Something new appeared in the Toy Story Mania line a couple of weeks ago. It was a videoscreen disguised as an oversized Etch-a-Sketch, displaying occasional hints about the ride but mostly offering quick puzzles and quizzes about the Toy Story movies. It’s a fabulous addition to the queue, but in many ways it’s also a perplexing one. Why now? Why spend the money to create enhancements for a ride’s QUEUE (not the ride itself) long after the ride had its debut? The mystery only deepens when you realize this is not the only place it’s happening.

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The new Etch-a-Sketch is actually a set of two back-to-back toys, with one side facing Standby and the other side facing FASTPASS return (since the return side does get backed up from time to time). It’s located near the Candyland section of the queue, which on the day of our visit wasn’t even opened up for switchbacks.

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The screens are not interactive–at least, not at present.They cycle through different pre-made screens, mostly asking the audience to guess the name of a character from the movies based on a picture or a rebus (pictogram) puzzle, but also offering simple tips for playing the game.

I suppose they could use this system to be interactive in the future; maybe something tied to MyMagic+ and MagicBands? Certainly there’s nothing stopping them from customizing everything with a screen, but in this case, they’d have to get creative to make it fit. Since it’s an Etch-a-Sketch, all the letters connect; this seems hard to me to fake this convincingly using real Guest names and information.

This is the second queue to receive recent enhancements. About a month ago, the screens behind one droid in the Star Tours queue debuted with new programming, showing aliens and describing what crime they committed to become one of the galaxy’s most wanted.

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These are presently “canned” but could conceivably be tied to MagicBands in the future, especially if they have a mind to customize text rather than add images (or they could do both, I suppose).

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Going back a bit further, we also have Big Thunder Mountain, which received numerous updates to its queue a few months ago. And we could probably lump in the enhancements to the Space Mountain queue a few years ago. It all amounts to the same thing: more stuff for people to look at, do, or play along with while they stand in the Standby line.

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It probably goes without saying that if they are spending money on something, it’s because they expect that this outlay of money will solve a problem (or perhaps prevent a problem?) From that we might infer that Disney expects – internally speaking – to see the Standby lines become even longer as FASTPASS+ becomes fully operational.

Indeed, I’m hearing some folks admit that this is already happening. This is still anecdotal, but some posters to last week’s column talked about Haunted Mansion lines stretching twice as long as “usual” on their recent visit. I’m not sure I’ve witnessed that myself, at least not at the double-length level. I would guess, also anecdotally, that standby waits have gone up for us, too, at least somewhat.

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I’m absolutely thrilled on the one hand that they are adding new experiences to the queues. I’ve always thought (and always said online) that lines should be highly themed. I think themed lines are a better solution than a day chock full of reservations, in fact, but apparently we’re going to have both. I’d rather have themed lines that move quickly. Walt famously allowed the conversations in Pirates of the Caribbean to overlap because it was like a cocktail party – too much to pick up on your first visit, which would drive interest to return again and again. But now imagine you move through Pirates of the Caribbean the way you move through gridlock at rush hour, one car length (well, boat length) at a time. You’d hear everything then. In fact, you’d hear it more than once before you moved on. That would make Pirates a lot less interesting, wouldn’t it? The same principle is likely to apply to Standby lines after FASTPASS+ is in full wide use. It may look interesting if you’re zipping along through the line, but will it be quite as interesting if you are stuck for twenty minutes?

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It’s not just enhanced Standby queues. The in-park games are part of this same strategy. With the day fully reserved for both rides and restaurants, that leaves only shopping and standby, so the games offer a good third option.

One of the things that I fret about the most is that this turn toward gamification (of both the queues and the public spaces) occurs right when the parks are otherwise doing their utmost to monetize every square yard. It’s unfortunate this move toward ride reservations coincides with the destruction of quiet spaces that formerly characterized the parks. Now, every square inch needs to be monetized and revenue-producing. That may sound fine on paper, but with people no longer in the lines, the presence of quiet spots is even more important, yet they are disappearing at an alarming rate. That goes double for such spots which are air conditioned, a true rarity here in Florida.

Do you agree standby lines are getting longer? Will the enhancements help? Let us know in the comments!

WDW Clicks – Complete photos of Etch-A-Sketch; Jingle Cruise; Grand Floridian DVC, Fit2Run, More

This week in WDW Clicks we look at Fit2Run at Downtown Disney, new Disney Springs concept art, new walkway through Pleasure Island, the Villas at Grand Floridian (new DVC wing), Christmas decorations in the Magic Kingdom, Jingle Cruise, Veterans Day salute for Limited Time Magic, new Fantasyland costumes, and the complete cycle of Etch-a-Sketch video screens in the Toy Story Mania queue.

Or visit this direct link

  • FerretAfros

    Weren’t queue enhancements always supposed to be part of the NextGen project? Early on, we got “improvements” to Haunted Mansion and Pooh, while they tested new concepts like Dumbo. It seemed like they cancelled that aspect of the project to focus on the wristband technology, but (assuming FP+ has a negative impact to standby queues) I welcome these sorts of additions. Even if they’re not things that I personally enjoy, they keep the waits more interesting

    I’ve also wondered about the addition of games (Agent P, SOTMK, Wilderness Explorers) at the same time as the FP+ conversion. Perhaps it will make sense once NextGen is fully rolled out and the old FP is retired, but it doesn’t make much sense right now

  • solarnole

    The reason for this is because the standby lanes are so much longer with fastpass + and the bands actually make entering the FP line slower. Each person has to touch their band exactly in the right place to get a green light where before one family member could hold all four paper passes

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    Kevin Yee always has the best scoops. That’s why he is my favorite Disney writer.


    The Star Wars one seems pretty self explanatory, but I’m not really sure what they would put on the etch and sketch. Maybe just simple happy birthdays or something.

  • Yep, standby lines are expected to get longer with Fastpass+. Keep in mind that FP+ is only just getting started and the maximum number of daily users has not yet been reached. The lines are only going to get longer as the program goes mainstream. That’s why enhanced queues are such a priority.

    Which begs the question, which would you rather have: A) A short wait on a few rides but longer waits on everything else or B) Regular waits for everything?

    As much as I love zooming through the lines with Fastpass, I don’t like the impact that it has on the parks as a whole. Fastpass+ ruins the ability of a guest to just explore the parks (and not using FP+ means that you’ll have longer than normal waits for EVERYTHING). All adventure has been wrung out of the parks with preplanned meals and ride times. While I appreciate the technology behind FP+ and NextGen, I loath the overall impact on how guests experience the parks. The enhanced queues are nice, but I’d rather that they weren’t needed.

    Sometimes technology doesn’t make things better.

  • Dan Heaton

    I’m curious to see where the queue enhancements go, though I’m not super excited about them tying to FP+ or becoming personal experiences. I’d much rather see new attractions that space out crowds and lead to fewer bottlenecks, though I know that’s not the focus right now. It’s always evolving, so I hate to judge too much at this point. It’s going to be interesting for sure!

  • PecosBill

    Whenever I’m stuck in line at Space Mt. they game is never running. And when it is working the line is moving to fast to stop and play it. Or the line back up because people have stopped to play (wasn’t this Nunis’ original complaint against interactive elements in the queues). They need a different concept here.

    I have yet to see any of the elements at BTMRR working.

  • Malin

    On paper FastPass + looks like a poor concept. Yet Disney continued ahead with it anyway. The fact the process is taking much longer to be rolled out further illustrates the difficulties and hassles Disney are facing with regards to park operations. Sad thing is because it cost so much money we are stuck with it! Interactive queues don’t excite me. Certain parts of the My Magic Wrist Bands have the potential to be excellent. FastPass + is not one of them. My plan is to visit WDW in the off season when rides don’t require a FastPass. For people who can only have time off during peak times you have my sympathies and I hope you’ll enjoy the games.

    • CaptainAction

      Fastpass + seems to have a lot in common with Obamacare. Spent a ton on something execs and administration wanted but not guests and citizens. More bad news delivered as we see deeper into them. A repeal of both would be great.

      • Kurtoon

        “If you like your current Fastpass plan, you can keep it.”

      • CaptainAction



  • themur

    Fast Pass already exists so they are already giving out the reservations. Isn’t this just a different way to distribute those Fast Passes. If so I don’t see any long term change. Most popular rides will still have long Stand By lines.

    There is no obligation to use FP+ just like there isn’t an obligation to use FP. You can explore and meander to your hearts content. You might just have to wait in a long line – which is the way it has been for the almost 15 years that FP has existed.

    I am interested to see first hand after all the testing and with a full roll out how it all works. Until that time we are all just guessing (or complaining just to complain which is unfortunately a passion for some on these boards.)

    If Universal had made these queue enhancements there would be an unending stream of posts about how great Universal is and how Disney just doesn’t do anything right. I choose to just enjoy the plussing of the queue.

    • solarnole

      Universal does not need queue enhancements because they spend that money on new attractions which shortens the wait times for all rides.

      When Harry Potter opened the wait for Spider man dropped by twenty minutes. Mermaid dropped wait times at Magic Kingdom. Just think how much shorter the line for Toy Story or Soarin would be to ride if another E ticket was built.

      I would rather have a new attraction then a new video board to watch that says my name once in a two hour line.

      I wish Disney would stick to its bread and butter; attractions. Its like McDonalds adding wings and pizza. Whats next a Disney tablet or 3D Disney glass goggles?

      • Malin

        My understanding is the capacity for Islands of Adventure is only 40,000 vs 90,000 for the Magic Kingdom. So it’s obvious the wait times at IOA are going to be shorter. In all the criticism for FastPass one positive is that at least Disney gives the service out free to everyone. Not try and rip people off by charging them up to $70 a day like Universal.

      • solarnole

        Exactly my point you do not even need fastpass at Universal because they have enough draws that one ride does not draw all the people like Toy Story and Soarin.

        Fastpass + is not exactly free you can only use it if you stay in a Disney hotel. The only difference is at Universal you get Express for free if you stay in their hotels or you have the option to buy it if you are not staying at their hotel.

        Universal Express is given out much less then fastpass so the waits are much shorter and it is good for multiple attractions and park hopping unlike fastpass + which can only be used for 3 attractions in one park per day.

        Now at Epcot there are even restrictions on what attractions you can pick as part of your 3. You can only pick only 1 from the following group; Illuminations, Test Track, Soarin, or Malestorm. What is left in the park that even needs fastpass? Captain EO the 1986 3D spectacular?

        I’m American and I enjoy my freedom of choice

      • Malin

        I think your missing the point! Clearly you can’t visit Islands of Adventure when it’s truly packed at 40,000 because most people head over to Potter at opening. Once Potter fills to capacity everyone is given a time to return and have no choice but to go and find something else to do inside the Park. I have never known Pixar Place or the Land Pavilion to be so packed that Disney have had to give out return times just to enter the area. Reason is that Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios have plenty of other attractions to spread the crowds out. People at IOA are only interested in Potter and have to ride the Hulk or Spider-Man just to kill time.

        FastPass + once it’s fully rolled out will be made available to everyone for free including Annual Passholders. For now you can still continue to use regular FastPass free of charge. Universal only gives out Express Passes to people staying at the high end hotels. Doesn’t include the upcoming Cabana Bay while any stay at a Disney Value Hotel will include FastPass +. And some of the Values are already in testing mode.

        Universal gives out less passes because people are not that stupid to pay an additional $70 to skip the lines at both Parks. Which you can’t even use at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The most popular ride at the Resort. If I’m paying an added extra I’d expect it to include all rides. And if the Universal Parks were that amazing the need to Park Hop wouldn’t be needed. The fact you can buy a pass which is valid for one day and includes both Parks doesn’t say much about how much time you’re likely to spend inside each Park if you can get it all done in one day. No wonder Universal is having to spend millions on new rides just to give people something to do at the Parks for more then one day.

      • solarnole

        I went to Harry Potter opening week and got to ride it without a terrible wait. Harry Potter land had to give out tickets to return because it was so popular that people were lingering and it was violating fire codes which I agree Soarin and Toy Story could not do because they are not as well themed or liked.

        If Epoct has so many great attractions why do they force you to pick only one out of a group of four?

        Right now the only people that can use Fastpass + are Disney hotel guests or annual pass holders who book a Disney hotel and it limits you to 3 limited attractions a day in one park only. Sorry day guest you do not even get the option of buying a fastpass.

        Universal gives all their hotel guests early access to Harry Potter so the Express is not needed and then they can use the pass as many times as they want at all the other attractions. The rates of Cabana Bay are so low that you could add Express pass and it would still be cheaper then a Disney Value.

        If Disney would just build new attractions they would not need bait and switch gimmicks like Fastpass+

      • Malin

        Your comments about Soarin and Toy Story don’t make any sense and contradict your previous remarks about them being popular. Part of the problem with Harry Potter is poor design and capacity. The bigger issue is that most people who do actually visit only do so to see Potter. The crowds are never spread out in this Park. I can walk though Suess Landing or Toon Lagoon and find them a ghost town. Because everyone is either in Potter World or are waiting to get access to that area of the Park. Diagon Alley will help with the crowding but it doesn’t address the bigger issue that Islands of Adventure needs more rides that people want to see and care about. The fact NBC Universal were boasting just recently how much revenue has gone up since Potter opened just illustrates how little interest the public had in the IOA concept before Potter.

        If your asking me a question like that about Epcot then you clearly don’t understand the concept for Epcot or why is stands out as one of the very best theme parks in the World. It doesn’t need to have rides with movie franchises attached to them.

        Your failing to understand that FastPass + is still in the testing stage. Reason it’s not available to everyone yet! Guests don’t get the option to purchase FastPass because its a free service. Also if you used your brain you would know Disney needs to limit the amount of FastPasses issue each day simply because it’s offered to every single person. And if you gave every single person the option of skipping the lines on every single attraction throughout the day it would be a stupid move.

        Two of the rides in Potter are not included in the Express Pass. Also the opening of Potter early is an extra offered to everyone. You just need to know the right places where to buy your tickets from for this benefit. Which is no different to Extra Magic Hours really. Only thousands more stay at Disney each week.

        And you are like an excited kid who wants to open all his Christmas toys at once and not wait for Christmas Day. Show a bit of patience will you new stuff is coming to Disney. It’s been a long wait but then again Universal has kept us waiting over 10 years to build Harry Potter at IOA while Animal Kingdom which is the same age saw many new attractions and areas open up in this time. Universal is now only starting to play catch up.

      • solarnole

        Soarin and Toy Story are only popular because they are the only option in those parks. Epcot is an unique park but without new rides its just a mall with fireworks as far I’m concerned. I don’t pay $90 to get into a mall.

        Animal Kingdom and Islands were opened right after one another. Animal Kingdom was opened unfinished with a train to no where, a half boat ride to no where and two lands not done. Islands was opened with every land finished and all attractions finished except for one in Dr Seuss . Universal still finished and opened the The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. I’m still waiting on Beastly Kingdom, the train to no where and the radio Disney half ride to no where to be finished or replaced with other attractions but fixing falling concrete branches from the park icon is more more important. AK has been neglected way too long.

        Animal Kingdom- Everest 2006
        Hollywood- Toy Story 2008
        Epcot- Soarin 2005
        Magic Kingdom- Splash Mountain 1996

        Islands of Adventure- 2010
        Universal Studios- 2012

        They destroyed Walt Disney’s original dark ride based on his first movie for a princess photo store. WDW management wants a mall that is why they don’t build new rides and they spend a billion dollars on a data mining wristband credit card that can but tracked like a GPS. Nothing in life is free not even fastpass+

      • Malin

        I think your mistaking popular with first choice of the day. So Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Test Track, Mission Space must all be such walk on attractions. Shows like Motors Action Stunt Show and Indiana Jones stunt shows have to sit empty during each show. No one bothers with Fantasmic so it was such a waste of money by Disney expanding capacity only recently for the venue. World Showcase must sit empty with no dining reservation because no one wants to visit a Mall with Fireworks. Again decribing it as the above just points out how you struggle to understand and get Epcot as not only a Theme Park but also the concept.

        You have real selective memory when its comes to your Theme Park history. You dare to mock Disney and Animal Kingdom for Discovery River Boats but fail to mention Islands of Adventure’s very own failed Island Skipper Tours. Talking of attractions which take you no where how about Triceratops Encounter which was so unpopular it closed for several years. I’m still waiting for something to fill the empty gap in the Toon Lagoon Show Arena. The High in the Sky Trolley Ride was postponed for years and Universal had plenty of time to come up with an interesting concept but gave us one of the worst rides in the entire park. No wonder families with young kids visit Disney. Also you might be unaware but Disney fired a lot of the Imagineers and these guys stole the ideas for Beastly Kingdom and took them to Universal to use at IOA. The Dueling Dragons for instance was a Beastly Kingdom concept but was so underwhelming it was rebranded to exist in the Potter World. Animal Kingdom won’t be neglected for much longer although with your expectations while 2017 is only three years away you’d expect it to be completed by Summer 2014 because thats the standard set by the mighty Universal. Who wait until its way into the construction phase of a land or area before making any surprise announcements. Sadly by this time every specific detail has been released online.

        Walt Disney died before construction had even started on Snow White. The ride is a different layout to the orginal Disneyland version. The idea for Snow White is being used in the new Mine Coaster attraction. Losing the dark ride is still a better result then the original New Fantasyland plans. Anyway Universal closed Jaws and Kong which is a much worst decision.

    • CaptainAction

      I think Universal has great queues but that isn’t the reason to go nuts about the park.
      Best queue ever is Forbidden Journey. Mummy and Transformers are great. Pirates and ET are probably a tie.
      Universal has some great queues but we aren’t trying to make them the reason to love the parks.
      Big news at WDW should be better than queue enhancements and rocks and bathrooms.
      These are tinkering around the edges. Instead of window dressings, WDW needs to get back to what they used to do best.
      Love Winnie ride but the line is seperate and not a draw to anyone over 4.

  • Director_Guy

    I wonder if the issue of longer lines could be solved if regular Fastpass were to be eliminated and Fastpass+ being the only “skip the line” option.

  • DisneyHokie

    The reason Guests can no longer reserve FP+ for Soarin and Test Track is because when that was an option, all FastPasses for those 2 attractions were usually gone for the day by noon. Continuing that would not be fair to day guests and AP’s who don’t have access to FP+. Now, FastPasses don’t run out until much later in the afternoon, which makes it more fair for those not participating in FP+. Now, once FP+ is fully rolled out and the paper FP’s are done away with, it may become a different argument. At least Disney is trying to keep it fair for the non-FP+ guests.

  • solarnole

    My whole point is that new E ticket attractions would be cheaper and would disperse more guests then fastpass +.

    I will never be happy to get charged the same amount of money for less options but that is just me.

    The old fastpass system did not limit my ride choices to 3 rides per day and only one from this group or only let me get fastpass in one park per day. I would rather pay for Express then use a gimmick like that plus I have to have an Iphone or an Droid to even use it on my own in the park.

    • Malin

      You come across uneducated on all matters of FastPass +. So I suggest until you have all the details and the official rollout of the service starts you keep quiet. You will not need an Adroid or i Phone to use the service. Kiosk are planned to be set up in all parks. The first should have been added to the Tangled area but its not yet needed because its still in the test phase.

      • CaptainAction

        Malin, you have it all wrong, again.

        WDW hasn’t kept up with infrastructure as in new rides and popular restaurants.

        Guests cram into the same 4-6 restaurants 180 days ahead.

        So, everyone crams into the same 2 rides at Studios, 1 busted Yetti ride at AK, 4-6 at MK, and nobody crams into anything but Soarin and maybe Testrack at the incredibly outdated Epcot.

        Infrastructure of new rides is hard for these WDW folks who take 3 and counting years to build a kiddie coaster and build the lame Mermaid.

        So, they go with a band to try to MAKE guests go to Muppet Movie, Imagination, and Swiss Family Treehouse.

        WDW robots are ok with this. Thinking guests realize they are being taken for granted and pass on this insane lameness

  • Aotphks

    Is that “new” Etch A sketch video display in the Toy Story mania queue the same prop found at all other Astroblaster attraction queues in Disneyland parks around the World, except Disney World?