No question, long road trips today differ considerably from those of decades gone by. The days of maps that were impossible to re-fold have all but been replaced by GPS systems, location services and Siri. Modern families and modern technologies have fundamentally changed the way car travelers experience the ride to their vacation destination.
In this day and age, in order to pass the time, passengers watch on-board DVD player(s) or busy themselves with apps on their tablets and/or smartphones. Such high-tech things did not exist back in the day. Were we better off then? I think, in some ways, perhaps we were. I will not deny that I am among the masses who often utilize technology for entertainment. Even so, I am happy to say that I do have very fond memories of my parent’s making the 20-hour drive to Walt Disney World such fun for my sister and me simply by interacting with us.
Though, I will admit, we did take some pretty cool things on our trips back then, too. I remember singing along with Muppet Beach Party on my Fisher Price cassette player, and casting images on the back of the front seat with my awesome View Master projector flashlight. But, my favorite memories came from the funny car games my parents played with us. Silly, engaging and sneakily educational, they ranged from familiar ones like the License Plate Game and My Father Owns a Grocery Store to slightly more unusual ones like My Grandmother’s Cat.
One day my husband and I hope to make that drive with our son to WDW, and when we do, we plan to play a bunch of fun car games with him. While daydreaming recently about that trip, I found myself thinking, “Why not Disneyfy a few car games?” So, after a bit of brainstorming, I came up with some Disney twists for several. I hope you will give them a try, and that you will enjoy hours of fun as you build excitement along the way to your WDW vacation. Let the good times roll along the holiday road. (For a printable copy of the car game directions, click here or on the link to the right.)
Disney Hide and Seek
In this game, participants begin by deciding in which one of the four parks they will play imaginary hide and seek. The driver of the car will play the hider while the remaining passengers will be seekers. The hider selects a secret hiding place in the chosen park (i.e. an attraction, restaurant, etc.). The seeker riding in front then names a starting point within the park (i.e. the Mad Tea Party, The Crystal Palace, the bridge to Tomorrowland, etc.). If both the hider and the seeker choose the same location, the hider must select a new hiding place. Play moves clockwise around the vehicle with the next seeker naming a location nearby the designated starting point. The hider then tells the seeker if he or she is hot, warm or cold in relation to the hiding place. One after another, the seekers continue guessing until one of them finds the hiding place. The winning seeker becomes the new hider. A park is selected, and the hider then chooses the next hiding place. The seeker to the left of the hider names the new starting point, and play continues. Variation: Don’t limit yourselves to one park, play the entire property.
Disney Train Words
Train Words are sets of words that begin with the letter that ended the previous word. (Examples: Pig-Gorilla- Armadillo-Orangutan-Newt-Toucan…). In Disney Train Words, any words, phrases or names relating to Disney or its parks can be used. Here is an example of a Disney Train: Electric Umbrella-Alice in Wonderland-Disney Springs-Splash Mountain-Nemo and so on). Play begins with the driver of the car—the train conductor—selecting the first word or engine word. Play then continues clockwise around the vehicle until a player cannot think of a Disney word. At that time, the train has reached a train stop. The last player who successfully named a Disney word, which is the caboose word, becomes the new train conductor and gets to choose the next engine word to start the train again.
Walt Disney World Foods Game
This game is a variation of the classic car game My Father Owns a Grocery Store. In this version, play starts with the driver who says, “In Walt Disney World they serve something that starts with A – apples.” The next player going clockwise says “In Walt Disney World they serve something that starts with B – apples and Banana Bread Pudding.” Each subsequent player must recite the entire list in order, and then add a new item starting with the next letter of the alphabet (Apples, Banana Bread Pudding, Churros, Dole Whip, Eggs…). Note: Food items can be general (popcorn) or WDW specific (Citrus Swirl).
The original backseat classic (Slug Bug, Punch Bug, Piggy Punch, etc.) has long been an excuse for siblings to get a free punch in on each other just for spotting a Volkswagen Beetle. In the Disney version, parental discretion is advised if very young children are playing. In that situation, perhaps more friendly taps can replace full-on slugs to the arm. In Disney Punch, child travelers look for Disney related items while traveling by car to WDW. These items can be anything such as antennae toppers, decorative license plates, Disney family window decals, billboards, etcetera. Whoever spots the item yells out Disney Punch, and then slugs (or taps) one of the other players. The first traveler to deliver five slugs (or taps) is the winner.
Walt Disney World 20 Questions
In Walt Disney World 20 Questions the oldest traveler takes on the role of being the original secret keeper. He or she must think of a location, character, attraction, food item, or any other thing that can be found in Walt Disney World. He or she must keep it a secret. Play then, moves clockwise around the vehicle with each of the remaining passengers (one at a time) asking the secret keeper just one yes or no question in an effort to narrow the possibilities until the secret is guessed. If need be, play can continue up to a maximum of 20 questions in total. If the correct answer has not been named after the 20 questions have been asked, play ends with the secret keeper sharing his or her secret. If the secret is guessed correctly, the player who did so becomes the new secret keeper, and play begins again.
“My WDW Vacation” Fill in the Blank Story Game
This collaborative word game, which is like a Mad Lib, utilizes a story template containing blanks. Here’s how to play: Choose one player to serve as the story keeper. He or she will prompt the other players to provide a word, words, or phrases to replace the blanks within a secret story. The story keeper holds and conceals the story from the other players while reading only the prompts (in order) to the group. As the players give their Disney-themed responses, the story keeper writes them in the blanks. Once all of the blanks have been filled, the story keeper reads the completed tale aloud. Depending on the answers given by the players, these stories often turn out quite comical. Click here for the “My WDW Vacation” Fill in the Blank Story Game.
(Entrance photo from the personal collection of Joshua Shusterman. Other images from the personal collection of the author.)
Kendall is an editor and contributing writer for WDW Radio. She began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. Her home-away-from-home is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and she believes a perfect day at WDW includes a dip in the Lava Pool, a ride on Splash Mountain and a Pineapple Dole Whip. Follow her on Twitter @kl_foreman.