Individual Lightning Lane & Genie+ Ride Roster Changes Made Permanent at Disney World
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 FAQ for 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.
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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!
Last week, Splash Mountain went down while I had a genie reservation for it. I received a generic reservation that could be used at any ride, except for Lightning Lane rides, or so I thought. I tried to use it at Space Mountain but was refused. Now that Space Mountain is permanently a member of Genie Plus, will those kind of make up reservations be accepted at the rides that were temporarily in Genie Plus but are now permanently part of Genie Plus?
Probably/hopefully, but that’s the type of thing that is easily overlooked when making system changes. It wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t adjust the eligibility/exclusions for weeks or even months.
What is the next thing disney execs ate going to come up with to screw over the guests except the ones with deep, deep pockets. So sad
While I won’t deny that as someone who has visited the parks several times, I preferred the multiple picks and flexibility of modifying a selection without completely dropping the first selection that FP+ offered. However, I did find one aspect of Genie+ to be an upgrade. We like to come for early entry/rope drop and leave midday to relax at the hotel and swim before returning in the evening. If this is also your touring style, G+ is a better system for the part of the day you are out of the parks. With FP+, you would pick an evening selection when you left the park and returned to the park later with 1 fast pass ready to go. With G+, you can keep accruing lightning lane selections every 2 hours and return to the park with multiple lightning lanes in the evening. I found it made for a much more relaxing trip, especially at DHS. Overall, FP+ still gets the win (it was free!), but there was a silver lining for us, and maybe for your family, too.
I’d like to see a system more similar to the old paper fastpasses. Physically walk up to the attraction to scan your Magic Band or park pass and it will give you a return time in the MDE app.
No offense, but that is a terrible idea. That’s what Genie+ is, just without running. The old paper FP was awful
The biggest issue i see with it is the fact that the attractions that you go there for are usually sold out prior to park opening. Let’s go back to a way where there is no favoritism if you stay on property and if yogi want to purchase genie plus then all get same treatment. I know the issue is then Mickey does not get paid. But come on they make enough money already
Mike, that’s the reason why I would prefer it. It opens it up for people later in the day. There are plenty of people who don’t like to plan out every single moment when at the parks, and even for those that do, how many have plans change due to something happening like weather or something else beyond anyone’s control? If you go to Disney and you’re not prepared to walk, then you’re at the wrong place.
We are visiting WDW in October and I’m kinda dreading it due to Genie. I have been reading everything I can about Genie, Genie+, and Lightening Lanes (including Tom’s FAQ Guide). But I’m honestly confused about how it all works and fear I won’t truly understand it until we are at the resorts/parks and trying it out in real time. We are close to the 60 days out window and I’m not seeing open dining reservations during our visit at the restaurants we really wanted to try. I don’t remember things being so hard to do during our last visit in 2020. Why does Disney have to make things so confusing???????
This is my fear too for my families trip in November! It’s so overwhelming.
All Disney had to do was add the MaxPass system, already in use at the Disneyland Resort, to the Walt Disney World Resort, and everyone would have been relatively content and it should have worked fine. Instead Disney has royally screwed everything up at both parks, pissed off their customers, and made it a nightmare for anyone visiting the first time.
Yep, pretty much.
(With the caveat that MaxPass wouldn’t have worked as well at Walt Disney World due to the lower ride count at 3 parks, but it also would not have been nearly this bad.)
Tom, you mentioned that Disney changed FP+ because guest satisfaction numbers were bad because people did not know about booking FP+ in advance. I cannot imagine that guest satisfaction has gone up by changing to Genie+ and I would guess that it has gone significantly. Why would they alienate their most loyal fans and make it worse for them? I honestly do not understand why they just didn’t charge for Fast Pass…….
100% agree. Maxpass was great, especially because you could choose to ride whatever you wanted more than one time.
Mike, if I had to guess I would say first timers not knowing FastPass+ was a thing is probably why they didn’t just start charging for it. People won’t buy something they don’t know exists, which just won’t do for a blatant cash grab! They could buy it once they found out about it in the park, but then they would be upset to see all the good reservations gone for the day after spending the money. Which is probably how we got to “well what if no one can reserve in advance” and Genie+, which ironically still suffers from the “we paid money for no good reservations” complaint.
Disney needs to figure out a way to get all of their systems operating under the same general idea. Right now you have Park Passes and ADRs saying “you need to plan your vacation far in advance” and then Genie+ saying “except the rides, wait until you get here for those.” It’s frustrating for those who want to plan AND those who want more flexibility.
I’m hopeful this will be a better system- the old fastpass was pretty decent so if it somewhat resembles that then we good. Happy I’m going in December so plenty of time to work out the kinks……hopefully
As a Disney fan my entire life, the fastpass system at Universal is SO much better. You pay one price, or just stay at one of their premier hotels, and unlimited fastpass is included! It’s that simple with them. I really hope Disney does something because the last thing I want on my trip to Disney is to be stressing on my phone as soon as I get off Pirates to get my next fast pass.
I agree. Universal made it easier. If Disney wants to fix there issue, perhaps they need to take a lesson or better yet, get ride of the whole thing and give us back Fast Pass. I have read nothing but horrible reviews about it. I would say a hand full at best are the ones that actually say it works for them.
We did universal for first time last year- stayed at deluxe resort and had the pass included. I have nothing to compare it to but it was fine.
As far as DW- hopefully the genie plus essentially becomes proper fastpass . I wouldn’t complain if deluxe resort guests were allowed in an hour early for paying the extra as well. I can dream.
“ more changes are almost certainly on the horizon for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World due to poor guest satisfaction scores.”
Yeah get rid of this ridiculous paid service and make it free and user friendly again. Or at least let us book the same attraction more than once. Disney is not nearly as fun as it used to be pre pandemic.
Tom, why do you think they don’t allow resort guests to make ride reservations 30 days in advance like lightning lane used to be? I haven’t been able to figure out what the did away with that. It would help so much!!!
It was more advantageous to knowledgeable planners who are disproportionately repeat visitors. By contrast, first-timers often didn’t know this was an option, and didn’t make their FastPass+ selections until arriving. That caused its own issues with guest satisfaction–and among a demographic that’s really important to Walt Disney World.
It just wasn’t evident on sites like this one (or anywhere people tend to be ‘deep’ into Disney) since that system favored this type of visitor.
I know you mentioned that planners are not likely to get what they want (meaning advanced booking) but what do you think will be some of the top 3-4 changes they make?
Everything that I’ve heard is incredibly vague and more about what’s on the table (and less what is definitely happening).
My expectation is gradual changes to UI this fall followed by bigger ones involving timing, policies, and pricing in early 2023. That’s me guessing, but based on known problem-points with the system.
Does this confirm/change your thoughts of Annual Passes being available for purchase soon?
If the AP lawsuit out in California really is the hold-up on those, it could be a while. If not, I’d expect AP news pretty much any day now.
It is illegal to advertise and sell an “annual pass” with no blockout dates to someone who is then unable to visit the park because they have been blocked out of getting theme park reservations. Those are two mutually exclusive things that collide when one part of the company doesn’t know what the other part is doing.
We have been Disneyland pass holders since like the late 90s
Any news on being able to renew our Magic Key passes? Ours is down to 22days we have not heard or received an email about renewing!
love your info and updates
Disney stated that something is coming for renewals, but honestly, I expected it to be revealed by now. Either it’s coming any day, or something is up. I have no clue.
I’m a bit confused, does this mean that the virtual queue for GoG has been eliminated and it is a paid ILL now?
No, it’s the same. It always had a paid ILL option.
We were at Epcot on Monday. We are not experienced Disney visitors but I tried to read a lot before our visit. At 6:59:59 I refreshed my app and we were instantly put in the Guardians of the Galaxy Virtual Queue Group 73. It said we could expect to be called at 3:00. We arrived at park just after 8 for an 8:30 rope drop (actually happened about 5 minutes early).
We had a great day. Used Genie+ Lightening Lane 5 times.
Living w the land
The Seas w Nemo & Friends
Journey into Imagination w Figment
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
Lunch: Rose and Crown
Voices of Liberty
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the 3 Caballeros
Guardians of the Galaxy
As the day went on, our GoG virtual queue kept getting later. It was 97 degrees and by 4 o’clock we were done, but we were getting closer to having our group called. Our group, 73, was finally called just before 5pm. I just wish that there was some indication at that time, that once we went in, that there would still be another 1 hour wait until we actually sat down on the roller coaster. After such a long day we would have probably opted out. Although in hindsight I’m glad we didn’t. It was the highlight of the day for my bf. My stomach is still somewhere in another galaxy.
Great day overall!
Good to wake up with this news this morning! We were talking about it on the other post yesterday again and could smell you sweating from your answer haha
Now let’s hope they don’t do something totally counterproductive in the next few days
I personally like Disney World,BUT with all these changes I can not afford to take my grandchildren.
Genie+ does not guarantee you place in line- you need reservation,tickets and now Genie + but can not
guarantee that you can get on the ride. We went in Feb to Epcot and was able to get into the places we wanted but had to make reservations 8 months in advance- unable to get any dinner reservations as we
were not staying in park. I am very disappointed in Disney World and wish some of the items lost and gone
need to return so middle class families of 4-7 can afford to go back.
So the ones made permanent on genie+ you can still queue for ? As I’m rubbish with my phone and would never get anything by few minutes past 7
Everything except Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind currently has a standby queue.
I do not expect Cosmic Rewind’s virtual queue to survive the month–meaning everything should have standby by September.
Yay! Our trip is next week and I was afraid Disney was going to wait even longer to finally provide this clarification (it’s sad I’m pleasantly surprised when Disney gives us info a whole five days before)
“it’s sad I’m pleasantly surprised when Disney gives us info a whole five days before”
Isn’t that the truth?
I was really starting to sweat it that I’d be wrong about this, but reminded myself that Walt Disney World has been awful about providing guests with notice of any changes recently.
Given that, I was honestly half-expecting to wake up on August 7, see the asterisk gone and the changes made permanent. So nice of them to give us five FULL days heads up!!!! 😉
Ironic the vacation destination that needs so much advanced planning and strategizing loves to make the last minute announcements and changes.
Glad to see they made the change permanent.
In the off chance one of the decision makers reads the comments section of your blog, I’ll say again. I get why they did paid FastPass. I don’t like it, but I get it.
On the other hand, I find the ILLs tacky and to be a blatant cash grab. I’ve paid for Genie+, but will never give Disney a dime (or Stanley nickel) for an ILL.
Theoretical counterpoint: Individual Lightning Lanes for the newest attractions offer direct revenue and ROI, and could “help” the company justify more ambitious investment in new rides.
(I swear I don’t always like playing devil’s advocate, and don’t even fully believe this myself. Moreover, I will retire this point if there aren’t some big announcements at the D23 Expo.)