People associate many things with Disney Parks – Fireworks, Mickey Mouse, castles, Dole Whip, and happiness are words and phrases that come to mind. Waiting in line is another phrase that’s unfortunately associated with Disney. Now, I’m not here to convince you that waiting in line isn’t bad. On the contrary, waiting in line isn’t fun at all especially compared to seeing a great show or riding on a wonderfully made attraction. Standing in line during the middle of a hot day can lead the best of us to question our decisions up until that moment. While all that is true, not all lines are created equal.
Disney is in the business of storytelling and theme park attractions often begin telling the rides story in the queue (a fancy theme park word for line). Of course, some lines are extremely boring and hot. They don’t tell any stories and are just leading up to a ride. A post on the worst of those is coming in the next few weeks. This specific post is about my favorite queues I’ve been in at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resort. I debated on whether to make this a top-10 list or not but decided against it, instead opting for a running list of my favorites. As always, if I leave one of your favorites off the list then let me know in the comments!
Favorite Queue’s in Disneyland
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
Disneyland doesn’t have the blessing of space that some of the other U.S. Disney Parks do, and this shows up more in their queues than anywhere. While they utilize the space extremely well, there aren’t many elaborate stories told throughout the queue. Star Tours really packs a lot into the queue, with many odes to the attraction before it was updated. The story also begins here as you are waiting to board your flight to a different galaxy. While the line is a little crammed, it does feel like boarding an airplane at times. There’s also a few visual gags with the droids and some intricate details around. While it doesn’t rank as highly as some queues across the country, it’s near the top of the list at Disneyland.
Indiana Jones Adventure
This attraction definitely takes the cake for longest queue in Disneyland. While the outside of this attraction isn’t all that exciting, the inside is filled with dark tunnels and architecture that makes you feel like you’re the great archaeologist himself. There’s some gags throughout the line (pull the rope) and you also pass a few props from the movie (the car). Indy’s office is also included in the queue as well as a pretty fun little introductory movie. This queue is massive but still really well themed, especially once inside the building.
The two queues I listed before this were indoors, sadly this one is outside. Still, most of it is shaded. This queue gets you ready for your journey through the world’s rivers and shows you just a bit of the pun-filled mishaps you’re about to endure.
Disney California Adventure
Soarin’ Around The World
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of any DCA queue but I’ll throw a few out here. My wife picked this one because of the giant hangar that it feels like you’re in. That fits the ‘Soarin’ theme. Still, there isn’t much to look at here. At least it’s air-conditioned!
Radiator Springs Racers
This queue keeps up with the incredibly themed Cars Land as it weaves you into Radiator Springs most popular roads. The water tower always stands up to me and is really nicely done. I’ve only done the regular queue once in my life and all 736 times (roughly) I’ve either had a FastPass or done the single-rider line which I highly recommend even with a group.
Magic Kingdom Park
Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
While I don’t like the ride inside, Journey of the Little Mermaid provides an incredible queue. Blending beautiful rock-work, intricate details and some interactive elements, this attraction shows the best of what Disney can do with queues. This is fascinating to look at, fun to experience, and there are a few surprises along the way. While I generally roll my eyes at people who say, “I just walked through the queue and didn’t even go on the ride” this is one instance where I don’t think that’s such a bad plan.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Much different from its West Coast namesake, this Pirates of the Caribbean has an incredible queue that roams through pummeled villages. You see the wreckage that the pirates have caused even before getting on the ride to take part in the battle. This is beautifully done and quite long. Like Indiana Jones Adventure, there is a number of things to see in a massive space.
This is an interactive queue that was redone a few years ago. While walking through the outside of the mansion, there are a few things to hit that make sounds. It’s a lot better than I made it out to be. The area is beautiful and the interactive parts don’t look out-of-place. The pet cemetery is my favorite part here (shout out to Mr. Toad) and there are a number of details throughout that get you ready for what’s inside the mansion.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Another interactive queue, this one allows you to shoot cannons out into the ‘wilderness’ and watch the after effects. It’s a little bit worse than it sounds, at least if you’re into cannons. Still the interactive elements here are pretty interesting as are the details throughout.
I’m having a hard time here, as there aren’t many queues that really impress me. Test Track makes the list because you get to design a car. For some guests that will be a blast, for others it will be just another way to pass time. The rest of the queue doesn’t do much for me.
This is a bit of an honorable mention because you don’t really need to stand in line for this attraction. The building is beautiful and worth exploring though. More than anything, get to the show 15 minutes early to experience the Voices of Liberty. It’s one of the sweeter, more beautiful moments in Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania
This queue is interesting as you’re shrunken down to the size of a toy (use your imagination, kids!) as you enter the building and then see Andy’s room from that viewpoint. There’s some fun quirks to the queue and the bright colors are a change from most lines.
Hollywood Tower of Terror
I said in the opening that some attractions and rides start as soon as you get into the queue. This attraction starts as soon as you start walking down Sunset Boulevard towards it. Tower of Terror towers above everything and you can hear the shrieks of those in that faulty elevator all throughout the day. When in the actual line, there is an eerie feeling to the outside portion. I once saw a large frog jump on the back of a guy’s shirt and just sit there for a few seconds. The shock wore off after a few seconds and I told the guy there was a frog on his shirt he panicked and then the frog jumped off and into the night. It was strange. Back to the queue, once inside the details are unmatched by anything at Walt Disney World. There is so much to look at and not enough time. The elevator, again, presents a great pre-show and this time it actually moves! This is close to a perfect attraction and some of the credit goes to the queue.
The line here isn’t used very often anymore. Still there is a lot of Muppet humor through the queue. There are movie posters that have been ‘Muppetfied’ and they’re good for a laugh. Once inside the building, the pre-show movie is one of the best at any Disney Parks around. There are also some great props lying around the big room. You probably won’t have to wait long for this ride, but there are worse places to wait in.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Like Tower of Terror, the story of this ride starts as soon as you step foot in Animal Kingdom’s Asia. There are warnings, offerings, and other signs of the Yeti (no disco balls though) that haunts Everest throughout Asia. Once inside the actual queue the newspaper clippings and artifacts continue to tell the story that lead to your ascent up the mountain. It’s a very well done queue, and one that you have to dig a little deeper for the story than some other places.
Kali River Rapids
This is the Journey of the Little Mermaid problem all over again. The queue is vast and incredible. The ride itself is lacking (although better than Little Mermaid). You can gather many details about this river and the story of the ride while standing in line. It’s also a beautiful area with green and the kinetic energy of the water flowing by. This is an easy queue to put on the list but sadly the ride itself doesn’t give a great follow-up.
Flight of Passage
The most recent addition to this list, Flight of Passage is in Pandora – World of Avatar. While the ride itself is spectacular and an achievement, the queue is full of wonder and beauty. Starting outside, the line winds through the ‘floating mountains’ and passed a gorgeous waterfall. The view from up by the waterfall is one of the best in all of Walt Disney World. Once inside, guests are charmed bioluminescents and wowed by some visual tricks in a science lab. The pre-show video is not good but that doesn’t stop Flight of Passage from having the best queue in Disney World.
The best version of Splash Mountain begins as you step into the mini-land devoted to the attraction. There’s a shop and restaurant that add to the attraction’s allure. Once inside the queue, guests wind through the mountain before arriving at their ride vehicle. There’s not an abundance of details that add to the story but there is the pristine condition of the mountain that helps make Tokyo Disneyland one of the best castle parks in the world.
Country Bear Jamboree
Is this the best queue in the world? No. Should this queue even make the list? Probably not. But there’s this painting of Big Al that I would pay an obscene amount of money to own and therefore this makes the list. There is something to be said that the queue leads the way to the best attraction of all time too.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Setting an attraction inside of an attraction will automatically make the queue awesome. That’s what happens here. The line isn’t particularly interesting until you see a few details that remind you, “Oh yeah, I’m inside of a volcano.” Then the mountain rumbles a little bit and the lights flicker and the story grabs you. Journey is a bit like Splash Mountain, there doesn’t need to be an elaborate story in the queue because it’s told so well on the attraction. Instead the queue is just a good set-up.
Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror has one of the most elaborate, detailed stories I’ve ever experienced in a theme park. It starts in the queue, with paintings of Harrison Hightower (the attraction’s main character) collecting artifacts that resemble other parts of DisneySea. The tie-ins, lavish decor, and start of an incredible story make this queue one of the most memorable around.
Raging Spirits is really a disappointing roller coaster and part of that blame comes because the queue is so detailed. The facade before the queue is intriguing and mysterious. Guests then get to walk through ruins that fit in with the Lost River Delta and Indiana Jones theme of the land. It’s an exciting experience filled with anticipation met abruptly by disappointment. Raging Spirits is just like life.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
20,000 Leagues makes the list for a few reasons. First the lead up to entering the undersea vessel does give a suspension of belief that leads guests to buy into the story. Along with that, there are some exciting details throughout including a map of where you will be exploring and some elaborate diving equipment. All of it sets a mood of adventure and exploration that matches the attraction.
That’s my list so far! Did I miss any queues that are your favorites? Let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading our blog and we hope you have a great weekend!
Categories: Our Favorite Attractions