Walt Disney World is once again tweaking the lineup for its paid FastPass service, reallocating attractions from the Individual Lightning Lane lineup to Genie+ for each park–making permanent changes that were previously only through summer. This post takes a look at the changes, reasons why, and offers speculation for the future.
This change was actually set in motion several months ago, way back on February 25. At that time, Walt Disney World temporarily moved one Individual Lightning Lane attraction per park to the Genie+ service. This was done in response to the system (yet again) coming close to collapsing under the weight of Presidents’ Day crowds/demand, just as had previously happened for the prior holiday season.
At that time, the change was made effective through August 7, 2022–for a total of over 5 months. Through that date, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After at EPCOT, and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom would be included in the flat-rate Genie+ service.
With the clock running down and only a few days left until August 7, many readers have questioned whether Walt Disney World would permanently extend the temporary changes, making them permanent. It has been our view that they would quietly update the website to confirm this change, for reasons we’ll discuss below. However, I’ll admit that I’ve been sweating a bit after being so confident for months that this “temporary” tweak would become permanent policy.
Walt Disney World has finally made it so, with the following update to its official website…
Lightning Lane Entrances for Individual Purchase (Not Offered Through Disney Genie+ Service)
Experiences offered (subject to change without notice*):
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Avatar Flight of Passage
Without saying so directly, Walt Disney World has indirectly confirmed that Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After at EPCOT, and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom are now perpetually part of the Genie+ service.
As for the why of this…there’s a good chance you’ve already read our explanation in one of our many other Genie+ posts. If not, it’s mostly a matter of load balancing Genie+ inventory (supply) with ride capacity (demand) to make the service reasonably useful for the guests purchasing it–many of whom were already angry about paying for an arguably inferior replacement of free FastPass.
This reallocation of attraction inventory between the two upcharge line-skipping services was the first of many tweaks Walt Disney World has made to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in an effort to balance supply & demand, while also attempting to improve dismal guest satisfaction scores. A number of other changes have sought to serve the same end results, but have been less well-received.
The most recent of these was that Genie+ Ticket Add-On is Being Eliminated at Walt Disney World. While that was met with a lot of doom and gloom initially, Genie+ has yet to sell out for any day in any park, even during 10/10 crowd level days during peak summer season. The next true test of whether that poses any problems probably won’t come until the week of Thanksgiving.
In a nutshell, there have been many problems with Lightning Lanes and the paid FastPass service. Those first appeared during last year’s holiday season and since resurfaced this year during spring break season. These issues range from increased technical difficulties to limited ride reservation inventory with the whole system and technical infrastructure placed under greater usage.
From our perspective, the biggest “addressable” issue is that Genie+ Lightning Lane availability for many popular attractions was gone not long after park opening. Slinky Dog Dash was unavailable well before that, booking up for the entire day within minutes of 7 am. Even after the reallocation, that and other headliners in DHS move quickly–same goes for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Jungle Cruise, and a few other attractions.
On some peak season days, there have been virtually no worthwhile options by midday at 3 of the parks, meaning that even savvy users of Genie+ are likely only getting a couple of “good” selections per day. Novices or those visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios would likely be doing worse. Some readers reported only scoring 1-2 Lightning Lane selections via Genie+ for the entire day. Despite being Walt Disney World’s most popular park, Magic Kingdom has been the least problematic, which is due to its more well-rounded and robust ride roster.
Given all of this, our assumption since late February has been that Walt Disney World would quietly remove the August 7, 2022 asterisk from its official site and make the change permanent. After all, this change debuted last year at Thanksgiving and will almost certainly be necessary then. If October returns to normal, the added Genie+ capacity might be necessary much sooner–possibly by Columbus Day.
It doesn’t make much sense to keep bouncing these attractions around, changing their status from Genie+ to Individual Lightning Lanes and back multiple times per year. The whole Genie system is already a morass of random rules and policies that seemingly change on a weekly basis with little rhyme or reason as to why. There’s no compelling justification for reverting these rides to Individual Lightning Lanes once the off-season starts.
Another thing that doesn’t really make sense is including Expedition Everest or Space Mountain in the Individual Lightning Lane lineup, two attractions that aren’t even among the top 5 wait times at their respective parks. With Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind now open, it also would be odd to have three Individual Lightning Lanes at EPCOT–leaving Test Track as the only truly popular attraction in the Genie+ lineup.
Of course, what “makes sense” on paper doesn’t always play out in Disney’s decision-making. There was or would be a reason for moving these or other attractions back to the Individual Lightning Lane lineup: capturing more revenue during the off-season when Genie+ doesn’t technically “need” the added bandwidth to function as intended.
That’s not a good or compelling reason, unless you’re looking at it from Walt Disney World’s perspective. Even that wouldn’t be wholly rational for the company, as it would’ve made Genie+ worthless for EPCOT and Animal Kingdom during a time of year when its value proposition will already be dubious. Taking away from the Genie+ slate in those two parks might’ve done more harm than good even in terms of revenue, as the increase in ILL sales might not have offset the decrease in Genie+ purchases.
As a reminder, it is NOT necessary to buy Genie+ to beat the crowds at any of the parks. While we strongly recommend it at Magic Kingdom and with caveats at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, it’s entirely possible to have a fruitful day without using a single Lightning Lane.
You can accomplish pretty much everything in the first and last few hours of the day under a couple of conditions. That should remain true until Fantasmic returns. To that end, we (once again) recommend checking out Genie+ v. Savvy Strategy at Walt Disney World, which is the result of extensive ‘testing’ to determine the best and worst ways to beat the crowds in every park.
Ultimately, this is a positive development, but an expected one. Back in late February, it was nice to see Walt Disney World make this guest-friendly move all the way through summer season, but it should’ve been a foregone conclusion to the company at that time that if it were necessary through early August, it’d be necessary forever. Walt Disney World taking so long to confirm what should’ve been obvious isn’t exactly reassuring, and hopefully not indicative of internal debate over the decision. (Giving them the benefit of the doubt, the website update might’ve been an oversight.)
As we’ve mentioned for months, more changes are almost certainly on the horizon for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World due to poor guest satisfaction scores. It’s not clear what form these will take or when they’ll occur (my guesses would be around October 1 or January 1, 2023), but management knows this system has shortcomings and has garnered guest criticism and complaints. Adjustments are unlikely to be what many Walt Disney World planners would like to see, but they should be net positives to the overall experience at Walt Disney World for the general public.
In short, this is another step in the right direction, but plenty of issues persist with the Genie system at Walt Disney World. If you have more unanswered questions, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info about this replacement for free FastPass+. 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.
What are your thoughts on Walt Disney World permanently moving Expedition Everest, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Space Mountain to the Genie+ service? Do these additions tip the scales in favor of buying Genie+ at any of these parks? Or, would you prefer a la carte line-skipping access so you could only purchase your highest priority attractions and do standby for everything else? 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!