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The Best Pre-Shows in Walt Disney World

Every attraction and experience at the Walt Disney World Resort completely immerses Guests in the story being told through details and theming that begin from the very moment that they enter into the queue. In order to help set the tone and explain the experience to come, many attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort also feature pre-shows where Guests get an extra dose of fun that helps to round out the experience.

Pre-shows literally set up the story that Guests are about to experience firsthand and they also help to extend the length of the experience as well as make the time spent waiting for the main attraction pass more quickly. Pre-shows can be funny, eerie, thrilling, and more, and they definitely help make the attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort even more amazing. Let’s check out some of the best pre-shows that Guests can enjoy!

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Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

One of the most immersive experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort is Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios which transports Guests to the planet of Batuu. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is one of the two attractions found in the area, and there are several pre-shows that Guests enjoy that make the attraction amazing.

The first pre-show brings Guests into a small room where BB-8 first appears shortly followed by a hologram transmission from Rey who explains that Batuu is no longer safe and they have to flee to a secret Resistance base. The hologram technology is stunning and Guests will love seeing BB-8 rolling around in person.

Guests then move into the second pre-show where they board a transport ship that launches off for the base. This experience features a cockpit with Lieutenant Beck windows on all sides that offer glimpses into space as the transport moves, making it truly feel real. Guests soon find themselves in a tractor beam being taken prisoner by the First Order on a Star Destroyer and unsure of their fate.

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The pre-show then continues as Guests move through a massive hangar on the Star Destroyer with dozens of Storm Troopers standing guard and into a prisoner cell. General Hux and Kylo Ren appear and begin to interrogate Guests to find out the location of the secret base before being called away to the bridge. Suddenly the wall begins to be cut from the other side and Resistance members appear to help Guests escape.

It’s only at this point that Guests board the actual attraction on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance! It’s incredible that there are several different pre-shows that are so immersive and help to set the story up that Guests completely forget that they aren’t on the ride yet and are technically still in line!

RELATED: 8 Things to Know About Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Walt Disney World

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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, another thrilling attraction that features a great pre-show. The entire premise of the attraction is to bring Guests into The Twilight Zone, and in order to make the experience seem believable, the pre-show shares details about what is to come.

Just like any classic The Twilight Zone episode, the experience begins with host Rod Serling explaining the concept of the experience to Guests inside of the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s lobby. Serling shares how five people mysteriously disappeared years ago and how they have been trapped inside of The Twilight Zone ever since.

Guests also learnt that they too are going to experience a similar fate by boarding a service elevator and traveling into The Twilight Zone just like the missing people. The pre-show for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror helps to set the eerie tone for the experience as well as deliver crucial details that help to make it all seem completely real!

RELATED: Disney’s Behind the Camera Series: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Enters a Dimension of Sight

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Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Another attraction with a great pre-show in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway on Hollywood Boulevard. After moving through the lobby of the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Guests enter into a small room with a large screen for the pre-show.

Mickey and Minnie appear in their red car next to Goofy on his train and the duo share how they are heading to the par for a picnic. They soon hit a bump knocking a pie out of the car which lands on the train’s smoke stack and causes an explosion that impossibly curves the bottom of the screen up to form a jagged hole for Guests to walk through.

When Guests pass through the screen, they are entering the cartoon world of Mickey and his friends to be able to participate in the adventure that awaits. The pre-show for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway not only sets the tone for the experience, but also serves as the portal for Guests to step right into the action!

RELATED: Facts & Tips About Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Walt Disney World

Muppet Vision 3D

The final pre-show on the list in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Muppet Vision 3D in the Grand Avenue area of the Disney Park. Guests awaiting each showing of the attraction can enjoy a pre-show experience in a warehouse room that stores a ton of the Muppet’s various props. Up above in the rafters and around the edge of the room are tons of props and items that are infused with sight gags and the loveable humor of the Muppets.

Overhead, there are several trios of televisions that play a pre-show video featuring many of the beloved Muppets. There are musical numbers, jokes, and overall chaos as well as memorable safety instructions from Sam Eagle who reminds Guests that stopping in the middle of a row is “distinctly unpatriotic.”

After a brief bit with Rizzo the Rat pretending to be Mickey for the tourists below, Guests are informed that they will be entering into a theater to see a demonstration of Muppet Vision 3D in real time. Following a stampede of the performers, the doors into the theater then open for Guests to proceed. This pre-show is both hilarious and a great way to fill time spent waiting for the show to begin, and definitely shouldn’t be missed!

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Avatar Flight of Passage

One of the most popular attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort is Avatar Flight of Passage in Pandora – The World of Avatar. The attraction uses incredible technology to allow Guests to link to an Avatar and fly on the back of a banshee high over the stunning Valley of Mo’ara and the pre-shows help to explain how all of that is possible.

The first pre-show brings Guests into a genetic matching room where they meet Dr. Stephens who begins by scanning Guests for micro-parasites and then decontaminating them. He then explains how Avatars are created by blending human and Na’vi DNA and once Guests find a genetic match, they can link to an Avatar by boarding a special link chair. Guests are matched to an Avatar and Dr. Stephens then introduces Dr. Ogden before sending Guests into the next pre-show chamber to hear directly from her.

The second pre-show features a video of Dr. Ogden sharing why riding on the back of a banshee is such an amazing rite of passage. Guests are then quickly briefed on how the technology works and how the link chair works before finally heading in for the attraction itself. The pre-shows for Avatar Flight of Passage are both immersive and informative as they help Guests actually understand how the experience they are about to have actually works.

RELATED: 10 Facts & Tips About Avatar Flight of Passage at Walt Disney World

Dinosaur

Also in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Dinosaur, a thrilling adventure back in time in the Dinoland area of the Disney Park. Guests enter into the Dino Institute where they soon head into a preshow room and meet the director Dr. Marsh who explains how technology has advanced to create the Time Rover to bring Guests on a trip back to prehistoric times. She then sends the video over to the control center where the most memorable moments of the pre-show occur.

Guests are then introduced to the lovable Dr. Grant Seeker (groan!) who explains that he is sending Guests on a secret side mission while they are time traveling. He plans on sending Guests back dangerously close to the massive asteroid impact to find a specific Iguanodon that he tagged on a previous trip, and despite Dr. Marsh attempting to correct his plan, he locks it in and sends Guests on their way.

Dr. Seeker’s secret mission is the entire basis for the experience and he can be heard navigating Guests on the Time Rover’s speakers throughout the entire journey. The pre-show for Dinosaur helps Guests meet the important characters as well as learn just how they are going to travel back to find that very special dinosaur.

RELATED: 10 Totally Cool Things About Dinosaur at Walt Disney World

Haunted Mansion

One of the most beloved attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort is the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. The attraction brings Guests into the home of nine hundred and ninety nine happy haunts and begins with two pre-shows that are just as iconic as the attraction itself.

Guests first enter into a dim foyer where a ghostly voice sets the eerie tone for the experience and a portrait of Master Gracey ages from young man to skeletal being above the fireplace. A wall suddenly opens up and Guests find themselves in the Stretch Room where the Ghost Host properly introduces himself. Soon the walls begin to stretch and groan and each portrait reveals a more sinister story and the Ghost Host reveals how he managed to ‘escape’ the chamber with no windows and no doors.

Despite being only a few minutes in length, the Stretching Room introduces the Ghost Host who goes on to narrate the Haunted Mansion as well as sets the tone for the eerie and comical moments that follow on the attraction itself. This is absolutely one of the most beloved and memorable of all pre-shows at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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Enchanted Tales with Belle

Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland is a fun and interactive retelling of how Belle fell in love with the Beast. After moving through Belle’s home, Guests enter into the first pre-show area in Maurice’s workshop and learn about a beautiful mirror that the Beast sent to Maurice so that he could talk to Belle in the castle anytime he wants. After asking the mirror to bring Guests back to the day Belle and the Beast fell in love, it magically begins to transform and grows bigger and bigger until it is a physical door that Guests pass through into the castle.

The second pre-show then begins with the Wardrobe directly interacting with Guests and assigning them parts in the retelling of the story to surprise Belle. As the Wardrobe explains each role, a Cast Member opens her p and takes out costumes and props for Guests to use for the actual retelling. The pre-shows at Enchanted Tales with Belle are fun and interactive, making Guests truly feel like they are part of the experience.

RELATED: Attractions That Really Put You IN The Story at Walt Disney World

Test Track Presented by Chevrolet

World Discovery in Epcot is home to Test Track Presented by Chevrolet, a thrilling experience that allows Guests to participate in the design and testing of cars. Before boarding their SIM cars, Guests experience one pre-show area where they are given full control of designing their vehicles with a specific focus on four main areas.

Guests enter into the design lab and each get their own touch screen where they can control every aspect of their SIM car from paint color and shape to tire size and accessories. Each modification that they make effects the car’s responsiveness, capability, power, and efficiency which in turn impacts their scores on each test on the track. Not only does the interactive pre-show at Test Track Presented by Chevrolet offer Guests the chance to be creative, it directly links them to the experience that is to come and allows them to see their design’s results for each test in real time as compared to others in their car!

RELATED: 12 Things You Might Not Know About Test Track Presented by Chevrolet

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Soarin’ Around the World

Across Epcot in World Nature, Guests can experience Soarin’ Around the World inside of The Land Pavilion. The popular attraction allows Guests the chance to hang glide over stunning locations across the world including the Great Wall of China, Mount Kilimanjaro, Monument Valley, and Paris. The pre-show for Soarin’ Around the World is a short video that Guests watch when they get to the boarding gates, but it features some totally memorable lines.

Guests begin by watching an aerial map that highlights the locations around the world that they are about to experience and then move on to safety instructions from Chief Flight Attendant Patrick. While sharing some important safety information, Patrick also infuses some humor including the classic line “these little beauties.” Soarin’ Around the World’s pre-show is a relatively simple one compared to others on this list, but it is a favorite of many Guests!

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About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane first visited Walt Disney World when she was two years old, and despite spending most of the trip quarantined with the chicken pox she managed to fall in love with the place. Visiting WDW every year since, she especially loves learning about the history and small details of the parks, enjoying a Lapu Lapu, and eating/drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. When she's not in Disney, Caitlin lives in New York teaching preschool and spending her time counting down the days to her next trip.