My Disney Top 5 - Coolest Queues at Walt Disney Worldby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another My Disney Top 5. I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying your comments and responses. Please keep them coming. This time around, my daughter chose the topic. As a matter of fact, she pretty much insisted on it. Who am I to argue with an 11-year-old girl?
We talk a lot about Walt Disney World in our house. Every other week I’m looking for writing ideas and I bounce them off of my resident Disney experts, my daughter Samantha and my wife Diane. Even when I’m not fishing for ideas, sometimes the topic will just “magically” drift towards Disney and our past and future trips. Questions like, “What’s your favorite ride?” and “What’s the first attraction you want to hit on our next trip?” will often open up lengthy debates between us. So, I have a good pool of info to go to for my articles. My 7-year-old twin boys even got in on this one.
One of the things we were talking about on the last excursion to our local Six Flags was how much cooler the lines (In Disney Speak, we say queues) were in Disney World and why that was. It’s almost unfair to compare just about any park to a Disney park. The level of detail, theming and immersive storytelling is world famous and deservedly so. Disney sets the bar high every time. The rest of the industry can only hope to follow their lead. Granted, Disney has the deep pockets to spend on attractions, but it’s also the amazing talents of the Imagineers that make all the difference.
One of the places that Disney definitely spends the money and expends their creative juices is in the queues for their attractions. After a lively debate over dinner, we came up with our Top 5 Coolest Queues at Walt Disney World.
5 – The Seas With Nemo and Friends
I’m a beach guy, and the second I walk into this pavilion at Epcot, I’m immediately taken to the shoreline. It’s a beautiful queue. From the sand dunes to the rusted metal railings that look like they’ve been under the sea for years to the underside of the boat (or butt, if you remember in the early part of the film!) to the school of fish that form Cinderella’s Castle, this is an amazing job. Not to mention, one of my favorite things in all of Walt Disney World, the “Mine!” seagulls at the entrance. The queue might almost be cooler than the ride itself.
4 – Expedition Everest
This really is an immersive experience. I’ve never been to Tibet, so I can’t comment on its accuracy, but it sure feels like what I imagine Tibet would be like. The prayer flags, the pottery and architecture, the climbing gear and most importantly, the mysterious photos and artifacts from the Forbidden Mountain really take you away and set the tone for the whole attraction. If you get the chance to see the Discovery Channel produced special that followed Imagineer Joe Rohde and his team to the Himalayas, you can see first hand that they truly transplanted a piece of Nepal smack dab in the middle of a theme park in Florida.
3 – Star Tours
You don’t have to be a Star Wars nut, which I admittedly am, to be impressed with this queue. Will any Star Wars fan ever forget the first time they come face to face with a huge AT-AT walker? How about the full size StarSpeeder 3000 or the animatronic C-3PO? Listen carefully for pages for Tom Morrow and Mr. Egroeg Sacul (George Lucas spelled backwards). I love the travel ads like See and Ski Hoth and of course the “Hidden Kermit” robot in the room with all the moving baskets. It’s remarkably detailed and a true achievement in attraction design. It shouldn’t be missed.
2 – Tower of Terror
The Hollywood Tower Hotel is really an awesome sight. The exterior queue with its overgrown gardens is impressive enough, but it’s just a precursor to the amazing interior areas. The dusty hotel lobby frozen in time is unbelievably detailed as is the library where you view Rod Serling himself on the television surrounded by books and antiques. It’s a staggering amount of detail. It’s hard to believe you aren’t actually in an old deserted hotel. The reality continues as you exit the library and make your way down to the dank basement boiler room. It’s an amazing start to an amazing attraction.
1 – Pirates of the Caribbean
OK, so I didn’t choose Tower or Star Tours or Test Track or a more elaborate line as my number one Walt Disney World queue. Sorry, I’m a classic kind of guy. Nothing gets me more excited than entering the cool caves that lead to my boat ride through this classic attraction. I’ve actually been to old forts in the Caribbean and when I walk into this queue I feel like I’m really entering the stone bowels of an old Spanish fort. The singing parrot. The chess-playing skeletons. The music. The cannons. It all creates, what I really think was Walt’s intention, a totally immersive environment. I wasn’t even a big pirate fan as a kid, but as soon as I walk under that Pirates Life For Me sign and enter this world, I wish I were a little kid, again playing pirate with my best friend Louie. When Louie and I finally walked into this attraction together, I knew we had the same thought in mind, “Man, it’d be cool to play in here!” To me, it’s that real and that’s why it’s my number one.
I realize I’ve left out a few. This was a tough one and sparked quite a debate at the dinner table. How could I leave out Toy Story? What about Splash Mountain or Space Mountain? Where’s Kilimanjaro Safari?
That’s the beauty of Walt Disney World. Just when you think you’ve got the place narrowed down, you realize there’s something just as amazing around the corner.
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