When we think of Disney theme parks, it is natural to head straight to thoughts of attractions and Instagram-worthy snacks, though there is a flip side to the parks that goes hand-in-hand with both of these activities: queuing up for them. It’s something we don’t consider too much until after the first visit when you discover that the complex activity of waiting can feel like a completely different experience from one attraction to the next.
Some rides are fully equipped to hold your attention over the long wait with air conditioning and intricate detailing throughout the hallways that enhance your experience ahead of boarding the attraction. Back stories explained, questions posed, and sometimes even an interactive game or two thrown in for good measure. They’ve thought of everything. Other experiences hold a less riveting journey with weather exposure and a simple rope weaving you through an outdoor line of boredom. However, there is a third option that seems to be becoming more popular. The Virtual Queue.
The practice became common knowledge during the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in December of 2019, when the highly anticipated new ride introduced guests to a new waiting system that would see mixed reviews. Since then, it has been utilized by many attractions, from controlling the crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic to still being used when new attractions debut. Even Santa has operated with a Virtual Queue at times. The system has proved so successful that I have started to wonder if there is a time limit on how long we will see physical queuing in the park at all.
If you aren’t familiar with how this differs from your standard ride wait time, here is the official run down from Disney:
What Is a Virtual Queue?
From time to time, a virtual queue—accessible via the My Disney Experience app—may be used for select attractions or experiences. When a virtual queue is in place, you can request to enjoy that attraction or experience later in the day, so you can enjoy other experiences while you wait. When the virtual queue is in place, a standby queue will not be available, and Guests must use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction or experience.
Starting January 9, guests will be able to join one attraction virtual queue at any theme park where they have valid admission. Guests may hold one attraction virtual queue at a time. Like today:
- Select admission types may also require a theme park reservation to join a virtual queue.
- Guests do not need to be inside a theme park to request to join the virtual queue at 7:00 AM.
- Guests must be inside the theme park to request to join the virtual queue at 1:00 PM.
Virtual queues are basically the same premise as your Genie+ reservation or the good old FastPass ticket system, allowing you to go and do other things, returning at a specific time to enjoy that particular attraction. While some people have reservations about the protocol, there really isn’t a downside to it. A few of the complaints that I have heard include:
- Returning only to find the attraction is unavailable (this can happen in a physical line, too, but you’ve been waiting for an hour to ride it first, not enjoying other things).
- The limited number of people who can return in each group (there are limited amounts of people who can ride any attraction in any given amount of time anyway).
- The wait time: you might need to wait hours before you can return (true of any E-Ticket attraction that you would be waiting for in-person to ride anyway.)
In all cases, it seems to be that the ‘worst case’ is just as possible with a physical stand-by line in place with one big exception, you weren’t wasting time in line waiting. Given the popularity of the Genie+ service (the way it functions, not the price or lack of FastPass), I’m starting to wonder if this really is the way of the future and when a physical line will no longer be required at all. Should all Disney Parks attractions have virtual queues?
I asked this question back in 2021, curious to see what our DIS Community thought of a potential future of virtual queuing. The reactions were mixed; many people at the time were concerned with the rising restrictions related to the pandemic, which seemed to influence their tolerance for change. Now that we have all settled down a bit when it comes to that side of things, I wanted to revisit the topic and see what you all think. Obviously, if this were a blanket tool, you would need to be able to book more than one of the smaller rides at a time and make other little adjustments. However, looking at the bigger picture, do you see a place for a physical stand-by line in the future for any of the major attractions?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.