How to ride Disney’s newest attractions with the virtual queue system
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away called Orlando, you could wake up one morning and decide on a whim that you wanted to spend the day at Walt Disney World. There were no theme park or dining reservations to secure, no upcharges to skip the line and no mobile apps to master.
I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t a fairy tale.
This is the real world, and here and now, you practically need a Ph.D. in Disney if you want to make the most of your time at The Most Magical Place on Earth.
I am neither a professor nor a fairy godmother, but I can teach you how to master Disney’s virtual queue system and help you improve your chances of securing a spot on Disney’s most popular attractions.
Here’s TPG’s complete guide to Disney’s virtual queue system.
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What is Disney World’s virtual queue system?
A few months after reports of 11-hour lines to ride Universal’s new Hagrid-themed roller coaster, Disney opened the much-anticipated Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction in Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with virtual queuing in December 2019. Rather than standing in an hourslong line for this groundbreaking new attraction, guests could attempt to join a virtual queue via the My Disney Experience app.
With potentially tens of thousands of guests vying for a spot in the virtual queue each day, it became a lottery of sorts.
When the virtual queue opened each morning, boarding groups were gone within seconds. Those who secured a spot were given a boarding group number that would grant them access to the ride during a specific one-hour window of time.
Now that it’s been open for nearly three years, Rise of the Resistance no longer utilizes a virtual queue system, but Disney has continued to use virtual queues for a period of time when new attractions open.
Unlike Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane skip-the-line access, there is no additional fee for using Disney’s virtual queue system.
Securing a boarding group using Disney’s virtual queue system
Stay with me here, because this part can definitely be a bit confusing.
Currently, guests have two opportunities to join a virtual queue.
The first virtual queue opportunity begins at 7 a.m., and you can request to join the queue while you drink your morning coffee in your hotel room (or grab for your phone in the dark with only one eye half open). Technically, you can join from anywhere as long as you have a theme park reservation for the park where the attraction is located.
The second opportunity is at 1:00 p.m., and you must be inside the park where the attraction is located to join, meaning you must also have a theme park reservation for that park as park hopping does not begin until 2 p.m.
Still with me? Good. Here’s how to find the virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app.
From the home page of the app, click the “hamburger menu” (the three stacked lines) in the bottom right corner. Click the menu item called “Virtual Queues” and then select “Join Virtual Queue.”
Start this step about 10 minutes before the queue officially opens and click “Confirm Your Party” and ensure everyone in your travel party is listed correctly. You can do this up to an hour before the virtual queue opens, but you might as well get a little extra shut-eye before you hit the parks.
When there are a couple of seconds left before the virtual queue opens (we recommend using the World Clock or Time.gov if you want to be extra precise), begin to refresh the “Join Virtual Queue” screen until the “Join” button appears at 7 a.m. on the dot.
From there, just follow the on-screen instructions and, fingers crossed, you’ll see a screen with your boarding group number and estimated return time. Success!
When your boarding group is called, which you should receive via push notification, head to the attraction and a cast member will scan you into the attraction.
You should still expect a small wait — typically around 10 to 15 minutes, but possibly up to 30. It still beats standing in the Florida sun for two to three hours in a standby queue.
Attractions that use virtual queue
At this time, the only attraction that will use the virtual queue system is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which is scheduled to open to the public on May 27. As Epcot’s first roller coaster, Cosmic Rewind is sure to be popular. At least for a while, securing a boarding group via the virtual queue will be the only way to soar through space and time with the Guardians of the Galaxy without buying an individual Lighting Lane.
After-hours virtual queue access for select guests
Just as Cosmic Rewind is Epcot’s first coaster, it also marks the first time Disney is adding a third virtual queue opportunity for guests who are eligible for extended evening theme park hours.
At 6 p.m. on extended theme park hour nights at Epcot, these guests can attempt to join the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue one more time before the day is done. You do not need to be in Epcot to join the virtual queue, but you will need an Epcot theme park reservation for that day or ticket with the Park Hopper option to join.
This means you could potentially join the virtual queue twice per day, once during regular park hours and once during extended evening theme park hours. If you want to ride three times in one day, you could also try to purchase an individual Lightning Lane spot.
Disney deluxe resorts are the park’s most expensive hotels, but an improved chance to get on Disney’s newest ride certainly ups the value proposition.
Virtual queue tips and tricks
- Give thought to whether you want to use your phone’s cell service or available Wi-Fi — sometimes, cell service can actually be better. In this case, fractions of a second can matter, so it’s worth thinking through.
- If there are multiple tech-savvy travelers in your group, it may not hurt to have more than one person try for the virtual queues.
- Guests can only join the virtual queue for a given experience once per day, with the exception of guests who are eligible for extended evening theme park hours.
- Disneyland’s virtual queue system operates slightly differently than Disney World’s. You can view full details on the Disneyland website.
- Joining the virtual queue does not guarantee that you will get on the ride. If the attraction goes down or there are other difficulties, there is a possibility your boarding group will never be called.
- Make sure you have the latest version of the My Disney Experience app on your phone before your visit. Sign in to the app and double-check that your entire travel party is linked in your Friends & Family list and has tickets and theme park reservations in place. If something doesn’t look right, rectify it at least the day before your visit so you don’t hit any snags.
What to do if you don’t get a boarding group
Don’t freak out just yet. If you are unable to secure a boarding group, you do have other options.
First, if you feel that you didn’t get a virtual queue spot because of an error with the app or some other type of technical difficulty, take screenshots and speak to a cast member at one of the guest experience team kiosks once you get to the park.
In the case of Cosmic Rewind, you also have the option to purchase individual Lightning Lane access.
If you are staying on-site, this window also opens at 7 a.m., so you may want to have someone else in your party try this option just in case you don’t get into the virtual queue. If you are not staying on-site (or miss the 7 a.m. window), you can also attempt to make your purchase when the park opens, though we do expect this to be a very popular attraction that sells out of Lightning Lanes very quickly each day.
You can only purchase two individual Lightning Lane selections per day, and they cannot be canceled or modified. Pricing varies by day but usually falls between $7 and $15 per person, per attraction.
If all else fails, you could attempt to change your theme park reservation for the following day and try it all again.
I’m not here to debate whether visiting Disney World is more complicated right now than it needs to be. I’m here to help you make the most of your trip and imbue you with the superpower to get on your favorite Disney attractions.
I wish you all the luck in the galaxy — and a good Wi-Fi signal.
Featured photo by Kent Phillips/Disney.
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