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Disney in a Minute: What is a Pre-show?

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We’re here with a series of quick posts, “Disney in a Minute,” bite-sized nuggets of information that can better help you understand a Disney term or planning topic. Enjoy!

What is a Pre-show?

In some cases, the pre-show can be the most iconic part of an attraction.

Many Disney attractions have pre-shows. Parsing out the phrase, it’s not hard to understand that a pre-show is the thing before a show. At Disney World, however, “show” here really means “attraction” which could be almost any sort of theme park diversion. The pre-show is the entertainment before the main attraction. It is a way to keep guests engaged while waiting for a ride.

Some pre-shows are simply amusing versions of a safety warning. The Soarin’ pre-show is just Patrick Warburton telling us to buckle our seatbelts, but it’s so charming that it’s one of my family’s favorite parts of Epcot.

I must confess that there are several parts of Disney World attractions that I didn’t initially understand to be “pre-show.” The classic example is the Stretching Room portion of the Haunted Mansion attraction. The Stretching room “show” sets the scene and establishes the atmosphere for the main event – the ride on the doom buggy. This particular pre-show has a cult following of its own, even spawning merchandise lines. Other favorite “set the scene” pre-shows are the quick interview with Aerosmith prior to boarding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or the welcome spiel where they scan your body temperature on Flight of Passage.

The concept of pre-show has taken on galactic proportions in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. This attraction has so many introductory pieces that the pre-show might be nearly as long as the attraction itself.

Whether informative of funny, the aim of the pre-show is to hold you in place without giving you time to become bored or restless.

Let us know what Disney topics you think need just a bit more explanation.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

4 thoughts on “Disney in a Minute: What is a Pre-show?

  • The stretching room was skipped during the peak of COVID, but it’s back now. With Haunted Mansion, if you use LL you’ll skip the interactive queue, but you’ll still get the Stretch (assuming it’s operating)..

  • I was wondering what pre-shows you might miss if you were to use Disney Genie+ or the Lightning Lane reservations. I’d hate to miss touring the Darling’s nursery, for example, at Peter Pan. I figured that the DG+ might bypass some fun things so wanted to be prepared for which ones we would NOT want to use DG+ or LL on. Thanks!

    • Hi Julie,

      Sometimes it’s a bit hard to parse out what’s the queue, what’s pre-show, and what’s show. That said, if you use Lightning Lanes, you will miss many of the pre-shows. Peter Pan is one that skips right to the ride itself if you use the LL. When in doubt, assume that the LL skips the interesting parts of the queue (like the mountaineering gear on Expedition Everest or the Darling’s nursery on Pan) and the pre-show. Some exceptions include Rise of the Resistance, where you do get the pre-shows no matter how you enter. Flight of Passage skips the lab display with the LL, but you do get the scanner room and the intro film. Also note that sometimes the point of entry changes. On Test Track, there have been times when the LL skips the Design Studio, but this has recently been added back.

      • Thanks so much! That’s what I was worried about! Makes me nervous to use LL. I didn’t get to see the stretch room in Haunted Mansion when I went last summer (as they just didn’t do that then due to covid, I guess). So I also don’t want to miss that one!

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