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Tower of Terror Queue

What's the one part of a Disney Parks visit that's never shown on a commercial, but the most common part of a trip? Waiting

No one likes to wait. The good news is, Imagineers know that, and over the last several decades in particular, they've developed some pretty astounding ways to make sure that guests' multi-hour waits for the most incredible attractions are worthwhile. To prove it, today we're proud to hand out "The Golden Standby Awards" – our list of the top three (plus an honorable mention) queues that are worth waiting in. 

Okay, okay... Tossing $15 per person at Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes may be your preferred method of reaching these rides on repeat visits... but once-in-a-while – or especially with first-timers! – these queues are worth slowing down in, absorbing, and exploring. As silly as it may sound, we think sometimes, the build-up and anticipation of waiting makes the ride on the other side even better... and on these rides in particular, Standby are worth it for building the atmosphere, understanding story, and seeing some of Disney Imagineering's most incredible, often-uncelebrated work..

Honorable mention: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Image: Disney

In the 1990s, then-CEO Michael Eisner's "Ride the Movies" era saw Disney Parks add massive, immersive E-Ticket attractions on a scale never imagined before. Surely the living embodiment of that bold, cinematic, thrill-focused era, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is an absolute icon of Imagineering in every way. Within, Imagineers crafted an entirely original episode of CBS' classic '60s sci-fi anthology series, The Twilight Zone, telling the tale of the doomed Hollywood Tower Hotel whose guest wing flickered out of existence "one stormy night, long ago."

In some ways, the queue experience for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror begins on Sunset Blvd., with the lightning-scarred remains of the once-glorious hotel looming over the heyday of Hollywood. As guests approach the daunting structure, the line itself begins with winding paths that climb through its overgrown, abandoned gardens, past signs insinuating the long-lost ruins of swimming pools and tennis courts enjoyed by stars of the '20s and '30s. Dried, cracked fountains, vine-encrusted pergolas, and crumbling ruins could be a walkthrough in their own right, especially with the distant, hazy songs of the era hanging over the property like ghosts... 

Image: Disney

Of course, the line's true artistry begins in the Lobby – still frozen in time from its Halloween 1939 abandonment – then through its dusty Library where guests are mysteriously transported back in time in a lightning flash. Then, the queue proceeds into the claustrophobic boiler room, hissing and churning and creaking once more as the Hotel groans back to life. All of it sets up the dramatic, chilling, and eerie ascent into the hotel aboard antique maintenance elevators, where its haunted history unfolds once again... You are the star in this sci-fi spectacle, but the Hollywood Tower Hotel is an absolutely showstopping co-star from beginning to end. 

3. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye

Image: Disney

Location: Disneyland Park

Until Disney's newest generation of E-Ticket rides, there was no question that the best queue in any Disney Park belonged to Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Park. From the outside, the long-lost riverside temple to the ancient deity Mara doesn't look like much... but inside, the story begins to unfold. Local legend suggests that in ancient times, anyone who made the journey to Mara's altar would find the Chamber of Destiny, with three locked doors – each corresponding with a mystical gift: Timeless youth, earthly riches, or visions of the future.

But, there's a catch... Ancient murals, frescos, carvings, and statues all depict Mara with his eyes closed or covered. That's because a glimpse into the god's dark and corroded eyes dooms the viewer to an eternity of torment. Of course, that's all the invitation we – the nouveau riche European explorers of the 1920s – need to make the trek to this temple-turned-tourist attraction, where distant jazz music cuts through the noise of the misty jungle. 

Image: Disney

The queue through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye carries guests past countless depictions of Mara – and of the torture that awaits those who look into his eyes. Along the way, guests pass through collapsed chambers open to the jungle, through booby traps (some tripped, some still armed), into a great ceremonial rotunda, and even into an ancient altar, repurposed to project black and white newsreels of the temple's discovery. It all leads to the Chamber of Destiny, where feint-hearted guests can opt for a wall of mirrors to sneak a peek at the three doors of legend, while the rest of us load into World War troop transports and journey into the temple's heart to face Mara at last... 

So what finally dethroned the Temple of the Forbidden Eye? Our top two, must-wait queues await on the last page...

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