7 Great Disney Queues
Let’s look at what I think are the 7 greatest queues throughout the Disney theme park empire. These queues are so good, that they rival the actual attraction themselves. In some instances, we identify the qualities of not just one attraction location, but their sister locations as well. Let’s take a look:
Number 7: Big Thunder Mountains
There are many components that make Big Thunder Mountain a great attraction. Although, the queue differs depending on which park you visit, each provide a necessary distraction during wait time. Disneyland’s version is almost entirely outside, which works for their beautiful weather. Surrounding is the town of Rainbow Ridge, whose history goes back to the original Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland that used to travel through these parts.
Disneyland Paris stands unique in that the ride goes under Rivers of the West and onto the island in the middle. But what it shares with all of the attractions around the world is that it has many authentic machines and props from the old West. It’s practically a museum.
I like Tokyo Disneyland’s version, in that the train zooms by you while you’re in the queue, and the queue rises up so you get a great view of Frontierland.
But Magic Kingdom’s interactive queue has wonderful film and thematic references, plus props you can play with while queuing. What a concept–blowing up a mine while waiting in line!
Number 6: Toy Story Mania
I’m not the biggest fan of this attraction. In some ways I like the queue better than the ride. I don’t do gaming at home. But the wide assortment of games and toys brings me back to my youth. Add Mr. Potato Head to the queue and you have a truly fascinating experience keeping you occupied.
That gaming theme is not played out much at Disney California Adventure, but it lives vibrantly at Tokyo Disney Sea. Moreover, it has an exterior queue that is way over the top. It is an immensely popular attraction for visiting guests. The ride itself is almost exactly like the other parks. But the exterior queue is not only amazing, but instagrammable.
Number 5: Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. Since Shanghai Disney opened, there have been Disney fans who have contested that this may be one of the greatest Disney attractions to ever open. This is a worthy contender, though my heart goes to the original Pirates in Disneyland. Still, as good as the ride is, the queue is not to be missed. It’s dripping with simply fun details, many of which you’d miss if they weren’t written in English.
Number 4: Radiator Springs Racers
I had gone down the path of putting in Star Tours in the top 7, and it’s certainly worthy in many respects. Then I remembered Radiator Springs Racers, and I knew I had to completely re-shuffle everything. This is a superb attraction only matched by an equally unique and fantastic queue. What really makes it stand out is the details of the town’s story are carefully and subtly infused throughout this queue. It is simply clever in ways I would have never imagined.
The highlight is the point in which the queue places you in a location where you can see the canyon wrap almost completely around you. At night this is even more amazing. You are totally lost in another world. And yet, you’re in line for what then becomes an amazing attraction as well. Superlatives are not enough for Radiator Springs Racers and its queue.
Number 3: Indiana Jones Adventures
There are two Indiana Jones attractions, one at Disneyland and one at Tokyo Disney Sea. Disneyland’s was the first, and required a long passage to what was the outer berm of the park in order to access the show building where the ride is. That necessitated a lot of theming, and it’s all good.
Still, in terms of best theming per square foot, the award probably goes to the Tokyo Disney Sea version. Either it’s simply better designed, or it’s better maintained. Both are definitely worth checking out!
Number 2: Tower of Terrors.
There are four towers out there. I’m not familiar with the one in Paris, but I understand it looks like the former tower in Disney California Adventure, so I wouldn’t include this on the list. But the original Tower in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been amazing, from antique 14th century furniture to an incomplete mahjong game, to the Twilight Zone sequence itself. It set a new standard in the 90’s for theming.
In an effort to out do all previous towers is Tokyo Disney’s version. This is the estate of Harrison Hightower III, and his hotel is replete with both adornments of him, as well as possessions he has absconded on his world-wide expeditions. One such object is the Shiriki Utundu sitting on a pedestal in Hightower’s office. When he comes to life, things truly get eerie. Look for his green eyes to light up in the basement where all the stolen artifacts are stored.
Topping off all of these towers is Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission: BREAKOUT! This should almost be by itself, because the theming is so completely different. Props from Marvel and even Disneyland’s heritage is littered across this queue. But my favorite part is seeing Rocket as an animatronic commandeering the entire breakout. Not since Sammy have I loved a raccoon so much!
Number 1: Pandora: Flight of Passage.
This new Disney Animal Kingdom attraction has taken the queueing experience to a whole new level. It’s almost worth not having a FastPass+ just to have the privilege of seeing all that you would miss in the more efficient queue. First is an exterior queue that immerses you not only in the jungles of Pandora, but gives you a wonderful vista of that land. Then you enter a series of caves and indoor jungles skirting the building complex.
Finally, you come into a laboratory where you see “Hank in the Tank”. This animatronic is an unusual one. Even in a dormant state, this animatronic seems all too real. Additional rooms later on prepare you on the specifics of riding the attraction. I find these rooms very clever in terms of expanding and contracting the time required to board the attraction at the right time. This is a great queue, and an integral part of the entire Pandora experience.
Those are my top 7. What are we missing? What would your list be? This list is in definite flux because of three new attractions opening that may throw others out the door (or at least create a strong top 10. They include the following:
Soaring: Fantastic Flight. Though all three are uniquely designed, none of the Soarin’ attractions at Epcot, Disney California Adventure or Shanghai Disney are so interesting as to make the top tier. But Tokyo’s newest attraction is so intricate that it sets itself completely apart. More to come on this, but Tokyo has created an attraction that takes Soarin’ to a whole new level (excuse the pun).
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Just standing around in front of a complete re-creation of the Millennium Falcon would make this queue amazing as it is. But you actually spend time queued in its interior before climbing into the cockpit. And in between you are met with one of the finest animatronics created, Hondo Ohnaka. It is supposedly second only to the shaman found in Na’vi River Journey. It’s too early to tell if it’s in the top 7, but we have an article here that will show you more, to include a video.
Rise of the Resistance. What makes this queue so interesting is that you really don’t know when the “waiting in line” ends and the attraction really begins. But if you’re talking about boarding the primary ride vehicle as that attraction start, then you are presented with an outdoor/indoor wait that will top all queues ever. That’s because you will not only be introduced to BB-8, video interactions from Rey, Poe and Finn, but a troop of some 50 storm troopers all waiting for you on the flight deck of a Star Destroyer.
These last three examples tell you that queues are only getting more interesting at Disney theme parks. What are your favorite queues? What do you enjoy waiting in?
For more on queueing at Disney parks, visit Disney at Work, where we deep dive on a simpler attraction, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
We also have a special article on queues and special needs guests. You can visit that here.