How to Get the Very Best Seats at Walt Disney World
Posted on 12/23/2015 | About Miami, Florida
If you're in the process of planning a Disney vacation (or have already survived one) you know how frustrating it can be to reserve a FastPass+, get everyone on the Animal Kingdom bus, and finally get on Expedition Everest—only to get off and wonder why your experience wasn't as magical as everyone said it would be.
The first thing to know about getting the best seat on every ride is that you can always ask for a specific row and seat, regardless of it being in the front, back, or middle, and cast members will do their absolute best to accommodate you. Still, though, nabbing "the best seat" is highly subjective. If you're terrified (but finally brave enough) to attempt Tower of Terror, your ideal seat will differ from the rest of your thrill-seeking family. If it's unseasonably cold, you may want to opt out of getting drenched on Splash Mountain—but can tell your kids exactly where to sit if they want to get soaked.
That's why we're letting you know which seats are the wettest, the driest, which have the best view, and which are best for your family photo album—letting you make your own ideal itinerary. Save this cheat sheet to your iPhone and put it on flashcards for your young ones to memorize, because this is your no-plans-needed guide to get the most out of every ride and experience in Walt Disney World.
Jungle Cruise: Each boat boards from either a front or rear entrance on its right side. The rear entrance is much preferred, as the front also seats passengers in the middle, which will have you bumping knees with neighbors and leave other guests' heads in your photos of the bathing elephants.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The front row is the place to be if you want a great view or to get soaked, but from the feedback following its recent refurbishment, guests are getting wetter than ever. To stay dry, stick towards the back—they tend to no longer board the very last row, but anywhere close should keep you dry.
Splash Mountain: Sitting towards the front will get you drenched, so the last row is your best bet for flying down the mountain while also staying dry. If you're really trying to avoid the waterworks, duck once the ride camera flashes, or better yet, pack a poncho! There's so much to see beyond the final drop that it's a worthy ride, even if you despise surprise showers.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: The back of this 30-passenger train is ideal for a fast ride that will give you height over the medium-sized drops and speed throughout it all. If you're traveling with children, have them sit on your right-hand side—when the track banks, it causes all passengers to slide towards the left of the benched seating.
Haunted Mansion: When you enter the second room, otherwise known as the "stretch room," stand underneath the portrait of the woman with the parasol to exit and board the ride first. If you get lost in the shuffle, don't worry—sticking towards the right side of the loading area tends to be faster.
It's A Small World: The front row of each boat provides a clear view of the legendary ride's costuming and details.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: This glimmering, gem-filled family coaster is one of the fastest rides in the Magic Kingdom. The first seat is the slowest, so head towards the back if you want some of that unparalleled speed.
Mickey's PhilharMagic: Guests are required to proceed towards the end of the aisle of the theatre for this multi-sensory show, so enter your row slowly, as this will put you directly in the center.
Space Mountain: Everyone will tell you both ride tracks are identical, but the experience is undeniably different. The Omega bay, which boards on the right, is faster and smoother than Alpha bay on the left, which is older and a bit more rickety, with some jostling and lift in the drops. The Omega Bay track, which many prefer, is often used exclusively for FastPass+, so you may want to book in advance to experience it. As for the two-car, six-seat vehicle, the second seat is fastest, followed by the first, both of which are major fun for thrill-seekers. The third and fourth seats are least preferred because they're on the bend, but the fifth is smooth, and six is slowest—two great choices for nervous first-timers.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor The creature-hosted comedy show utilizes audience participation as part of its hilarious routines, so sit near the inside aisle if you'd like to be featured in the show. Most interactions happen here, because it's easily accessible for cast members to step in with a microphone. The jury's still out on how exactly people are chosen to be "That Guy," the male guest who is unwillingly used as a punch line throughout the show, but looking unenthused, sitting towards the front on the right-hand side, and leaving your sunglasses on are all said to help your chances.
Test Track: Front row is often preferred simply for sightlines (it is said to be roomier as well), but there isn't much difference between seats in this two-row vehicle.
Soarin': The only difference between front vehicles and ones further back is that there may be dangling legs in your view. The front middle is best, but you will have to wait five to seven minutes longer for the unobstructed view if it's not available upon boarding, so it depends which you prefer.
Disney's Hollywood Studios:
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Long gone are the days when the middle jump seat came without a seatbelt, so the experience is now similar throughout the vehicle's 21 seats.
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster: Front row is the place to be, as it's the fastest and it can be tough to see clearly unless you're there. The speed doesn't vary much from the front of the "super-stretch limo" to the end of it, but the very back works best for those with first-timer nerves.
Star Tours—The Adventure Continues: Each trip has a "rebel spy" on board whose photograph is taken prior to launching on C3PO's harried journey. Face forward during the safety presentation and keep your 3D glasses off, and the chances your photo will be used are higher. It is random and up to the cast member's control, but you're more likely to be chosen over the 39 fellow riders if you have a clear photo. For a tamer ride, ask to be in the first row. For one that's more turbulent, request the back row on either side.
Muppet*Vision 3D: Once you reach the front of the queue, you'll enter into a delightful, themed waiting room. Stand near the front right-hand corner, closest to the TV screens, about halfway out from the doors. When they pop open, guests will be required to proceed to the end of the aisle, placing you in the very center and towards the front of the spectacle.
Fantasmic!: The middle is always preferred. There are two sections in the center, with the right side being loaded from the beginning of the FastPass+ side. If you are willing to use FastPass+ on Fantasmic and line up an hour early, you'll have a wonderful view. Guests in the very front will get wet, so if you'd like to take photos, aim for a few rows back. If you're simply lining up for the show and don't want to arrive extremely early, try looking for empty pockets in the center of already-filled rows when you enter, as parties may leave gaps between themselves. The Fantasmic! Dining Package section is always an option for reserved seating, but it's all the way on the side, so waiting in line and bringing dinner into the theatre could lead to better seats.
Disney's Animal Kingdom:
Expedition Everest: Due to a certain mid-ride surprise (if you know, you know), the back row isn't necessarily the fastest. Opt instead for front row, which will give you the best all-around perspective of the ride, or row 15 (two rows from the back) to get the best of both versions of the Yeti-filled adventure.
Festival of the Lion King: If your child wants to participate in the show, the ground floor benches towards the front in any section will give them the best odds. Otherwise, the show is in the round, so each section gets a clear view. If you're a Timon and Pumbaa fan, sit closest to the FastPass+ entrance to see them interact up close.
Kilimanjaro Safaris: Whether you're a professional photographer or just want to brag on Instagram, do whatever you can to sit on the outside aisles, which means entering first or last. You'll spot plenty of animals on either side, but black rhino, alligator, elephant, white rhino, lion, cheetah, ostrich, warthog, giraffes, and flamingos can all be viewed from the left, so try your best or simply request to enter the row first.
It's Tough To Be A Bug!: The surprisingly thrilling show can be somewhat intense for children. If they spook easily, have them sit in the back left-hand corner, furthest from the entrance doors. If your teenagers think they're too cool to be scared, the front will be the most intense—especially on the right side.
DINOSAUR: The front row can be most terrifying for this stressful journey through time, but the aisles are unexpectedly scary as well, as they're closest to the dinosaurs that seem to pop out of nowhere. Nervous guests should sit towards the back and on the left, while thrill-seekers should aim for the front or sit on the right side, where the Carnotaurus enters.
Finding Nemo—The Musical: Nearly every seat in the house is a good one, but characters pass through the middle of the auditorium and side seats can peer backstage, so front and center is best for up-close views, and just behind the tech booth in the middle is ideal to see the show in full.
Kali River Rapids: Each ride has one seat that gets head-to-toe soaked, but no one has been able to pinpoint which it will be in advance. There have been rumors that seats to the left of the entrance remain dry, but it's untrue. If you go on Kali River Rapids, you're going to be at least soaked and likely drenched—and only sheer luck and a couple of ponchos can keep you from the public mid-day shower. Prop your feet up on the center to keep them from getting flooded (and keep your shoes from flying off), leave a change of clothing in the free lockers, and hope for the best!