Category Rank: 1
Park: Hollywood Studios
Park Rank: 3
We earlier discussed the idea of queues being nostalgic, so we won't go into too much more detail on why we would select a queue for this list. The top queue at WDW in terms of nostalgia is the Toy Story Mania queue, and for good reason. It actually provides two levels of nostalgia, being both for the Toy Story series, as well as your own childhood. Unless you had a very depraved childhood, in which case you are probably wondering what the heck is going on here.
Toy Story Mania is notorious for having a long line. They have traditionally taken quite a few Fast Pass riders, so there can be large stretches where you seemingly just stand there. Plus, the way they fill up the carts gives an extra advantage to small parties, as they will occasionally jump you ahead of some 30 or 40 guests right up near the loading area. Given the overall popularity, and the fact that each tram has room for 8 participants (two side-by-side, two sides to a cart, two carts to a tram), wait times get very long.
So, it is a good thing that there is something worth looking at in the queue.
The queue snakes through essentially one large room, before getting to a hallway that leads to the loading area. In that room, the walls and ceiling is often covered with board games, including Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Scrabble, and more. Plus, there are several other props in the area, including a chain of Barrel-o-Monkeys across the top, a set of dominos ready for tipping, and random playing cards, game pieces and crayons. There is also some of the "supporting" structure for the ceiling, which is constructed from tinkertoys, and a large viewfinder wheel with images from Disneyland.
At the very end of the queue is a lincoln log building where you can pick up your 3d glasses. In recent years, they have added some more pieces, like an etch-a-sketch guessing game, as well as Mr. Spell. The top item in the queue, however, is the interactive Mr. Potato Head at the far end. He will tell jokes and sing songs while "interacting" with the audience (it is not the same type of interaction as the performers in the Laugh Floor).
Toy Story Mania itself is obviously one of the top attractions in all of WDW... maybe even the top ride period. However, counting as a thrill attraction, it is not eligible for the list. But the queue for the line certainly qualifies, and probably leads the list for the queue with the most pictures taken at WDW.
It also has a pretty lofty ranking on this list, being in the top half (though barely). A lot of that speaks to the power of the Toy Story brand. I don't think it is too much of an exaggeration to talk about Toy Story being the most important movie for the recent buildup of the Disney brand--even more so than the renaissance movies Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Lion King. Toy Story was the movie that launched the Pixar juggernaut, has been parlayed into two excellent sequels spanning over 15 years, and seems equally as cherished by young kids and old, boys and girls. Plus there is something a bit more down-to-earth and childhood endearing to a story about toys rather than another story about princesses, that I predict ten years from now, Toy Story will be much more popular than Frozen.
Don't get me wrong; those 4 renaissance movies were very important to Disney, as the brand had gotten stale going back to the glory days of Mickey and Snow White/Cinderella. But, Toy Story took Disney into a whole new direction. It seems incredible to me that they haven't expanded the Pixar area within Hollywood Studios to include more. But for now, the queue's ranking on this list reflects in part the importance of that franchise.
We are ready for another "restaurant". This one, much like Ghirardelli, is known more for being a corporate sponsorship handing out free samples, but it is a must-do for our family every time we go.