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Here's How to Unglue Yourself From Your Smartphone at Walt Disney World

3. Take an interest in your kid’s stories

Boys laughing around the sword in the stone

Image: Disney

Kids are masters at the art of the imagination, and for many, a trip to Walt Disney World is a chance to step right into the story. Even something as seemingly straightforward as the Peoplemover becomes a transport to the unknown for kids. Disney parks are playgrounds for the mind, especially for kids—indeed, ultra-immersive sections of the parks like the World of Pandora and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge were designed with this specifically in mind.

Instead of just leaving your little one to their own story-making, take an interest in the tales they’re secretly telling. Ask questions about what they see, what they think, and what their favorite parts of the story are. If they are playing pretend as someone else, as them who they are and help them craft the story even further. If they want you to play, choose a part for yourself and dive in! This works both while wandering through the parks and on rides. The most important thing is to take an interest in the things your kid is interested in.

4. Play!

Girl playing giant xylophone at Epcot

It’s easy to play with kids on rides, but there is far more to the “play” part of playing pretend then just oohing and aahing at the scenery. Look for places in Walt Disney World where your little one can get opportunities to cut loose and play pretend without a ride spoon-feeding them the story.

For kids with very active imaginations, playgrounds are often their favorite part of the vacation. The Boneyard at Dinoland USA, Tom Sawyer Island, and free-exploration zones at both of Disney’s water parks are perfect examples. Linger in attraction play areas like the Imageworks “What If?” labs at Journey Into Imagination or the Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station. Take your time exploring immersive trails like the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and pretend with your kids that you’re really in the setting around you. Physical play isn’t just great for playing pretend—it will also help hyper kids burn off energy and keep you in shape!

5. Dress up together

Little girl in pirate costume at The Pirates League

Image: Disney

Kids costumes are becoming a more and more commonplace part of the Walt Disney World experience. Disney has fully embraced this with shops and experiences galore where kids can get dressed up as their favorite princess, Jedi, Sith, or pirate.

While megastores like the World of Disney at Disney Springs or Mouse Gear at Epcot have huge selections, you can also opt for an immersive experience where your kid can play pretend while they are getting their costume, like those available at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League. Beautifully themed shops like Tatooine Traders at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Windtraders at the World of Pandora are great places to play pretend while letting your kids shop. When Star Wars: Edge Arrives, multiple locales within the Black Spire Outpost will offer this exact experience for choosing in-world costumes! Kids can also wear home-made costumes—some of which are even more dazzling than the official character costumes!

For adults wanting to dress up, your options will be slightly more limited. Disney does not permit visitors over the age of 14 to wear costumes (for security and safety reasons). You can get around this, however, by adding costume accessories to your normal clothes or by Disneybounding—a practice where you theme normal or vintage clothes to look similar to popular Disney characters (without really looking like costumes). Your kids might really enjoy this, and it’s a great boost for your playing pretend time! They might even want to try Disneybounding themselves!

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