At WDW? No FastPass? Please Stand By!

Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Mountain RailroadEven if you’ve mastered all the tricks of the new FastPass+ system, I’ll bet there will come a day when you will want to experience a ride or attraction and will need to use the standby line.  I know!  That’s the way it used to be all the time!  I think some of us have been so spoiled by the entire FastPass convenience, we’ve come to believe that a 20 minute wait is practically torture – a vacation-ruining waste of time!  I, for one, don’t fall into that category.  I’m so much more patient and tolerant of waiting when I’m in the Disney Bubble – sometimes, I’m willing to step into line for one of my favorite attractions even if the posted wait is 45 minutes!

Luckily for all of us, those geniuses of Disney Imagineering have come a long way with theEntrance for Toy Story Midway Mania entertainment value of the standby line.  Once just a holding pen with little to see or do as you and your party snaked around and around chain barriers and handrails like cattle, the introduction of a well designed standby line has changed overall ride experiences exponentially.

Today I want to highlight three examples of what I consider excellence in queue creativity.  I chose these three attractions based on their ability to provide samples of the following categories –

  • Existing ride successfully refurbished to provide a vastly better standby experience
  • Brand new ride with a wildly entertaining standby line
  • Not-so-new ride with an original, well-themed queue

Existing Ride:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Refurbished in 2012 to add a new interactive queue:  I just got to experience this highly touted standby experience myself in May and I thought it was absolutely wonderful!  So wonderful, in fact, the line moved too fast for me to fully enjoy all the cool features and activities.  I’ll share a few pictures, but you’ve just got to experience it for yourself.  Seriously – if the wait is 30 minutes, you’ll have a ball!Interactive Queue for Big Thunder Mountain RailroadInteractive elements for Big Thunder Mountain Queue

Brand New Ride:

Ariel in Fantasyland / Magic KingdomUnder the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid – New Fantasyland attraction, Opened December, 2012.  From the craggy rocks along the “shore” to the seashells, starfish, and many other tiny details on the outside of the Little Mermaid queue to the really awesome treasures and cute blue crabs that move in and out of different scenes.  Again, this ride moved too fast for me to catch all the interesting things to see and do!  Since the Clammobiles are continuously loading, this line moves fast.  Do not waste a FastPass on this one!Outside Queue / Under the SeaTreasures in the Queue for Under the Sea

Not-so-New with Originally GREAT queue: 

You know what I’m going to pick, don’t you?  Expedition Everest!  We were lucky enough to be at Expedition EverestAnimal Kingdom during this ride’s soft-opening back in the Spring of 2006.  So, EE’s 8 years old now and still boasts one of the (if not THE) most amazing, clever, spectacularly detailed queues in the World!!!  We fell in love at first wait and still try to use the standby line at the Forbidden Mountain whenever time allows.  To me, Expedition Everest set the bar for every new attraction that followed.  This is Disney Imagineering at its finest.

Okay, it’s your turn – which ride would you nominate in each category?Expedition Everest Queue Yeti MuseumExpedition Everest Train Platform Gear   


MY Favorite Disney Ride – Expedition Everest



Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain!

I saved the best for last.  I told you all about the favorite rides of the rest of The Fam, but my favorite ride really is the very best, most exciting, most fun ride experience Disney World has to offer.  Expedition Everest has something for everyone – or at least everyone over 44″ tall.  As one of the newest thrill rides at Disney World, it has the best theming, best story line, best standby line – although Tower of Terror would be a very close second.  Located in the Asia section at Animal Kingdom, you’ll easily spot the ride’s famed mountain long before you reach it.

Way back in 2006, we were lucky enough to visit Disney World during Expedition Everest’s softEE Queue opening.  We rode it seven times!  Yes, we can say we are among the fortunate few who experienced The Yeti in its original, fully functioning, arm-swiping glory.  Jealous?  You know you are.  Sadly, Betty (as we super-fans call the mountain’s guardian) is broken.  Most EE fans agree – She may never be fixed, never restored to her original scary self.  All you get now is a mere shadow of her former brilliant Yeti-ness (albeit a strobe-lit disco one).  Originally (yes, I am an actual authentic eye witness), the Yeti was a highly visible, hunch-backed, dread-lock-sporting giant whose long, simian arm would take a swipe at you mid-ride – VERY cool and frightening.  However, early on, the rumors say, the foundation supporting the gargantuan beast cracked (reports about the actual problem vary).  But here’s a fact:  Betty the Yeti is broken and cannot be repaired without tearing up (or down) the entire mountain.  Searching the internet will uncover the many different theories about poor Betty but all seem to agree:  The repairs would be very costly and take a long time during which EE would be non-operational.

So why is this still my favorite ride?

IMG_1907For one thing, the queue for this attraction is SO fantastic – you’ll actually miss some of the best things about the Expedition Everest experience if you have a fast pass.  Long before you enter the actual queue, you’ll notice an abundance of detail.  The mountain itself with its snowy peak, the worn colored flags strung through the air, the statues, the trinkets and tributes – and that’s just outside.  Step into the Yeti museum and the expedition outfitters supply store!  Amazing!  So much to look at, you’ll forget you’re in line for the best ride at Disney World!

EE Queue 3EE Queue 2

IMG_1912Once you make it to the ride platform (where you’ll find still more details to enjoy), hop aboard a tea train for what at first is a delightful little ride past some pretty landscaping – then the climb begins that will take you into the forbidden mountain (check out the great view on the way up).  Once you reach the top?   Hang on!  There is SO much action on this steel coaster which reaches 50 mph during the ride’s nearly 3 minute duration.  There are plenty of surprises, so keep those eyes open!  Even the post-ride exit through the gift shop is fun.  This ride has it all!  If you haven’t yet had the pleasure and are headed to Disney World, put this at the tippy top of your “must do” list.

Anybody else love EE as much as I do?