Before I begin, last week was another “To Tell The Truth”, this time about the Soarin’ costumes. Four of you got it right. To Tell The Truth, the correct answer was Story Number One! According to The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner, Cast Members at the original Soarin’ in California wear aviation suits, while at Epcot they are flight attendants. Why? Because in Disneyland they’re already in California, while in Epcot you still have to fly there. Only Disney would think of that! (And as for Story Number Four…I am QUITE the trickster, aren’t I?)
Pre-shows. They immerse you into the storyline and set you up for an attraction unlike any other. They can be very complex, simple, long, short, interactive or educational. Either way, they help move the plot of the rides along and usually get you excited for the adventure on which you are about to embark. Among other things, Disney is known for their variety of different pre-shows scattered around all four parks. I now present to you some of my favorites, in order from my not as loved to my absolute favorite pre-show. Enjoy!
The Backlot Tour
If you listen to Lou Mongello and Tim Foster’s Top Ten segments, you might consider this a “Go With Me Here”, meaning that some people might not consider this a pre-show, but I do. What draws people to this attraction is hopping in one of the bright red trams, voyaging to Catastrophe Canyon and seeing things you can only view from the attraction. Because of this, I consider the show that happens before you even go NEAR the signature red vehicles a pre-show. Beforehand, four adults are picked to be extras in a production. My parents were actually two of the four that were picked, so it made the whole experience more personal to me. The chosen four get in rain suits – three hop on a boat while one sits next to a telephone. Let’s just say that the three people on the boat got wet from the backsplash of missiles and bombs, but the person near the telephone got SOAKED because thousands of gallons of water get poured on them! The point of the pre-show is to get you excited about special effects in movies, and it sure does a great job at it.
Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
HELLO HUMANS! This pre-show is very entertaining to people of all ages. Mike Wazokswi takes you through what happened AFTER the credits rolled for Monsters Inc. The scare floors turned into, well laugh floors, and now the creatures make people laugh instead of cry to power Monstropolious. Another huge change is that instead of the monsters going to you, you are walking right into their town in the form of a comedy club. Roz cuts Mike off after he finishes telling the story and shows a series of bloopers that include Mike falling through trap doors, falling out of doors, and being hit by safes. Following that, there is a little commercial for the former CDA (Child Detection Agency), which now stands for the Comedy Detection Agency. I love the comedy aspect and I still laugh at the bloopers to this date. The only bad part of the pre-show is the fact that you are standing through it. If Disney added seats, it would make the show much more enjoyable.
I love this ride. When I first took the journey to space, I was actually terrified. But I wasn’t scared until the pre-show began. The way that it is worded and the seriousness of the actors made it sound like you were actually going to space, and I was terrified about what that would feel like. Of course, the claustrophobia warnings didn’t help. Now that I am older, I love it for the same reason that I was terrified – the realism. The way that a single spotlight shines on you when you get your position makes you feel important to the flight and crew. It might seem like this pre-show is not as fun as the others, but I like the authenticity.
Soarin’ has an amazing pre-show even before the pre-show begins. The names of the cities you will be hang-gliding over are, well, soaring through the sky as you are organized into rows for boarding. Once everyone is ready, the real pre-show begins. Patrick Warburton, the voice of Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove and other movies with the same casts of characters, takes you through the safety rules and immerses you in the storyline for this attraction. It might seem like a very simple pre-show, but I think I put it here on the list because of Patrick’s voice. It’s very soothing, and I love it!
I have not been able to ride the new Test Track, so I can’t say anything about that pre-show. The original Test Track, however, had a preshow that not everybody seemed to love. It was very dated and you were standing (yes, standing once again) in a room that was usually packed like a tuna can. I understand why people didn’t like it but for some odd reason, I did-and still do. It seems very real (just like Mission: SPACE) and uses great terminology that makes the testing course sound much more complex than it really is. I especially loved how they presented the barrier test: by letting Sherri pick any test she wanted. Did she want us to die? At least we don’t have to worry about that anymore!
Rock N Roller Coaster
Walking through the queue line, the story begins just like any other Disney attraction. G-Force Records is evident everywhere, but what really competes the plot is the pre-show. The whole queue line makes sense once the pre-show is finished. You are in G-Force Records because you were invited by Aerosmith, but now you are late to their concert! You are going to need a really fast car. Maybe a limo? This ride is also very quotable, with the most famous quote being “make that a SUPER-Stretch!” I adore this pre-show almost as much as I love the ride itself.
This pre-show is one of those that make you dislike the main character of the ride, which does NOT happen often. I mean think about it, Dr. Seeker isn’t supposed to send you to the Dinosaur Era because it would be too close to the meteoroid hitting the Earth, which could risk killing you. When Dr. Seeker is locked out of the system, he breaks in any way! He put the riders in danger for his benefit! Usually the characters in the pre-show are loveable, but this one could have killed you if this was a real mission. I like this pre-show because of how different it is from the others.
Tower of Terror
Another very popularly quoted pre-show entertains guests inside the Tower of Terror. A Rod Sterling look-a-like tells you the story of the Hollywood Hotel, a lightning strike and why you should be afraid to board your elevator. What really seals the deal for this pre-show is the black and white aspect and the tiny TV in the corner of the room that displays the pre-show for all to see. It gives you a true feel for the time period, and adds a creepy element to the whole package. This again is a pre-show that involves you standing up, but the theming around the room and the length of time you are actually IN the pre-show makes up for it.
This pre-show is the funniest one in Epcot, maybe even on Disney property. It is a little dated, as you can tell by the hairstyles and outfits that Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ellen DeGeneres wore while they were filming. I love that there is a comedy element which is added when Ellen realizes that there is an audience and uses that to her advantage. This pre-show is long at a little over 7 minutes, and you are standing up (not a good combination at very busy times of the year), but it is air-conditioned, so it is a good break from running around on hot days. A lot of people don’t go on Ellen’s Energy Adventure because of the daunting length of the ride (45 minutes total) but it is something that should get more love. And, before you ask, yes I do believe it needs to be updated, but leave the characters and classic parts of the script alone, like “And for those of you who are just walking in now. You’re late. Where have you been? I LOVE you hair.” and so on. I am sure that Ellen wouldn’t mind redoing it!
The Haunted Mansion
How could I make a “My Favorite” list for pre-shows and NOT include the Haunted Mansion? I believe that the experience is actually scarier than the ride! When I was 8, I absolutely HATED the Haunted Mansion just because of the pre-show but, just like with Mission: SPACE, it has grown on me and now I simply adore it. Everything from the amazing narration to the four portraits in the stretching room is unique to the attraction and will send chills down your spine. If I had to pick one pre-show to win an award for “Best Pre-show That Immerses You in the Story”, it would go to the Haunted Mansion, hands down.
Thank you for reading about my favorite pre-shows. Now I want to hear yours! Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite pre-show is and why. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Did I forget something in my list, like the Enchanted Tiki Room or MuppetVision3-D (see what I did there)? Let me know in the comments! I love reading your feedback.
See ya REAL soon!
Quote of the Week: “I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known.” ~ Walt Disney
Makena is a 14 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.