’s time to very quickly distract them. I wouldn’t stay away from discussing the fun to be had, because sometimes we all need reminders of what is to come while we wait.
Play Unique Line Games
We play a couple of games when we wait in lines at Disney or have a wait in any place for that matter. A few game ideas include spotting colors, numbers, and shapes. My toddlers are at the age to learn these types of things so it brings them pride to find the letters or things they are currently learning in a new fun environment. Another fun game is telling stories, silly stories that are themed around the ride. One time a 45-minute wait flew by as I told a story of the silly fun we got into pretending we actually lived at Disney.
Have Snacks or Eat in Line
I’ve shared a few articles on the importance of making sure toddlers have food and snacks often. Have you met a hangry tired? ha! I’ll leave the stroller and backpack at the designated waiting area but grab a snack pack or quick service meal and slowly enjoy it while waiting in line. By the time we reach the ride or character meeting we’ve typically finished our treat and we’re happy with full bellies. A toddler (and parent) win-win.
Don’t Stress It
If you feel your stress level rising as you begin a long wait I would suggest trying that ride or experience another time. If you don’t want to miss out on what the Disney parks offer, take time to watch a show a the castle or explore the surroundings during a high-stress moment. Another thing to not stress is potty breaks. Once we waited to meet Olaf for 25 minutes and when we were next in line my oldest couldn’t wait one more minute to go potty. The cast member was beyond understanding and told fellow cast members that once I returned I was to be brought back to the front of the line. Keeping the kids calm is the way to go, so no limit adult stressors.
Make Friends in Line
My boys love making new friends, showing off their Disney toys, or just chatting in general. From time to time we’ve met a few families in line that were from a far distance which is exciting to us locals. Many families travel far to experience the magic of Disney and they’re proud to share how far they traveled and how long they will be in the Orlando area. A few simple quick conversation topics include asking what their favorite ride has been, what weather is like back home, and even talking about the ride or experience they’re currently waiting for.
There are so many ways to make waiting in lines at Disney with toddlers a fun experience. A friend brings a book with her to the park and they read a section of the book in line and she swears by it. I’ve found that random dance parties are fun too. All the silly things that bring kids joy work when you’re waiting, so have fun during a 10-minute wait or 60-minute wait. Once the ride or character meeting is over be sure to let the kids know how proud you are of them and how much you had together too!
If you just want to skip the lines altogether, read How to Avoid Waiting in Lines at Disney World. For more toddler tips read Unique Tips for Enjoying Walt Disney World with Toddlers.
You can find me pushing a double stroller through the magic most days.
I’m a toddler boy mom that has a passion for Florida living and all things Disney! As a Florida native and self proclaimed Disney staycation pro, I look forward to guiding you through the magic.