Disney World Changes Lightning Lane, Early Entry for Holidays

December 17, 2021, 1:33 PM · Walt Disney World is moving four attractions from Individual Lightning Lane to the Disney Genie+ service for two weeks, starting Sunday.

One attraction from each park is making the switch, which takes effect December 19 and will continue through January 3, 2022:

The moves mean that fans wanting to access the Lightning Lane for these attractions no longer will have to buy Individual Lightning Lane access at $7-15 a pop, but instead can get in with the $15-a-day Disney Genie+ service, which also provides access to dozens of other attractions across the four Disney World theme parks.

Disney World guests use Disney Genie+ to access each attraction's Lightning Lane just once per day, and after making their initial Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for the day, guests must wait two hours or until their Lightning Lane reservation time passes (whichever comes first) to make another Lightning Lane reservation. You can learn more about the service in our post, How to Use Disney Genie Plus.

In addition to the Lightning Lane changes, Disney World has announced that it will extend the early theme park entry benefit for its on-site and other select hotel guests during the same period by an extra half hour, allowing those guests to enter the four parks up to 60 minutes before their official opening times each day.

The two moves should help distribute fans more evenly throughout the parks during what was long the busiest stretch of the year. Disney is managing its parks' capacity with the new mandatory Disney Park Pass reservation system for all ticket and annual pass holders. But the extra early entry time extends the parks' capacity on each day, while the move from Individual Lightning Lane to Disney Genie+ in theory should push more Genie+ users toward the former ILL attractions, shifting some demand from other Genie+ rides and shows.

One should assume that Disney is using these two-week changes as a test as well as a temporary load management change. Disney surely will be look at Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane sales, as well as attraction load and standby times throughout the day, then compare those against their performance before the switch. That data will help determine whether these temporary changes become permanent, or what the next changes in Walt Disney World's ticket and hotel benefit policies might be.

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Replies (6)

December 17, 2021 at 1:58 PM

Is that a new Profile pic Robert? Looking good

Any clues on why the change? Lack of demand?

December 17, 2021 at 5:49 PM

Moving Expedition Everest off ILL was a no-brainer. It never should have been placed there anyway and data provided recently by Touring Plans showed that there was never a significant times savings using ILL. The other three I’m a little surprised as they did give a small time savings by purchasing an ILL.

I hope the one hour early entry remains permanent. Resort guests will get an extra 30 minutes of low crowd touring, and off site guests will experience a more pronounced mid-morning lull in standby waits.

December 17, 2021 at 3:07 PM

Agreeing with some social media followers, I think the long-term future of ILL (which I am lobbying to be renamed Disney Genie Ultimate), is one selection per park: Rise at DHS, Flight of Passage at DAK, Guardians at Epcot, and TRON at MK. Everything else goes to Genie Plus.

December 17, 2021 at 4:38 PM

The change, unfortunately, is most likely due to excessive Genie+ demand and need for more inventory in the Genie+ system. Went to the parks Tu/Wed and bought Genie+ with the intention of hitting the higher profile rides at each park. However, even with an early arrival, we were only able to schedule most of the popular attractions in the evening. So, not only were our choices limited but waits on standby were excessively long (it seems Disney is showing preferential treatment to the Genie+ lines versus previous fast pass iterations which would make sense as they are now paying customers they need to please). Unfortunately, the new system makes busy days almost untenable as paying for Genie+ on those days may not ensure more than 5 rides but not paying means much longer lines than in prior years.

December 18, 2021 at 12:37 AM

Based on my experience a couple weeks ago, the only one of the four ILLs being cancelled that consistently got waits long enough to justify a purchase was Frozen Ever After (which was consistently posting 75+). For the others, the longest waits I saw were 35 (Space Mountain), 70 (Runway Railway, though it was often under 60), and 20 (Expedition Everest). I do think having only one ILL per park makes the most sense, as having it lacking two of the park's E-tickets was a strong reason we opted not to buy Genie+ any of our three days there (lack of re-ride ability was the other big reason).

December 18, 2021 at 2:29 PM

I did find it weird that Space Mountain was given the individual Lighting Lane treatment when Peter Pan’s flight seemed like it should have gotten it instead.

I’m guessing Mickey and Minnie was pulled due to that ride’s reliable nature. We were there a week ago in the evening time and while it posted a 60 minute wait, it ended up being closer to 30.

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