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by Fancy Free Diva

Even the best planned trips to Walt Disney World mean that you’ll sometimes be left waiting: waiting in line for an attraction, waiting for the next show to start, waiting for your dinner. When we’re at home and waiting, I tend to pack and rely upon little “busy bags” filled with activities for my children, but at Walt Disney World, I try to minimize the things I pack in my park bag. And yet, as a parent trying to avoid meltdowns, I know I have to have something with me that will engage my children during those waits – bonus points for engaging the whole family and if it relates to Disney. After a lot of research, here are what I think are the best apps that you should download before heading to Disney – think of them as digital “busy bags,” if you will.

When I was trying to decide which apps to purchase and recommend, I used 4 different criteria:

  1. The app has to include family friendly content and age appropriate engagement for my 2-year-old and 5-year-old. I want each app to engage us all. I never want to see each person immersed in his or her own device, but I want us to really be together, especially when we’re on vacation.
  2. The app has to include Disney-centered content. We travel to WDW once a year, and I want us to be in that Disney bubble, even when we’re waiting.
  3. The app has to be a good value for the money I’m spending. Not all apps are free, and Disney vacations are already expensive enough. I want to maximize the value of these purchases.
  4. The app has to be active, not passive. The app has to encourage the family to do something, not just simply watch something, eyes glazed over and zoned out. Electronic-induced comas are not allowed.

Once I applied those criteria, I was able to narrow it down to just a few apps that my family has really enjoyed and that I think yours might, too.

  1. The first app on my list is Heads Up. You can download it from the Apple App Store and Google Play for $0.99 (as of the date of this article). You may have seen this game app on Ellen (the same Ellen from Ellen’s Energy Adventure in Epcot!), but if you’ve never heard of it (or thought about using it to pass time in line), it’s amazing. This is a super fun game for the whole family that’s easily adaptable, even for kids who can’t read. Here’s how it works: one person is the guesser. He or she holds the phone up to his or her forehead. The others in the family (or one person if you’re doing two-person teams) give clues. If the guesser figures out the item being displayed on the phone based on the given clues, he or she will flip the phone to bring up another item and earn more points. If you have little ones who can’t read, they can always be the guesser.

Diva Tip: if you’re going to let your little ones be the guesser, make sure your phone is protected against any potential drops onto the pavement!

Heads Up has added some Disney themed decks (there’s a Disney Parks deck and a Star Wars: The Force Awakens deck – you can download each deck for an additional $0.99), but we paid $0.99 to create our own deck. We made a list of our kids’ favorite Disney characters (Sofia the First, Mickey and Minnie, etc.) and theme park attractions (Goofy’s Barnstormer, for example), and while we’re waiting, we play, giving kid-appropriate clues (on this ride, you get to be in an airplane). Heads Up also has a built in camera feature that allows you to record and playback sessions, which can be hilarious to watch later. It’s also fun to watch the other people in line watch us; they seem to get a real kick out of how much fun we’re having, and they definitely notice how big the smiles on the kids’ faces are (and how little they whine and complain!). Here’s a video of our family playing while we wait:

 

  1. The second app you should download is Pictopia, a visual Disney trivia game that even my 2-year-old can engage with because of the pictures. The app itself is FREE for both Apple devices and Google Play devices, but it offers in-app purchases for additional decks of trivia cards, including the World of Disney, Disney Parks, Disney Villains, and an Animation Challenge (each additional deck is $1.99). This is a game you can play as an individual, in teams, or you can play and pass to set up a family friendly competition (the winner has to buy everyone a Dole Whip!). Because of the ages of our children, we usually choose the individual play option with one of the grown-ups reading the questions. The kids can look at the pictures and touch the phone screen to choose their answer – no reading required. Some of the questions are pretty challenging, and you can add the option of timed questions to increase your ability to score bonus points (like on a pub quiz). A sample question from the game looks like this: Which THREE of these princesses have siblings?

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The questions are fun, and the use of visuals makes the app appealing for young players, too.

 

  1. The third app I’m recommending is actually my favorite, but it really only works when you’re at a Disney park: Lots to Do In Line. You may have seen the book by the same title, but when you’re trying to limit the amount of stuff crammed into your park bag/diaper bag, the app wins. The app is a little on the expensive side, coming in at $5.99 each for Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the Google Play store ($6.99/WDW and $5.99/DL in the Apple App Store). I will tell you, though; it is well worth the cost. The thing I love about this app is that it is themed to each specific attraction or queue line in the parks. The app covers 74 different queue lines at Walt Disney World, including more than 1200 trivia questions total. For example:

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The questions and scavenger hunts really encourage you to pay attention to all of the details Disney’s Imagineers have carefully included in each location. For younger children, you definitely need a grown up to do the reading, but even my 2-year-old loves participating in the scavenger hunts (109 different quests with 1859 objects to find!), jumping up and down in exuberance when he can point something out that Mommy or Daddy hasn’t noticed yet.

You can also keep track of collections, clicking the phone every time you see someone wearing mouse ears or a girl dressed like a princess. We love using this collections feature when we’re waiting for a parade. We scour the crowd around us and look at the people walking by to see how many we can rack up.

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Ultimately, Disney vacations are, for my family, a time for us to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Of course, it’s hard to enjoy anyone’s company when you’ve got a squirmy 2-year-old or a whiny 5-year-old who’s constantly wondering if it’s tiiiiiiiime yet?! These 3 apps have definitely helped our family pass the time and come through a queue line unscathed. I definitely recommend all three. And if you need other recommendations for how to help your kids make it through a long line, check out the Practically Perfect Diva’s tips.

Also, if you need help planning your next Disney vacation, please contact contact Patricia with All for Dreams Travel, our favorite travel agent here at Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos. She can accommodate all of your travel needs!

 

***Disclaimer – We at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos hope you enjoy reading our articles, and encourage you to share any you feel may be of interest to someone else. We do ask, however, if you choose to share the photographs attached to our articles, you give credit to the photographer. Thank you for your cooperation and sharing our love of Disney!

 

Hi! I'm Stephanie, aka the Fancy Free Diva. I'm a mom from Maine, and when I'm not in the classroom teaching irony using clips from Frozen and Mulan, I can be found playing with my own kids and planning our next Disney trip. I'm an Annual Passholder at WDW and a DVC member, and on cold winter nights I'm usually dreaming about summer vacation when I can take my family back to Florida and be fancy free!