Saturday, January 10, 2015

#46 - Star Tours Queue

Category: Queue
Category Rank: 2

Park: Hollywood Studios
Park Rank: 4

Most of the time, you would consider the wait in line the worst part of the amusement park.  One of the improvements for parks has been to make the queues much more engaging and interactive.  You can see this in the rides in the new Fantasyland, including the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Ariel's Undersea Adventure.  You can also see it in Epcot's Test Track.

While an interactive queue makes it exciting, it doesn't make it nostalgic.  A queue has to capture something special, something for which you would want to take a multitude of pictures for the memories, in order to be nostalgic.

This severely limits the number of queues that could appear on this list.  Unless you happen to be one of those amateur photographers who needs to take a picture of everything.  In which case, your list is probably all queues, because where else do you get that much time of doing nothing that you can take endless pictures.

There are only two queues that I identify within WDW that are worth being listed here, and our first is another ride that had its queue dramatically improved when the ride was updated.  When we first visited WDW, we rode on the 2D version of Star Tours, and I remember being extremely underwhelmed.  This was, after all, the Star Wars ride in all of Disney World, and it seemed like barely more than a slow ride.  While our next visit was during the refurbishment process, when we experienced it after it opened, it was a night and day difference.  The ride's motion improved, its graphics improved, it added 3D, and it added the interactive storyline.

It also made the queue improved as well.  It isn't a long queue (Star Tours loads a lot of people really quickly).  So, there is an outdoor area in the Endor forest, underneath the legs of an AT-AT walker (not realistic, as the AT-ATs were seen on Hoth, but details details).  Upon entering, you see a gigantic flight display showing different destinations and their current statuses, while interspersed with commercials for different flight destinations.  All of which with the semi-robotic tones that travel companies and flight attendants bring.  Meanwhile, commentary is provided by C-3PO and R2D2, who sits on a Star Tours vessel.

There is an additional room with a wise-cracking droid providing security scanning, and then pre-boarding, there is a humorous flight instruction video.  Again, nothing that complex.  But, the designers did a great job making all the components look realistic and lifelike.

Now consider that last sentence for a second.  The designers of the queue succeeded where the filmmakers of the last 3 movies failed.  The prequels were filled with overbearing obnoxious caricatures totally reliant on CGI.  There was nothing realistic and lifelike about them at all.  The Star Tours queue actually created a more nostalgic Star Wars artifact than the movies did.  This is incredible to consider, and is the primary reason why this is on the list.  While the ride is better than the queue, the queue does become a favorite of Star Wars fans everywhere.

I'll interject one thing about queues here, as again, I think it takes something truly special about a queue to get itself on a top nostalgic item list.  This is the only category out of all the items that Disney would lose to a competitor... at least for the top queue.  While we haven't seen Disney's top queue on this list yet, it would actually lose out to queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which takes you into Hogwarts itself, and contains the talking portraits, the house cup vials, the sorting hat, and much more.  It, and other areas within Hogsmeade, are the only areas where you can say Universal creates nostalgia.  Harry Potter, like Star Wars, offers a franchise to set a queue in, and that makes a big difference.

With our next item, we have our first mode of transportation on the list, connecting Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts.  And no... its not THAT one... that's much higher.

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