Walt Disney World guests find themselves with far more decisions now. Guests need to decide where to stay, what to eat, and which parks reservations to make. Fastpass+ is gone being replaced with a $15 day Genie+ system. At Pirates and Princesses, we have written suggestions about using Genie system. We have also written some suggestions on use of Genie+ at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot/Animal Kingdom.
The variable confusing people the most are the individual paid access lightning lane attractions. There are some basic guidelines to remember about these eight attractions (attractions subject to change). First, lightning lane is simply a description for the queue you enter. Think of lightning lane as the previous Fastpass+ lane.
Each park will have up to 2 of these attractions with individual paid lightning lane access but not available via Genie+ system. Those attractions are:
Magic Kingdom – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain
EPCOT – Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After
Hollywood Studios – Rise of the Resistance and Runaway Railway
Animal Kingdom – Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest.
Any guest using the Genie app may purchase access to the lightning lane for these attractions. These attractions cost from $7-15 per person currently depending on attraction (prices subject to change). You do not need to purchase Genie+ to purchase access to these individual paid access attractions listed above. Each guest is limited to buying only 2 total individual paid attractions per day over all of Walt Disney World. If park hopping, guests must consider this. If this seems a bit overwhelming, you have joined the club. This system has only been in place at Walt Disney World for about a month. In addition, this system has not started at Disneyland as of time of writing.
If you are like most people, you feel exhausted with this discussion. You also have nervousness about the volume of income fluttering out of your bank account. The good news is many guests are visiting Walt Disney World without buying any access to lightning lanes (either via Genie+ and individual paid access or those attractions). Those guests are having a good experience.
No article can answer all questions because every group is different. Still, there are some common variables influencing your decision to buy individual paid access. The decision of how to use your time and money at Walt Disney World must be yours and yours alone.
Okay, what factors should you consider?
First, will you be staying at a Walt Disney World hotel? If you are then you get 30 minutes early park access. You could use these extra minutes to get in queue for one of the paid access attractions (with exception of Remy’s currently). This could be very useful especially for Rise of Resistance, Flight of Passage, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Also resort guests can start buying individual paid access attraction at 7am whereas non-resort guests must wait until the park opens. This means you will have better ability to choose the exact time you want in your park day.
Next, do you have attractions you MUST ride?
Do you have to get on Rise of the Resistance (assuming it does not break down for the whole day)? Will your trip be ruined if you do not get boarding passes for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure? Have you never ridden Flight of Passage? The most guaranteed way to ride those attractions is by purchasing a paid access individual attractions lightning lane.
Are you planning to “rope-drop” the parks?
If so, you might be able to avoid huge waits for the top tier attractions besides Remy’s. If you are not planning to “rope-drop”, then paid lightning lane might save you a significant amount of wait time.
How large is your group and how long are you visiting Walt Disney World?
If you are part of a large group staying for a week or more, then paying for individual attractions may be inefficient. If you have a group of 6 for example, Rise of the Resistance paid access will cost you $90 or more. You could do a lot of things with an extra $90 for your group instead. If you are going to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios more than once during your trip, then maybe waiting in a long queue would be a better use of $90.
A few other factors to consider:
- Space Mountain, Mickey’s Runaway Railway, and Expedition Everest rarely have a wait of more than 50 minutes. Based on that, these may not be best use of you vacation money. Expedition Everest also has a single rider queue for groups that might work for. Also in near future, Expedition Everest will be going down for extended refurbishment so another lower priority might become a higher tier attraction.
- Rise of the Resistance sell out of slots for paid access and this usually happens early in the day. If you really want to ride that then bear that in mind.
- Boarding passes for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure have been far easier to acquire at the 1:00pm time slot. Now the virtual queue/boarding pass queue has been known to be an hour wait. In contrast people using paid lightning lane access to Remy has reported waits under 10 minutes in the queue. Remember you can avoid entire boarding pass process by just buying a Remy’s lightning lane slot.
- Some guests are using a combination of Genie+ and paid access to lightning lane to avoid rope-dropping. To do this, one person in the group wakes up at 7am and books what they can. Everyone else sleeps. They then have a nice relaxing big breakfast. After that, they arrive at the park starting their day with several lightning lane slots already in their possession. They could have two paid lightning lanes already. If arriving at park after 11:00am, they could have 2 Genie+ lightning lane attractions already. This would make their day easier if your budget can handle it (or you value sleep more than money).
- I could go on for a long time but last detail to consider. The wait times in the evening at Epcot and Animal Kingdom have been low. Popular attractions in both of those parks are around 20-minute wait often within 2 hours of closing. This pattern is unlikely to last forever or during busier times of year but should be considered.
In conclusion, Rise of the Resistance and Flight of Passage individual paid access saves the guests the most time based on a month of data. Once again, you need to make the best decision for you group.
Thanks for making it all the way through this beginners guide to paid lightning lane. Someday, I hope to be able to write a more advanced guide but that will require more data. Good luck and I hope this helps.
What do you think? Comment and let us know.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.