Mindful Conversation a Better Queue Makes
When you know you’re going to be spending the day at a Disney park, do you think about what you’re going to talk about while standing in line? Do you have potential conversation topics stored in a small recess of your brain like a squirrel’s stash of nuts? Does that sound nutty? Okay, maybe not nutty, but probably not likely to make the to-do list. At the same time, given the amount of time you’ll spend shifting your weight while waiting, it’s not a bad idea to have a few good topics at the ready.
A day in any Disney park can be a whirlwind, and there’s usually plenty to discuss, from the rides and snacks you plan on having to the rides and snacks you just had. When that’s the case, your bases are covered, move along, there’s nothing to see here. However, when that’s not the case, because you’re such a park pro that you’ve planned the day to the best of you and your Disney app’s ability and only need a few key words, phrases or glances to confirm the advancing of “the plan,” you may find yourself lulled into a comfortable quiet. And there’s nothing wrong with that! A little quiet time spent absorbing, enjoying, and contemplating is a gratifying way to while away a queue.
No matter you temperament, standing and waiting as you inch your way to the desired destination isn’t what most think of as a good time. After all, we go out of our way to avoid heavy attendance days for just that reason: standing in a queue is like sitting in traffic. If only we could sit in line! But that’s not the point. The point is that even when sitting in traffic, if you’re with your best friend, partner or spouse—or all of the above (and even if they’re all the same person!), it’s an opportunity to spend some quality time just being together.
This came into focus one Disney day many years ago as we stood in a slow-moving line for Thunder Mountain at the Disneyland Resort. It was toward the end of the day, and our energy levels had diminished to the extent that we were content to observe the authentically realistic western scenery while straining to detect any previously unseen Hidden Mickeys. In front of us was a couple in their 30s; behind us were a couple of 9-year-old boys. The boys were all about The Pirates of the Caribbean: “Okay, so if the boat stopped and you had to get out, where would you wanna be?”
“The treasure room, duh. You could build like an igloo fort out of the mountain of gold and there’d be this dead pirate skeleton lookout dude on top so no one could get in unless they brought more gold or a treasure map or something cool like that and I’d be the king pirate—”
“There’s no such thing as king pirates!”
“How do you know?”
“Cuz… duh I did a pirate diorama for social studies and had to learn all about them and stuff.”
We exchanged gleeful smiles for the young imaginations sparked by a favorite ride.
Then there were the 30-year-olds, who were all about their bathroom renovation: “I had no idea there were so many colors of grout,” the woman bleated.
We looked at each other with horror: Grout?! We mouthed the word and then snickered.
“I think we need to look at the samples together,” she maintained a bland tone. “The green grout could work with the tile we picked out, but I want you to see it first.”
Our lips were curling with queezy discomfort. “Green grout,” we mouthed silently to each other as we tried to hang back a bit to create some distance.
Queue the Dialog
As we poured out of the ride and made our way to a “second-wind” snack, we were still shaking our heads over grout. “Who thinks about grout at Disneyland?!” One of us was a little more up in arms than the other (ahem, not mentioning any names). Who even says ‘grout’ at Disneyland?! Oh my god, how boring can you be in real life if you’re talking about grout at Disneyland?!”
The venting session ended over espressos and beignets as we listened to Minnie Mouse take a piano lesson in one of the charming “residences” lining the quaint cul-de-sac off Disneyland’s Main Street: “We’re never going to be that couple,” we took a solemn oath. “No matter how old we get or where we’re at, we’re never going to be the Grout Couple.” To this day, in particularly slow and syrupy queues, “Wanna talk about grout?” is our code phrase for renewing our commitment to never ever being those people at any Disney park.
Granted, we’ve heard far more unpleasant and disturbing conversations in lines for favorite attractions than the dreary discussion about grout; and for those of us with Dumbo-sized memories, they’re particularly hard to shake. Disney is a fully immersive experience, and more than anything, we want to immerse ourselves fully within it. No matter how uplifting the park music and sounds can be, nothing can completely muffle the distasteful and distracting dialog that can hover like a dark cloud and become part of the day.
There’s a Time and a Place
So, what have we learned? We’ve learned that anything you say in a tightly packed, slow-moving line can be overheard by your neighbors, which in turn becomes part of their Disney experience, for better or worse (which is how grout became a thing). When we go to Disney, we’re going to escape the day-to-day real-life mundanity or stress—or both—to feel once again alive and young, and filled with all the awe, wonder and excitement that Disney can inspire. So… real life, shmeal life. There’s plenty of time to talk about grout when you’re sitting in traffic. When you’re standing in line at Disney, no matter how long the wait, be the people in the moment. Be the 9-year-olds.