How Does Disney’s Virtual Queue Work?

How does Disney's Virtual Queue Work

Hey there, fellow Disney vacationers! Picture this: you’ve arrived at the magical world of Disney, ready for an unforgettable day filled with rides and adventures. But, hold on a sec – what if I told you there’s a way to skip those endless lines and make the most of your day? Welcome to the enchanting realm of Disney’s Virtual Queue, where waiting becomes a breeze. I know what you’re thinking, how does Disney’s Virtual Queue work? I’m glad you asked!

So, let’s kick off our adventure by unraveling the mystery of the Disney Virtual Queue. Think of it as your golden ticket to a queue-less paradise, allowing you to maximize your park experience without standing in line physically.

Why You Should Be Interested in Disney’s Virtual Queue

Alright, before we dive into the nitty-gritty, here’s the scoop: Virtual Queues are a game-changer at Disney. They’re the secret sauce that lets you hop on your select rides without the headache of hour-long waits. But why should you care about this virtual magic?

Imagine you’re at the Magic Kingdom, all hyped up to ride the newest sensation, “TRON Lightcycle / Run”. Here’s the plot twist: there’s no regular standby line for this attraction. Ever since the grand debut of “Rise of the Resistance” in 2019, Disney has been using Virtual Queues for all their shiny new rides. That means if you don’t know the ropes of the Virtual Queue, you might miss out on the hottest attractions Disney has to offer.

And here’s the catch – in the Genie era, they’ve offered the chance to buy an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) for these rides, but those tickets tend to disappear faster than you can say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.” Especially if you’re not staying at a Disney World Resort, those ILLs might be as elusive as Cinderella’s glass slipper.

Keep in mind that Disney offers Virtual Queues in different contexts, like for Attractions, Entertainment, and “Select Experiences” such as runDisney Expos. But for now, let’s focus on the magic of Virtual Queues for Attractions.

The Lowdown on Disney’s Virtual Queue

Before you embark on your Disney adventure, make sure you have the “My Disney Experience” (MDE) app (for Disney World attractions) or the Disneyland app (for Disneyland rides) installed and set up on your device. These apps are your keys to joining Virtual Queues, so don’t forget them at home!

Now, here’s how it works: Virtual Queues for attractions typically open up a few times a day, kind of like treasure chests revealing their riches. These moments are often referred to as “drops,” and they happen at specific times that Disney fans know like the back of their hand. But here’s the twist – the rules for who’s eligible to join the queue can change with each drop. Sometimes, you might need to be inside the park, while other times, you might not.

Here’s when the “drops” usually happen, and where you need to be:

  • Morning: 7 am est – you can be anywhere
  • Afternoon: 1 pm est – you need to be in (ie tapped your ticket at the entrance gate) the respective theme park.
  • Evening: On select evenings, either for a special event or Deluxe Evening Hours, there could be a night drop at 6 pm est for guests with access to the respective event.

If you’re successful in snagging a spot, you’ll be assigned to a “Boarding Group” with a number. Sounds like a thrilling adventure already, right? But hang on, you’ll also get an estimated return time. The catch is, that time can change throughout the day, and you won’t know the exact moment your group will be called. It’s like waiting for a surprise party!

Cracking the Code: Tips for a Successful Boarding Group

Getting that precious Boarding Group can feel like winning the Disney lottery. Here are some tips to boost your chances:

  1. Team Effort: Have multiple members of your group try on different devices, all logged in using the same MDE account. Teamwork makes the dream work!
  2. Plan Ahead: Set up your party and get ready in the app 5 to 15 minutes before the drop. If you’re feeling ambitious, practice joining before you even leave for your trip.
  3. Stay Connected: Ensure you have a strong signal, whether it’s Wi-Fi or mobile data. Test it out in advance to find what works best for you.

Keeping Tabs on Your Group

Once you’ve secured a Boarding Group, don’t just sit back and relax. Keep an eye on your group’s status because that estimated return time can shift, just like a Disney plot twist. You can check the status from the Virtual Queues tile or the “My Day” tab in Disney Genie. Trust me, staying in the loop pays off!

Riding the Virtual Wave: Two Attractions in One Day

With Disney’s newest coasters, like TRON and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, both using Virtual Queues simultaneously, you might wonder if it’s possible to conquer both in a single day. Well, here’s the scoop: it’s a bit of a mystery, depending on the crowd levels and your luck with Boarding Groups.

At the moment, Disney World guests are not allowed to “park hop” or go to another theme park until 2 pm est or later. Please note you will need to have a ticket with the park hopper capabilities to “park hop”.

Why Disney Chooses Virtual Queues

Now, you might be wondering why Disney goes the Virtual Queue route, especially when it can be a tad frustrating and nerve-wracking. While we don’t have a backstage pass to Disney’s decision-making, there are some good reasons they embrace Virtual Queues:

  • Balancing Act: Standby lines for new attractions often mean super long waits. Disney wants to make these rides accessible to everyone, even those with lower patience levels for waiting.
  • Avoiding Downtime Drama: Newer rides can be a bit temperamental until they work out the kinks. Nobody wants to wait for hours, only to be told the ride is down. Virtual Queues dodge this dilemma.
  • Managing the Madness: Virtual Queues help control the initial demand, preventing long lines from spilling over into other areas of the park.

The FAQs

The Plot Twist: Missing Your Boarding Group Window

While missing a Lightning Lane reservation means you’re out of luck, Virtual Queues offer a bit more flexibility. If you’re running late, give a heads-up to the friendly Cast Member at the attraction entrance. They might still let you ride, especially if you’re tardy due to a dining reservation or other Disney-related shenanigans.

Virtual Queues and Disney Genie/Genie+

Just so you know, Virtual Queues and Disney Genie/Genie+ are two separate systems. The only crossover is that you can check your Boarding Group status from the My Day tab in Genie if you’ve got one.

Virtual Queues and the Disability Access System (DAS)

Now, if someone in your group qualifies for the Disability Access System (DAS), here’s the scoop: they’ll still need to join the Virtual Queue and get a Boarding Group. While it used to be a bit more flexible, return times are now enforced, so be ready to hop in line within the hour when your group is called. But once you’re at the ride and show your DAS card, you’ll glide through the Lightning Lane to minimize your wait.

Double the Fun: ILL and a Boarding Group

For attractions offering both ILL and Boarding Groups, you can snag both in a single day. It’s like having your cake and eating it too!

Two Birds, One Queue: Eligibility During Extended Hours

If you’re eligible for a Virtual Queue drop during Extended Theme Park Evening Hours, guess what? You can still get a Boarding Group for the same attraction during regular park hours. That means double the rides in one magical day!

Juggling Two Virtual Queues

While you can only join one Attraction Virtual Queue at a time, crafty planning and a sprinkle of Disney magic might help you conquer two attractions with Virtual Queues in a single day.

Enter the Park for Eligibility

If you need to be inside the park to be eligible for a drop, keep in mind that everyone in your group must meet the eligibility requirements. No sneaky shortcuts here!

Post-Boarding Group Called Wait Time

After your Boarding Group is called, you might still need to wait a bit before experiencing the magic of the ride. It’s usually around 10 to 45 minutes on average, but it can vary.

Sharing MagicBands or Tickets

Here’s a little insider tip: you can use another family member’s MagicBand or ticket to ride, as long as they’ve entered the park that day. While Disney might say Lightning Lanes and Boarding Groups aren’t transferable, in practice, it’s not a big deal.

ILL vs. Virtual Queue: Which Is Easier to Get?

The ease of grabbing an Individual Lightning Lane or a Boarding Group depends on factors like ride popularity and how long it’s been open. But one thing’s for sure: if Individual Lightning Lanes are vanishing before the park even opens, the Virtual Queue might be your saving grace.

Do You Need a Park Pass Reservation for the 7 a.m. Virtual Queue?

The need for a park reservation depends on your ticket type. If your ticket lets you enter without a reservation, you should be good to go for the 7 a.m. drop. Please note starting on January 9, 2024, Park Pass Reservations will no longer be needed for guests with date-based tickets.

Rider Switch and Virtual Queues

Even if someone in your group is too small to ride, Rider Switch is still in play. Everyone needs a Boarding Group, and you can swap around to make sure everyone gets their fair share of Disney magic.

Ready to Dive into the Disney Virtual Queue?

There you have it, folks – the lowdown on Disney’s Virtual Queue. It’s your golden ticket to a day of Disney enchantment without the endless lines. So, gear up, download those apps, and get ready to embark on a magical journey through the Happiest Place on Earth. May your Boarding Group be ever in your favor!

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Meet the Author: Nate Bishop

I’m a die-hard Disney fan with 38 years of visits under my belt, having stepped into Disney World 120+ times. Proud to be a Disney Annual Passholder, a Vacation Club member since ’92, a Castaway Club Member, and a runDisney enthusiast. Oh, and I’ve graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge. Need Disney insights or planning tips? I’m your guy!