Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability & Demand Post-Price Increase at Disney World

Earlier this week, Walt Disney World rolled out new date-based pricing for the Genie+ service. That’s code for a price increase, which has already happened with the cost of paid FastPass jumping from $15 to $20 plus tax overnight. This post takes an early look at whether demand has been damped and if there’s better Lightning Lane availability as a result.

Along with higher prices, Walt Disney World is currently experiencing elevated attendance following Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This always catches Walt Disney World fans by surprise as people assume it’s not a major holiday. However, many schools do use it when setting their fall break, which does have a big impact on crowds.

Consequently, crowd levels have been a 9/10 or 10/10 every single day since October 7. As a whole, this week’s crowd level has been 10/10, with an average wait time across all attractions (at least, the ones that post wait times) of 49 minutes. That makes this the 3rd busiest week of the entire year, after the week of Presidents’ Day and the peak of spring break. To put that into perspective, the average wait time two weeks ago was 33 minutes, and we were already hearing complaints about increased crowds then.

This crowd conversation is relevant because we’ve seen that more people purchase Genie+ when crowds are higher. This is something we’ve seen time and time again in the last year. We even predicted that demand for Lightning Lanes will be higher when Genie+ prices are higher because the Genie+ date-based surcharge over the low or regular seasons is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Intuitively, this makes complete sense. Worse wait times creates a higher incentive for bypassing lines, meaning higher uptake of Genie+ even when it costs more. The rationale is simple–people are willing to pay more to skip lines when they’re worse. Even at a higher price, Genie+ offers greater utility and value for money on a 9/10 crowd level day than it does a 3/10 day.

Moreover, those visiting during peak weeks are already paying more for their vacations. The difference between $16 and $22 (after tax) is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and won’t cause many guests to balk at pricing. What’s another “few dollars” on top of a multi-thousand dollar trip if it’ll offer a competitive advantage?!

Nevertheless, this is the first time we’ve seen an actual price increase with Genie Plus, so we wanted to see whether demand remained strong and Lightning Lane availability continued to move in the same manner when the paid FastPass service increased in cost by $5 overnight. So, that’s exactly what we’ll do here.

In general, we observed many of the same patterns as previous 8/10 to 10/10 days at Walt Disney World. Slinky Dog Dash is still fully booked within minutes of 7 am. Same goes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance on the Individual Lightning Lane side of the ledger. At Magic Kingdom, Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan’s Flight are gone by mid-morning. The same is true of Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT.

In order to give you an idea of what inventory is looking like throughout the day, I’ve been taking copious screenshots over the course of the last couple of days–over 400 this week, with 200+ yesterday alone. I’m trying to find a good way of presenting those and will continue to tweak the approach as this could be a useful illustration going forward.

In any case, I’ve been checking Genie+ regularly and have the following in 2-hour increments (consistent with the 120-minute rule, since that’s the relevant consideration when it’s busy). Commentary follows in case you can’t make sense of the screenshots, or just want an interpretation…

7:30 am Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability

~9 am Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability

~11 am Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability

~1 pm Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability

~3 pm Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability

~5 pm Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability

Inventory is improved, with headliners remaining available in all four parks through at least 11 am. Not a new-this-week phenomenon, but EPCOT has displaced Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the ‘toughest’ park for securing a solid slate of top-tier attractions. It remains possible, in theory, to secure Lightning Lanes for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track. In practice, it’s exceedingly difficult on busy days without luck or skill.

Speaking of which, we deliberately avoided checking availability at known or anticipated Genie+ Lightning Lane drop or refill times. Knowledge of how this works and a strong refresh game will help you beat the masses when using Genie Plus. Of course, that means more screen time and potentially added frustrations, so your mileage may vary.

Another not-new phenomenon worth pointing out is the longevity of Lightning Lane inventory for several popular attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is something we first observed with the start of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party season, as that became our preferred ‘hopper park’ following a morning at Magic Kingdom on those days.

As the early fall off-season has transitioned to shoulder and now peak season, it continues to be true, albeit to a lesser extent. While Slinky Dog Dash is still gone fast (reminder: speed strategy works!), most other attractions have availability until late morning or early afternoon. Still not as good as Magic Kingdom, but last Thanksgiving there were days when you could literally get 1-2 headliners and then A.S.S. (literally and figuratively a la Alien Swirling Saucers).

All in all, honestly no huge differences as compared to pre-price increase in terms of Lightning Lane availability as compared to similarly-situated days earlier this week. Beyond the prediction that higher crowds results in more demand, I wonder if there are a couple other factors at play.

First, people who arrived over the weekend and have been buying Genie+ all along may not even have noticed the price increase yet. This might sound silly, but it’s not exactly prominently displayed in the app. I can only speak for myself, but my “tradition” when buying Genie+ is doing so half-awake and before I’ve had coffee when my alarm goes off at 6:55 am.

Not only that, but I’m clicking through as quickly as possible to get the ball rolling and ready for 7:00:00 am. If I were on vacation and hadn’t been following the “news,” it’s entirely conceivable that I’d be paying more without even realizing it. I’m not suggesting that this is happening to a ton of people, but it’s probably occurring with a non-0 number of guests.

Second, there are still plenty of outstanding tickets with the Genie+ add-on that are totally insulated from the price increase. Back when Walt Disney World announced that they were eliminating the Genie+ ticket add-on, they did so with 3 weeks’ notice. We heard from many readers who bought tickets with the add-on during that window to hedge their bets against future price increases, smartly predicting that it would save them money in the long haul.

It’s impossible to know how many people did this, or simply purchased vacation packages earlier in the year before there was any threat of this ticket option disappearing. In normal times, most planners booked travel ~6 months in advance with another large contingent of those who buy tickets at the last minute. The former window has shrunk a lot in the last two years, but still exists to some degree.

As such, our bet is that no fewer than 20% of Walt Disney World guests with Genie+ for the remainder of this year have the ticket add-on. In reality, that number could be significantly higher–but I doubt it’s any lower. It really depends on how confident pre-planners were that they’d want or need Lightning Lane access. Sentiment from people on blogs like this and social media are not representative of the park-going public, so it’s really hard to surmise.

Ultimately, it’ll be interesting (to me, at least!) to follow the evolving dynamics of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World as we head into the peak holiday season. There have been a lot of changes in the last several months, good and bad, that have impacted the utility and usability of paid FastPass at Walt Disney World…and there are likely more to come. (In addition to the tweaks, I’m very curious about whether Fantasmic will be added to Genie+ and how that nighttime spectacular’s return affects attendance dynamics at DHS.)

We’ll continue monitoring Lightning Lane availability and all other changes with Genie+ in the coming weeks. As for more on the ground testing of Lightning Lanes, I’ll probably wait until around Thanksgiving for the dust to settle on all of this and Fantasmic to fall into a groove. At $20+ per day now, I’ve gotta be more selective with my trial runs. So I guess in one regard, Walt Disney World has already been successful with the price increase reducing demand…among the demographic of “bloggers doing field testing of the service.” 😂

If you have questions about the basics of using–or not using–the paid FastPass service, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ for all of the foundational need-to-know info. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or two-dozen. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


If you’re at Walt Disney World this week for fall break, what has been your experience with Genie+ or standby lines? Have you noticed any discernible differences pre v. post-price increase? Any success or failures making multiple high-priority Lightning Lane selections? Would you recommend Genie+ to others, or just advise sticking to standby? Other problems or thoughts to share? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

30 Responses to “Genie+ Lightning Lane Availability & Demand Post-Price Increase at Disney World”
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