We all know that FastPass is almost always a Very Good idea. But there is a reason why you might actually find a FastPass disappointing.
Let’s say you get home from Disney, and your neighbor or co-worker, who has also visited Disney World this year, says to you, “My daughter’s favorite moment of the trip was when Tinker Bell turned her into Captain Hook and she got to ring those little bells with her hook. Wasn’t that the coolest thing?”
Hmmm. You don’t remember anything about Tinker Bell transforming anyone into Captain Cook … and what little bells? This is because you had a FastPass for Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland. And you were patting yourself on the back for avoiding a 90 minute queue. And you most certainly deserve that pat on the back. If your kids or grandkids had waited 90 more minutes that hot afternoon, you would have had a magical meltdown on your hands. However, you did miss one of the most amazing queues at Disney World. And it’s air conditioned – which really softens the pain of a wait time.
The standby queue for Peter Pan winds into the home of the Darling family. Here you’ll see Tinker Bell wreaking havoc in the bedrooms – turning on lights, playing music boxes, spinning globes, even trying to pilot a little model boat. But the extraordinary thing about the queue is the wide interactive shadow wall between the bedrooms. Guests pause here to see their own shadows – and that of Peter Pan himself, tiptoeing in. A lantern swings into view – when a guest reaches up to tap the shadow, he or she releases Tink. The little pixie may transform a guest into Captain Hook – complete with hooked hand and big plumed hat. A row of bells appears. When a guest taps a shadow bell, it will swing and ring. (One guest will be tapping with their Captain Hook hand!) The bells magically rise up into the shadows of the ceiling and a flock of butterflies twinkles in. Hold up your hand and wait – a shadow butterfly will come and sit on your hand. The kids may forget sitting on the ride, but they’ll long remember the bells and the butterflies. This Disney magic makes the Peter Pan queue a destination in itself!
Another destination queue is that of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Entering the standby queue, after passing through a number of corridor tunnels in the space station, you arrive at a series of view screens requesting your assistance with various cosmic tasks, such as protecting the station from asteroids or gathering up floating detritus in orbit. The games are controlled by sets of buttons in front of the screen, and on some of the larger screens up to eleven people can play cooperatively at once, so they’re fun for the whole family. The wait will fly by faster than a Space Mountain shuttle.
The Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion has a unique queue that hurried FastPass users will miss out on. This is an outdoor location, just before you enter the mansion itself. You’ll find a murder mystery to solve by reading the epitaphs on the busts. Who killed whom? The clues on the bust will reveal all. Next, the queue goes into three large crypts. The Decomposing Composer has touch sensitive musical instruments. If other guests in the queue help out, you can touch them all at once and hear the “Grim Grinning Ghosts” theme. The organ (with 13 stops and a raven atop!) from inside the mansion has been reproduced – press the keys! The opposite side has eerie and strange instruments with a one-eyed cat. You’ll also see the leaking brine-filled crypt of Captain Culpepper Clyne where you can enjoy the cooling mist. A ghostly poet will plead with you to help her finish her poems – and the word you supply will magically appear with spooky accuracy.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a fun digital screen that depicts large jewels bobbling along in a stream of water. Guests have to “catch” the gems (by tapping on the screen) and drag them to the correct box. Colored water spurts from woodland creatures as musical notes sound. Kids will love spinning the big gem barrels in the Vault portion of the queue – get them all spinning with the help of fellow guests to find a surprise on the ceiling!
Young kids and their parents will really appreciate the standby line for Dumbo. The Big Top Tent is a large play area with net-enclosed climbing apparatus, games, activities, a slide, and bench seating for tired parents. You can play until your number is called and it’s time to ride.
At Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid, guests in the standby line are invited to use an interactive screen to help the crabs sort human stuff into piles. The caverns under Erik’s castle are also beautifully designed, with waterfalls and graceful arched stone windows. The creative assortment of flotsam and jetsam is also fun to spot.
Expedition Everest will feel more like a real trip to Nepal if you explore the standby queue – and some of the artifacts are actually from Nepal. The story (and queue) begins in the Himalayan village of Serka Zong where you walk into Norbu and Bob’s Himalayan Escapes travel agency. Here intrepid travelers can book their trip up the Forbidden Mountain. Tashi’s General Store and Bar offers all the equipment you’ll need. You’ll also wind through the small home of a Serka Zong family; later you explore a monastery, shrines, and a yeti museum. By the time you board the tea train to go up the mountain, you’ll have absorbed an understanding of the reverence … and fear … inspired by the Yeti – and you’ll be ready to meet him yourself.
The Animal Kingdom’s Valley of Mo’ara boasts one of the longest standby queues in all of Walt Disney World. Understandably, Flight of Passage requires a very long queue – it’s also one of the most highly themed queues at Disney World. There’s a little ancient Na’vi art in the FastPass queue, but there’s a boatload of it in the standby queue – banshee and woodsprite drawings soar even on the ceiling of the vast, high caverns. Both Na’vi and humans have left handprints – (at the ground floor ride exit, you’ll find handprints of Disney’s Imagineer Joe Rhode and James Cameron – the director of Avatar). In standby, you’ll also pass through a jungle of blue luminescent growth with the sounds of alien insects and bird cries clicking and chirping and galooping in the background. Then you’ll wind through RDA (Resources Development Association) airlocks into the labs of the ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) with their science stations, beakers, and test tubes and sea urchin life forms swimming (one is oozing along the bottom) in tanks. You can’t miss the large tank with the life-size (ten feet tall!) blue Avatar. He has very natural looking finger twitches and muscle spasms. All the details you just wound through increase the sense of immersion in the world of Pandora – which will maximize your banshee flight experience!
Keep in mind that while the standby experience is very worthwhile, you’ll need to plan a first-thing-in-the-morning (at “rope drop”) visit to attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Expedition Everest to avoid investing too much time in the standby experience!