Which attraction has the best pre-show at Disney? The worst? I’m ranking them based on creativity, execution, and story-telling. Which ones top your list?
Rides. Shows. Cavalcades. Even food is an experience at Disney! Part of what makes Disney so special is that Walt and Imagineers created a story for us. It begins the very second you walk through the gates, stays with you all day, and bids us farewell as we leave each night.
This storytelling flows throughout the entire park – from Main Street, U.S.A. to Galaxy’s Edge and Pandora to the World Showcase. You see it in the store fronts, the architecture in the lands, and even during our favorite meals. Even the attractions go just beyond the ride to tell a story.
Various rides throughout the parks host pre-shows, which are fun little rooms or stories you are told before boarding the attraction. They are a fun way to hype you up for the ride and keep you entertained while waiting. They can also provide important back story information that sets the stage for the ride. I am going to rank them from worst to best, so keep reading to find out who comes out on top!
Pre-shows at Disney World
Magic Kingdom: Haunted Mansion; Enchanted Tiki Room; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Carousel of Progress
Epcot: Soarin’; Mission: SPACE
Hollywood Studios: Rise of the Resistance; Tower of Tower; Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway; Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster; Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run; Muppet Vision 3D; Star Tours
Animal Kingdom: Flight of, uh, Passage; DINOSAUR
Here are my (Monica) worst and best picks for pre-shows at Disney World.
Worst pre-shows at Disney World
5. Mission: SPACE
The pre-show for Mission: SPACE made it on the worst list for one reason: THEY TOOK OUT GARY SINISE.
Don’t get me wrong, Gina Torres is fine for the job, but the show hasn’t been the same since they took out Gary in 2017. I am glad we continue to see him when he narrates for Candlelight Processional. Hopefully that comes back in 2021!
4. Muppet Vision 3D
The pre-show for Muppet Vision 3D needs an overhaul very badly. The actual show itself is really cute with the Muppet antics and effects.
Disney could also really enhance the pre-show by maybe using some animatronics like they do in the theater. Perhaps replacing the screens too would help. I think the pre-show does the show and the Muppets a disservice.
I think Muppets will be gone eventually to make room for other Disney IP so there is probably no use in fixing it up. When you think about all the other lands based off movies like Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge, the little Muppets area is nothing in comparison.
3. Carousel of Progress
I absolutely love Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland. The pre-show discusses the history of Carousel of Progress and how it came to be. Walt personally had a hand in making the attraction, and his love for the American family really shines through.
The reason the pre-show made my worst list is because it doesn’t do the attraction any justice! Content-wise, the pre-show is great. I love the video of Walt and the Sherman brothers singing “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” However, the execution needs some work. The screens need to replaced because they are so tiny and you can barely hear anything out of them.
It’s one of the last few places in the park that has remained the same for so long and still showcases the history and vision Walt had. That’s why the pre-show pains me so much – it’s almost considered an after thought like “oh yeah, we need to explain the show.”
2. Enchanted Tiki Room
This attraction is a must-do for many, but for me personally I don’t care for it. I usually only watch the show to check my phones or grab a quick air-conditioned nap.
The pre-show takes place outside the attraction with two animatronic talking birds, Claude and Clyde. It begins with a loud waterfall, and then the birds are revealed on top of a tiki statue.
Overall, I don’t think the pre-show does a great job entertaining, although it may do the job for young children who are antsy to get in.
1. Flight of Passage
Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is in my top 3 list of attractions in any of the theme parks! It is visually and emotionally stirring and the feelings I have when I’m on this attraction are indescribable.
The pre-show does an average job explaining what exactly is happening. It helps you understand what’s happening and draws you in to the experience. However, the actors really ruin the whole experience.
Thankfully, they took out all the “uh’s” even though my mind still says them while I’m watching the pre-show. The damage has been done I guess. Thankfully Disney decreased the amount of time spent on the pre-show, which is helpful when you are just ready to get on the ride.
I think the pre-show narrative may be better suited to play while Guests are waiting at the ramps before loading. It will entertain better, and they could still do a little of the linking things they like to do in that first room.
Best pre-shows at Disney World
Ok, it’s time to switch gears and move to the best pre-shows at Disney World.
5. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
You may have never known that this ride actually had a pre-show if I had not just told you! Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened just a few short weeks before the parks closed last March and pre-shows only recently returned to the parks.
This pre-show is really cute! It has the same animation as the new Mickey shorts we have seen lately and tells the story of Mickey and Minnie packing up for their picnic. There are some cute effects at the end with smoke and the screen before you are led to the ride vehicles. Even the Cast Member interacts with Goofy.
This happens to be one of my favorite pre-shows at Disney World because of one little sentence: This includes cameras, purses, hats, and of course, these little beauties.
Yes, the map showcasing all the wonderful places we will see on our trip around the world is great. The safety tips are necessary as well.
But, Patrick Warburton totally makes this pre-show. He is just really the perfect person for the role, and sometimes I catch myself saying “Hello, and welcome to Soarin'” in my best Chief Flight Attendant Patrick voice.
It’s just a great video with enough humor to make all the safety stuff bearable. Nice work, pal.
3. Rise of the Resistance
It’s hard telling where the pre-show ends and the ride begins, but this almost 20-minute attraction tells one amazing story. Was there ever really a pre-show or not?
The premise of the ride is that you are trying to escape the First Order, but before that the pre-show sets that up with Rey, the ride in CEC Intersystem Transport Ship, the capture, and interrogation. If we are looking at strictly the “show” with Rey, it is not the most exciting. However, if we look at everything before boarding the First Order Fleet Transport, it is much more thrilling.
This is one of the most immersive experiences Disney Imagineers have ever created. This is not a typical pre-show where you stand there and watch a screen, but you are actually involved in the story. This will undoubtedly take the #1 spot for many as the best pre-show, but there are two others that I love even more.
2. Haunted Mansion
This is almost my favorite pre-show in all of Disney World! You walk into the stretching room to adjust your eyes before boarding the doom buggies, but Imagineers also used it as an opportunity to psyche you up. Our Ghost Host introduces himself and says the tour begins in this very room with some of the guests in their corruptible mortal state.
There are no windows or doors and then the room begins to stretch. How did they do that? Are we moving down or are the walls moving up? It adds to the mystery of the attraction and also reveals the funny bottom half of the portraits.
I love it when a pre-show doesn’t just explain what’s going to happen on the ride but is part of the attraction itself. Who could imagine Haunted Mansion without the stretching room?!
1. Tower of Terror
Hollywood 1939. Amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling movie town at the height of its golden age, the Hollywood Tower of Terror was a star in its own right.
This is it for me, guys and gals. I could watch the pre-show for Tower of Terror and not even go on the ride (although I do love the ride). It is spooky and suspenseful and reminds you that you are, in fact, about to step into the 5th dimension and then drop 13 stories. You walk into this small quiet room with the thunderstorm going outside the windows and the old dusty antiques. The power goes out and on comes the television.
Rod Sterling talks to you about how we are about to walk into another dimension of sound, sight, and mind. He then sets up the attraction by bringing us into the story while connecting us to the past. Then the television cuts out and you are sent to the boiler room in the basement.
I absolutely love this pre-show. It has all that I’m looking for in a pre-show. I am brought out of real life and into the life of the attraction. The Imagineers watched 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone, and it shows because I am absolutely spooked out before even getting on the ride.
Those are my top picks for best and worst pre-shows at Disney! Which ones top your list? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.