Walt Disney World announced that two additions will be made to the Genie+ lineup at Hollywood Studios, as the Star Wars Launch Bay meet & greets will have Lightning Lanes once that venue reopens. This post covers details about the duo joining the paid FastPass ride roster in Summer 2022 and commentary about the change.
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, despite summer peak season having arrived.
The goal of all of this is to increase capacity or supply of Lightning Lanes and/or reduce guest demand for the service to a slight degree, thereby improving the overall experience. Before rides were moved over to the Genie+ service, many readers complained of limited ride reservation availability. (Complaints still occur, but the overall Genie+ “dissatisfaction rates” seem to have dropped.)
Walt Disney World has also sought to lower expectations by adding a ‘warning’ that “on average, guests can enter 2 to 3 attractions or experiences per day using the Lightning Lane entrance if the first selection is made early in the day.” (Read more in Genie+ Really is Paid FastPass+ at Walt Disney World.)
Against that backdrop, Walt Disney World announced that Star Wars Launch Bay will be added to Genie+ on July 17, 2022.
Walt Disney World actually lists three Lightning Lane options being added. Here’s the full list for Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the additions highlighted:
Alien Swirling Saucers
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
Disney Junior Play & Dance!
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
Star Wars Launch Bay (Beginning July 17, 2022)
Star Wars Launch Bay: Encounter Darth Vader (Beginning July 17, 2022)
Star Wars Launch Bay: Meet Chewbacca (Beginning July 17, 2022)
Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway**
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Slinky Dog Dash
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
Toy Story Mania!
Color me skeptical, but I don’t think entering the building will require a Lightning Lane reservation (if so, that would absolutely be a waste). Either there’s another meet & greet being added, or the top listing is a redundancy.
For those who forgot about Star Wars Launch Bay or have never experienced, here’s how Walt Disney World describes it: “Explore immersive exhibits of costumes, models, concept artwork and actual movie props—as well as authentic replicas created just for Star Wars Launch Bay.
Watch an exclusive short documentary on the creative team behind the ever-evolving story. Explore a Cantina and other settings inspired by the films, then share a furry embrace with Chewbacca, Han Solo’s trusty sidekick.”
I can’t remember the last time I even entered Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Probably sometime in mid-2019, as I think at one point I assumed it would be retired when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened.
Honestly, part of me is surprised it’s returning. While I’m happy about more things to do (that are also feature air-conditioning), I was also holding out hope that the entirety of Animation Courtyard would be replaced soon. Star Wars Launch Bay returning makes an announcement of that at the upcoming D23 Expo less likely.
Also perplexing to me is that Chewbacca is going to be meeting at Launch Bay given that he has been roaming around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge since that land opened. Again, my memory is fuzzy and I don’t recall whether this was the norm for Launch Bay after Galaxy’s Edge opened, but it would make more sense to rotate a character into the off-planet Launch Bay location who “can’t” appear on Batuu.
If Star Wars Launch Bay is going to exist, what I’d really love for it to become is a crossover venue. Take things in a totally different direction and justify this location’s existence as the intersection of Disney and Star Wars. Give us Darth Goofy, Jedi Mickey, Stormtrooper Donald Duck, etc.
But I digress.
Another thing that’s interesting about this move is that it’s another meet & greet being added to Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You might recall that they tested this with Mickey and Minnie’s Red Carpet Dreams back when that returned a few months ago.
Star Wars Launch Bay has a lot more space, so that presumably won’t be an issue.
From the perspective of making Genie+ more attractive and usable in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (the park where it has the most issues), this is a good move. Of course, that’s not the case if you don’t plan on purchasing Genie+ at DHS.
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.
Beyond that, we’d recommend anyone visiting the parks during the busy summer season follow our Walt Disney World Itineraries. We’ve started updating these and will have them finished by next week.
Ultimately, this will not change the equation for purchasing Genie+ when visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Summer 2022. While this will improve the value proposition of the paid FastPass service, neither of these additions are headliners that’ll command high wait times that will be difficult to bypass.
Essentially, the operative questions when determining whether to buy Genie+ at DHS is whether you’ll do Early Entry and be in the park during the middle of the day. If you won’t do Early Entry but will be in DHS during midday, then you might want or even need Genie+ in order to experience everything in a single day. If you’ll arrive early and stay late, you won’t need Genie+ at all. (In fact, it might be counterproductive and more headache-inducing than it’s worth.)
Adding more to the Genie+ lineup at DHS 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 adding the Star Wars Launch Bay meet & greets with Chewbacca and Darth Vader to the Genie+ service at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Do these additions tip the scales in favor of buying Genie+ 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!