This Is How Disney Gets You to Wait in Line for So Long

You guessed it: There's a touch of the old Disney magic in the wait times for rides.

We’ve all felt it: The excitement and impatience that comes along with waiting in line before your favorite Disney ride. Maybe you’re queuing up to jump onto Space Mountain—or, maybe the spinning Mad Tea Party ride is more your speed. Whatever that magical ride may be for you, we doubt that waiting in line is the main thing you think of when fondly recalling your favorite Disney memories. But wait—is there a touch of the old Disney magic in the wait times for rides? You bet there is. We’ve done some digging to find out the truth about lines at Disney and just how the Magic Kingdom is able to make you wait in line for so long. But Disney fans, be warned: You may never be able to look at standing in line the same way. In the mood to take a walk down memory lane? This is what Disney parks looked like throughout the decades.

A (visual) trick of the mind

The first magical trick of the trade is the way in which Disney lines don’t allow you to see the full number of people in front of you. They do this by snaking the queues around and even partially blocking off some points ahead. Think about Space Mountain, as an example: Walls separate riders so you don’t just look ahead and see hundreds of people in front of you. This visual trick makes it seem like there aren’t as many people queued up ahead of you, so you assume the line is shorter than it is.

And the visual tricks keep coming. Another reason Disney lines don’t seem too terribly long is because of all of the excitement and entertainment Disney builds into those very lines themselves. Take Space Mountain as an example again. It has arguably one of the most interesting lines in the park, with a queue that takes you “underground” featuring interactive games along the route. Find out about 15 etiquette rules Disney employees must follow.

According to, Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World is the very best interactive queue in the Magic Kingdom. Featuring ghostly musical instruments, books that refuse to stay on bookshelves, and murder mysteries to solve, the line is almost a ride unto itself. But, you won’t find these fun lines at these 10 discontinued Disney rides we wish would come back.

Using your time wisely

However, interactive activities and zig-zagging routes aren’t the only two things that make Disney lines feel shorter than they are. The third and perhaps most powerful bit of magic used in Disney queues is the signs that show wait time throughout the line. While the sign where you are may read one hour, it most definitely won’t take you a full hour to get to the front. That way, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you only spent 45 minutes in line, rather than lamenting the fact that you just spent a whole 45 minutes in line. According to research done by, it turns out that on average, the time you are actually likely to wait will be a little less than two thirds (65 percent) of the time posted. Tricky wait times for lines are just one of the 23 secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.

Just stepping foot into any of Disney’s attractions throughout the world makes it clear that Disney is able to put a sprinkle of magic into everyday life—and this certainly even holds true for their long lines. But hey—it’s Disney, so it’s worth it! Hoping to go back to Disney soon? Read up on these 16 things to know if you’re planning a Disney trip after it reopened.


  • How Disney fools your brain to make lines feel magically short.
  • Space Mountain Wait Time Ride Time – Line Queue Walt Disney World.
  • 10 Best Interactive Queues at Walt Disney World.
  • How Posted Wait Times Compare To Your Actual Wait In Line.

Lucie Turkel
Lucie Turkel is a cultural journalist, researcher, and digital producer specializing in social justice, history, and lifestyle pieces. Her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society's Key Reporter journal, the University of Connecticut Daily Campus, and UConn Communications.