Ranking the Walt Disney World Pre-Shows

Just like appetizers are sometimes the highlight of a meal, the pre-shows are often a highlight of a Walt Disney World attraction.

Flight of Passage Pre-Show

These short experiences feature awesome animatronics, iconic lines, and beloved characters. They lay out the plot and mission for the ride ahead and generally hype you up for the coming adventure.

But which is the BEST pre-show in Disney World? There are lots of fan favorites vying to be front runners — such as Dinosaur, Tower of Terror, and Flight of Passage. We’re stacking up all 13 pre-shows to see which one reigns supreme!

Ranking the Walt Disney World Pre-Shows:

Editor’s Note: not all pre-shows may be available currently with health restrictions and physical distancing.

13. Mission: Space

No Lt. Dan? No, thanks.

#notmysinise

Gina Torres replaced Gary Sinise several years ago as the “Capcom” on Mission: Space, but we still miss him!  (She does a great job, but we’re dramatic.) Also this pre-show is basically just a few minutes telling us we’re about to get motion sick. In a steep line-up of iconic characters and cool effects, this pre-show just doesn’t blast off for us.

12. Enchanted Tiki Room

Ok, we LOVE the Enchanted Tiki Room, but the pre-show isn’t as exciting or iconic as others on the list.

Enchanted Tiki Room Pre-Show

Be honest — you didn’t even realize it had a pre-show until you started reading this and suddenly remembered, right? The birds are cute, and we love those exotic drum beats, but this is a tough list!

11. Flight of Passage

Don’t yell at me; I love “uh fly” guy as much as anyone.

Flight of Passage

But besides this, the pre-show isn’t THAT good. Sure, you meet Dr. Jackie Ogden and learn about the powerful phrase SIVAKO, but the most memorable part is ironically “uh…fly.”

And to get into the top 10, you need MORE than one great line. Sorry, that’s just not gonna… uh…fly.

10. Rise of the Resistance

I KNOW I KNOW. But hear me out…

Rise of the Resistance

This attraction has SO MANY incredible sequences, and while this has the VERY cool Rey hologram (and Poe * heart eyes *), it’s the least exciting sequence of the attraction. And you can’t even say it’s that iconic, because it’s far from the most iconic part of this pretty epic ride. (Hello, Stormtroopers.)

Do we love it?! Yes. Is it awesome!? Yes. Does it make the top 10? Barely.

9. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

This one cracks the top 10 for one reason and ONE reason alone…

Hondo Ohnaka in Smuggler's Run
Hondo

…HONDO!!!

This animatronic is INCREDIBLE! You’re going to swear it’s a real person…er, space guy. Hondo doles out your mission and chats with Chewie, but honestly, you might be so distracted by how amazing he is that you won’t hear any of it.

Also, shout out to his droid R5-P8. He’s super cute and has his little smile drawn on.

8. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Because this ride opened mere days before the parks closed, not many people got to see the pre-show in its entirety, which is a shame because it’s pretty darn cool.

Gawrsh!

The pre-show starts with a premiere of Mickey and Minnie’s new short “Perfect Picnic.” But of course Goofy shows up and things get a little out of control and then BOOM the screen literally has a hole in it that you walk through to enter the cartoon world.

It’s pretty impressive and magical!

7. Muppet Vision 3-D

This one is a classic and features all kinds of foolishness!

Hilarious Props in the Muppet Pre-show Area

Highlights include Sam trying to read the safety rules (“stopping in the middle is strictly unpatriotic”) and an appearance by Rizzo as Mickey Mouse (“rat schmat, they’re tourists, what do they know?!”)! It’s full of Muppet hijinx and visual gags, making it a low-key hit amongst Disney fans.

6. Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster

Wait a minute…I love that idea.

Rock n Roller Coaster

Who doesn’t love getting a sneak peek of AEROSMITH in the studio recording?! And backstage passes?! I score them every time so I must be really lucky. Plus you get iconic lines such as “hey, can you grab my black Les Paul?!” and “make it a stretch…in fact make it a SUPER stretch.”

Plus, hearing those iconic chords of “Walk this Way” totally helps hype you up for the epic roller coaster take off you’re about to experience!

5. Enchanted Tales with Belle

This one may get overlooked, but it’s pretty amazing. One incredible effect makes it worthy of the top 5!

Actual magic.

The magic mirror literally transforms BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES and takes you from Maurice’s cottage to Beast’s castle. It’s incredible and likely actual sorcery.

If you’ve never seen Enchanted Tales before, it’s worth it just for this effect. BUT you should also look at the blueprints on Maurice’s desk — they’re for the music box in Be Our Guest Restaurant. It was a wedding gift from him to Belle and Beast! (Cue the “awwwwws.”)

4. Soarin’

Hello, and welcome to Soarin’. (You just read that in Patrick’s voice, didn’t you?)

Soarin’ Pre-Show

The Soarin’ pre-show is simple in the grand scheme of things — it’s just a video, no fancy animatronics or effects.

But by golly do we love it! We love when he tells us to take off “these little beauties” and even more when he gives us a thumbs up and a “Nice work pal.”

3. Dinosaur

It’s probably not shocking that Dinosaur made it this far, considering we ADORE Dr. Grant Seeker.

Heeeeeello there!

But this is a GREAT pre-show. It’s funny. It builds your anxiety. It has dinosaur hand puppets. It has Claire Huxtable. What could go wrong!?

2. Tower of Terror 

Amid the glitz and glitter of Hollywood Studios, stands our runner-up best pre-show.

Rod Serling

NOTHING sets the scene quite like this pre-show in the library. The Imagineers watched every episode of the Twilight Zone multiple times to piece together Rod Serling’s voice clips, and then the script was narrated by Mark Silverman, who was hand-chosen by Serling’s widow.

The backstory of the Tower of Terror displayed here only enhances your nerves as you’re already nervously headed to those maintenance elevators for a 13 story drop. It’s a classic!

1. Haunted Mansion

Are you surprised?! Is there a better pre-show than the STRETCHING ROOM?!

This chamber has no windows and no doors.

This spooky opening has dazzled since Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. The effect is still shocking 50 years later, and there’s still that “how did they do it?!” moment as you realize the haunted room is ACTUALLY STRETCHING. Plus, Paul Frees’ iconic spiel is so good you almost want to recite it along with him. (Please don’t.)

No pre-show gets you as exciting for a ride quite like this, or has as many iconic quotes. Of course it takes the number one spot — it’s been the GOAT since the beginning!

What is your favorite Walt Disney World pre-show? Let us know in the comments!

Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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6 Replies to “Ranking the Walt Disney World Pre-Shows”

  1. Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster preshow is rated too high. Maybe I think that because it is so dated at this point. I think I have seen it once, but have never had to watch the whole thing again because my family prefer the single rider line (haven’t been since Covid) and always get waved through.

    But did you purposely post a picture of the part where Steven Tyler puts his hand up to his forehead to see who was in the audience? That’s the infamous part of the preshow that went unnoticed for 20 year where Tyler was displaying the “shocker” 3-finger hand symbol. Since then, his fourth finger has been digitally added so as to not offend anyone.

  2. Oh yeah and I have never ridden Mission Space either. I get motion sickness and I know this ride can make people really sick

  3. I wish they would bring back the pre-shows. Some of the ones on the list I have never got a chance to see before. But Haunted Mansion is by far my favorite pre-show. I haven’t got to go to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge because it wasn’t open yet the last time I was at Disney World. I have never ridden Tower of Terror or RocknRoller Coaster because I can be honest I am too scared to ride them. Flight of Passage was open the last time I went but the line was over 3 hours long and I am just not waiting in line that long. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway wasn’t open yet the last time I went. I loved the Great Movie Ride.

  4. thanks Molly awesome comments and reading was rite on, now this would be a a very hard choice to pick 1 thru 10 but I believe soaring and the ride @ Pandora are up there at the topiary hard to pick any more for they are all great. Thanks again Molly and we all have to come in second sometime or other, just remember and be gracious and have a stout one.