Walt Disney World has removed the Lightning Lane for Mickey and Minnie’s Red Carpet Dreams. This post covers why it’s no longer part of Genie+ along with some other thoughts & strategy about experiencing this popular meet & greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, Red Carpet Dreams is the dedicated Minnie and Mickey Mouse meet & greet at DHS, located across from BaseLine Taphouse and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and around the corner from Celebrity Spotlight with Olaf. It opened 6 years ago, making it a relatively new addition to Walt Disney World in the grand scheme of things.
If you’ve never noticed Red Carpet Dreams, there’s probably a good reason for that: it’s in a nondescript blue building, with a small “Red Carpet Dreams” marquee flanked by posters of Mickey and Minnie. From the outside, it’s not at all impressive–very generic and boring.
The inside is a different story. The hallway leading to Minnie Mouse has Art Deco-inspired wallpaper evoking old Hollywood; it would be right at home at a historic theater in Los Angeles.
There are also a number of digital posters featuring the Mickey Mouse and friends, as well as elegant light fixtures. It looks nice–reminiscent of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and portions of the queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Despite having hundreds of photos of random details at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, naturally, I only have one of the interior queue:
That beats the zero photos I have of the outdoor queue, which is literally just a small area of switchbacks that are partially/mostly covered. Just like the exterior entrance, this area is very nondescript.
We’ll circle back to that in a minute, as the setup of this meet & greet is relevant to why Red Carpet Dreams is losing its Genie+ Lightning Lane.
The conceit of Red Carpet Dreams is that you’re visiting the mice while they’re working on their latest films. Minnie’s greeting area is the set of her latest musical, and she’s dressed in a dazzling gown like a Hollywood starlet from a bygone era.
Meanwhile, Mickey Mouse is reprising his role from Fantasia, so he’s dressed as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Both have elaborate backdrops with props and a variety of fun details. I’d say that Minnie Mouse is the better of the two, but I’m also not a huge fan of Mickey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice–I wish they would’ve given Mickey Mouse a dapper look for this.
Red Carpet Dreams was first added to the Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane lineup in March when it returned as a physically-distanced character selfie spot.
It wasn’t particularly busy at the time–I think we waited about 10 minutes without Genie+ to see the characters then, and did not recommend burning a Genie+ selection on it as a result.
That has changed dramatically in the last month or so with the return of normal character meet & greets.
According to Thrill-Data.com, is now the 5th longest standby wait at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Its average wait time for the month of May has been 58 minutes, which puts it above Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Toy Story Mania.
Because of this sharp spike, we just wrapped up testing new strategy for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The reason Genie+ is being dropped from Red Carpet Dreams is likely because the meet & greet was never configured with it in mind, and the small location cannot support it. Unlike a lot of the other meet & greets added to Genie+ around that time, Red Carpet Dreams had not previously been a FastPass+ location.
Red Carpet Dreams is a lot more compact than the huge Magic Kingdom meet & greets for Mickey and the princesses, and feels like it was shoehorned into this space. (Again, it’s great on the inside, but from the outside doesn’t look or feel ‘purpose-built.’)
In our touring tests over the last couple of weeks, we’ve noticed ‘operational hiccups’ with Lightning Lane at Red Carpet Dreams. Because there’s no dedicated Lightning Lane, a Cast Member is stationed at a makeshift merge point in the outdoor queue.
However, if the line got too long, that would back things up beyond the merge point. It’s difficult to explain and would probably make more sense if I had photos, but I didn’t anticipate needing them–and this is irrelevant now since Genie+ has been removed from Red Carpet Dreams.
Whether removing Red Carpet Dreams’ Lightning Lane is a good or bad move probably depends on your perspective, and specifically, if you’re buying Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We don’t really have a strong opinion on it, either way. We’ve figured out how to beat the Genie+ crowd to this meet & greet, so that was a plus for guests opted against buying the Genie+ service.
For what it’s worth, that standby strategy will hold true even with the removal of the Lightning Lane at Red Carpet Dreams. We’re confident in that because Sulley’s meet & greet is a similar story, and that wasn’t part of Genie+ before. (Also, Sulley is less popular than Minnie & Mickey Mouse.)
With that said, Disney’s Hollywood Studios desperately needs Lightning Lane capacity for this system to be viable at the park. Aside from these random meet & greets, there are no good near-term options for that.
Not to belabor a point that we’ve made repeatedly about Disney’s Hollywood Studios being the most frustrating park at Walt Disney World…but it really is! This was true pre-closure, when all of the shows and nighttime spectaculars were running. Even then, DHS needed to expand its supporting roster of shows and attractions to balance out the headliners.
Building more rides and adding shows is the long-term solution, but there’s no immediate fix in sight. Bringing back Fantasmic and adding Genie+ to that would definitely help. Same goes for putting something–even temporary productions–in Animation Courtyard.
In the meantime, Early Entry or a late arrival are the best options for beating the crowds and long wait times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (more new report/strategy posts about both comingsoon). If you’re going to be in DHS during the middle of the day, Genie+ can be a good purchase–just lower your expectations about what you’ll be able to accomplish with it.
Thoughts on Red Carpet Dreams losing its Lightning Lane and being removed from the Genie+ service? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or sticking to free standby lines at DHS? 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!