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   


6 thoughts on “At WDW? No FastPass? Please Stand By!

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  3. Lisa,
    Great post! Here is what I am thinking:
    1) Dumbo – From sweltering, long waits to a cool, quick queue, Disney nailed this one!
    2) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – The queue really helps setup the story. It is just as entertaining to watch the guests as it is to try things for yourself.
    3) Space Mountain – From the opening “scene” with all of the droids to the long, blue hallway with the ethereal music, this is a classic! Like you are really about to go into space.

    The overall winner in my book is Expedition Everest with Tower of Terror taking a close second. Like a really good song, I like to experience them over and over (well, Expedition Everest tops out at about 4 times, I’m getting old ha!)

    • Welcome back, Dan! I must confess, I haven’t visited Dumbo yet in the new locale, so I can’t comment on the queue (yet!). I also can’t really say anything about the regular queue for Seven Dwarfs (we had FastPasses) – the standby line was so long outside the ride in the glaring sunshine, Cast Members were handing out cups of ice water to the people waiting. Space Mountain IS well-themed (I agree with you there), but I think, having seen what can be done with standby entertainment, Disney missed the boat…uhm…spaceship with the queue updates in Space Mountain. I think there could have been a lot more interest added. I do appreciate how much better it is now than before. Please visit again soon! Lisa

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Enjoyed your post! I do agree that a good queue definitely helps the time go by. My husband and I started visiting Walt Disney World together about seven years ago. At that time Pirates and the Haunted Mansion were still walk-on attractions and only Peter Pan’s Flight exceeded a 30 minute wait. It really spoiled us!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Barbara! During our May trip, the crowds were no where near what I’d expected and we did pretty much get to walk on Pirates and Haunted Mansion. We went to Big Thunder first thing (right after Splash) and the line moved too fast for me to play with all the cool new gadgets in the queue – can’t wait to wait in line again for it!

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