Lightning Lanes at Disney World: Prices, Sell Outs & How to Buy
Individual Lightning Lanes are pay-per-ride line-skipping access to the most popular rides at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood, and Animal Kingdom. This guide covers pricing, when reservations sell out, how to book ILLs, and differences from the Genie+ service. Plus, the best ones to buy–and why we don’t recommend others. (Updated May 7, 2023.)
The first thing you probably need to know is that Individual Lightning Lane attractions are not included in the Genie+ service. That line-skipping service costs $16 per person per day for Lightning Lane access, but excludes the most popular ride per park. Instead, those are Individual Lightning Lanes, or ILL. (That’s an unfortunate acronym, but perhaps it’s meant to evoke how you’ll feel after dropping ~$90 for your family to not wait for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, only to have the ride breakdown while you’re in the Lightning Lane.)
If you’re not a seasoned Walt Disney World veteran, that could be confusing. In a nutshell, all Lightning Lanes are the physical infrastructure in the parks–a literal line you walk through in the queue that bypasses standby. However, there are two different ways to access this “fast lane.” For the majority of rides, you make selections via the Genie+ service, which gives you a return time for Lightning Lane access. For the most popular attractions in each park, you purchase separate (Individual) Lightning Lane access.
For those who are still unsure of the differences (it’s an admittedly confusing system!), we’ve address the differences between Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes in numerous posts, including our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ. We’re not going to rehash those foundational differences here, so please refer to that. Instead, we’ll focus on how to buy the pay-per-ride Individual Lightning Lanes, pricing, and how quickly ILLs sell out.
Before that, a quick housekeeping note. Walt Disney World has used several terms to refer to this same line-skipping option: a la carte Lightning Lanes, Individual Attraction Selections (IAS), and individual Lightning Lanes–all interchangeably–when referring to this.
These all mean the same thing. Typically, Disney now refers to this pay-per-ride option as Individual Lightning Lanes, but you might seem other terms used here and there. Essentially, these are the Lightning Lanes that are not part of Genie+. They’re the ones available for the most popular attraction with the longest wait time in each park. (It still can be confusing, but hopefully that helps.)
If that wasn’t complicated enough already, Walt Disney World moved Individual Lightning Lane attractions to Genie+. 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 included in the flat-rate Disney Genie+ service and will not be sold a la carte as Individual Lightning Lanes.
This was originally a temporary change, but Walt Disney World made it permanent last fall. This is great news for anyone wanting to buy the Genie+ service, but potentially bad news for anyone who only cared about those particular rides. (For the vast majority of guests, this change is a positive.)
Next, let’s take a look at Individual Lightning Lane pricing. Walt Disney World previously announced that prices will vary depending on the attraction and day of visit. Think of it like Express Lanes on highways—dynamic pricing that increases with demand.
Last fall, Walt Disney World rolled out date-based pricing for the Genie+ service. That’s code for a price increase, as the old everyday price is the new lowest possible price. Under the date-based pricing, the average price of Genie+ has been $20 to $25 through May 2023. The highest price Genie+ has reached thus far has been $35, with the lowest price being $15. (All numbers are pre-tax prices; after tax the range is ~$16 to ~$37.)
Along with this, prices have also increased for certain Individual Lightning Lane attractions. Here’s a look at new/current weekday pricing:
Here’s a look at high and low price points we’ve seen so far post-price increase:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: high $12, low $10
- TRON Lightcycle Run: $20
- Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind: high $17, low $14
- Star Wars Rise of the Resistance: high $25, low $20
- Avatar Flight of Passage: high $16, low $13
Prices hit these highs last year during the week of Thanksgiving and again in 2023 during the week of Mardi Gras, Presidents’ Day, Spring Break and Easter. It’s hard to say whether ILL prices will hit new highs during Summer 2023. Although that’s a tourist season, it doesn’t have any weeks of concentrated crowds like Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
With date-based pricing, Walt Disney World is more willing to adjust prices with regularity, especially around the aforementioned holidays when demand is much higher. As we’ve seen over the course of the last year, Individual Lightning Lanes sell out faster–even at higher prices–when crowds and wait times are worse.
Which makes complete sense: even if it costs more, there’s more value in skipping a longer line. In other words, current demand already suggests that the prices could likely go up significantly. In other words, don’t be surprised if prices reach new records in November 2023 during the peak week of Thanksgiving. However, with pent-up demand exhausting itself, prices may now start to trend downward instead of up for the rest of this year.
That brings us to our next topic: Individual Lightning Lane availability or lack thereof–what’s selling out and what’s readily available. Note that this is based on our experiences from thus far in 2023. Individual Lightning Lanes sold out faster during Spring Break, but demand and prices have dropped since.
We’d expect this trend to remain true through the start of summer. We’ll be monitoring availability and will report back as to how daily availability is looking as of mid-June 2023, when the peak tourist season starts.
For now, let’s start with demand for the newest Individual Lightning Lane attraction: TRON Lightcycle Run. Since opening, the Individual Lightning Lane for TRON Lightcycle Run has been priced at $20 per person.
This puts it higher than Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, but behind Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance on average. It is also higher than its counterpart in Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That family-friendly coaster is retaining its ILL status and currently costs between $10 and $12.
Its first several weeks after launching, TRON Lightcycle Run regularly sold out before or shortly after Magic Kingdom officially opened for the day. Since the start of the shoulder season, Individual Lightning Lane availability has improved considerably and demand has dropped. Currently, it’s common for TRON Lightcycle Run to still have ILL times until 1 pm or later.
This is noteworthy because the ride also has free boarding group availability for minutes or even hours after 1 pm. See our Guide to the TRON Lightcycle Run Virtual Queue for everything you need to know about that. This dynamic will likely change once summer arrives–the faster the virtual queue fills up, the faster Individual Lightning Lane access for TRON Lightcycle Run will sell out.
As noted above, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was not ‘downgraded’ to Genie+ when TRON Lightcycle Run opened. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the oldest attraction with ILL status, and Magic Kingdom is the only park with two ILL rides.
However, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is still incredibly popular and with an entirely different demographic than TRON Lightcycle Run. On top of that, Magic Kingdom already has 23 Genie+ Lightning Lane attractions, which is more than any other park. Consequently, Disney is maintaining its ILL status in order to capture more revenue since more Genie+ capacity is not needed.
With that said, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train tends to be the least popular Individual Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World. It still does sell out many days at Magic Kingdom, but usually lasts for at least a few hours after park opening. On slower days, there’s availability well into the afternoon.
Over at Epcot, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has improved Individual Lightning Lane availability. On peak days, it often sells out by 9 am or 10 am–about an hour after park opening. On moderately crowded or slower days, however, ILL for Cosmic Rewind often lasts until after 2 or 3 pm. There have been some 1/10 or 2/10 crowd level days in May 2023 when it hasn’t sold out at all. (Those are definitely the exception, not the rule.)
With it now easier to enter the virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind, the Lightning Lane usually does not sell out until after boarding groups fill up. (See our How to Ride Guardians of Galaxy Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Speed Strategy for improving your odds of success at the free virtual queue; no need to read that if you’ve already consulted the more comprehensive TRON virtual queue guide.)
We do not recommend purchasing Individual Lightning Lane access to either TRON Lightcycle Run or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind if you’re visiting on low or moderately crowded days. This comes down to the aforementioned virtual queues, which are easy to access so long as crowd levels are below 8/10. (See our 2023 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars for insight as to how busy it’ll be when you’re visiting.)
The only exception is if you want to experience these rides multiple times. Both do have re-rideability thanks to Cosmic Rewind’s six different songs and how different TRON looks and feels at night. Of the two, we’d be more inclined to pay extra for multiple rides on Cosmic Rewind, as it’s a longer and more satisfying attraction with bigger differences thanks to the soundtrack changes, but to each their own.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to the best-seller: Star Wars Rise of the Resistance. This Individual Lightning Lane attraction sometimes sells out before DHS even opens, which is when off-site guests are eligible to purchase.
On less busy days, it can have availability through mid-morning or even beyond if crowd levels are really low. The lower the standby wait time for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the longer its Individual Lightning Lane availability lasts. When the posted wait time doesn’t crack triple digits, Rise of the Resistance can have ILL inventory into the early afternoon.
To compound matters on busier days, DHS is also home to the unequivocally most popular Genie+ Lightning Lane attraction: Slinky Dog Dash. This presents a practical problem–how do you book both? There is no good way for one person to accomplish both beyond trying to do things quickly and hoping for the best. Realistically, you’ll want to have two adults awake at 7 am, with one booking Slinky Dog Dash and the other booking Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. For the best outcome, follow our Speed Strategy for Genie+ Selections.
With all of that said, if you’re only going to buy one Individual Lightning Lane, make it Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This is the one big exception to our recommendation that you strategize around ILLs, and is for a few reasons. First, we think it’s the best attraction of all at Walt Disney World. Second, it typically is the longest wait time in all 4 parks.
Finally, and most importantly, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the most unreliable attraction, with breakdowns occurring daily. If you jump into a multi-hour standby line, there’s moderate probability of downtime while you’re waiting. That not only means you’ll potentially be stuck in the same spot for an hour or so, but also that when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance returns from downtime, it’ll have a backlog of Individual Lightning Lane guests–who are prioritized–to process before the standby line.
Speaking from experience, it is incredibly frustrating and a huge waste of time if this happens while you’re in the standby line. While we hate Individual Lightning Lanes as a matter of principle, we are also realists and recognize that vacation time is finite and has a per hour value. There’s also the reality that enduring a ride breakdown of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance while in the standby line could really put a damper on your day, and vacation as a whole.
For this reason alone, we recommend Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance during Early Entry, at the end of the night, or via the Individual Lightning Lane. The risk and potential for wasted time via standby during the middle of the day is simply too high. It’s not an overstatement or exaggeration to say that a negative standby experience with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance could ruin your day.
Another alternative is waiting for a refill of the Individual Lightning Lane for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. See Ride Reservation Refill Rules at Walt Disney World for timing on when these typically occur.
Animal Kingdom is where you’ll find one of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions: Avatar Flight of Passage. This has sold pretty well, often being gone before afternoon while posting hour-plus or even triple digit standby wait times.
However, it’s also relatively easy to experience Avatar Flight of Passage without a lengthy wait. Either arrive for Early Entry and do it first, or show up late and do it during the last hour of the evening. We’ve done both approaches many times, and often have an actual wait time of under 30 minutes, regardless of the posted wait time.
Next, here’s how to book Individual Lightning Lanes…
There are a few different ways to make an initial purchase of Individual Lightning Lanes.
It’s entirely possible you’ll be prompted while browsing My Disney Experience or setting up the free Genie service, in which case you’d see something like the above.
You can also navigate to the Tip Board via the + button at the middle bottom of My Disney Experience or the hamburger button on the bottom right.
From there, you’ll see something similar to the above screen. Click the Individual Lightning Lane box for the attraction to which you’d like to buy line-skipping access.
From there, you’ll either see the screen above or one to select your party. This is pretty self-explanatory; you select the start time of available one-hour return windows.
Be sure to check your existing plans (tap the arrow next to “Plans During This Time” for a dropdown) to avoid significant overlap between Advance Dining Reservations, Genie+ selections, and other plans. My Disney Experience will not prevent you from booking conflicting plans–it’s up to you to make sure you’re not double-booked.
It’s also possible you’ll first be directed to this screen, where you can select which members of your party for whom you’d like to purchase Individual Lightning Lane access. This means that you do not need to purchase ILL for anyone who the ride might make physically ill, kids who are too short to ride, etc.
If you don’t see the above screen first, you can get to this point by tapping the “Edit” button to the right of your party on the time slot selection screen.
After confirming your party and selecting a time, you’re sent to a screen to review the details before completing the purchase.
If anything is inaccurate or you’d like to change it, tap the back arrow on the top left corner of the screen.
Otherwise, it’s on to enter or confirm your contact details, payment info, and agree to Disney’s terms & conditions before tapping purchase. Notably, Individual Lightning Lane prices do not include tax–just like the Genie+ service–which feels like nickel & diming on top of nickel & diming.
On a more humorous note, there’s a caveat above the terms & conditions that this Individual Lightning Lane can only be redeemed at Walt Disney World–near Orlando, Florida. If someone can’t distinguish between Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World, they are seriously going to be lost when it comes to the convoluted Genie system!
From there, you’ll receive a receipt with a lengthy confirmation number and order details that should look similar to the above. I say “should” because I’ve never actually bought Individual Lightning Lane access and have no intentions of doing so.
No offense to those who plan on buying these–to each their own–but it’s simply a line we’re not willing to cross, so to speak. While we are already fans of Genie+, that’s bundled access for multiple attractions that makes the whole day easier. This is different, as it means putting a price on a single attraction–all of which we have done many, many times over the years.
Beyond that, us buying Individual Lightning Lane access is not necessary “for the sake of research,” whereas testing and using Genie+ very much is. Since there’s currently only one ILL ride per park, it’s pretty easy to rope drop one and do the other right before park closing and bypass the lines that way.
If anything, thinking up, trying, and testing other savvy strategy to bypass long waits at Individual Lightning Lane attractions will be a “fun” challenge. That’s more important to us than getting to skip the lines ourselves! We recommend a similar approach to most vacation planners who are on a tighter budget, with the one potential exception being Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. For the reasons outlined above, it can be a good use of money that minimizes headaches and saves a ton of time–but even then, doing it during Early Entry or at the end of the night is a viable alternative.
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What do you think of the pay-per-ride Individual Lightning Lane ride reservations? Planning on using this to skip standby lines, or do you prefer not to pay even more for an already expensive Walt Disney World vacation? Are you more likely to purchase Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes–or neither? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and 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!
I will stay at the Disney world swan resort , can I purchase the ILL at 7am ?
Can I book 2 ILLs back to back? For instance, booking one at 7AM, and then booking the next one at 7:05AM? For instance, I’d like to buy an individual LL for Tron and individual LL for Mine Train, but also then pick a genie+ regular lightning lane ride for when the parks open….is this wishful thinking? How would the 120 minute rule apply here? Do I only have the option of paying for 1 individual lightning lane ride at 7AM and then having to wait until 2 hours after the park opens to pay for my next individual LL or “regular” genie+ lightning lane pick?
I have a question about the ILL. Say I have a valid Park Admission ticket and a Park Reservation, but I am not staying at any Disney Resort hotel. What happens to the ILL for people that come into the Park when it opens ? Will any be available, or can they be exhausted by the ones that can purchase them at 7:00 am. ?
Can a resort guest buy an ILL for a non-resort guest during the resort guest-only availability period?
This is probably a well-covered topic already, but with two ILL attractions operating in Magic Kingdom, I’ll ask.
Can I book ILL’s for two rides at the same time? For instance, can I get up at 7 and book an ILL for both Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and TRON for later in the day?
Furthermore, if I have a Park Hopper Ticket, can I get up at 7 and book, for example, a Flight of Passage for the morning and a Mine Train for late afternoon?
Yes you can on both questions………Remember though, ILL lines can still run 30+ minutes so be careful not to miss one of you rides due to potentially wait………
You are better off staggering them at least 30 mins, for eg. SDMT 7-8pm and Tron 7:30-8:30pm…….there is a grace period to enter 15 mins before and after so it does give you a bit of flexibility
I have been confused on the ILL purchases. I hope to find some clarification here. First, do you need to have a hotel reservation at a Walt Disney Hotel to book and pay for a ILL at 7am? Second, do you have to have a booked reservation for Epcot to get a ILL purchase for Guardians of the Galaxy?
What if I have a park hopper for the Magic Kingdom and go to Epcot at 2pm? Could I still buy an ILL for Guardians of the Galaxy later that afternoon?
Yes you do need to be a hotel guest to buy an ILL at 7am. All other guests can buy at park opening.
Yes you can buy an ILL for another park at 7am as long as you have a park hopper. Remember you get to choose return times with ILL whereas LL you get next available.