The “No Bag” Option
The fastest way to get through the bag check line, and forgive me if this is a little too zen, is to not go through the bag check at all. If you can travel light enough to eliminate your bag entirely, you can stroll right through the “no bag” entrance and that’s one less queue you’ll have to wait through. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone, or even most of us, but it may be an option for you on some days.
Here are my strategies for going “no bag”.
- Wear cargo pants or cargo shorts. I drop my wallet into one of the thigh-level cargo pockets, slip my daughter’s autograph book into the other pocket, pop my phone into one of my top front pockets, and that’s most of the stuff I carry in the park on one of my regular trips.
- For my fellow DSLR users, I would like to note that I choose one lens to shoot with that day instead of bringing multiple lenses (which would require me to carry my camera bag) and I either make sure the battery in my camera is completely charged or I slip my extra battery into one of my cargo pockets. Then I simply wear my camera around my neck for the day.
If you think you might need a bag later in the day (after you acquire a few items or if you think you’ll get sick of lugging all of your stuff in your pockets) there are many pullstring-type backpacks you can get that fold flat for easy carrying, like this promo DVC bag I picked up awhile ago. Slip one of these into your pocket as well and you will have an option for a bag later in your day.
Turbo Strategies for the Bag Check Line
Okay, all of what I wrote above might sound great (and believe me, strolling in sans bag is pretty sweet when you can swing it) that doesn’t work for everyone, like for those of you out there with babies or toddlers. Indeed, even though my daughter is well past the diapers and wipes stage, I still carry a small backpack into the parks more often than not. There are a few small things you can do to get through the line as quickly as possible.
- Get that head up and your eyes scanning when you are approaching the bag check area and quickly check out all the lines before you choose a line to join. Look for the shortest line, but also watch as you’re walking up to see which line seems to be moving the fastest, or which one is populated by people who aren’t bringing in large numbers of bags or fully loaded down strollers. (No offense to anyone bringing in lots of bags or strollers with lots of stuff in them, but it will take longer for that bag check line to move.)
- Know where all the bag check stations are. There are lines to your left and right when you approach bag check at the Magic Kingdom, yet many people seem to head to the left and ignore the stations on the right. Also, if you happen to be walking in from the Hollywood Studios parking lot, there is a lone bag check station near the outer guest services window, to the left of the park entrance as you are facing it from the outside. That bag check is usually pretty deserted, especially if you are arriving at the park entrance at the same time as a parking lot tram is dropping off your fellow guests who will all be headed for the main bag check stations.
- Security guards cannot check a bag that is still attached to you. This means you must take off your backpacks, purses, and waist bags and put them up on the bag check table. I’ve seen the line get held up many times by someone thrusting their stomach toward a guard while they are still wearing their waist bag, and then the guard must take the time to explain that the bag has to be off of your body for them to check it.
- Got zippered pockets or compartments? Open all of them up ahead of time. Yes, it’s a little unwieldy to carry your bag this way, but definitely get ready ahead of time if you can. Sometimes the guards just take a cursory peek inside your bag, but most of the guards I’ve seen will look at least once in every compartment and pocket. Make this faster and easier by spending your time in the queue readying your bag for the check.
- If you are part of a larger group and you aren’t all bringing in a load of stuff, send some of your party, bagless, through the “no bag” entrance and then meet up again on the other side. Between my husband, myself, and my daughter, we usually only have one bag. One of us takes it through the bag check while the other goes in the “no bag” entrance with our daughter. I find it much easier to keep track of my unzipped bag in the line when I don’t also have to worry about what my daughter is doing or if we will get separated by the crowd while I am preoccupied. The younger your kids are, the more beneficial this tip might be.
Well, good luck in the bag check line! I know I’m a bit of a nerd, but I really enjoy seeing how much I can streamline these kinds of tasks. I feel a little triumphant marching into the park after breezing through the line. Maybe some of you out there are wacky about this kind of stuff the way I am.