One of the essential ways to get on a new ride at Disney World is to join the virtual queue. Virtual queues debuted in 2019 with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Disney World has continued to use them periodically with major new attractions. Disney World is bringing the virtual queue back with the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT.

If you haven’t been to Disney World in awhile, joining a virtual queue might be a completely foreign concept. You might already feel stressed out reading that you need to learn a new type of line in order to get on the newest ride at WDW.

Don’t worry!

In this guide, I’m going to explain how the virtual queue works, provide step-by-step instructions on how to join the virtual queue, and give tips to help you not miss out on this Disney World essential.

Update 5-17-2022: Disney added a new Virtual Queue opportunity at 6 PM for guests attending extended evening hours. The details have been added below.

What is a Virtual Queue?

A virtual queue is a way for guests to wait “in line” for a ride without standing in a physical line. Disney World has used virtual queues as a way to control crowds on new attractions and avoid multi-hour waits. It also helps Disney control the flow of guests if the new ride is experiencing technical issues.

How does the Virtual Queue at Disney World work?

The virtual queue works very similarly to the “Pick a Number” system at a deli. When you join the virtual queue, you receive a Boarding Group number. When the ride opens, Disney starts letting guests in the first boarding groups (i.e. groups 1-5) get in line. Guests who are in later boarding groups, such as groups 50-100, will be called later in the day.

Guests will have 1 hour from the time their boarding group is called to get in line.

Guests can see which Boarding Groups can currently get on the ride via the My Disney Experience app. Guests will also be able to see this information on Information Boards throughout the park, as well as at the ride’s entrance.

Which Disney World rides use a Virtual Queue?

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Exterior at Night in EPCOT
Disney

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the only Disney World ride that currently uses a Virtual Queue.

Disney previously used boarding groups with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Both of those rides switched to traditional standby queues and have not switched back.

At this point, you should expect a new ride at Disney World to debut with a virtual queue. It seems like Disney will use boarding groups for a temporary period after opening. The virtual queue at Rise of the Resistance lasted almost two years, while it only lasted 3 months at Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

When can you join the Virtual Queue at Disney World?

Note: Disney has not announced specific details for Guardians of the Galaxy’s virtual queue. Here’s how the virtual queue system worked for previous rides.

This is the most important detail you need to know. Disney World opens up its virtual queue for all guests twice daily: at 7 am and at 1 pm.

Guests eligible for Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT will have an opportunity to join the virtual queue at 6 PM. These are guests at Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villa Resorts, and other hotels. You can read more about which hotels are eligible for Extended Evening Hours here.

Boarding groups can fill up fast, sometimes within seconds of becoming available. So you need to have your phone ready at exactly 7 am, 1 pm, or 6 pm (Extended Evening Hours only).

Do you have to be in the park to join the Virtual Queue?

This detail has changed since Disney first debuted the boarding group system. For the first virtual queue opening at 7 am, guests can join a boarding group from anywhere. You just need to have a valid Park reservation for the park that the attraction is located. For Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, you’ll need an EPCOT Park Pass reservation for that day.

For the 1 pm virtual queue opening, guests must have already entered the park in order to join a boarding group.

For the 6 PM virtual queue opening, guests do not need to be in EPCOT to request to join. Only guests eligible to attend Extended Evening Hours can join this virtual queue, and they can do so from anywhere.

Who can join a boarding group during Extended Evening Hours?

Extended Evening Hours is a perk for guests at Disney Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villa Resorts, and other select hotels. These guests can join a boarding group starting at 6 pm. Per Disney:

Registered guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort or other select hotels will have an additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue at 6 p.m. on select dates during extended evening theme park hours. Guests with this benefit do not need to be in EPCOT to request to join at that time.

Guests will need valid admission and a theme park reservation for the same park on the same day to experience extended evening hours — or, guests may experience extended evening hours if they have a ticket or annual pass with the Park Hopper option and first enter the park where they made their reservation.

How to join the Virtual Queue

The best way to join the virtual queue is to use the My Disney Experience app.

Disney World Virtual Queue App

1) Open the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone.

2) Go to the Virtual Queue section. When Disney is running a virtual queue, this will be on the front page. You can also reach the virtual queue section by pressing the three line menu button in the bottom right corner, and then tapping the box that says “Virtual Queue.”

Disney World Virtual Queue App - Confirm Your Party

3) Starting an hour before the virtual queue opens, you can confirm your party. I definitely recommend doing this before you try to join a boarding group, as it will save you valuable time that may mean the difference between getting on the ride and missing out. Make sure that everyone in your party either has a Park Pass reservation for the 7 am draw or has entered the park for the 1 pm draw.

4) Once your party is confirmed, make sure you are on the virtual queue page in the app around 3-5 minutes before the 7 am or 1 pm boarding group opening. This will give you enough time to troubleshoot any issues, and make sure that the app is properly loaded on your phone. If you start opening the app at 7 am, you’ll probably miss out.

5) Around 30 seconds to 1 minute before the virtual queue opens, start repeatedly refreshing the Virtual Queue page. You can do this one of three ways:

  • Pressing the Refresh button on the screen.
  • Pulling the screen down with your finger to trigger the “Pull To Refresh” action. This works similarly to the Twitter or Mail apps on the iPhone.
  • Press the back button at the top left of the screen, and then tap the Virtual Queue button to get back to this screen.

6) The whole point of quickly refreshing the screen is to see the “Join Virtual Queue” button. As soon as the Join Virtual Queue button appears, press it. You can almost think of this as a game whose goal is to press that button as soon as humanly possible.

Virtual Queue Group - Disney World Tip

7) If you already confirmed your party beforehand, you’ll receive a boarding group number. If you didn’t confirm your party before, you’ll have to confirm your party and then join the boarding group.

8) Once you’ve joined a Boarding Group, wait until Disney calls your boarding group number. Once this happens, you’ll have 1 hour to go to the attraction and get in line. You will need to scan your Magic Bands or tickets to enter the ride.

Join a Boarding Group - Disney World and Disneyland

 

Disney World Virtual Queue FAQ

Does the Virtual Queue cost money? No, joining the virtual queue is free for all Disney World guests.

Is the Virtual Queue the only way to get on the ride? No, guests can also get on the ride by purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane reservation.

Do rides with a Virtual Queue also have a traditional standby line? No, the virtual queue takes the place of the traditional standby line. The only lines that a ride with boarding groups will have is a Virtual Queue line and a Lightning Lane line.

Do you need the Disney World app in order to join the Virtual Queue? Yes. While Rise of the Resistance debuted with kiosks that also distributed Boarding Group slots, Disney has moved the system to be completely handled through the app. On their Virtual Queue page, Disney does say to “find a Cast Member at one of the Guest Experience Team kiosks throughout the park or visit a Guest Relations location.”

Is there still a wait after joining the Virtual Queue? Yes. Guests will still have to wait in line, usually 30-60 minutes, although no estimated wait time will be posted. For a shorter wait, you will need to purchase Individual Lightning Lane.

Can I join the Virtual Queue more than once per day? No. Guests can only join one virtual queue per day.

Can I do the Virtual Queue and Individual Lightning Lane on the same day? Yes. Guests who join the virtual queue can also purchase an Individual Lightning Lane reservation for the same ride within the same day. This will be the only way to get on the ride more than once in a day.

Do you need a Park Pass reservation to join the virtual queue? For the first Virtual Queue opening at 7 am, yes. You must have a valid Park Pass reservation in order to join the queue. For the second Virtual Queue opening, you only need to be in the park in order to join.

However, there’s a slight snag in this. Currently, the second Virtual Queue draw occurs at 1 pm. Park hopping starts at 2 pm at Disney World. So if you don’t have a Park Pass reservation for the park and want to park hop, you’ll need to get lucky and hope that there are still Boarding Groups available once you enter the park after 2 pm.

This can happen, but isn’t extremely likely.

For the 6 PM Extended Evening Hours Virtual Queue opening, if you don’t have a Park Pass reservation for the park with the virtual queue attraction, you’ll need to have a Park Hopper or Annual Pass. You’ll also need to have entered the park that you do have a reservation for first before you Park Hop.

What is a Backup Boarding Group? If you are one of the last guests to join the Virtual Queue before it closes, you’ll be assigned a Backup Boarding Group. A Backup Boarding Group will only be called if Disney has enough capacity to call all of the guests with regular Boarding Groups first and there’s enough time left in operating hours to call more guests. While joining any Boarding Group doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get on the ride, just know that getting a Backup Boarding Group means that your odds of getting on the ride are lower. It can definitely happen, but there is a chance you might miss out on the ride.

Tips for Virtual Queues at Disney World

  • Set an alarm: As I’ve pointed out before, 7 am is a very important time for Disney World guests trying to join Virtual Queues, get Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations, and purchase Individual Lightning Lane passes. Set an alarm for 6:50 am or 12:50 pm to remind yourself that the Virtual Queue is opening up.
  • Download the My Disney Experience app before your trip. Don’t waste your time while on vacation downloading the My Disney Experience app. You need this app in order to join the virtual queue as well as other essential tasks such as Genie+ and dining reservations. The night before, make sure your app is updated to the latest version.
  • Link your MyDisney Experience accounts beforehand – In the Disney World app, you can do this by hitting the three lines menu button on the bottom right, hit “My Profile,” and then use the “Friends and Family List” to link different accounts. Alternatively, you can link all the tickets in the “Tickets and Passes” section after hitting the hamburger menu button on the bottom right of the app. If you’ve already set up your travel party to sign up for Genie+ reservations, you most likely have already set this up.
  • You need a Park Pass Reservation for the first draw. 
  • You need to be in the park for the second draw.
  • Divide and Conquer: Disney recommends only have one person from your party trying to join the virtual queue at a time. Because you can link your accounts, that one person can get a boarding group for everyone in your party. Disney says that “If multiple people in your party try to join the virtual queue simultaneously, that may inhibit your ability to join a group.” So have one person as your dedicated Virtual Queue joiner, and have other guests in your party focus on Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane.
  • Test if your Wi-Fi or cellular service is faster. Sometimes 5G is faster in the parks or the hotel than the public Wi-Fi. You can test this out by visiting Speedtest.net or Googling “Speed Test.” Try it once with Wi-Fi and once with your cellular internet.
  • Enable Notifications for the Disney World app. You don’t want to miss out on your boarding group. Enable notifications in the Disney World app, and you’ll get a push notification whenever your boarding group is ready. Once your boarding group is called, you’ll have 1 hour to get in line.

We want to hear from you!

Do you have any questions about joining a virtual queue at Disney World? Any tips or advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!