Culture

How Interactive Lines at Disney's Parks Make Waiting For Rides Not So Bad

A child makes noise in the garden at the interactive queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.

A child makes noise in the garden at the interactive queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.

Over the last few months, I’ve written quite a bit about Disney’s commitment to excellence. From films to television to the ultimate theme park experiences, Disney has worked to raise the bar in every arena. So it stands to reason that Disney would throw a lot of effort into improving the experience of waiting in line. Over the last few years, the company has introduced interactive and themed queues that make waiting half the fun.

These queue areas take several different forms – Disney won’t settle for monolithic, even when it comes to waiting in line. Some of the queues provide learning experiences. The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers a museum of motion picture history, complete with props and costumes, along with classic trailers on a giant screen. The waiting area for Mission: SPACE contains factoids about the history of space travel as well as drawing and models of potential ideas for space vehicles.

Other queues create hands-on interactive experiences. At The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at the Magic Kingdom, the kids won’t get bored crawling through tunnels and putting their hands on different tactile play pieces. Over at The Haunted Mansion (also at the Magic Kingdom), the entire family can play together. Press a key on the organ, or push that loose book in on the bookshelf – The Haunted Mansion’s queue is a clever way to beat the heat.

Many of the queues set up the attractions that await in the most perfect of ways. The waiting area for The Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom features a jungle “radio station” broadcasting travel tips with an abundance of puns – perfect to prepare guests for the boat ride ahead. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as at Disneyland, Star Tours’ queue immerses riders in the atmosphere of “a galaxy far, far away.” The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland give guests the feel of a dilapidated hotel, frozen at the peak of its popularity.

While guests wait in line for Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they are treated to the fictional Yeti Museum, which prepares them for any encounters that may lie ahead. At Disneyland, the queue for Soarin’ Over California immerses guests in aviation history, while Space Mountain’s queue conveys the feel of an futuristic spaceport. Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure gives guests a quick tour of the archaeological site that Indy is working on.

This “tomb” in the queue for The Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom contains musical surprises for guests to discover.

Guests can also find fun interactive games in certain queues. At Soarin’ in Epcot – one of the consistently longest lines in all of Walt Disney World – guests can pass the time playing with the Living Landscapes PlayZone, where up to 50 guests at a time can work together to play games or create art using their shadows. Over at the Magic Kingdom, the queue at Space Mountain features 90-second games to pass the time.

As far as Disneyland goes, my friend and editor David Swindle, who is PJ Lifestyle’s resident Disneyland guru, gives the award for best interactive queue to Roger Rabbit’s CarToon Spin. As he told me in an email:

April and I prefer to go through the queue than to use the FastPass system because the series of tunnels through the very cartoon-like, Toontown style queue is so much fun. That’s the best interactive line in the park.

I haven’t been to the brand new attraction The Journey of the Little Mermaid in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom (just one more month…), but I’m hearing that it’s the best of all the interactive queues:

As you enter the line, you get caught up in Prince Eric’s castle and the surrounding beach. While the actual ride is in the castle, the line goes beneath in a little cave that seems extremely real. The cave zigzags and goes deeper into the ride and the story. On the walls are signs directing you in the adventure. Similar to the Haunted Mansion line, there are plenty of interactive, touchable things for little kids to do. On these kiosks are little blue crabs that need help determining what’s trash and treasure. Not only are the crabs adorable, it’s extremely entertaining. Scuttle is at the end of the line, explaining the objects the crabs just gathered and the upcoming ride. Being new and Little Mermaid related, this ride is destined to be a popular one.

It sounds like fun, and I can’t wait to see it for myself. (And one of these days I’ll see Disneyland with my own eyes as well.)

Leave it to Disney to devise ways to make waiting in line a little less painful. It’s this attention to detail and commitment to excellence that brings guests back time after time while winning new converts to the Disney experience every year.