The Walt Disney World Resort is home to some of the best theme park attractions anywhere in the world, with each one offering Guests an exciting and immersive experience. From slow-moving dark rides suitable for the whole family, to thrill rides with height requirements, live shows, boat rides, and more, there really is something for everyone at each of the four Disney Parks.
It is no secret that another major component of any Disney vacation is the queue process for these attractions. After waiting so long, you want to have the best possible experience, right? While every Disney attraction is enjoyable from every seat, there are some rides where the row you sit in could really make a difference.
Here’s what to know if you are hoping to request a certain seat during your next trip to the Parks.
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How to request a specific seat
Requesting a certain seat on a Disney ride is very easy; simply ask a Cast Member if you can wait for the seat of your choice (typically the front or back row.) In most cases, the Cast Member you will want to ask will be stationed near the boarding area of the attraction. If you have never requested a seat on a certain ride before, you may want to check with the Cast Member at the entrance on when to make the ask, as some attractions (like Expedition Everest for instance) will split you into a separate line for certain seats before you reach the final Cast Member at the load area.
Remember that a request is just that, a request. While you can always ask for the front or back row, your first choice of a seat is not guaranteed. It usually is possible, but it is not something you can go into with a sense of entitlement as it is only a request.
As another aside, note that seating requests on Disney attractions do not apply if you are in the single-rider line. Single-rider lines are available on certain rides to fill in empty seats from odd-numbered parties. You won’t sit with your friends and family if you opt for single-rider, nor will you be able to request a specific seat, but you will have a much shorter wait time.
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Thrills or no thrills?
The difference between sitting in the front vs. the back of a roller coaster can be surprising if you have never had the opportunity to compare the two. In most cases, the front seat of a roller coaster will give you a more mild experience, especially on rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. These rides have no major drops, so by sitting in the front seat you will often find that the ride feels slower. While your row is beginning to go down a drop, the rest of the train is still on the lift hill, so you are not getting the extra kick of gravity on the way down.
Conversely, sitting in the back row of otherwise tame roller coasters like these two can make for a more thrilling experience. If you are looking to turn up the thrills, ask for the back row but if you are just easing your way into roller coasters, the front is the way to go.
Roller coasters with a launch, spins, and inversions, may not feel much slower in the front seat, but the ride will feel smoother. The same logic follows on attractions like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Slinky Dog Dash, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and the new TRON Lightcycle / Run.
As for Disney’s other roller coasters? Space Mountain will feel like you are being jerked around more in the back, but the front can be equally terrifying due to the style of the ride, especially if your eyes have adjusted well to the dark. There is not a major difference here between seats, and for a ride that only has a top speed of 28 MPH, you’ll find it rather thrilling either way.
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain follows the logic of “back = faster,” but given the drops and G-forces on this attraction regardless of where you sit, it is not as noticeable of a difference compared to the smaller coasters. What is noticeable, and a different kind of thrill altogether, is the front row for its views.
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A note about shows
It may surprise you, but the Cast Members who tell you to “move all the way to the end of the row,” really do have a good reason for it. Disney’s shows are designed to offer a great view from every seat. As such, there is not a way to request a certain seat, and it is very frowned upon (and against Cast Member instructions) to stop in the middle when more Guests are coming in behind you.
3-D shows especially, like Muppet*Vision 3-D in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Mickey’s Philharmagic in the Magic Kingdom really will offer the same special effects from every seat. Live performances like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular or Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage similarly have the theaters spaced out so that you will still have a solid view wherever you seat.
The one exception for shows? Fantasmic! Again, you’ll need to move all the way down when the theater is crowded (which is most of the time) but there is one way to at least guarantee that you’ll get a seat in the “best” section of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater in the first place. And that tip, is to book the Fantasmic! dining package which comes with access to a reserved seating area.
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Most other Disney attractions offer the same experience in every seat. Even though the Resort is home to plenty of thrill rides that are not roller coasters, you can rest assured knowing that your ride on Mission: SPACE in EPCOT or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios will be pretty consistent regardless of where you sit.
There are a couple of exceptions, though. One is Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where many Guests believe the back row is the best place to sit because it gives you the ability to turn around and see a clear view of the animals.
Another is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. The pilot seats are the most highly sought after, (and as such, we remind you that a request is not a guarantee.)
In EPCOT, the top row on Soarin’ Around the World will guarantee that you won’t see any…feet…in your line of vision, so it never hurts to ask if you prefer a clear view during the ride.
Remaining exceptions might include instances where Guests may attempt to stay as dry as they can on water rides, like opting for the last row of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure when it opens next year, or simply wanting the best view on a favorite ride, like the front row of Pirates of the Caribbean (though you will get wet.)
And there you have it- all of the requests you -might- want to make during your next Disney World vacation!