The Best Walt Disney World Attraction Pre-Shows
Only a destination as innovative as Walt Disney World could make pre-shows as enjoyable as the actual rides. Utilized to give safety instructions in most parks, Disney World uses them to immerse guests in their storytelling.
No longer are you a guest riding an attraction. You are an explorer about to go on an adventure. You are a traveler to distant lands.
Disney World exceeds our ride expectations and if only for a moment, transport us from reality.
All of this is accomplished through beautifully designed ride queues, soundtracks, park scents, and of course – attraction pre-shows. Today, let’s discuss our favorite pre-shows that truly fill us with the anticipation and wonder of what’s to come.
Haunted Mansion – The Stretching Room
Many Disney World pre-shows are iconic, but this one claims a cult following. Fans of this pre-show are known to recite the narration by heart.
Before braving The Haunted Mansion doom buggies, you’ll be instructed to move to the dear center of the stretching room. This is a seemingly innocent room lined with portraits, but the famous Ghost Host voice will soon fill you with unease.
This charismatic, but foreboding narrator welcomes you to the mansion and taunts your inability to escape. Next, the room appears to stretch upwards, and those formerly innocent portraits take on a much bleaker appearance.
We won’t spoil the finale to the pre-show, but rest assured it’s the most chilling element of the attraction. Resist the temptation to turn back and get ready for a ride full of campy spookiness and actual fear.
Tower of Terror – The Library
A clap of thunder. A flash of lightning. Suddenly, the room you’re standing in goes dark and an old television set crackles to life.
This is what awaits guests who decide to take a chance on the Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror. Known as a vibrant hotel that thrived in the golden age of moviemaking, it now sits abandoned and rotting after a terrible accident.
After wandering through the initial queue, you’ll find yourself in the hotel’s library. There, you will watch a broadcasted television message from The Twilight Zone’s (1959 – 1964) Rod Serling.
Mr. Serling explains that one fateful night, a horrific lightning storm struck the building, and an elevator full of passengers disappeared into the unknown. (The Twilight Zone?)
He dares you to ride an old service elevator but gives you a dire warning. There’s no guarantee where your journey will end.
Ride the elevators at your own risk.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – Recording Studio
This may not be the fastest coaster in the world, but that 0 – almost 60 mph launch still leaves guests breathless or screaming their heads off. That’s right, we’re talking about the beloved Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
While winding through a music studio-themed queue, admire posters of signed Disney music legends. Once inside the recording studio though, the real show begins.
Thanks to the magic of video projections, you’ll see Aerosmith practicing in a real studio. However, their jam session is cut short by their manager. The band is going to be late for a big concert and doesn’t have time to hang out.
To the guests’ delight, Steven Tyler can’t let his new friends down. He insists that everyone should get to go to the concert (with backstage passes of course).
The frazzled manager agrees and requests a “super stretch limo” over the phone. With the concert being across town, you will have to leave pronto and drive really fast.
Expect your heart to start racing as you exit the studio and hear the whoosh of the roller coaster launches.
To this day, we’re not sure which is better – the ride or the personal Steven Tyler concert invite. It’s a toss-up.
Minnie & Mickey’s Runaway Railway – Grauman’s Chinese Theater
Some fans (including this author) railed against this replacement of The Great Movie Ride. And we were wrong.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a delightful dark ride of the future. Featuring 3-D effects, updated animatronics, an earworm soundtrack, and a completely immersive environment – this ride is a success.
Walk into the grandiose Chinese theater and keep strolling until you get to a private screening room. There, you’ll watch a short cartoon in the style of the new (chaotic, yet charming) Mickey cartoons.
Minnie and Mickey are headed off to a picnic in the country. In their excitement, they left Pluto in their car trunk.
Along the way, our mouse friends see Goofy driving a train. Mickey drives over a bump and (unbeknownst to them) Pluto and a freshly baked pie fly out of the trunk.
The pie falls into the train engine and to Goofy’s terror, causes the train to explode! Literally. The train explodes through the movie screen and a giant hole appears.
Luckily, it’s a hole big enough to walk through. Goofy asks a Cast Member to escort you “into the cartoon” while he fixes the damage.
As frenzied as the cartoon itself, the pre-show is a great taste of the silliness to come.
Wait times just hurt less when the ride experience is delightful from start to finish. Remember, in Disney World, the experience starts as soon as you pass the gates.
We hope you enjoy and appreciate the loving detail put into the pre-shows. The folks at MickeyBlog.com sure do!
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Feature Photo: Disney