With heavy crowds on the horizon for Spring Break and Summer 2022 plus high demand for Genie+, Walt Disney World is once again adding more Lightning Lane selections for the lineup. The latest change is the addition of Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom and Red Carpet Dreams at Hollywood Studios.
That change was made to prevent Genie+ from being overwhelmed during periods of high demand–like the weeks of Orange County’s Spring Break and Easter–which is what occurred over the week of Presidents’ Day last month and Thanksgiving last year. That resulted in some of the longest lines in each park being at Guest Relations, refunds issued for Genie+ and, if comments on this blog are any indicate, poor guest satisfaction…
In case you missed it, Festival of Fantasy Parade returned to Magic Kingdom today (March 9, 2022) and currently has daily performances twice per day, at 11:30 pm and 2:30 pm or noon and 3 pm, depending upon the day. Festival of Fantasy Parade will join the Genie+ Lightning Lane lineup on March 11, 2022.
Tangential to this Genie+ news, but apparently Festival of Fantasy Parade has about half as many performers, the entire Brave unit missing, and a number of other dancers absent. This is disappointing but unsurprising, as the same thing happened with Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. At least the Maleficent dragon is still in Festival of Fantasy.
Booking a Lightning Lane for Festival of Fantasy Parade will be just like any other attraction.
The 120 minute rule will almost certainly be at play here, meaning that if you book reserved viewing for Festival of Fantasy’s first showing at 7 am, you won’t be able to book your next selection until 11 am. That’s 120 minutes from park opening (9 am) and not 120 minutes from 7 am.
Our (very) preliminary practical advice for anyone visiting Walt Disney World during the busy spring break weeks would be to reserve Festival of Fantasy Parade as your #2 Genie+ Lightning Lane selection of the day.
The rationale for this would be that you’ll be able to reserve Jungle Cruise first for an early return time via our speed strategy, then tap in as close to 9 am as possible, and book Festival of Fantasy immediately thereafter–rather than waiting until 11 am to make your second selection if you did them in the reverse order. (See our Magic Kingdom Genie+ Lightning Lane Ride Ranks for more priorities.)
We really want to stress that this is preliminary advice. As of publication time, Festival of Fantasy Parade has not yet been added to the Genie+ lineup, so we’re just going with our gut here. If you’re visiting within the next few days and Festival of Fantasy Parade is a must-see priority, we’d recommend making it your #1 pick.
The viewing areas for both performances of Festival of Fantasy combined have less total capacity than a single hour of the Lightning Lane at Jungle Cruise. These viewing areas are not large at all, and it’s entirely possible that they’ll fill up faster.
If you have Genie+ service and are redeeming Lightning Lane entry for Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom, you’ll want to see a parade-viewing Cast Member at the courtyard in front of Cinderella Castle during your arrival window.
The Lightning Lane entrance for Festival of Fantasy will be on the east side of the Cinderella Castle area.
Above is the view you should expect from the Genie+ Lightning Lane location. In my opinion, this is the best location for watching Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom.
For what it’s worth, this was also the viewing location offered for Festival of Fantasy Parade during the FastPass+ era.
It’s pretty much the same deal for “See Disney Stars at Red Carpet Dreams.” That character sighting Lightning Lane is available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning March 11, 2022.
It joins the lineup there alongside “See Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight,” which is not a popular Genie+ selection at all. In fact, Olaf doesn’t even rank on our Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ Priorities & Lightning Lane Ride Ranks because his standby wait time is usually so short. (Mickey & Minnie usually have longer waits, so they’ll likely come in at #8, behind Alien Swirling Saucers.) Nothing else really to know about that one.
We hope more entertainment is added to Genie+ at Walt Disney World. While it doesn’t hurt, Magic Kingdom is the last park that needs more Genie+ Lightning Lane capacity, as it already has a much more robust lineup than any of the other 3 parks. As such, Festival of Fantasy Parade doesn’t really move the needle on improving the experience there.
By contrast, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the worst and most frustrating park for Lightning Lanes…and just ingeneral. It would benefit tremendously from Fantasmic returning and a portion of that nighttime spectacular’s viewing area being allocated to Genie+ users. (The whole DHS guest experience will be improved dramatically by the return of Fantasmic, but that’s another topic for another day.)
We’ve also been hoping for Harmonious to join the Epcot lineup. As you might recall, IllumiNations offered a FastPass+ viewing area in the ‘front of the house.’ That was the best viewing area for that fireworks show, and the same is true for Harmonious. This is only one of two locations where you get the full effect of the Stargate.
Currently, the ‘front of house’ viewing area for Harmonious is open to anyone. However, given the lack of Genie+ attractions at Epcot, it would make sense to include Harmonious as a value-add to incentivize Genie+ purchases and give guest sufficient value for their purchase. Walt Disney World might want to separately monetize that viewing area down the road—either with dessert parties or standalone paid access for nighttime spectacular viewing. Nothing would surprise us. Harmonious viewing might be enough to tip the scales in the favor of buying Genie+ at Epcot.
Ultimately, all of the recent additions to the attraction lineups change the equation for purchasing Genie+ when visiting Walt Disney World this spring and summer, but the Festival of Fantasy Parade’s addition is not one of those changes. That’s because, as discussed in My Day Using Genie+ Lightning Lanes for Spring Break 2022 at Magic Kingdom, it’s already the best park for Genie+ and a no-brainer purchase there right now while crowds are elevated. This move doesn’t change that one way or the other.
It’s Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom that need the help, and adding one meager character sighting to DHS also doesn’t move the needle on that one, either. Perhaps that’ll change once Red Carpet Dreams is converted from a sighting to a traditional meet & greet, but for now, this is a low priority experience that the vast majority of guests are passing up even with short standby waits.
Nevertheless, we remain of the perspective that Genie+ is ‘worth it’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios so long as you use savvy strategy, know what you’re getting yourself into, and don’t mind some headaches. The Genie system still is frustrating, buggy, and incredibly competitive for DHS headliners. Without good technique, diligence and screen time, the bad can outweigh the good at DHS. We still don’t recommend Genie+ at all at Epcot or Animal Kingdom, unless you’re Park Hopping.
What are your thoughts on Walt Disney World adding Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom to Genie+? Will you book a Lightning Lane for the Magic Kingdom daytime parade? Hope more entertainment will be added to Genie+ or would you prefer first-come viewing locations? 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!