Walt Disney World is once again tweaking the lineup of its paid FastPass service, reallocating attractions from the Individual Lightning Lane lineup to Genie+ for each park creation permanent changes that previously only existed during the summer. This article examines the changes, the reasons why, and offers speculations for the future.
This change was actually implemented several months ago, on February 25th. Around this 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 (once again) about to collapse under the weight of the Presidents Day crowd/demand, just as it had already happened for the previous holiday season .
At that time, the change went into effect until August 7, 2022, for a total of over 5 months. Until then, 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 Genie+ flat rate service.
With time running out and August 7 only days away, many readers have wondered if Walt Disney World will permanently extend the temporary changes, making them permanent. We felt they would quietly update the website to confirm this change, for reasons we’ll cover below. However, I will admit that I sweated a little after being so confident for months that this “temporary” setting would become a permanent policy.
Walt Disney World has finally done it, with the following update to its official website…
Lightning Lane tickets for individual purchase (not offered through the Disney Genie+ service)
Experiences offered (subject to change without notice*):
- Seven Dwarfs Mining Train
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Return
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Avatar Passing Flight
Without saying it 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 that… chances are you have already read our explanation in one of our many other Genie+ posts. Otherwise, it’s mostly a matter of balancing Genie+ inventory load (supply) with carrying capacity (demand) to make the service reasonably useful for customers buying it – many of whom were already angry at the idea of paying for an arguably inferior replacement of the free FastPass.
This reallocation of attraction inventory between the two additional skip-the-line services was the first of many adjustments Walt Disney World has made to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in an effort to balance supply and demand, while trying to improve dismal customer satisfaction scores. A number of other changes sought to achieve the same end results, but were less well received.
The most recent of these was that Genie+ ticket add-on is removed at Walt Disney World. Although it caused a lot of unhappiness and sadness initially, Genie+ has yet to sell out for any day at any park, even on 10/10 crowd days during the peak summer season. The next real test of whether this is a problem probably won’t come until Thanksgiving week.
In a word, there was many problems with Lightning Lanes and the paid service FastPass. These first appeared during the holiday season last year and resurfaced this year during the spring break season. These issues range from increased technical difficulties to a limited inventory of ride reservations with the entire system and technical infrastructure placed under greater use.
From our perspective, the biggest “fixable” issue is that Genie + Lightning Lane’s availability for many popular attractions disappeared shortly after the park opened. Slinky Dog Dash wasn’t available long before that, booking out for all day a few minutes after 7am. Even after the reassignment, this and other DHS headliners are moving fast – the same goes for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Jungle Cruise and a few other attractions.
On some peak season days, there were virtually no midday options at 3 of the parks, meaning even Genie+ savvy users are likely only getting a few “good” picks per day. First-timers or those visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios would probably do worse. Some readers said they only scored 1-2 Lightning Lane selections through Genie+ all day. Despite being Walt Disney World’s most popular park, Magic Kingdom has been the least problematic, which is due to its more extensive and robust roster of rides.
Given all of this, we’ve been assuming since late February 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 needed then. If October returns to normal, the extra Genie+ ability could be needed 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 again multiple times a year. The whole Genie system is already a hodgepodge of random rules and policies that seemingly change on a weekly basis with little rhyme or reason why. There’s no compelling justification for returning to those rides for individual Lightning Lanes once the offseason begins.
Another thing that doesn’t really make sense is to include Expedition Everest or Space Mountain in the Individual Lightning Lane lineup, two attractions that don’t even make the top 5 wait times at their respective parks. With Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind now open, it would also 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 factor into Disney’s decision-making. There was or would be a reason to move these or other attractions to the Individual Lightning Lane range: to generate more revenue during the off-season when Genie+ technically doesn’t “need” the extra bandwidth to function as intended.
It’s not a good reason or a compelling reason, unless you look at it from the perspective of Walt Disney World. Even that wouldn’t be entirely rational for the company, as it would have rendered Genie+ worthless to EPCOT and Animal Kingdom at a time of year when its value proposition will already be questionable. Removing Genie+ slate from these two parks could have done more harm than good, even in terms of revenue, as the increase in ILL sales might not have compensated for the decrease in Genie+ purchases.
As a reminder, it is NOT necessary to purchase Genie+ to beat the crowds at any parks. While we highly 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 just about anything in the first and last hours of the day under a few conditions. That should hold true until Fantasmic returns. To this end, we (once again) recommend to check Strategy Genie+ versus Savvy at Walt Disney Worldwhich is the result of extensive “testing” to determine the best and worst ways to beat the crowds at each park.
Ultimately, this is a positive, but expected development. At the end of February, it was nice to see Walt Disney World make this friendly move throughout the summer season, but it should have been a fatality for the company. at this moment that if it was needed until the beginning of August, it would be needed forever. Walt Disney World taking so long to confirm what should have been obvious isn’t exactly reassuring and hopefully not indicative of an internal debate over the decision. (Giving them the benefit of the doubt, the website update may have been an oversight.)
As we’ve been mentioning for months, more changes are almost certainly on the horizon for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World due to low guest satisfaction scores. It’s unclear what form these will take or when they will occur (my guesses would be around October 1 or January 1, 2023), but management is aware that this system has flaws and has drawn criticism and complaints from the from customers. The adjustments are unlikely to be what many Walt Disney World planners would like to see, but they should be net benefits to the overall experience at Walt Disney World for the general public.
In short, it’s another step in the right direction, but there are still many issues with Walt Disney World’s Genie system. If you have any other unanswered questions, check out our Genie+ Guide to Walt Disney World and Lightning Lane FAQ for all the essential information on this replacement for Free FastPass+. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or two dozen. This answers all of the most common questions we’ve received from readers.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Learn more about the hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page. To find out where to eat, read our Walt Disney World restaurant reviews. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips article takes a unique look at smart on-the-go items. To know what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride guides will help you. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of Expedition Everest, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Space Mountain being permanently moved to the Genie+ service by Walt Disney World? Do these additions tip the scales in favor of buying Genie+ at one of these parks? Or would you favorite A la carte skip-the-line access so you can only purchase your highest priority attractions and be on standby for everything else? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!