The weeks before and after Easter are some of the busiest at Walt Disney World, which means that even with using FASTPass, you are going to be spending time in lines for attractions, as well as restaurants, transportation, stores and bathrooms on your vacation. That's hard enough for adults, but for kids, it can be seemingly impossible.
Cast members recognize this. The queues at Disney World have always cleverly helped tell the story of an attraction. Recently, Imagineers have begun to ramp up the effort to make lines more interactive as well.
After a lengthy refurbishment, Space Mountain reopened at the end of 2009 with big-screen video games along the stand-by queue. When Pooh's Thoughtful Spot closed in April 2010, the huge tree was moved in front of The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. The ride's queue now wraps around the tree and little guests can explore the garden-themed play area. In March 2011, a new queue for the Haunted Mansion opened, allowing guests to peruse the graveyard more fully while waiting to go inside.
Storybook Circus, the first area of the Fantasyland expansion project to soft-open, is expected to have an indoor interactive queue for Dumbo The Flying Elephant when that section of Magic Kingdom is complete.
But, even with Disney's improvements, it's tough to keep little kids from melting down in long lines. Here are a few things you can do to help keep them entertained:
** Tuck a new coloring book and crayons or word-search book and pen in your bag for surprises. The $1 bins at Target and Michael's often have these items themed with various Disney characters. Perfect to stash away until your trip!
** Bring snacks and bottles for water. Disney World allows guests to bring in their own food and drinks, except alcohol or glass containers, and there are water fountains throughout the parks. In addition, guests can request cups of ice or ice water at no charge from counter-service food locations. Having a snack in line not only saves time later, but it also gives everyone an energy boost.
** Pull out your family's copy of Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets and see how many classic Mickey icons you can spot in the queue. You can report any new finds to author Steven Barrett at http://www.hiddenmickeyguy.com/. Read his blogs on AllEars.net at http://land.allears.net/blogs/stevebarrett/
** Electronics, such as a Nintendo DS, iPod Touch, smart phone or other handheld gaming device, are worth their weight in gold. I resisted bringing electronics when my kids were little, because I mistakenly thought screen time had no place at The Most Magical Place on Earth. I have since decided they are perfect for long lines -- and maintaining my sanity. Be sure to pack the cord, too, because if the battery dies you can drop the device off at Guest Relations to charge for free.
** If you have a point-and-shoot or disposable camera, hand it to your child and see what he or she photographs. You might be surprised by the perspective of a child.
** Check out the theme-park map and plot your next few stops. This is more important than ever with the FASTPass times now being enforced. For more than a decade, the end time was ignored, meaning guests could come back any time after the window opened. (Read more about the reason behind the change in my post http://land.allears.net/blogs/guestblog/2012/02/disney_world_to_enforce_return.html)
** If all else fails, make friends with the families in line with you.
The previous post in this blog was Disney World creates themed Easter baskets and lets guests customize their own.
The next post in this blog is DisneyQuest is more than video gaming for kids.