Other than losing your cellphone on the first loop of a roller coaster, long lines are the worst thing about a day at a theme park.
By noon, it’s hot and you have already burned every piece of small talk in your arsenal. Sure, some parks offer passes that let you bypass the line, but even then, you might need to spend a bit of time in the surrounding area so you don’t miss your turn.
The good news is some theme parks understand how boring it is to wait in line. There are rides that exist, and others in development, that replace traditional queues with live entertainment and other, more exciting, options. But there are still times when you will need to wait to score a seat on the best rides. Try a few of these ideas the next time you’re waiting.
Plan the rest of your day. Theme parks are huge. Use a park map to make a list of the rides you want to hit next.
Chat about the ride. Been on the ride before? Scare your friends with a story about how terrifying it is.
Talk about its movie. Many rides today are based on films. Talk about what you liked or what you didn’t.
Talk about food. Waiting in line makes me hangry. Talking about food? Now, that makes me happy.
Eat! Better yet, why not chomp on something tasty while you wait? If it’s something you bought, make sure it’s in a plastic bag or something that can be thrown away before you reach the front of the line.
Recite lines from movies. Take turns reciting famous movie lines and see who can correctly guess the most.
Smartphone games. Free game apps like charades and trivia get everyone involved and make the time go faster.
Talk about politics. Just kidding.
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Start a rap battle. Take turns saying words or sentences that rhyme. If you need some inspiration to get started, pick an object around you. Theme parks are full of interesting stuff.
Pick a category. Choose a topic like ’90s cartoons or 18th century war generals (know your audience) and find out who can name the most.
Thumb wrestle. ’Nuff said. But be aware that a full-blown competition with others in line could break out at any moment.
Play “I Spy.” An oldie but a goodie. Pick something and give a clue. Let everybody guess, and if they need another hint, do another round.
Play “20 Questions.” Another classic. Pick an object or a person, but keep it secret. Then let everyone else in your group take turns asking a yes or no question followed by a guess. When someone guesses correctly, it’s their turn. Pick a toughie and you could reach the front of the line before somebody gets it right.
Play “I Went to the Market.” This memory game starts with the first player stating, “I went to the market and bought a _____.” Fill in the blank with something you buy at a grocery store. Each person who goes next recites the sentence that was just said but tacks on another item. The sentence gets longer with every turn.
“Fortunately, Unfortunately.” The point of this storytelling game is to keep it going as long as possible. It starts when the first player says something positive like “Two children found a winning lottery ticket on the way to the grocery store.” The next player continues the story with something unfortunate like “but they dropped it in the rain and it slid down into a sewer.” Players alternate fortunate and unfortunate sentences until a satisfying conclusion is reached.
Bring some sticker puzzles. Great for kids, these puzzles often come in books that you can leave in the cubbies at the front of the line. You can probably find one based on your child’s favorite movie or TV show, too.
Or carry a coloring book. This is going to require sitting or a wall to be done right, but your kids will make it work.
Bubbles! Another good one for bored kids (or really bored adults). Keep them occupied for a few minutes with a bottle of bubbles. It could also be a chance to teach them about line etiquette, i.e., not blowing bubbles in the faces of other guests.
Two truths and a lie. Here’s another board-less, card-less game you can play anywhere. One person tells two true statements about his or her life or personality plus one fib. For example, think “I like to play guitar. I like to eat. I have skydived.” The other players take turns guessing which of the three is the lie.
Play the alphabet game. This one is fun for kids or adults. Choose a topic like fruits or celebrities. Then name something that belongs to that topic that starts with the letter A. Continue with B, C, D, etc., and see how far you can get!
Talk about things that matter. Sure, everybody is there to have fun, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask about school or life in general. You could learn something new about your kids or friends that could start an interesting conversation.
Discuss your next vacation. OK, maybe you want to stick to enjoying this one, but it doesn’t hurt to dream!