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 currently utilizing a virtual queue with its two newest roller coasters: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT and Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will also feature a Virtual Queue, but only during the holiday party at Hollywood Studios.

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 our ultimate Disney World Virtual Queue Guide, I’m going to explain how the virtual queue works, provide step-by-step instructions on the best way to join the virtual queue, and give tips to help you not miss out on this Disney World essential.

Update 11-09-2023: We have a few big updates:

  • Disney World revealed new information about how to join the Virtual Queue for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which you can find below.
  • Disney World also announced that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be running a Virtual Queue during the Disney Jollywood Nights party. We also have the opening time for that.
  • We just added a clarification about how certain guests can join the Virtual Queue more than once per day.
  • Previously, we updated our Virtual Queue guide with more information on the Tron Virtual Queue, as well as a new best method for joining the Virtual Queue. We’ve also added a video version from our YouTube channel that gives you a crash course in mastering WDW’s Boarding Group system.

Video: Master Disney World’s Virtual Queue — The Fastest Way to Join!

Be sure to subscribe to the Guide2WDW YouTube Channel for more Disney World tips, tricks, and advice.

What is a Virtual Queue?

Virtual Queue at Disney World - Guide2WDW

A virtual queue is a way for guests to wait “in line” for a ride without standing in a physical line. When you join a virtual queue, you are given a number. When your number is called, it’s your turn to go on the ride.

Think of it like the “Pick a Number” system at a deli. Except instead of getting a roast beef sandwich, you get to ride a roller coaster when your number is called.

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?

Disney World guests can join the virtual queue via the My Disney Experience app. The virtual queue opens up multiple times a day, so you’ll have at least two chances at joining the queue through the app.

When you join the virtual queue at Disney, 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  and Tron Lightcycle Run both currently use a Virtual Queue every day.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will also feature a Virtual Queue only during the Disney Jollywood Nights Party at Hollywood Studios. It has a regular standby line for normal operating hours.

During the holidays, Disney Springs also has a virtual queue for its Santa Meet and Greet, which uses a very similar system.

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, except for the holiday party.

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?

Confirm Your Party - Disney World Virtual Queue Guide

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. This is true for both Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guests eligible for Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom for Tron and EPCOT for Guardians 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).

The Santa Meet and Greet has different times to join the virtual queue, listed in the Santa section below.

When does the Virtual Queue open during Disney World Holiday Parties?

Powerline - Max Goof - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Disney

TRON Lightcycle Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will both be available during Disney World’s separately ticketed holiday parties, but only by a Virtual Queue. Here are the opening times for the Virtual Queue at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios’ parties.

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

The Virtual Queue sign at Tron Lightcycle Run at Disney World

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 and 8 PM virtual queue opening, guests do not need to be in the park to request to join. This is true both for Extended Evening Hours and the Magic Kingdom parties.

For the Santa Meet and Greet, you must be in Disney Springs to join.

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 inside the park 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.

Can I join the Virtual Queue more than once per day? 

For most guests, the answer is no. For the 7 am/1 pm Virtual Queue openings, you can only join once per attraction per day. However, there are exceptions.

planDisney has confirmed that the 6 PM Virtual Queue opening for Extended Evening Hours and holiday parties act as a chance to join the Virtual Queue a second time.

“When my family experienced Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at EPCOT last month, we had no trouble joining the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at 6:00 PM! We had actually joined the virtual queue at 7:00 AM that morning, so the additional opportunity to join at 6:00 PM meant that we were able to rock out on an intergalactic chase TWICE in one day!”

So, yes, you can join the Virtual Queue for one attraction twice in a day if you are eligible. It’s best to think of the 6 pm Virtual Queue as its own separate thing. So you can join once per attraction per day for the 7 am / 1 pm openings combined. If you are eligible for the special late night hours afforded to Extended Evening Hours and party guests, then you can also join once per attraction per night for the 6 pm opening.

The best way to join the Virtual Queue at Disney World: Guide2WDW’s Rapid Refresh Method

How do you join one of Disney World’s Virtual Queues? You need to use the MyDisneyExperience app. There are several different tactics to refresh the app so you can join exactly when the Virtual Queue opens.

Through some trial and error, we’ve come up with the best technique for joining the Virtual Queue at Disney World. We call it the Rapid Refresh Method, for reasons that will become pretty obvious. Follow these steps, and you’ll have the best chance for getting a boarding group for these rides.

Disney World Virtual Queue tip: We recommend starting this process about 5 minutes before the Virtual Queue opens. This will give you enough time to troubleshoot any issues, and make sure that you are properly logged into the app. If you start opening the app at 7 am, you’ll probably miss out. Make sure you updated the My Disney Experience app the night before.

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

Best Way to Join the Virtual Queue at Disney World - How To

2) Go to the Virtual Queue section. There are actually a few different ways to find the Virtual Queue within the app: From the home page, from the menu, or from the Tip Board on the attraction listing.

Because the home screen and tip board can be cluttered with other items, the quickest and most reliable way to find this page is to tap the three line menu button (☰) and then tap the Virtual Queue box.

My Queues - Join Virtual Queue - My Disney Experience App

3)You’ll now be in a page that says “My Queues.” Either tap the “Join Virtual Queue” button or the plus button in the top corner.

 

Confirm Your Party - Disney World Virtual Queue

4) Select your attraction. Tap the Magic Kingdom icon to see the Tron Virtual Queue or the EPCOT icon to see the Guardians of the Galaxy Virtual Queue.

5) Tap Confirm Party. Starting an hour before the virtual queue opens, you can confirm your party. You should definitely do 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.

How to Join the Virtual Queue - Best Method - Tap the Refresh Button

6) Start rapidly tapping Refresh! Around 1 minute before the Virtual Queue opens, start tapping the Refresh button at the bottom of the screen and don’t stop. If it feels like a Mario Party mini game, you’re doing it right. The Join Virtual Queue button will appear exactly where the Refresh button is, so just keep tapping rapidly until the clock hits the top of the hour.

Important Virtual Queue tip: Do not pull to refresh! This is way slower.

 

Join Virtual Queue Button - Disney World App7) Keep tapping in the same spot to Join Virtual Queue. The whole point of quickly refreshing the screen is for the “Join Virtual Queue” button to appear. Since it is in the same spot as the Refresh button, you will tap it before you even realize that the text on the button changed if you are using Guide2WDW’s Rapid Refresh™ technique.

Best Way to Join a Boarding Group - Tron Lightcycle Run8) Check which Boarding Group you got. The screen will flash and you should see if you were able to join a boarding group or not. It’s possible that through all the rapid tapping, you accidentally dismiss the success page.

If that’s the case, you can always find your Virtual Queues by going to Menu (☰) and then tapping the Virtual Queues box.

Note: 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. That’s why it’s so crucial to confirm your party beforehand.

9) Return to the ride within 1 hour of your number being called. 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.

Disney World Virtual Queue FAQ

Tron Lightcycle Run - Magic Kingdom Ride

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 be late for my Virtual Queue? Once your Boarding Group is called, you have an hour to return to the ride. With Guardians of the Galaxy, Cast Members have been very lenient about letting guests arrive late. However, with Tron Lightcycle Run, Cast Members have been strictly enforcing the 1-hour return window. Disney does have a 15-minute grace period.

How fast does the Virtual Queue sell out? The 7 am Virtual Queue slot often runs out of availability within seconds of opening, so you need to be faster than a Lightcycle to join. The 1 pm queue can sometimes last longer, but we recommend always trying to join the Virtual Queue exactly when it becomes available.

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.
  • Tap the Refresh Button. Do not pull to refresh. You can see why in our Rapid Refresh method explained above.
  • You need a Park Pass Reservation for the first draw at 7 am, but you can join from anywhere.
  • You need to have already entered the park earlier in the day for the 1 pm draw.
  • You can join from anywhere for the 6 PM draw, if you are eligible to join because of Extended Evening Hours or the Holiday Parties.
  • 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.

All About the Santa Virtual QueueSanta - Epcot Holidays Around the World

From November 10, 2023 – December 24, 2023, Disney Springs is implementing a virtual queue to meet Santa Claus at Once Upon A Toy. This process works almost exactly like the Guardians of the Galaxy Virtual Queue, with a few small differences.

  • The Disney World Santa Virtual Queue opens at 9 AM, 11:30 AM, 2 PM, 4:30 PM, and 7 PM.
  • You must be in Disney Springs to join the Virtual Queue.
  • Instead of a boarding group number, you’ll receive a push notification with a digital entry code once it’s time to return. This code can also be found in the Virtual Queues section of the app. Press the menu icon (☰) then “Virtual Queues.”
  • Maximum 10 guests per party.

To join, use the My Disney Experience App. Press the menu icon (☰) then “Virtual Queues.”

The Virtual Queue will be the only way to meet Santa at Disney Springs. Magic Kingdom and Blizzard Beach will feature meet and greets with Santa with regular standby queues. Find out more in our Disney World Santa Meet and Greet Guide.

We want to hear from you!

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


James Grosch

James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Rise of the Resistance, Spaceship Earth, and Tower of Terror.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Atlanta, GA.

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